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Annalise Murphy's older sister Claudine has announced plans to join Annalise on Rio's Guanabara Bay in the latest Irish women's skiff campaign.

Claudine has teamed up with former British trialist Andrea Brewster in a bid for the Irish 49erfx slot against Tiffany Brien and Saskia Tidey also seeking a place in the official squad and a place in this new class for the Rio games.

Here Claudine gives some background on her campaign:

I met Andrea for the first time at the 2004 Laser Radial Europeans in Bangor. Andrea has been sailing the laser full time since then and was Annalise's training partner for the London Games. Annalise had joked about us teaming up in the FX for 2016 but we did not look into it seriously until February of this year. Andrea has dual citizenship so decided to use this to team up with me and start a campaign. She has been in the top 30 in the world consistently from 2005 to 2012 in the laser radial, her most notable result being a bronze medal at the 2008 Laser Radial Worlds. We both decided we had similar ambitions in our sailing and are at a position to go full time to give it a proper go.

We intend on debuting at Sail for Gold in Weymouth where we have been training for the past five weeks. Portland harbour is ideal for learning how to skiff sail as it is large and relatively obstacle free! We then plan on attending the next European cup event in Kiel followed by the Europeans in Denmark. There is then quite a large gap until the worlds in Marseille in mid September.

Our short term goals are to make ISC funding so we can progress forward into 2014 with support.  Our main goal for now is to learn to control the boat in all conditions. Skiff sailing in a breeze is more extreme than any kiteboarding or skiing I have done in my last year of travelling! We have had some very comical scenarios in this learning process which makes the terror and injuries sustained worthwhile! I am also very glad of the fitness I worked on last year when I rowed for DULBC while doing my Masters in Trinity. Skiff crewing is very physical so my fitness regime has increased dramatically in the past few months.  Long term it will be important to qualify the nation in Santandar next September as it will be much more difficult to do so with the new continent divisions in nation places for 2016.

I think the difficult thing about sailing a double handed boat is finding somebody you can have a successful working partnership with. But I am delighted to have found somebody to sail with who is so talented and dedicated to Olympic sailing as Andrea is. We are basing ourselves in DunLaoghaire from now so between ourselves and Annalise in her moth we will give the pier onlookers lots of entertainment this summer!

claudineandandreasailing

Claudine and Andrea in flying form in a training session in Weymouth. Photo:Tom Peel

Below Andrea also gives some background to the new campaign:

Towards the end of last year I made the decision to sail the 49erFX which is the new Women's Skiff Class in for Rio 2016. The FX is by far the most exciting class ever to be brought in for Women to sail at the Olympics and I could not resist the opportunity to sail full time in such a fantastic boat. So I bought an FX and with the help of some good friends I began learning to try and master the art of skiff sailing.

The difficulty I have found about learning to sail the FX is that as a beginner its fairly risky to go sailing in anything much above 15 knots so that immediately reduced the amount of days I was able to train. Between October and March I think I managed to do about 3 weeks of sailing in total as either there was too much wind or I was unable to find anyone to sail with. I started looking for someone to team up with to get a campaign underway back in September and despite trying out with some very good sailors I was unable to find anyone in a position to be able to sail full time with me. After such a slow start and still no full time crew I was beginning to wonder if I was realistically going to be able to continue campaigning. I thought back to conversations I'd had with my great friend and training partner for the last few years in the Radial, Annalise Murphy from Ireland. We used to joke that I should become Irish and sail a skiff with Annalise's sister Claudine for 2016. At the time it sounded pretty far fetched but nearly 6 months after buying my FX and no further on with a campaign I realised that this might be the only opportunity I might have. My Mum's side of the family are all of Irish descent, so I knew that I could be eligible to sail for Ireland. After talking it through with Claudine and discovering that she was also at a cross roads in life which meant she could go full time if sailing if she wanted, we decided to try out together in the FX. We discussed things in great detail and I was pleased to learn that we both shared the same aspirations for the campaign and from there we decided to seize the opportunity and go for it!

So I am now pleased to officially announce that Claudine Murphy and I are campaigning for Rio 2016 sailing for Ireland. We are only a few weeks into our training so far but as you can see from the picture we are throwing ourselves into it!

I am very grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received so far from everyone about my decision to switch to sail for Ireland. I have many fond and proud memories of my time representing Britain and I am now looking forward to this next exciting chapter in my life!

Published in Olympic

#isafworldcup – Annalise Murphy won both her races at the ISAF world Cup today but she is still counting the cost of disappointment in the qualifying rounds that has dropped her into the Silver fleet of the Laser Radial fleet.'I won both races today. Wish I was in gold but really makes me realise the importance of getting it right in qualifying' she said on coming ashore.

In the mens Laser fleet Belfast's James Espey discarded 44th leave to him 28th overall in the Laser Gold fleet.

The mistral at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères kicked in on the third day of racing in the South of France as the final series got underway, pitting the top sailors against one another.

After two days of tricky breeze a fresh 17-20 knot easterly breeze was welcomed by the sailors as racing ramped up.

