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Two Dublin Laser sailors are into the gold fleet of their respective fleets at the World Championships at Aarhus, Denmark but Finn Lynch and Aoife Hopkins will both will need to up their game if Olympic nation qualification is to be achieved next week.

Gusting winds at the Hempel Sailing World Championships at Aarhus, Denmark today saw the sailors deliver qualification into their respective Gold fleets. The progress keeps alive the promise that Ireland can deliver at least two nation places at this championships.

After six races over the past three days in the 165-boat Men’s Laser event, Rio 2016 veteran Lynch, who is a full-time sailor, comfortably reached the Gold fleet after posting 18th and 13th places for the day.

Howth Yacht Club’s Hopkins, who is a Trinity College Maths Student, matched her opening day form which was also enough to qualify for the Gold fleet.

Over 1,500 athletes are competing in all 10 Olympic classes for the first opportunity to qualify their nations for Tokyo 2020. 

The top 14 by nation is proving elusive however for Lynch and the National Yacht Club single-hander will need a step-up in form when racing resumes on Tuesday and Wednesday following a well-earned rest day. 

World U21 Bronze medallist Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club was unlucky to miss the cut for Gold fleet after posting his best day of the series with a 12th a 17th. He was just five places off the cut and will now start in the Silver fleet on Tuesday.

In the Womens’ Laser Radial event Hopkins matched her opening day form with a 33rd and 35th for the day which was enough to qualify for the Gold fleet. Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller was unlucky in the second race of the day when she was disqualified after starting early and she slips to the Silver fleet at 105th overall.

The Mens’ 49er skiff event will be the only Irish-interest qualification series continuing on Monday for the final three races of the round. London and Rio veteran Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme, now paired with Séafra Guilfoyle of the Royal Cork Yacht Club posted their best day today when they scored top results for the two races. Three races remain on Monday with an improvement from their current 41st overall to 29th or better needed to make the Gold fleet.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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After two days of racing, Laser sailor Finn Lynch from the National Yacht Club had a fourth place, his second top ten of the four races, and lies 24th overall and inside the cut for the Gold fleet at the World Sailing Championships Aarhus, Denmark.

Fresh conditions greeted the 14 Irish sailors competing at the championships today where a full programme of races was completed and classes start looking towards Gold, Silver and Bronze fleet splits. 

Silver Fleet for Irish Finns

After three tough days afloat, the single-handed Finn fleet completed its qualification series of six races where Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden narrowly missed a place in Gold fleet by two spots when he placed 47th overall. Oisin Mcclelland from Donaghadee SC wasn't much further behind in 52nd overall. 

The Finn class takes a well-earned rest day on Sunday ahead of four more races on Monday and Tuesday with both Irish boats competing in the Silver fleet.

Lynch Counts Second Top Ten Result

Rio 2016 veteran Finn Lynch from the National Yacht Club had a fourth place, his second top ten of the four races sailed to date and lies 24th overall and currently inside the cut for the Gold fleet. Crucially for Ireland's prospects for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he is close to the top 14 by nation count that will qualify for the next games at this world championships.

"Some tricky 5-15 knot shifty offshore winds today made for difficult conditions! I got caught out with a 50 degree left shift in Race 1 and finished up 46th. Managed to bounce back well in Race 2 with a 4th leaving me 234rd overall as it stands", Lynch told supporters on social media.

Liam Glynn from Ballyholme YC also enjoyed a top ten result with an eighth but followed this with a 42nd in the second race. With his discard already used for a 52nd place in the opening race on Friday he now lies 85th overall with two races tomorrow to decide the Gold/Silver/Bronze fleet split in the 165-boat fleet.

Aoife Hopkins Moves Up to 44th

In the women's Laser Radial event, Howth YC's Aoife Hopkins had a good day posting an 18th and a seventh places for the day, a step-up in form from Friday that moves her to 44th overall. Lough Derg's Aisling Keller didn't fare so well with a 53rd and 46th for the day. Like the Mens' event, two further races in the qualification round will be sailed tomorrow. 

