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Annalise Murphy has received a major boost to her 49erFX campaign for Tokyo 2020 as Mercedes-Benz has extended its support to the Olympic silver medallist.

The National Yacht Club hero recently resumed training without direct funding support from Sport Ireland, as her absence from competition due to Volvo Ocean Race commitments ruled her out of the €40,000-per-annum programme.

But now the 29-year-old Rathfarnham sailing star has renewed her ‘Tier One’ partnership arrangement with Mercedes-Benz, availing of a new X-Class pickup to transport her and team-mate Katie Tingle to events here in Ireland and abroad.

“Having the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a major boost to my training regime and my ambitions for Tokyo,” she says. “I am really looking forward to giving my preparation the X-tra power that the stylish new X-Class delivers.”

Soon to be a regular sight at 49erFX events, the 190hp X-Class is finished in the Kabara black, silver and grey livery similar to that on her previous Mercedes-Benz Vito Mixto van.

Equipped to tow her and Katie’s 49erFX, its features include 4MATIC 4x4 automatic transmission, chrome style bar, bed liner and bed cover in body-matching colour, reversing camera, cruise control power, rear sliding window and a style pack that includes roof rails and side steps.

Wishing Annalise every success on her road to Tokyo, Fergus Conheady, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, said: “We are proud to continue our support for Annalise, one of Ireland’s most admired Olympians.”

The renewed support for Annalise Murphy could not come at a better time, as she and Katie prepare for their first big test of their qualifying campaign at the World Cup event in Genoa, Italy next week.

Published in National YC

Two of Ireland’s most promising sailors in Aoife Hopkins and Katie Tingle have been the subject of separate profiles in recent days.

Katie Tingle has been making her big comeback after a broken arm put her and Annalise Murphy’s 49erFX training regimen on pause last autumn.

But it’s also been part of a longer return for the Cork sailor, who swapped competitive racing for coaching after success in the Optimist class as a junior last decade.

A reconnection with former junior peer Annalise on the Wednesday night scene in Dublin led to a fateful phone call a year ago, from the Olympic silver medallist to the primary school teacher: did Katie want to join her 49erFX Olympic campaign?

“I don’t think she’d have asked me if she didn’t think I could do it and I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t think deep down that I could do it either,” Katie tells The42.ie.

The 29-year-old was already deep into training and conditioning when Annalise returned from her stint in the Volvo Ocean Race, and the two started getting to grips with their new boat on Dublin Bay — the Olympian learning from Katie who had previous experience in two-handed dinghies.

However, a freak incident just weeks into training left Katie with a broken arm — and out of the water for four crucial months.

As needs must, Annalise shortly after resumed training over the winter in the warmer climes of Portugal, with Adam Hyland in Katie’s stead — while Katie hit the gym as soon as doctors allowed get back on the road to sailing fitness.

Earlier this year Annalise and Katie, how fully healed up, reunited and got back in their groove with the challenging 49erFX as their first big test — and first Tokyo 2020 qualifier — looms in Genoa just two weeks from now.

“AoifeAoife Hopkins weight training | Photo: Irish Sailing

Another young sailor who faces a big test in Genoa is Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins.

The Laser Radial ace not only steps into the significant gap left by Annalise Murphy, whose Rio 2016 silver medal was in the class — she’s also in competition with teammate Aisling Keller for the single slot available to Ireland.

Aoife tells The Irish Times how she juggles the training regimen of her Tokyo 2020 campaign with the demands of her maths degree at Trinity College, not to mention the various expenses associated with performance sailing at the highest level.

In a boost to their aspirations, Aoife and her fellow performance sailors now benefit from Irish Sailing's new Performance Headquarters in Dun Laoghaire, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Olympic

The Irish Times reported earlier this month that Irish Olympic medallist Annalise Murphy no longer has her direct funding support from Sport Ireland.

Performance in competition is a prerequisite for the €40,000-per-annum support under the international carding scheme, also known as the ‘podium’ grand.

However, 29-year-old Annalise moved on from the Laser Radial class after her silver medal win in Rio in 2016.

She spent a number of months in 2017 and 2018 sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race before taking up the 49erFX with a view to qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

Annalise recently resumed winter trials with her new boat in Portugal, joined by sailing partner Katie Tingle now recovered from an arm injury sustained last year.

Their first competition as a duo is expected be the Sailing World Cup series regatta in Genoa, Italy this April.

And both will continue to be supported by Irish Sailing, with high performance director James O’Callaghan saying: “The important thing is that [Annalise is] full on campaigning for Tokyo, and we’re delighted to have her back.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in ISA

Minutes of the meeting that decided the inclusion of an Olympic keelboat event in place of the Finn class have been confirmed by the World Sailing council, according to Sail World.

