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With 149 days to go to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the British Olympic Association (BOA) announced yesterday five additional sailors from three classes selected to compete for Team GB this summer.

Nick Dempsey is set to become a five-time Olympian in Rio after the London 2012 silver medallist and Athens 2004 bronze medallist was selected for the RS:X Men's windsurfing class. If the double World Champion wins gold in Rio, he will become the most successful men's Olympic windsurfer in history.

Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, who finished fifth at the 2015 World Championships, will make their Olympic debuts in the 49erFX - a new event for Rio - with 2015 European Champions Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves following suit in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull event, which also sees its first Olympic Games outing this year.

The five sailors join those initially selected in September. However, from those selected in September, the BOA, in conjunction with the Royal Yachting Association, has made the difficult decision to deselect the 470 Men's pairing of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis. Due to Elliot's ongoing treatment for bowel cancer, as a two person crew, they are unfortunately unable to follow the combined training programme required to maximise their chances of success in Rio.

Selection trials in the 470 Men's event will therefore continue, with the trials in the 49er class also ongoing.

Team GB's sailing squad for Rio 2016:
Giles Scott: Finn
Nick Thompson: Laser
Alison Young: Laser Radial
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark: 470 Women
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth: 49erFX
Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves: Nacra 17
Bryony Shaw: RS:X Women
Nick Dempsey: RS:X Men

Published in Olympic
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With big winds up to 20–knots and large waves Annalise Murphy from the National Yacht Club was very much at home and off to a flying start at the in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria  at the European Laser Senior Championship 2016 yesterday where she is ranked seventh after the first day's racing. 14 out of the World's top 20 female Laser Radial sailors are competing. The Irish sailing star recently offered a prediction that she is one of eight girls who can medal in Rio in August. Results for all three divisions are downloadable below.

11 male and female Laser sailors from around the Irish coast are competing in the important regatta. In the women's division Annalise is well ahead of Irish rivals so far. Aoife Hopkins from Howth Yacht Club is 57th, Nicole Hemeryck from the National Yacht Club is 61st and Aisling Keller 68th in a fleet of 88.

The Laser Radial female competition is very tight, the two leaders in their own groups are tied, as well as the girls in third position (with a 2nd and two 4ths), Finish Tuula Tenkanen and Chinese Xu Lijia -Gold medalist in London 2012. The female leader board is headed by Dutch girl Marit Bouwmeester and Swedish Josefin Olsson, both with three wins in their resepctive groups.

With winds gusting to over 30 knots, the fleet was kept ashore for the opening day, but racing has got underway yesterday.

267 sailors from 47 countries participate in this Championship, organised by the Real Club Nautico de Gran Canaria, the European Laser Association (Eurilca) and the Real Federacion Española de Vela (RFEV).

Although sailors with Rio Sailing Olympic ambitions are competing in Gran Canaria Ireland is also represented in the mens radial where Ewan McMahon from Howth Yacht Club posted fifth yesterday. Conor O'Beirne from the Royal St. George YC is eighth and former Topper World Champion Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club is 19th.

Nick Thompson leads the Laser Standard class in the European Senior Championship. Three wins in the first three races gives the current World Champion the leading position in a demanding day. Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club in 54th leads Fionn Lyden of Baltimore Sailing Club in 73rd. Ballyholme's James Espey (leader of the Irish Olympic trial) is 77th and Darragh O’ Sullivan from Kinsale Yacht Club is 100th. Seafra Guilfolye of Royal Cork is listed as entered by not competing.

Published in Olympic

Fourth in London four years ago, National Yacht Club sailor Annalise Murphy is focused on a bid for Olympic glory but success in Rio is unlikely to be plain sailing she tells the Irish Times this morning.

Murphy has spent around 250 days last year out of the country chasing better than London 2012 and since then has been to Rio seven times. She will travel back to the venue another three or four times before August. Learning the geography and climate system and tides has become a necessity. 

“There’s probably eight girls that could all easily win the gold medal in the Laser Radial Class. There’s maybe three or four that are likely to win the gold medal but eight of us definitely have the potential to win. I think on my good days I’m in that eight,” she says.

Read Johnny Watterson's full interview with the Rathfarnham sailing star in the Irish Times here.

Listen to Annalise's recent RTE/Afloat Seascapes podcast here

Watch Annalise's rival Evi Van Acker on World Sailing TV here

Read David O'Brien's Rio’s 'ill wind threatens to undermine Annalise Murphy' story in the Irish Times here

Published in Annalise Murphy

Olympic sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern continue to stay very much on target at the 49er Worlds in America this week, surviving a very light day three of the championships in Clearwater, Florida. Yesterday, kicked off with a sunny, 4-8 knot variance giving everyone a sigh of relief and readiness. The Belfast duo are now 13th overall counting an 8, 26.0 2, 6.0 14.0.