Seaton & Guilfoyle Avoid Total Disappointment

Meanwhile, the full Irish line-up was afloat today as the 49er skiff series got underway for the four crews that had a three-race day. London and Rio veteran Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme YC, now paired with Seafra Guilfoyle from the Royal Cork YC averted total disappointment by scoring a seventh in the third race of the day but that leaves them third Irish boat and 49th overall.

Top Irish honours amongst the 49ers for the day goes to the Howth and Skerries pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove who had an eighth and a 13th before being denied a top three when they capsized short of the finishing-line in the third race. The Dublin Northside duo are best of the Irish boats in 38th overall.

"The Dublin Northside duo are best of the Irish boats in 38th overall"

Baltimore's Mark Hassett and Schull's Oisin O'Driscoll also had a top ten result and lie 49th overall while Sean and Tadgh Donnelly from the National YC had two consistent 14th places after discarding a 'Did Not Finish' score after they suffered gear failure in the opening race.

Tidey Seventh in 49erFX

In the 49erFX womens skiff, Annalise Murphy has yet to enter the fray, as training continues on Dublin Bay with new crew Katie Tingle, so Irish interest lies with Irish Rio veteran Saskia Tidey who is in seventh place sailing with Charlotte Dobson for Team GB.

Racing continues on Sunday for Laser, Laser Radial and 49er events with a strong wind forecast.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins carried the Irish flag in tonight’s opening ceremony for the 90 nations represented at the Sailing World Championships in Denmark.

Team Ireland has already been in action on Day One with two Finns competing in the Gold Cup staged as part of the event. Oisin McClelland leads Fionn Lyden after a single race sailed. More here.

Along with Aisling Keller from Lough Derg YC, Hopkins, the youngest team member, will begin competing on Friday in the single-handed Laser Radial class.

The Mens’ Laser event also begins tomorrow so Finn Lynch from the National YC and Liam Glynn from Ballyholme YC will start their world championship series.

A light air forecast for Friday is on the cards.

More on the Irish team competing here and podcast with Team Manager James O'Callaghan on World Championships prospects here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Fionn Lyden from Baltimore Sailing Club and Oisin McClelland from Donaghadee Sailing Club were amongst 90 competitors that spent up to eight hours afloat as the sea breeze fought to become established on day one of the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

Racing eventually got underway at 4pm local time and saw McClelland place 16th while his West Cork counterpart did well to recover ground and finish 21st in their 45-boat flight. A total of 90 sailors are competing in the Finn class.

Finn 9Oisin McClelland (Finn number 9) on part tack looks for a lane in the approach to the weather mark Photo: Robert Deaves

Both McClelland and Lyden are aiming for the single place for Ireland on the Tokyo startline. A total of 19 nations can be represented in Japan and the 40 per cent of places to be allocated in Aarhus means either sailor must finish in the top eight nations.

The Finn Gold Cup got off to a slow start after only one race was possible as the gradient and thermal breezes fought all day long. When the sea breeze finally won late in the afternoon, Jorge Zarif and Josip Olujic took the race wins in their groups after a shifty race in 8-12 knots of wind.

The Finns were unusually split into groups, and even more unusually the groups were sailing separately, meaning that yellow group was scheduled to sail two races and then the blue group. However, on arrival at the course area, there was not enough wind to race. After an hour, race officer Peter Reggio moved the fleet to another area close to the Aarhus shoreline. For a while the wind come off the shore, but then switch to the sea breeze, and back again. One race was even started with an offshore wind but was abandoned after a few minutes as the breeze evaporated in the stiflingly
hot Danish air.

Finally at around 4pm, a sea breeze became established onshore and the racing got underway. Blue group had also been brought out and the fleets sailed one race, with a 10-minute gap between starts.