Making the most of the conditions in the Nacra 17 was Sweden's Tim Shuwalow and Hanna Klinga who moved into pole position whilst France's Audrey Ogereau and Matthieu Vandame were in fine form taking two bullets to progress up the leader board.

Carrying forward a non discardable fifth place from the qualification series the Swedes notched up a third, second and an eighth, discarding the latter, to open up a three point advantage over Switzerland's Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger (SUI).

Shuwalow and Klinga teamed up three months ago and at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma they finished sixth and Shuwalow is under no illusions that they are the finished product at such an early stage, "We're still developing and learning a lot each day and have a long way to go yet but it's proving good so far," said Shuwalow. "We try and keep it fun because obviously there are stressful moments and that's the way it always will be but she's new to the catamarans and enjoying it and I just really love the Nacra 17."

Two days of final series racing and two Medal Races follow and the Swedes believe a podium could be in sight, "If we continue sailing consistently and up there then we're in with a chance but there are many good teams and some of them are probably yet to find form this week and it will get tougher as we get towards the end no doubt."

Whilst the Swedish partnership proved consistent, stealing the day was France's Ogereau and Vandame as the pair picked up double race wins and an eighth. Carrying a 21st forward they have progressed nicely to eighth overall and just 11 points off the leaders.

"On the two races we won we had good starts and good speed upwind," said Ogereau. "It was busy on the start line and good starts don't always get you at the front but in these races we knew that the left was better so we got first.

"In our first win we were 20 metres ahead and a bigger distance of 150 metres in the second so we were happy with our speed in these races."

Swiss pair of Buhler and Brugger won the first race of the day and posted an impressive third and ninth to sit second whilst rounding off the top three is Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA).

Despite an OCS in the second race of the day Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) have taken the lead in the 49er. Carrying a third place forward they recorded a sixth and a fourth but will have to tread carefully for the remainder of the final series following an OCS.

Making the biggest climb up the leader board is Spain's Carlos and Anton Paz. The Spanish brothers flew out the traps taking a bullet and a second in the gold fleet before a 13th in the last race of the day. The result moves them from 14th to fifth. "For us our first two races were really good with a first and a second," said Carlos. "The last one was completely opposite after a change in the wind but overall we're happy with our day. Our 13th isn't a bad result for a discard so we will try to push and be in the final eight."

ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma gold medallists Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) are just one point behind Fletcher and Sign whilst France's Julien D'ortoli and Noe Delpech sit third.

In the 49erFX Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook (GBR) are coming together nicely after racing with different team-mates at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma. Dobson finished fifth with Sophie Ainsworth whilst Rook came 22nd with Kate Macgregor. Two race wins in Hyères has moved them into top spot ahead of World #2 Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL), who took the days other race win, and World #1 Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA).

"We're not really too focussed on the results," said Dobson, "although you're a competitive person so they are pretty much always on your mind – even though you say to your coach they're not."

With limited skiff racing experience the British team are mixing the 49erFX racers up at the early stages of the quadrennial to find the right formula and Dobson is seeing the progression first hand, "The learning curve is literally vertical, every day is a learning day and that's what's making it really rewarding at the moment.  You can really see the steps you're making forward every single day."

Ivan Pastor (ESP) held onto his lead in the Men's RS:X but French youngster Louis Giard was the stand out performer on the race track winning the first of the day and coming second in the other. Carrying forward a fourth Giard, who finished third at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds, moves up to second overall and was a cheerful sailor after racing, "I was behind the Polish sailor but he was OCS so that was the win for me. This is my first win here and I'm really happy."

In the Women's RS:X Charline Picon (FRA) and Bryony Shaw (GBR) hold a joint lead following solid days on the water. Shaw took the first race win whilst ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma victor Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) took the second to move to third overall.

Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) leads Brazil's Bruno Fontes and Robert Scheidt in the Laser after a race win and a discarded BFD. Australia's Matt Wearn took the days other bullet but carrying forward a 44th he only moves up to 25th overall.

Holding her Laser Radial advantage on the first day of the final series is Tuula Tenkanen (FIN). A third and a sixth enabled her to maintain her two point advantage over the chasing pack. Taking the day's race wins was Canada's Isabella Bertold, who lays fifth overall, and Great Britain's Alison Young, sitting pretty in fourth.

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) were back on top form in the Men's 470 taking double bullets to jump up two places to second. Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield (GBR) hold the lead by two points but discard a 24th.

Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) remain firmly at the top of the Women's 470 leader board and have an eight point advantage over Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA).

Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) has taken first overall in the Finn class and is one point ahead of Giles Scott (GBR) and Vasilij Zbogar (SLO).

In the 2.4mR Heiko Kroger (GER) opened up a seven point lead over Megan Pascoe (GBR) and in the Sonar Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR) and Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary (FRA) share the lead.

Racing resumes on Thursday 25 April at 11:00 local time.