Controversy has arisen after last month’s decision at World Sailing’s AGM in Florida and the publication of the draft minutes, when four members claimed their electronic votes were recorded incorrectly.

However, in a special teleconference last Friday 21 December, World Sailing’s council voted 22-11 with two abstentions to confirm the previously disputed minutes.

It means that the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event will go ahead at the Paris Olympics in 2024 — with no more room for Finn sailors.

Ireland has two in the Finn — Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden — competing for a place at Tokyo 2020, what’s now the last Olympic Games for the class. The move has been eyed with interest by Irish offshore sailors.

Sail World has further details of last weekend’s special World Sailing council meeting.

Published in Offshore

Mexican Laser sailor Yanic Gentry helped Annalise Murphy christen her new boat on its first day out on the water in Cadiz for winter training yesterday (Thursday 15 November).

The Olympic silver medalist announced earlier this month that she and her 49erFX partner Katie Tingle would be on the move to “somewhere warmer” after spending recent months getting to grips with the class on Dublin Bay — a situation that paused in the autumn due to Katie's arm injury.

While Katie is still on the mend, Annalise could not have have picked anywhere better than the Andalusian coast, near the gateway to the Mediterranean, to make every day count in her campaign to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Published in Annalise Murphy

As reported earlier today, World Sailing’s AGM confirmed the inclusion of a new Mixed Two-Person Keelboat event to replace the previously agreed Mixed One-Person Dinghy at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The International Finn Association has released a statement on the decision, which for now means the removal of the Finn class (indicated at the male equivalent in the Mixed One-Person Dinghy) from future Olympic Games after Tokyo in 2020.

Details have yet to emerge as to what boat will be used by those competing in the new mixed keelboat event, and evaluations may to be concluded by the Equipment Committee by next summer’s Mid-Year Meeting.

However, the development has already sparked interest — if not necessarily a desire to take part — among Irish keelboat sailors at the highest levels.

Thomas Dolan said he has the Paris Olympics squarely in his sights “especially as I should have a few years’ Figaro behind me by then”.

But the mixed keelboat news came as a surprise to the solo sailor, who had thought the idea to be a “dead duck” before last week’s announcements.

Meanwhile, David Kenefick admitted that he has “never had much desire” to go the Olympic route — though “if there was a Moth that might change”.

He added: “It would also be interesting to see what an offshore Olympics class would be like.”

However, Kenefick cautioned that as much as it’s an idea he would like to see, “I think it would be very expensive and with a low attendance" for 2024 at least.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#Finn - The International Finn Association (IFA) has spoken out over World Sailing’s unexpected decision to replace the Mixed One Person Dinghy event with a two-person keelboat class for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The 11th-hour change was made on the eve of the 2018 World Sailing Conference in Sarasota, Florida this week.

It overturns a previously agreed submission from this past May that had confirmed the mixed class — with the Finn indicated as the male equivalent — as a new event for the Paris Games.

In a statement, the IFA said the last-minute switch “is further driving our sport into expensive elitist Olympic events which will result in the decrease of universality and participation in Olympic sailing.”

The full statement by the Finn class can be read HERE.

Ireland has two Finn sailors — Fionn Lyden and Oisin McClelland — vying for a spot at what looks now to be the final Olympics for the class at Tokyo in 2020.

Published in World Sailing

#Tokyo2020 - Funding for Irish sailing and other watersports remains broadly unchanged in Sport Ireland’s allocations for National Governing Bodies in 2017 — though programmes encouraging women in rowing have received a boost.

However, the accompanying review of the Irish Olympic performance in Rio acknowledges that Ireland's medal target was not reached – raising questions of expectations for Tokyo 2020.

The report highlights that Ireland “does not fund sport seriously”, according to Irish Times sportswriter Johnny Watterson, who cites the absence of long-term funding in favour of annual, non-guaranteed allocations.

More than €20 million for sporting bodies and athletes, in line with last year’s allocations, was announced by Minister of State for Sport Patrick O’Donovan this week as Sport Ireland also published its review of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The 2017 investment comprises €1.8 million in direct athlete investment; €7.2 million in high performance programme funding; €10.8 million in National Governing Bodies core funding; and €600,000 for the Women in Sport Programme.

The Irish Sailing Association (€323k), Rowing Ireland (€210k), Irish Surfing Association (€65k) and Irish Underwater Council (€60k) will get sums unchanged from 2016, though Canoeing Ireland sees a cut in its allocation by €10,000 (€205k to €195k).

Sailing (€18k) and surfing (€7,000) also see unchanged sums for their Women in Sport programmes, but Rowing Ireland receives a boost to €45,000 from €35,000 in 2016.