In Yellow group, while most of the fleet favoured the left, the leaders emerged from the right. After almost being cut in half by a media boat out of the start it was James Dagge from Hong Kong leading at the top from Dave Shilton, from South Africa and Can Adurak, from Turkey. Dagge, in his first full year in Finns, managed to hold onto his lead downwind and up the second beat. However, with Oscar raised at the top of the second upwind could he not hold off Zarif, from Brazil, and Guillaume Boisaard, from France.

In Blue group, Olujic also went right and led round the top and was never headed. He was followed round by Lukasz Lesinski, from Poland, and Joan Cardona Mendez, from Spain. While Lesinski slipped back Cardona held on for second and the defending world champion Max Salminen, recovered to cross third.

Olujic said, “The race was pretty tricky I was lucky that I could watch the group before us and saw that there were some shifts and some changes to what was my strategy before the start. So I decided to start at the committee boat and tried to keep the right side, which at the end was a good decision I was leading from the top mark and was more or less controlled downwind and on the second upwind and on the last downwind I extended so it was kind of easy when I was in front.”

“It’s really nice to win the first race of the Gold Cup especially as we all know it’s the major event after the Olympics so I am happy with that.”

Defending champion Salminen was pleased to get the first race out of the way without incident. “It’s nice to get going finally. Always a bit nervous before the first race, therefore, it's even more satisfying to get away with a solid keeper. I finished third in the race after waiting for a long time for the sea breeze, and in the end it was a decent race.”

However, the major story of the day was the outstanding performance of the sailors that were part of the Emerging Nations Program. Eight sailors had received assistance and training before the worlds. One of these was James Dagge who led most of his race, but also Dave Shilton and several others put down some markers today.

Dagge explained his day, “Excellent first race. It’s a shame we didn’t get two races but the race committee did a really good job to get that one in. We were waiting for five hours.”

“I managed a really good start and first work and was first round the top mark. That felt pretty good…until you see this wall of boats chasing you downwind. That’s a bit daunting.”

“I thought it was a bit optimistic that some of the guys thought the breeze would go left considering how late in the day it was. So we thought it was going to go back to the right, which it did, fortunately.”

“The training we have been doing with the ENP and with Mads (Bendix) has been really good. It has helped out a lot. We have trained in that race area quite a few times.”

“I always knew it was going to be extremely hard to keep those guys behind me; when you have a couple of the best guys in the world 20 metres behind you, you have a pretty serious job to keep them there, but when you are out in front you can play your own game and do what you want.”

“The boat was going really well. Unfortunately, they got me on the last run, towards the end when I gybed back to the gate mark too late, and finished third, but still pretty happy with that.”

“Tough first day and excited to see what tomorrow brings.”

Racing is scheduled to continue Friday at 12.00

Results after one race
1 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 1
1 CRO 1 Josip Olujic 1
3 ESP 26 Joan Cardona Mendez 2
3 FRA 9 Guillaume Boisard 2
5 HKG 8 James Dagge 3
5 SWE 33 Max Salminen 3
7 GBR 96 Hector Simpson 4
7 TUR 35 Can Akdurak 4

9 GBR 91 Ben Cornish 5

9 RSA 1 David Shilton 5

Full results:

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ireland's two Finn dinghies are the first of fourteen Irish sailors in Aarhus, Denmark to make their bid for an Olympic berth in Tokyo in two years time this morning when both Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden vie for the single 2020 berth on offer at the Sailing World Championships. Read more on the Irish Team here.

The Finn class is not only the physically toughest of all the Olympic classes, but the level of the competition is perhaps at its highest level for a long time so it will be a tough World Championship debut for both Irish greenhorns.

At their last meet at Kiel in Germany, Oisin McClelland (33rd) pipped Fionn Lyden (35th) by two places in the final standings, staking his claim on the lone Tokyo 2020 berth that’s set to be decided this morning.