Published in Annalise Murphy

#olympic – In the afterglow of the 2012 London Olympics, the UK's Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) is making the success of the Olympic legacy a personal goal, by helping to inspire the sportsmen and women of the future.
The Olympic sailing venue is making a conscious effort to ensure the Olympians of the future have the best facilities and training available to them. Having hosted youth sailing events and training for a number of years, the Academy have always had a passion for getting youngsters into the sport, but following on from the Olympics, this focus has shifted up a gear with a great emphasis now placed on encouraging children to take up the sport of sailing.
In association with the Chesil Trust charity, WPNSA have facilitated a 'Sail for a Fiver' scheme which enables schools in Dorset and the surrounding counties to bring classes of children to the venue for half day training courses, with the cost at just £5 per child, although the scheme costs more to deliver, the difference being funded by the Chesil Trust, with support form the Academy. So far over 10,000 children have got out on the water for the first time through this scheme, and the aim is to continue to give as many children as possible this opportunity.
There are a number of youth sailing classes who frequently utilise the facilities and idyllic sailing waters at WPNSA including the Optimist, Topper, Cadet, 29er, RS Tera and Laser Classes.
The Optimist Class, boasting the largest number of participants in any youth sailing dinghy in the UK have held numerous events and training at WPNSA including National Championships, Squad Selections and Training camps.
Simon Rogers, Chairman IOCA (UK) commented; "It is always guaranteed good racing when holding an event at WPNSA, the facilities more than cater for what can be 500+ Optimists and their parents. The Optimist Class has long been using WPNSA as a venue for events, but having watched the Olympic Games take place there is certainly an inspiring element to it. Youngsters as young as eight years old can be a part of an event at the same venue where Olympic Sailors are carrying out their training simultaneously. Next month we are holding the 2013 Optimist Selector Event, to determine who will represent Great Britain at the World and European Championships this year."
The Topper Class has recently held an all-girls training day from the Academy, something common within youth classes aiming to provide a fun and healthy learning environment for girls to develop their sailing skills whilst providing some active role models within the sport to encourage greater female participation.
Lord Sebastian Coe has high praises for the Academy:
"Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy successfully hosted the world's elite sailing and windsurfing athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, one of the greatest shows on earth. The award winning venue has now entered its new phase in life as a multisport facility for everyone to enjoy. The Academy will continue to inspire new generations of water enthusiasts both locally and globally. Offering facilities for beginners' right through to high profile competitors, the sporting venue caters to both abled and disabled competitors. With a strong commitment to sustainable practices the WPNSA is ensuring that a natural environment is maintained as the ultimate water sports venue."
Upcoming youth events at WPNSA include Squad Training for the Topper and RS Tera Class, the 2013 Optimist Selector event, and the RS Tera National Championships. The sportsmen and women of the future are being greatly inspired by the lasting 2012 Olympic legacy; with the Academy making a heartfelt effort to keep the momentum and celebration of sport in Great Britain alive.
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Published in Olympics 2012
Tagged under

#olympic – Annalise Murphy will be saying goodbye to her recently purchased Moth dinghy and hello to her Laser Radial next week for the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma commencing on 1 April with an exciting array of world class competitors ready to embark on new challenges.

Held across Club Nàutic S'Arenal and Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa over 900 sailors will fight for the titles in the ten Olympic events.

Thirty seven of the 38-boat Nacra 17 fleet will take to ISAF Sailing World Cup race action in Palma for the first time. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami victors Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA) are the only team racing from the inaugural appearance of the multihull in January.

From skiff sailors to former windsurfers the fleet welcomes a blend of sailing talent who are looking to apply their skills and mind set to the Olympic multihull.

Making the switch from the Laser Radial to the Nacra 17 is two time Olympian Nathalie Brugger (SUI) who is teaming up with former Men's 470 sailor Matias Buhler. "After six years in the Radial it is quite demanding on the body and I was looking forward to a change and a new challenge," said Brugger.

"I am lucky to get to team up with Matias – we have known each other for quite a while and he has a lot of racing experience from the 470 and other big boat programs. I guess we both knew that if either of us was to campaign in the Nacra 17 for Switzerland, together we would be the best team."

Despite years in the Radial Brugger is no stranger to multihull racing after she sailed on Dona Bertarelli's boat, the Decision 35 Ladycat, in the M32 Cup on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Even though Brugger has sailed with some skilled multihull sailors she isn't expecting miracles overnight at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, "I think all the teams will be watching Sarah and John as well as the Dutch teams as they have maybe had the most time and experience with the boats. It will be about learning to get the best speed and boat handling but this early in the Olympic cycle the focus for Matti and I will be about building our own team."

Three Dutch teams will be sailing in Palma, Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser, Renee Groeneveld and Karel Begemann and Elke Delnooz and Mischa Heemskerk. Mulder and Groeneveld come from women's keelboat backgrounds and fought tooth and nail for the Dutch Women's Match Racing Olympic spot over the last four years and have had to learn how to sail multihulls with their new partners. On the other hand Delnooz and Heemskerk are multihull sailors through and through.