Sport Ireland highlights that more than 15,000 women and girls participated in Rowing Ireland’s ‘Get Going Get Rowing’ programme last year, while over 300 took part in the Irish Surfing Women in Sport initiative, and more than 9,000 availed of the Swim Ireland programme for female participation.

In allocations for high performance programmes, the ISA’s share rises by €100,000 to €735,000 for 2017, while Rowing Ireland sees an even bigger boost in its HP grant from €400,000 last year to €525,000.

Canoeing Ireland, however, sees its HP allocation cut by almost 40% to from €65,000 €40,000.

Welcoming the increase in sailing investment, ISA high performance director James O’Callaghan called for perspective on the figures involved.

“We’re pleased with the €100,000 increase but the truth of the matter is we started off the year with a €60,000 deficit because of the cost of [competing in] Rio. So really, it’s status quo for sailing,” he said.

Athlete investment

In direct athlete investment, 16 international athletes are awarded ‘Podium’ funding for 2017 under the International Carding Scheme.

In rowing, Rio Olympic medallists Gary and Paul O’Donovan, along with Sanita Puspure, will each receive €40,000 in Podium funding, while Rio’s Laser silver medallist Annalise Murphy is the only sailor to qualify for that funding level.

Sinead Lynch, Claire Lambe (€20k each), Mark O’Donovan, Shane O’Driscoll and Denise Walsh (€12k each) round out the rowing recipients in the 2017 funding round.

Among other sailing recipients, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern each receive €20,000, Finn Lynch gets €12,000 and €16,000 goes to crew/transition athletes.

In canoeing and kayaking, Patrick O’Leary (para canoe), Tom Brennan, Liam Jegou, Jenny Egan and Michael Fitzsimon will each get €12,000 of International level funding.

Sailing ‘must diversify’

Meanwhile, Sport Ireland says its Rio Review provides a “blueprint” for campaigns heading into the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

In sailing, two of Ireland’s four classes competed in Rio “performed at or near expectations”, with the others cites for “credible results”.

The report adds: “Given it has been 36 years since Ireland last won an Olympic medal, this is an extremely exciting achievement and provides evidence of the success of the longer term strategy that ISA has been following for many years now.”

In its recommendations for sailing going forward, the report says work is underway “to diversify income to support the performance programme.

“In sports like sailing with significant capital needs, allocating funding on an annual basis is unhelpful. The sport and the athletes would be far more able to launch and deliver credible and performance based campaigns if funding was known over a longer period.”

However, the report also suggests that care must be taken by the ISA to remain within its budget allocation or “consider how difficult decisions might be made to invest in classes
with realistic chances of medalling” or other significant success.

Sailing would also benefit from more class competition within Ireland, the report adds.

“The review has identified the timescale to remedy the problems [within sailing],” said the ISA’s O’Callaghan. “But when are we going to see action to fix it?”

The picture for rowing is also less rosy, as Sport Ireland says “a lack of development structure and pathway is preventing the identification and progression of rowers to international
level”.

Despite that warning, Sport Ireland remains confident that “the current situation of recent history and success within this Olympic cycle represents a very strong position to be in.”

Consistency in training camps and post-training sessions is recommended by the report, which also suggests the use of biometric data to inform team performance.

The full Sport Ireland Rio Review is available as a PDF to read or download HERE.

Published in Tokyo 2020

#Rowing: Claire Lambe became the first Ireland international to win a women's Boat Race today. The Olympic oarswoman was in the three seat of the Cambridge boat which defeated Oxford easily in a race dominated by Oxford’s awful start. Their number four woman, Rebecca Esselstein, could not clear the water with her oar at the start and by the time the crew recovered the race was gone. Cambridge started well and won much as they liked.

They set a new record for a women’s crew (18 minutes 34 seconds) since the women’s race moved to London three years ago. The Cambridge coach, Rob Baker, is the former Ireland under-23 coach. “They were ruthless in the way they executed today,” Baker said.

Published in Rowing

#SailorOfTheYearOlympic hero Annalise Murphy has been named Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year for 2016.

August’s Sailor of the Month for her silver medal victory at Rio 2016 was presented with her prize by Irish Sailing Association (ISA) president David Lovegrove at the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards gala in Dublin’s RDS Concert Hall this evening (Friday 27 January).

Murphy was saluted by more than 300 of her fellow sailors, one of Irish sailing’s largest ever turnouts, for her Olympic triumph in the Laser Radial class – Ireland’s best achievement in sailing at the Games since David Wilkins and James Wilkinson won the Flying Dutchman silver at Moscow 1980.