Unusually, for the Finn class, the format for today's racing sees two fleets, one due in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Normally they race in one big fleet. Attached below is the schedule of races.

Aarhus, city of sails and 1,400 dreams. The countdown is almost over and after four years of preparation, the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 will begin this morning in the Bay of Aarhus in a building wind beneath an unending sun.

With 1,400 sailors from 85 nations in close to 1,000 boats in 10 Olympic classes studded with stars old and new, the competition (August 2-12) promises to be ferocious, with epic head-to-heads in every fleet. More than 1,100 volunteers will make sure everything goes smoothly.

There is even more than medals at stake as these Sailing World Championships are the first and largest qualification regatta for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and Enoshima (sailing), with 40% of the places being decided. We could have our first Olympic qualifiers from the Finn, or 470s - the three classes to launch on Thursday - decided by Saturday. The individual sailors cannot qualify for the Olympics through the World Championships but the nations can claim their spot.

The excitement in the city and the boat parks are palpable, particularly for the Danish competitors. Even the seasoned home Olympic champions have never experienced anything quite like it. A gleaming new Aarhus International Sailing Center will bear witness to it all.

"It's amazing how big it is," JonasWarrer, the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist in the 49er, who grew up a mile away, said. "The interest is far bigger than anything before, it's more like the Olympics, except it's happening where I grew up. Everyone is coming to Aarhus. I grew up just there, the other side of Riis Skov wood. To have your friends here watching is incredible."

Likewise for Jena Mai Hansen, a bronze medallist (with Katja Salskov-Iversen) in the 49erFX in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I'm super-excited, this is a dream come true," Hansen said. "Denmark dreamed about this for years and we're all so happy that it finally happened. This is a city of sailors, and it's also so young. This event is perfect for Denmark and this city especially. There are not many places that would be able to be hosts like this."

The World Sailing Championships are where the future meets the past. Illustrious names from the Olympics and beyond find the next generation vying for all their tomorrows. That has never been the case more than in Aarhus 2018.

The only Olympic champions from Rio missing are Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (New Zealand, 49er) and Giles Scott (Great Britain, Finn). Sime Fantela (Croatia, Men's 470) has switched to the 49er. But the rest are here along with those who chased them onto the podium, the rising stars and those from their own countries seeking to seize the one national Olympic spot.

The plots and sub-plots will twist and turn with each race, starting with the Finn and 470s. In the Finn, the Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Caleb Paine (USA), is back on form after taking 2017 out. Jorge Zarif (BRA), who just missed out in Rio, is the form man.

Previous Worlds medallists, Edward Wright (GBR) and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) will also be competing in Aarhus, but it will be hard not to keep an eye on Australia's Tom Slingsby, the Laser gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympics. After not quite getting an Australian America's Cup bid to fly, he has switched to the Finn after six years out of dinghy sailing. He is lighter on pounds and practice than he would like in this class of the giants, but he sprinkles the kind of stardust evident throughout the fleet.

There is more America's Cup experience in the shape of New Zealand's Josh Junior and Andy Maloney (both Finn), winners with Team NZ in Bermuda in 2017.

In the women's 470, three Olympic medallists - Hannah Mills (GBR), who took gold in Rio 2016 after silver at London 2012 - Camille Lecointre (FRA) and Fernanda Oliveira (BRA), will all be sailing with new crews. Mills, who has a new partnership with Eilidh McIntyre, picked out the Japanese and Spanish crews as particular threats. Her words also echoed those of the other champions through the boat parks.

"I tend to perform better under high pressure," Mills said. "I probably let myself off the hook a bit too much when it doesn't feel like it really matters. For Elidh and I it's good to be in this position because you hope going into the Olympics this is the position you're going to be in; that everyone wants to try and beat you and so to have it now, I think it's great experience for us as a team."