The fleet rigged up and got after it early launching to make a 10am start. The breeze dropped quite a bit, but after one general recall, the fleets were able to begin their day. One race was sailed in a slowly dying 5-7 knots, but unfortunately a third of the fleets were DNF due to the almost non-existent pressure. Almost two hours later and the 49er gods finally answered the RC's prayers. A building sea breeze allowed the boys to sail three more races getting a total of four in before the ladies were sent out to reap the same wind benefits.

Published in Olympic

It has been a busy and successful few months for Uruguayan Finn sailor Alejandro Foglia. As well as joining the newly established Finn class development team FINNTEAM, he also became a Vice-President of the International Finn Association and to cap it off, qualified his country and himself for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Back in 2013, Foglia was one of the first recipients of Finn class funding to train at the Dinghy Academy in Valencia and says that was a crucial step for him to be able to reach his goal. “It is a big achievement. The Finn Class doesn’t exist in Uruguay and it was a completely new boat for me. Thanks to Luca Devoti and the Dinghy Academy I could make big steps in a short time to achieve my goal. To compete again in my fourth Olympic Games in this class is something very special and I am really looking forward to it.”

His qualification also makes him one of his country’s most outstanding athletes. “I am only the second athlete in the history of Uruguay to qualify for four Olympic Games, so this was something big, because Uruguay is a very small country of three million people, where the only big sport is football and the media talks only about football. Is also difficult to find funding to make a decent campaign. Very few private enterprises want to invest in individual sports.”

“The day I qualified for Rio 2016 there was some noise in Uruguay about me, and I made some interviews when I was there. The Federation doesn’t have the budget to support the sailors from Uruguay, but they help us to present our projects to the Government to get some funding from them.”

Foglia qualified for Rio at the 2015 Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna, last November. It was also a huge relief for the Uruguayan. “I really wanted to do the job in Takapuna and relax my head for the next year. Although before going to Takapuna I had to organise another boat to be shipped to the Sailing World Cup in Miami in case I didn’t qualify in New Zealand. Luca played a key role in this matter because he helped me to find another Fantastica to send with the Brazilian team to Miami. But it was a huge relief to qualify in Takapuna.”

“It is also very important for Uruguay because I am also only the fifth athlete to qualify in all sports, so it means a lot for me for all my family, my friends, my coaches and the people who support me in this career. Last year was a difficult year for me because I had two injuries and had to quit two major regattas, but I managed to come back to be strong and prove to myself that I can do it and be in the front with the top guys, so I am very happy with that.”

Season ahead
Following the Gold Cup in Takapuna Foglia took a well-earned rest, “After a long season I like to make a big rest, to reset and start the Olympic year with full energy. I went with Simone Ferrarese and Victor Gorostegui to Bali to surf in the paradise. After that I went home to spend Christmas and New Year with my family and friends.”

“For 2016, with Luca Devoti, we made a plan to compete in three regattas, the Europeans (starting in Barcelona on March 4), Palma and Finn Gold Cup (in Gaeta, Italy). For training I will be in Valencia at the Dinghy Academy with the whole team. Luca is also organising a training regatta in Valencia from 18-20 February, just before the Europeans in Barcelona. Then the last three weeks in June and the first in July I will be training in Rio.”

As well as being a member of the FINNTEAM development programme, Foglia became the International Finn Class Vice President for Development in 2015 and will play a crucial role in developing the class worldwide.

The concept of the FINNTEAM is to create a team of sailors from around the world who are in need of coaching and funding to develop skills and train together, and then source the funding that allows each of them to succeed and achieve their goals. Its principal source of funding is a crowdfunding campaign set up on to raise awareness of the team and its needs.

Speaking of his new role, Foglia said, “I am very happy to develop the class to get more countries into the Finn. The FINNTEAM also needs more activation. It's been a bit quiet so far and we need to get more people involved in the crowdfunding to support these guys. The FINNTEAM is currently a group of five sailors who don't have much support to travel to events and buy equipment.”

The motto of the FINNTEAM is ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM, highlighting the multi-national teamwork that is at the core of the initiative.

Irish sailor Oisin McClelland is part of the new FINNTEAM. Read more HERE

Published in Olympic
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#Rowing: The Afloat Rowers of the Year for 2015 are the Ireland men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls who qualified their boats for the Olympic Games in 2016.

Claire Lambe and Sinéad Jennings needed to finish in the top 11 at the World Championships in Aiguebelette in August/September. They seemed well-placed in their semi-final to qualify for the A Final, but were pushed into fourth as Canada finished with a remarkable sprint. The Ireland crew changed tactics for the B Final, and it worked. They finished ninth.