Heemskerk holds a wealth of experience and is no stranger to the front of the fleet and podium finishes and most recently took the A-Class Catamaran title in Florida, USA. Like Heemskerk, Delnooz has also been on the multihull scene for a number of the years and Heemskerk believes he has a strong team mate, "Elke and myself have been racing against each other in the Formula 18 class for the last seven years," said Heemskerk.

"She has been improving her performance rapidly in the last two years so when the Olympic catamaran came about she was a good candidate to team up with. She is a more mature woman, very intelligent and stable character which will help over a four year campaign to stay a good team. We have been training in Palma with the two other Deltalloyd teams and she is very quick on the helm with me on the trim."

Heemskerk's recent developments on the A-Catamaran has seen him introduce winglets on the rudders allowing more control on the 1-person boat. He has transferred his skillset over to the Nacra 17 to help the Dutch team understand how to sail the boats and what to do when the boats are flying.

With plenty of time on the water as well Heemskerk has a firm understanding on the boat, "The Nacra 17 is upwind a mix between a A-Cat and a Formula 18 downwind because of the spinnaker it is an overpowered A-Cat. Downwind the two of us have to control the beast which requires great teamwork cause the delicate balance between steering, trim and weight makes you either fast or out of control."

Whilst the American duo and the trio of Dutch teams could be seen as favourites to take the final honours the fleet also includes 2010 Tornado World Champions Roland and Nahid Gaebler (GER), Beijing 2008 Yngling gold medallist Pippa Wilson (GBR) and familiar Olympic campaigners all starting off on a new adventure.

A strong Finn fleet at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma welcomes 76 sailors and includes World #1 Brendan Casey (AUS), Olympic veterans and fresh new faces.

Moving back to the Finn fresh from winning gold in the Star at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition is Sweden's Max Salminen. The Swede took a memorable gold on the final day of the competition with Freddie Loof when it looked like gold would go the way of the British team. Salminen last sailed the Finn in 2010 and is looking forward to the new challenge, "It's a nice boat that fits me pretty well. You also realize how much you've learned during the star period and that you're coming in to the class as a new sailor and not the one that stepped out of the boat three years ago."

Salminen will be joined by ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Champion Caleb Paine (USA), 2011 World Champion Giles Scott and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA).

With some of the old guard retiring and a bigger emphasis on powerful young sailors in the fleet Lobert is excited about the challenges that he'll face, "The good thing in sailing is as the venue changes the game changes, so Rio will be different from Weymouth and I will need new skills to succeed there. I see this new campaign as a super exciting challenge with some new guys such as Max joining the fleet and a lot of old guys leaving so it will be interesting to see the new fleet classification."

Many seasoned campaigners return in the Men's RS:X with 40 registered entrants all vying for top spot. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami victor Ivan Pastor Lafuente (ESP) will be the one to beat as he competes on his home waters and steady results that has seen him climb to World #3 in the Men's RS:X Rankings. With the likes of Toni Wilhelm (GER), Ricardo Santos (BRA) and Julien Bontemps (FRA) joining him the competition will be tight.

Fresh from victory at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and a third place at the 2013 RS:X Worlds in Buzios, Brazil, Israel's Maayan Davidovich will be one of the favourites in the Women's RS:X fleet. Joining her in the fleet will be RS:X Worlds silver medallist Bryony Shaw (GBR) and World #1 Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) making for tasty competition in the 28-person fleet.

There is a strong contingent of Danish, Spanish, French, British, German, Italian, Russian and Swedish crews that will make up the bulk of the 81-boat 49er fleet. The entrants include Olympic bronze medallists Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang who have gone their separate ways, Norregaard is sailing with Alders Thomson and Lang is crew with Beijing 2008 gold medallist Jonas Warrer. Athens 2004 gold medallist and Beijing 2008 silver medallist Iker Martinez (ESP) has also teamed up with Iago Lopez.

There is also further action in the 49erFX, Laser, Laser Radial and the Men's and Women's 470.

Racing is scheduled to start at 11:00 local time on 1 April through to 6 April across the ten events.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#sailing – Former Irish Olympic Sailing Chief Richard Burrows has been following the debate on the future for Irish sailing and suggests the focus should be on recruiting the next generation of sailors. Writing today (as a grandfather), the 1986 Round Ireland race winner and former champion dinghy sailor is concerned that the proper fabric for training youngsters is in place.

I have followed the debate following on from the ISA meeting through the excellent facility of your Afloat updates.
The input from Roger Bannon contains much which I instinctively agree with but I do recognise that as far as young sailors are concerned I am very much out of date. However as a grandfather I look forward to introducing a new generation to sailing and I am concerned that the proper fabric for training, encouraging, and motivating youngsters is in place.
Clubs bear responsibility for this. And club members must play an active role. Junior sailing is not a babysitting service that can be outsourced to the ISA. An example of this being done well is to be found at Malahide Yacht Club. There, it comes down to active leaders on committee, great officers, and reasonable pricing. Choices about which boat are immaterial so long as the boats are safe, easily sailed, and cheap.
Roger makes some polemic comments about High Performance sailing and the funds devoted to this aspect of the sport. He won't mind me reminding him that he was in the Presidents chair when the foundation of today's policy was put in place with his full support. He is right that Olympic medals have proven to be elusive but this is just a matter of time.