In the men's 470, Mathew Belcher & William Ryan (AUS), Panagiotis Mantis & Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) and Luke Patience (GBR) are Olympic medallists and will be the ones to beat.

And that is just for starters. Coming up, in the 49erFX, the top four from Rio will continue their battles across the world. Four three of the helms - gold medallist, Martine Soffiati Grael, Jena Hansen and Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez - the contest takes onadded dimension, having just been facing each other offshore in the 65ft Volvo Ocean Race boats.

Meanwhile, among a deep and powerful Nacra 17 fleet still mastering the foils, Nathan Outteridge, the Olympic gold medallist in London 2012, silver medallist in Rio 2016 and latterly and America's Cup skipper with Artemis, will be in a new partnership with his sister Haylee. Meanwhile, Outteridge's old partner, Iain "Goobs" Jensen will be back crewing in the men's 49er.

And can anyone beat the formidable flying Dutchwoman, Marit Bouwmeester, in the Laser Radial?

More on the windsurfers when they start on Sunday, but this fifth edition of the Sailing World Championships will also include kiteboarding, for men and women, for the first time.

They will all be cheered on by a deeply knowledgeable crowd on the pontoon, especially for the stadium sailing courses. "They say that you're never more than 50km away from the sea wherever you are in Denmark - and that you're usually standing next to a sailor," Lars Lundov, CEO of Sport Event Denmark, said. "So, the whole of Denmark is really proud to welcome the world to the Aarhus. The 1,100 volunteers who will be helping to bring this event alive are testament to that."

"These Sailing World Championships are the result of the long-term collaboration between the Danish sailing federation, the City of Aarhus and Sport Event Denmark. Their legacy will be for the whole of the sailing world and fans both old and new. When we bid to be the hosts we said Aarhus would be the right place at the right time, now we are going to prove that."

Another proud Dane, is World Sailing's president, Kim Andersen. "To host the Hempel Sailing World Championships in my home country and in Aarhus, a legendary sailing city, is a very special feeling," Andersen said. "From the 29 August 1866, when Aarhus hosted English, Norwegian and Danish sailors in the first international competition on these waters, the city has become a renowned venue, regularly hosting youth and elite competition.

"Over the next two weeks, Aarhus will come alive once again with the sights and sounds of world class sailors, the stars of the sport and I look forward to seeing everyone on the water."

Let the Championships begin.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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In an indicator of what competition Irish Olympic sailing campaigners might expect at the Arhaus Sailing World Championships, four 49er crews have been finding out just how hot the competition is at the 49er European Championships in Gdynia, Poland this week. 

Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle have qualified for the Gold Fleet but it hasn't been straightforward for the Belfast–Cork pairing. They have had a 'topsy-turvy' series so far counting two wins alongside some results they’ll want to forget in a 90-boat fleet. It leaves them just inside the GOLD fleet cut of top 25 in 20th place.

Ireland also has three 'development' teams competing. Mark Hassett with Oisin O’Driscoll, Robert Dickson with Sean Wadilove and Sean Donnelly with Tadgh Donnelly. All development teams have been targeting Silver fleet qualification at the moment Hassett and O’Driscoll look the most likely to squeeze inside the cut but a good day from the Howth pairing of Dickson and Waddilove could also see them make the cut.

Results are here 

Meanwhile, Royal Irish Yacht Club Sailor Saskia Tidey, now sailing for Team GB towards Tokyo selection, is 11th from 48 in the women's 49erFX, another result for the Dun Laoghaire sailor in a class that has yet to see Annalise Murphy make her debut later this season

Lady luck shone on the men’s 49er skiff fleet this morning, as the final day of qualifying for the European Championship began just off the beach in Gdynia.  There wasn’t much, but a relatively stable 8-9 knots of wind and confused, steep chop provided plenty of power for all three 49er fleets to start and finish 3 full races and complete 10 qualifiers.  The afternoon fleets of women’s FX skiffs and mixed Nacra 17 cats would never see that much wind and they struggled barely notching a single race.