That the National Yacht Club stalwart rallied from her heartbreak at London 2012, where she just barely missed out on a bronze medal, with an incredible display on the waters of Guanabara Bay made her success all the sweeter.

As Afloat.ie’s WM Nixon wrote in November, Murphy’s Olympic performance came after a 10-week transformation on the heels of a poor showing at the 2016 Worlds in Mexico:

“With her dedicated support team, she ensured that she’d become a hugely improved sailor, a fitter athlete and psychologically in a very good place, as she took on the Olympic challenge on August 8th with a cool confidence which in due course received its proper reward.”

It was an achievement that rightly captured the public’s imagination, too, providing Irish sailing with the greatest mainstream profile it’s enjoyed in years.

It’s already seen her recognised as The Irish Times/Sports Council of Ireland Sportswoman of the Year, Irish Tatler’s Woman of the Year, the Evening Echo’s Sports Star of the Year, and as one of Rehab’s two Sportspersons of the Year, not to mention her honorary membership of the Irish Sailing Foundation.

So it was surely to be expected that ‘Our Annalise’ would capture the public vote on Afloat.ie, as well as the votes of the judging panel to earn the prestigious award for a second time upon its 20th anniversary – two decades after first honouring that year’s own Olympic dinghy hero Mark Little, and four years on from her first win in recognition for her stellar efforts in London.

Accepting her prize, Annalise Murphy said: “As a kid I learned that maybe I wasn't the most talented, but I worked the hardest and that’s how I handled my sailing at the Olympics, and that’s what I’d advise all sailors to do now.”

Adding that the standing ovation from the ISA “means a lot to me”, she noted that it was “great to see all the Irish sailing achievements here, and that’s what I love in our great sport. It’s not all about the racing.”

Racing is still very much on Annalise’s agenda, however, with the first stage of her Tokyo 2020 campaign set for the Laser Radial Worlds this August.

Annalise’s accolade must also be seen in light of her fellow deserving nominees, all winners of Afloat.ie’s Sailor of the Month awards, and all of whom made remarkable and significant contributions to Irish sailing throughout the year.

Among them are a GP14 world champion in Shane MacCarthy, a Round Ireland record by Damian Foxall, a pioneering Vendée Globe effort by Enda O’Coineen, and youth sailor and future Olympic medal prospect Finn Lynch.

Irish sailing’s next generation was recognised in its own right on the night with the presentation of the Youth Sailor of the Year prize to Afloat’s racing Sailor of the Month for July, Ewan McMahon, alongside the Training Centre of the Year gong that this year went to Foynes Yacht Club, and two ISA President’s Awards – to Scottish Series racer Colin Moore, and Annalise Murphy's coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the latter of whom said of his eventful year: “It’s not just the Olympic result, it’s the inspiration of Annalise’s discipline routine in Dun Laoghaire that drives on our Laser sailors.”

 

In his address earlier this evening, ISA president David Lovegrove said he was “bowled over by the achievements of our sailors both at home and abroad.

“For such a small country, we achieve great things and our sailors are truly inspirational ambassadors for our sports and our country. 2016 was a year to make us all proud.”

But Lovegrove also took time to “celebrate the everyday heroes in sailing who don’t always get recognised by awards and cups – the volunteers who dedicate so much time, energy and passion to our sport, and who share their knowledge and expertise with other sailors.

“From the race officials to the instructors, to the coaches and the mark layers, the safety crews and those who carry out a multitude of tasks onshore: we simply could not enjoy sailing the way we do without you. Thank you.”

Hosted by master of ceremonies Fiona Bolger, chief executive of Spinal Injuries Ireland, along with Lovegrove and Afloat.ie’s own WM Nixon, the evening welcomed guests including members of the ISA Olympic and youth sailing squads, training centre principal, national senior and youth champions, class captains and club commodores, and a number of past Olympians and Sailors of the Year.

Among the crowd were the Royal Cork's Sally O’Leary and her husband Anthony, 2010's Sailor of the Year, who are looking forward to the club’s dinghy fest, along with a band of club mates including Gavin Deane, Admiral John Roche and Rear Admiral Kieran O'Connell and Tom Durcan, who has just welcomed home his son Johnny from Australia, and Ted Crosbie who recently retired from racing.

Brian O’Sullivan and Francis Clifford represented Tralee Bay Sailing Club in the audience this evening, while Paddy Boyd, who was returned from a stint as CEO of Sail Canada, was also present, as were Chris and Sandra Moore of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Peter Ryan of ISORA, ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney from Foynes Yacht Club, and Martin McCarthy of Annalise’s home club, the National YC in Dun Laoghaire.

Others in attendance included Cormac Devlin, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy.

Published in News Update
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