At Weymouth two competitors were potential medal winners but it wasn't to be. Would this debate be taking place if medals had been won?

Yes, in my view, the two aspects of the sport are only connected by the fact that high performance sailing attracts publicity, and thus awareness of sailing. Club sailing will not produce column inches. And, spreading the funds devoted to support high performance sailing into club activities would not move the needle as the club base is so large.
So, my suggestion is to focus the debate on recruiting the next generation of sailors. And that means club members getting involved at club level. If ISA instructors are not up to it don't employ them. Charge nominal subscriptions to members under the age of 25. Embrace all forms of sailing including boards and kites. The responsibility lies with clubs. We cannot allow nanny state thinking to pervade and render clubs moribund in the expectation that the ISA will save them.

Published in ISA

Ireland's 'Spiced Beef', Peter O'Leary's Star keelboat, finished eighth overall at the Bacardi cup in Miami, Florida at the weekend with a disappointing 27th scored in the penultimate race pushing the Cork man, sailing with Rodney Hagebols, out of overall contention in the 55-boat fleet.

O'Leary won the fourth race of the series in big breeze but failed to capitalise on this win in the latter half of the series that ended on Friday.

With points tight among the top contenders the big story of the regatta was the win of the 86th Bacardi Cup by the Florida team of Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg) and Brian Fatih (Miami). Having started their series on Monday by picking up the max number of points for an over early start, the duo worked their way back up the standings to end the penultimate day of the series in second overall.
"We started [the series] not in the best way, but we turned it around," said Mendelblatt, who previously won the Bacardi Cup in 2005.  "It was a disappointing start and it was my fault for not having a good first race. After that we've been very consistent with low scores. We won the last two races and everything went our way.  Winning the Cup again means a lot to me; it's really great because winning any big Star regatta is not easy at all! I am very happy to have had Brian with me.  He is a great crew and wanted to have his name on the Tito Bacardi trophy. The Bacardi Cup is a great event and now, with the addition of all the other classes, it's even more satisfying."
Mendelblatt and Faith, who represented the USA in the Star class at the 2012 Olympics, won the single race contested by the 56 Star teams on the final day of the series to move to the top of the standings with 26 points. 

Lars Grael and Mario Lagoa (BRA), who had been atop the overall standings throughout the week, took second overall with 30 points after placing seventh in the race.  Defending champion Xavier Rohart (FRA) ended the series tied on points with Grael after finishing the race in fourth place to take third in the overall standings.  The only change for Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen (ITA) or 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Arnis Baltins, was in the point totals as both retained their positions in the top-five with, respectively, 33 and 41 points.

Class results here

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#dinghy – General de Gaulle used to say that of course it was a very difficult job to govern France – what else would you expect in a country with 387 different cheeses? So when people talk of how difficult it seems to be to administer sailing at any level, the only answer is: what else would you expect of a sport with 143 World Championships?

Every class which has achieved international status is entitled to stage its own official World Championship, and boy do they cling to the privilege, even when the old boats are only hanging on by the skin of their teeth in two or three centres. As for the mind-boggling variety of those centres.....well, we just won't go there today.

Faced with this hyper-crazy kaleidoscope of dozens of very different boat types sailing in their many and often odd ways in what is a quintessential vehicle sport, casual public interest tends to focus only on the most expensive forms of sailing, or the sailing with the biggest public rows and scandals, or the sailing with the greatest danger, preferably with deaths now and again.

So that's the America's Cup, the Olympics, and the more extreme forms of offshore racing, all way ahead of the field The rest is of interest only to those taking part, their families, their friends if they still have any after becoming addicted to boats, and the occasional daft salthead like this blogger.

dromineerregatta

Hyper-crazy kaleidoscope – a variety of boats (with the Shannon One Designs dominant) return to port after racing at Dromineer on Lough Derg

Slipping even further under the radar of public interest are those who don't race but cruise, and those whose enthusiasm is for classic or traditional boats. We saltheads are interested in them and their boats too, but we don't expect the powers that be and the public at large to think of them (if they think of them at all) as anything other than a case of oddity just barely this side of certification.

Thus for the unfortunate folk who end up running the sailing show nationally and internationally, so diverse are the demands of the sailing population that they tend to keep their heads down, and follow the money. They'll know that those in government and disbursing public sports funding will tend to share the interests and attitudes of the general public.

fireballssligo
When a World Championship comes to call at one of Ireland's friendly neighbourhood club – Fireballs at Sligo YC at Rosses Point for their Worlds last year Photo: Bryan Armstrong

So as far as Irish sailing national administration is concerned, there's an enormous hunger for international sailing medals, Olympic ones preferred. If we scratched hard enough, we'd probably find that their dearest wish is that there should be a restrospective Olympic Pewter Medal for being fourth – we'd be in line for a few of those, starting with Eric Strain in the Dragon Class way back in 1948.