“We had 3 good races for the men this morning, and unfortunately the women’s FX and Nacra struggled with light wind, getting a number of general recalls and black flag starts before they were able to run one race in each fleet,” said Principal Race Officer David Campbell-James.

The long time Olympic official – known in yachting circles only as “CJ” - said the tough thing about the afternoon wasn’t necessarily the wind – there was generally 5 or 6 knots – as much as the sloppy sea state.  The morning’s higher breeze gave the men’s skiffs enough power to deal with the confused chop, something the FX and Nacra sailors didn’t have later in the afternoon.

Strange sea states and tricky breeze means tricky starts, and today was no exception: In the men’s skiff fleet alone, race committees handed out 22 black flag disqualifications (BFDs) for early starts including several during a general recall.  “I really like to avoid giving out `disqualifications, but after enough recalls and false starts, it becomes the only option if you want to get a race in,” said James.

The race officer thinks the sailors are going to have to get used to this wind for the rest of the regatta.“It’s looking pretty similar to conditions we’ve had so far, but I’m going to be optimistic and hope for ten knots of breeze for the final three days,” added CJ with a sigh.

Black Flag Blues and Indian Excitement in 49er

Those 22 disqualifications effected teams throughout the 49er fleet, knocking a number of teams well back into the standings, with several falling below the 25th position and out of Gold Fleet when the finals begin tomorrow.  Top French duo Fischer/Jauvin were pushed back to 27th place, while last year’s 4th place finisher at Europeans – Plazzi/Tesei – fell all the way back to 30th at the end of the qualification round.  No one fell harder than Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson though – the young Aussies were sailing a blinder, holding onto 16thplace until this morning’s gun.  After sailing a 32 (BFD), 32 (UFD), 11.0 score, they dropped all the way to 32nd, well out of gold fleet.

It wasn’t all bad news, though: 21 year olds Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie went from zeros to heros after black flagging out of Race 9 and falling well before the gold fleet cutoff.  They stormed through the fleet to an easy win in the final qualifying race, sneaking onto the big stage in the final spot by just a 3 point margin.  “We were a bit sceptical at first that we’d make that last mark, but we’re pushing hard and really happy to make it.”

The big names’ misfortune meant great news for some teams, including the first-ever Indian 49er team to make Gold Fleet at a major championship: Ganapathy Kelapanda and Varun Thakkar in 24th place.  “We really had to work for this but we want really thank everyone who’s been part of our journey.”
Glittering Gold For New FXers

With the wind dropping off but the choppy waves barely subsiding, the FX fleets suffered multiple postponements, course changes, general recalls, and finally black flag starts, though those caught by the jury were effected less than the men’s 49er teams.  The surprise standout  Spanish team of Carla and Marta Munte had their worst day of the week, finishing the round with a BFD, but their scores have been so consistently good that they dropped just one place to third overall, tied on countback with Roble/Shea (USA).  Another sister/sister team – Rio Olympians Maia and Ragna Agarup (NOR) – sailed to perfection, taking two bullets with aggressive downwind sailing and brilliant tactics including a last-gybe pass over Sweden’s Julia Gross and Hanna Klinga.

The ‘bubble’ team of Amelia Stabback and Ella Clark (AUS) were overjoyed to grab that 25th position for their first trip to gold fleet.  “We lost a lot of position in our last race so we’re still a bit disappointed, but we’re really happy to get into gold and move up from here.” Said Stabback.  The Aussie team’s improvement comes down to a lot of training over the southern summer and constant work on their game, along with the sage advice and guidance from supercoach Javier Torres Del Moral, who helped lead Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze to Rio Gold. “Javi joined us just before we went to New Zealand for our training camp, and we’re absolutely loving working with him,” said Clark.  “He knows exactly what he’s talking about, and just has the best energy.