 The men’s lightweight double of Gary and Paul O’Donovan had a similar qualification mark in Aiguebelette. To have a shot they had to finish in the top three in their quarter-final, and they achieved this, pushing Hayden Cohen and Peter Taylor of New Zealand into fourth. They finished fifth in their semi-final and then booked their Rio place with a fifth-place finish (11th overall) in their B Final, eking out a place ahead of Greece, who had finished eighth at the Olympic Games in London.

 Afloat wishes both crews and all the Irish rowing community the very best in 2016.

Rower of the Year Award: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times and David O'Brien, Editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year appeared on The overall national award has been given to the crews who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results and made the most significant contribution to rowing during 2015. Keep an eye on progress in 2016.

Published in Rower of the Year

After the first of three Irish Laser Olympic trials was completed at the weekend, London 2012 sailors have established a lead in both mens and womens disciplines but the first trial, held as part of Copa Brasil de Vela regatta, on the Olympic waters itself, ended without any Laser medal race participation for Ireland.

In the mens division there was little to write home about from Rio, with nation qualifier James Espey from Belfast Lough only moving ahead of Finn Lynch by one place in the closing stage of the regatta to finish 38th from 48. Fionn Lyden was 43rd.

In the women's radial, Howth debutante Aoife Hopkins managed a 15th place in her last race of the day having recovered from a broken mast to be 28th place overall. Annalise Murphy took 15th place overall, her best result was a third in race three. The former European champion also scored a seventh in race five but all other results were critically outside the top ten if London 2012's fourth place finish is to be improved on next August.

Full Laser results are downloadable below.

There was also Irish participation in the mens 49er and 49erfx, both teams were treating the regatta as a 'training event', according to the ISA. The Irish skiffs were penalised for not launching off the prescribed regatta slipway (a beach). The Irish 49erfx sailed by Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey made Saturday's medal race cut.

ISA Press Release 21/12/2015): 

Following a week of sailing at the Copa Brasil in Rio, Providence Team IRL sailors and London 2012 Olympians, Annalise Murphy and James Espey take the lead their respective trials.

It was an act of sportsmanship that was unnecessary but reflects the class of Annalise Murphy. Her rival for the Olympic berth, Aoife Hopkins, broke her mast and would have been unable to compete in the last race had it not been for Murphy’s intervention. Annalise lent the young Howth sailor her own spare mast. Aoife gratefully accepted the generous offer and went on to post her best race of the event finishing 15th. Murphy’s class shone in other ways too during the regatta, which regularly saw temperatures over 40 degrees and light, fickle winds. She placed 3rd in one of the ‘light’ races but it was her consistency throughout the week that will be a real boost to her confidence coming into 2016. Annalise finished 15th and Aoife 28th overall. The second trial event is the ISAF World Cup regatta in Miami at the end of January.

In the men’s trial, James Espey holds pole position by the tiniest of margins. Espey finished in 38th while Finn Lynch finished 39th. Close behind was UCC scholarship student Fionn Lyden in 43rd. This effectively means the Men’s trials is very much still a three horse race. For Lynch it was a significant achievement to get to the start line, as only five weeks ago he dislocated his shoulder and was in a race against time to get fit, and only managed to make it with intensive rehabilitation. James Espey, Ireland’s 2012 Olympic representative will be drawing on all his experience to try and widen the gap at the next trial event – the Princess Sofia regatta in late March, in Palma, Mallorca. Overall, James Espey has 38 points, Finn Lynch 39 and Fionn Lyden 43.

Both Skiff campaigns also raced in Rio, and while overall results were not spectacular, there were positives. Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern were happy to bag a race win on the Olympic waters. Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey got to experience a Medal race final a feat they will hope to repeat next summer.

Standings after 1st Trial Regatta:

Laser Radial
· Annalise Murphy 15 points
· Aoife Hopkins 28 points

Laser Standard
· James Espey 38 points
· Finn Lynch 39 points
· Fionn Lyden 43 points.

Published in Olympic

National Yacht Club sailors from Dun Laoghaire lead both the mens and womens Irish Olympic Laser Trials in the early stages in Rio. Anomalies in the scoring of Ill Copa Brazil de Vela have been resolved and overall results after four races now in the women's Laser Radial class show Annalise Murphy in 13th place in the 44–boat fleet with Aoife Hopkins 28th. Best results so far are a third for Murphy in race three, Hopkins has scored 22nd in races two and three. Belgium's Evi Van Acker continues her overall lead. 

Yesterday, in a confusing situation, Murphy was scored as a 'Did Not Compete' and ranked last but an overhaul of the official scoresheet has rectified this and also increased the number of competitors to 44. 

Ill Copa Brazil de Vela is the first of three Olympic Laser trials for two Irish Laser Olympic places. In total this gives the trials series 32 races over six months, with four now sailed.