Sailing in all its glorious variety is one very confused picture, accompanied by a hugely complex narrative. Thus the Olympics are a Godsend for administrators, as they act as a ferociously efficient editing process. The fact that the Laser is the only Olympic class which has anything approaching global popularity is neither here nor there. Once you get into bed with the simplified Olympic machine, that's it – normality is out the window, but at least the picture is more clearcut.

Even if the format of an Olympiad only every four years means that totally-dedicated Olympic atheletes are freaks, it's a freak show which provides sailing with a useful handle for making sense of itself, and communicating with the rest of the world. But when you throw modern celebrity culture into an already toxic mix, with young sailors being led to idolize only the top stars, there's inevitably trouble. Total concentration on what's going on at the top of the pyramid means that the structure is being neglected further down, and there's distress at grass roots.

It's this concern which was aired by Norman Lee of Wicklow and Lough Derg and Bryan Armstrong of Sligo at last weekend's ISA conference, and it will be aired again in what promises to be a robust gathering in the National YC on March 23rd. Bluntly, ordinary club dinghy sailors, the backbone of much of our sport, feel that their interests are being sidelined in pursuit of the top international awards, and they see ordinary club life suffering as the focus is narrowed on the glamour events and categories.

Is what they hope for attainable? Is it really possible to get young people passionately involved in, and committed to, sailing at the local level when all of today's media are bombarding them with images of superstars in glossy boats at glamorous locations?
mirrorssligo.jpg

Junior dinghy sailing at its best – Mirror racing at Sligo Photo: Bryan Armstrong

One particular concern is that the sport at club level seems to suffer its greatest loss among those between 16 and 24. But is sailing unique in this? Even in everyday family life, there's a natural estrangement at this age. As Mark Twain sagely remarked: "When I was 15, my father was clearly a complete idiot. But by the time I'd become 25, it was quite extraordinary how much good sense and wisdom the old fellow had since managed to acquire".

Maybe we should accept that we have to lose them for a while, but that if and when they return to sailing, it will be as adults making their own choice, and they'll be much more useful to their club and community as a result. And with any luck they'll have learned that life for 99.99% of us is not all about four year freak shows. Life is about humdrum everyday existence, and finding a certain enjoyment in it. For sure, there'll always be those aspiring for just one single day as an eagle, rather than a hundred years as a sheep. Yet for most of us, we must worship with the God of Small Things. But whether we can expect an allocation of respect, funding and resources for this is the topic for March 23rd.

OCEAN ACHIEVEMENT

The Ocean Cruising Club, international body for those who sail the Seven Seas, has awarded major trophies to Tim Severin (he lives in Courtmacsherry in West Cork these days) and Fergus and Kay Quinlan of Kinvara in County Galway.

The Quinlan achievement, a three year voyage around the world with their own-built steel cutter Pylades, was highlighted here three weeks ago when it took the Faulkner Cup, top trophy of the Irish Cruising Club, for the third year in a row. But recognition by the Ocean Cruising Club is a salute from an organisation which has played the leading role in long distance voyaging since 1954, and it reflects great credit on Pylades and her crew.

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Living the Pacific cruising dream – Pylades at Nuka Hiva in the French Marquesas Photo: Fergus Quinlan

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Voyaging couple: Kay and Fergus Quinlan sailing aboard Pylades off Moorea (don't tell anyone, but they were racing at the time)

Tim Severin's renowned re-enactments of ancient voyages in small and primitive craft first gained recognition with his re-creation of the Brendan voyage in a leather boat across the North Atlantic from West Kerry to North America by the northern route. He dramatically demonstrated that the long voyages of the Irish monks, assumed by many to be no more than the stuff of myth and legend, could indeed have been achieved with the boats and technology available at the time of St Brendan.

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Tim Severin's St Brendan departing West Kerry at the start of the Transatlantic voyage in 1976. The "giant leather currach" was built in Crosshaven Boatyard

The founder of the Ocean Cruising Club, Humphrey Barton, had a long association with Ireland. In 1935 he raced in the Irish Cruising Club's offshore event from Howth to Peel in the Isle of Man. The winner of the stormy race was John B Kearney skippering the 38ft Mavis, which he had designed and built himself in 1923-25. However, because of the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 with its relative isolation in global maritime terms, Kearney's skills were virtually unknown outside Dublin. But after seeing how well Mavis raced across the Irish Sea, Barton ensured that the designer and builder from Ringsend became much more widely known, and then after Mavis was the overall winner of the Clyde Cruising Club's popular annual race to Tobermory in 1938, John Kearney's renown was assured.

Published in W M Nixon
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#annalisemuphy – Like Miami, Florida a month ago Ireland's Annalise Murphy will try out the Rio 2016 racing format at Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, Spain later this month.

The 44th edition of the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapfre for Olympic classes, the first European event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, has been chosen by ISAF to test the racing format to be used at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In early February, Annalise had a 'disastrous' conclusion in three short medal races in Florida where the Irish one time leader of the USA Olympic classes regatta went from first to fourth overall, denying her a place on the podium in her first event on the road to Rio 2016. It will be something the Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year 2012 is keen to correct in a fornights time.

The Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, to be held in the bay of Palma from 30 March to 6 April with the participation of the top world sailors of Olympic and Paralympic classes, will use a new racing format combining innovation and simplicity and aims at having the fairest event possible following the request from ISAF.

Following some tests in SWC Miami, ISAF concluded "there were too many differences in the racing format in each class" a fact that caused important problems to the scoring system so it was decided to unify criteria starting at the Sofia Mapfre.

ISAF also considered some of the rules applied in Miami did not work well and therefore will no longer be used. Among some of the discarded ideas there are "the winner of the last race is the overall winner" – this was tested by the windsurfers- or sailing three medal races for the Laser and Laser Radial.

The approximately 800 sailors that will take part at the Sofia Mapfre, the only Spanish event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, will sail qualifying and final series – with one discard, like they did last year and at the London 2012 Olympics.

But two main novelties which were successful in Miami will be introduced at the SWC Palma. On one hand, the qualifying series score as one of the final series races, rule already proposed for Rio 2016. On the other hand, two medal races -final races always scoring double points, non-discardable and reserved to the top ten sailors- will be sailed in all classes except for the 49er and 49er FX that will sail four Stadium Races, of ten minutes duration instead of thirty and reserved to the top eight and with single scoring; with four non-discardable races. The results of the now called Final Day will be added to the results of the final series (which already include the qualifying series as one race) to decide the final overall results and podium.

On the other hand, for the monotypes both the qualifying and the final series will consist of six races of 50 minutes duration (in the final series, one of these six races is the one resulting from the qualifying series), while the 49er, 49er FX and Nacra (the new mixed skiff) will sail 30 minute races, nine in the qualifying series and six (plus one carried forward from the preceding round) for the finals.

Another big change is to be seen in the scoring system. Every single win scores 0 points instead of 1, while second classified scores 2, third scores 3 points and so on. This rule makes single wins more important but it has not yet been decided if it will be used in Río 2016.

ISAF will evaluate this racing format at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre and with the sailors' feedback it will make the necessary amendments towards the next SWC regatta to be held in Hyères (France).

"The Sofia Mapfre is proud to be the sailors' event and we are pleased ISAF has chosen Palma to test the racing format and that the sailor's opinion will be taken into consideration in order to define the racing format for the next Olympics", stated Ferran Muniesa, the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre CEO.

Published in Olympic
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#bacardicup – The Irish team of Peter O’Leary and Rodney Hagebols (bow 73) are eighth overall after four races at the 86th Bacardi Cup after winning the fourth race in a day of high drama on Biscayne Bay yesterday.

As temperatures hit the high 70s on the third day of racing, the fourth race of the series got underway in 15 knots of breeze, and, with the black flag rule in effect, six boats were disqualified.  Wind gusts over 25 knots contributed to 11 boats not finishing the day's single race, including two with broken masts.

Lars Grael and Mario Lagoa (BRA) finished third in the race allowing them to increase the point spread while continuing their hold on first place in the overall standings with 17 points.  The Italian team of Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen finished second in the race and are just nine points out of first.  They are followed in the overall standings by 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Arnis Baltins, who added a 22 to their previous finishes of 3-1-10 for 36 points.  Alessandro Pascolato and Henry Boening (BRA) are fourth overall with finishes of 18-8-6-8 for 40 points, and the Canadian team of Brian Cramer and Cam Lymburner round out the top five with 9-7-18-7 for 41 points.

The Italian team of Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen (bow 52) and Florida's 2012 Olympians Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (bow 19)

"I have not been racing since last April and needed to dust off the first two days and find the confidence that is needed to race in this highly competitive regatta," said Diego Negri.  "Our results are on the rise and I think we're doing a fine job and having fun at the same time. This is my third Bacardi Cup and I'm enjoying it very much. Lars is a very tough competitor.  He is one of the best in the world and has shown he is able to race well in both light and stronger wind conditions. I'm looking forward to keep having fun and post good results.  If the wind will be as today, I think we might have a chance to win the Cup.  It would be a significant achievement."

Although Irish Olympian Peter O'Leary and Rodney Hagebols won today's race, they still carry 36 points earned in race two of the series (once five races have been completed, the scores will reflect each yacht discarding her worst race).  With 50 points, they currently stand eighth overall, seven points behind defending champions Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA).

"Windy for sure today, 20 plus average," said O'Leary.  "Once we got going it was a proper Bacardi Cup regatta in which we stretched legs and hiked hard.  The main challenge of the day was to stay in pressure and take advantage of the big breeze.  We rounded the last mark in third and were able to beat the Italians on the line. Tomorrow is a lay day and then three more races to go. If we keep posting single digit results we have a chance.  We had a bad day yesterday and it was nice to bounce back. Lars is showing to be consistent and is sailing smart... he is the one to beat."