In the mens division, Finn Lynch is 32nd and best of three Irish in the 48–boat fleet. Fionn Lyden is 40th and James Espey, Ireland's London 2012 representative, is 44th.

Official results are downloadable below.

Published in Olympic

In spite of qualifying the nation for Rio 2016, both London 2012 Laser sailors Annalise Murphy and James Espey face a test for their Olympic places on Rio waters this afternoon. The first of three Irish Olympic sailing trials begins at Copa Brasil De Vela regatta and three young Irish pretenders (from an earlier possible shortlist of eight) seek to unseat Murphy and Espey for the two Rio berths available.

In the Womens Laser Radial class, Aoife Hopkins threw down the gauntlet to Irish sailing sensation Murphy a month ago. The Howth Yacht Club backed 17–year–old declared for the Radial trial in an ambitious campaign that's ultimate aim is a medal in Tokyo 2020.

In the mens division, Belfast's Espey comes up against ISAF silver medalist Finn Lynch and West Cork's Fionn Lyden. At one stage there was arguably two more would be contenders but both Seafra Guilfoyle of Royal Cork and Daragh O'Sullivan of Kinsale ruled themselves out of the costly trials series. The build up to the trials has not been without its own drama when the National Yacht Club's Lynch dislocated a shoulder a month ago.


Hanging around waiting for wind?

Posted by James Espey Sailing on Monday, 14 December 2015

Both mens and womens Laser divisions will race ten races with a single discard on the Olympic waters and the forecast is for winds of less than eight knots after some stormy weekend weather.

Racing begins at 1pm local time, two hours behind GMT. The NOR is downloadable below.

The Irish Sailing Association coach Rory Fitzpatrick and the  ISA's Olympic Sailing Group member Trevor Millar, (who is Founder and Executive Director of the Laser coaching service, Sailcoach Ltd ) are monitoring the Irish trial.

Despite strong winds and rain that hammered Rio at the weekend the race progamme is going ahead without amendments, even though there a reports of increased pollution in the bay.

The competiton runs until 20 December and will be based in San Francisco beach in Niteroi, and will be used used by the host nation to fill the remaining spots of the Brazilian Sailing Team in the Olympics. 

An event website is here with no entry list available. Twitter followers are using # vempravela ‪#‎agoraébra‬.

After Copa Brasil de Vela, the Irish trial continues with the 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, and the 2016 Laser Radial World Championships (Women) and the 2016 Laser World Championships (Men).







Published in Olympic

The Irish Paralympic Sailors jump two places and lie second of nine contenders for one of six places on the start line in Rio next year. The Sonar Sailing team jumped two places today to 7th overall with a 4th in both races at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia.

The first race for all three fleets of boats was run in a warm northerly breeze of 15 knots or so, with gusts of up to 20 knots. However, in the second race, the breeze built quickly with challenging conditions for all sailors. The very strong gusts, reported at 30 knots, caught many crews unawares, with spectacular results. Two of the boats in the Skud sailing fleet broke their masts and had to be towed ashore unable to finish their second race of the day.
With five more races to go, Austin O'Carroll, one of the crew of the Irish Paralympic team said: "We are at last competing at the very top of the fleet. We are really pleased but need to keep plugging in those top results."
Apart from the leading boat, Australia, scores are still quite close in this fleet and give the promise of some further great competition over the next three days.
Among the 18 boats in the Sonar fleet, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Greece and Norway have already booked their place at Rio 2016.
However Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Spain, the United States and the US Virgin Islands will be chasing the remaining six spots on offer, with three teams set to miss out on berths for the Games.
The Irish Paralympic Sailing Team comprising John Twomey, Ian Costello and Austin O'Carroll is campaigning to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. This final qualifying event is being hosted by one of the oldest sailing clubs in Australia, the Royal Yacht Club Victoria, Williamstown, Melbourne from November 28th to the 3rd of December 2015. The event comprises of eleven races, two for each of the first five days with the final race on Dec 3rd.
The team compete in the 23 foot Sonar Class, which for Paralympic events is a two sails keelboat. The Irish team are currently ranked 5th in the world.
Racing out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, a small suburb of Melbourne, competitors are seeking to qualify for a place on the start line in the Paralymic Games in Rio, Brazil 2016. The Irish team need to secure a place in the top six overall in this championship to secure their place on the start line in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Entries from 31 countries and 81 boats comprising 142 sailors are competing for just 35 places to participate in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil next year. The fleet of sailors across three different types of boats include 45 sailing the 2.4mR (single person boat), 18 sailing the SKUD 18 (two person boat) and 18 sailing the Sonar (three person boat).

In total, 35 athletes, across three fleets of boats will book their spot at Rio 2016 in Melbourne. Seven spots in the 2.4mR, five in the SKUD18 and six in the Sonar will be up for grabs.

Published in Olympic
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