Racing for the Star class resumes on Friday, March 9, after a planned lay day tomorrow.  On Thursday, March 7, sailors in the Audi Melges 20, Melges 24 and Viper 640 classes, along with the J/70 class which makes its event debut, will get their first taste of competition on Biscayne Bay.  Racing, for all classes, will conclude on Saturday, March 9.

During the event sailors will enjoy the hospitality lounge, BACARDI Rum tastings, as well as the daily prize giving for the top-three finishers and the final awards dinner.  A special exhibit of America's Cup history and memorabilia will feature the work of Rhode Island-based photographer Cory Silken in the North Hall of the Coconut Grove Convention Center.  The exhibits will be open to the public from noon to 7:00PM daily and are free of charge. The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club will coordinate on-water activities in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The U.S. Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Miami will also support the event. Racing will be held on three separate courses approximately two miles out on Biscayne Bay.

More information on the BACARDI Miami Sailing Week and the 86th BACARDI Cup is available at www.MiamiSailingWeek.com and www.BacardiCup.com.

Published in Olympic
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#irishsailing – The winds of change are never constant and sailors are trained to expect the unexpected. It's an unpredictable sport that makes any sailor cautious about forecasting future performances.

It didn't stop the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) predicting its team would win a medal in Weymouth.

Such was the expectation that nearly anything the 2012 Olympic sailing team did other than stand on the podium would have been a disappointment.

Except that, just like the winds in Weymouth, something unexpected happened when Irish debutante Annalise Murphy led her fleet for most of the event, winning the opening four races with gusto.

It was a most welcome lift that, in the weeks following the regatta, has had many positive spin-offs for Irish sailing.

That Murphy began her campaign for Rio before even coming ashore after the disappointment of the medal race said something about the depth of her ambition. In so doing, she turned around the cruelest result of fourth into an opportunity for the future, albeit four years away.

This week she was awarded the Irish Times Sportswoman of the month for July, the latest in a line of accolades for the Rathfarnham girl.

As Murphy navigated her way through ten days of the hottest competition in her life, leading the regatta for most of it, her appeal reached beyond the traditional sailing community.

"When I saw the tricolour leading the fleet, it was like Packie Bonner's save," tweeted one of her many twitter followers. "It's Katie Taylor on water," tweeted another.

"I hope more people can understand sailing now," the 22-year-old said at a homecoming event at the National Yacht Club on Monday.

The challenge for sailing now is to capitalise on Annalise's appeal. It could not come at a better time because the domestic sport is facing 'Olympic' challenges of its own.

Because, although Ireland has posted its best Olympic result in 32 years, coming just weeks after a silver medal performance at the Youth Worlds, the domestic sport is in choppy waters.

Sailing cannot grow simply by looking towards the next Olympics as this serves only to increase the pressure on the sport's small group of high-performance athletes.

Instead, it's a question of providing more choice to grow the numbers going afloat.

Sailing is unique because it offers a strong non-competitive aspect. It's a hobby or pastime which can be enjoyed by young and old, and also by families.

If sailing can increase its numbers in these categories, then it will increase its talent pool. This, in turn, means that emerging talent which wishes to pursue the Olympic path can do so.

Today the dominant culture in sailing in Ireland is a racing one but by continuing on this tack we could be missing out on up to 80% of potential participants, says Alistair Rumball, a racing sailor, but also the proprietor of the country's biggest sailing school where recreational boating has the biggest appeal.

On Wednesday the Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed home the Olympic team and he made the point that future sports funding would be have a schools focus so it is important sailing gets a place on the curriculum.

Yacht clubs are struggling under the burden of a shrinking racing membership. Regatta fleets are dwindling. Just 111 boats turned up for Cork Week when there were over 500 just ten years years ago.

Some of the biggest clubs - Howth, the Royal St. George and Royal Cork to name just three - are facing tough times.

In a recession there is inevitable fallout from any sport but it's acute for sailing.

The ISA takes subscriptions from 73 sailing and powerboat clubs in the country, ranging in size from the smallest clubs with only a dozen members to the largest, the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire with 1,858 members.

The total number of club members affiliated to the ISA is estimated at over 21,000. In 2010, income from club member subscriptions generated €320,843 for the ISA but in 2011 this had dropped to €286,087. A further drop might be expected this year.

There are other storm clouds on the horizon too with Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar signalling a tightening of the purse strings. This week Galway announced it was not applying for a return visit of the Volvo Ocean Race.

"Currently the sport tries to turn everyone into formula one drivers when most of us are only Sunday motorists," says sailmaker Des McWilliam, a respected sailing industry voice. "The bulk of us only want to drive to the beach not round the world," says McWilliam who believes there is a massive need to embrace a new kind of recreational sailing initiative.

Murphy has captured the public imagination but there is only so much that can be expected from a young star aiming for Rio. The challenge is to broaden the appeal of the sport and so underpin its future.

A high level forum comprising of clubs, classes and sailing schools and other interested parties could develop a national sailing strategy.

Thanks to Annalise Murphy, there's a favourable wind blowing again for Irish sailing. If sailing can adopt her fighting spirit, then the sport could find itself back on the right tack.

Published in Olympics 2012
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