Nacra 17 Scandinavians With First Chance at Gold

The two Nacra 17 qualifying fleets suffered the worst at the hands of capricious breeze and lumpy chop, with multiple recalls and race abandonments calling an end to the foiling catamarans’ day after scoring just one race in both qualifying fleets. 

The usual suspects moved through easily to the gold fleet with few changes on the day, though a few new faces will join Gold Fleet tomorrow. 

Despite sailing in the Nacra together for 5 years, top Norwegians Nicholas Martinsen and Martine Mortensen were all smiles when they found out they’d not only made their first Gold Fleet at Europeans, but they’d made it comfortably, in 20th place. “It’s great to finally get some results, to be up there,” said Mortensen.  Martinsen said they’d made big changes to their campaign this winter, and they are really making a difference.  “For the first years we were all by ourselves with no partners or coaches,” he explained.  “We now have some support from Norway Sailing Federation, and the coach they provided is really helping our game out.”  Martinsen also said that their winter training camp with a number of other teams in Cagliari, Sardinia helped their game as well.  “Winter was lots of racing, lots of boat handling, lots of starts, and lots of fun,” said Martinsen.

Top Swedish Nacra skipper Emil Järuud made his first-ever gold fleet at a major Nacra championship despite a forgettable performance in his single race today.  “It just didn’t feel good out there today.  Nothing worked, we had trouble keeping the speed up in the chop and light winds, trouble keeping our lanes, just really not good,” said Järuud, who felt strong about the next few days.  “We think we figured out the problem by the end of the day, and we feel ready to have good finishes the rest of the week.”


The Top 25 teams in 49er and FX split off to sail in Gold Fleet today, while 27 Nacra 17s will do the same.  FX and Nacra scoring in the bottom half of the fleet move to Silver Fleet, while the bottom 64 teams in the 49er will split into Silver and Bronze fleets.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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With the prospect of the Tokyo Olympic Regatta just two years away, the first qualification opportunity for Irish sailors takes place in Denmark at the start of August. A total of 14 Irish sailors will be competing and the bulk of them were in Dublin this morning for a pre-event briefing and media opportunity but the Olympic Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy was absent due to Volvo Ocean Race duties. 

As previously reported, The Sailing World Championships will be staged in Aarhus, Denmark from 30th July to 10th of August 2018 and 1,500 competitors from 100 countries are expected.

Importantly, the World Championships are the first of three opportunities for each country to win a single place at each of 10 sailing events for the Olympics. Once qualified, selection and nomination of athletes will follow.

Ireland has sailors competing in four classes of boats: 49er, Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Finn.

Olympic silver medallist Murphy, currently competing in the closing stages of the Volvo Ocean Race will not attend Aarhus but recently announced that she will switch discipline from the single-handed Laser Radial to the double-handed women's 49erFX skiff event. She has paired up with Katie Tingle and they will begin training together in July.

Murphy's switch to the skiff event leaves two rising stars in the Laser Radial as Howth's Aoife Hopkins and Lough Derg's Aisling Keller contest the single-handed class.

Over in the men’s events, the Laser Standard rig features Rio 2016 Olympian Finn Lynch from Carlow and Belfast Lough sailor Liam Glynn competing in this demanding event.

The men's 49er skiff class features two-time Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton from Belfast who is teamed with Cork's Seafra Guilfoyle. Three other teams from the Irish Sailing Development Squad will also head to Denmark, including Dun Laoghaire's Sean and Tadgh Donnelly; Howth's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove; and Mark Hassett with Oisin O’Driscoll from West Cork.

Irish Sailing concentrates its support on four of the ten Olympic sailing disciplines but other sailors may compete independently such as in the heavyweight Finn dinghy where Baltimore's Fionn Lyden and Ulster sailor Oisin McCclelland will both be seeking to qualify Ireland for Tokyo.

"This will be a huge indicator of form and the likely prospects over the next two years for all the sailors," commented James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Performance Director. "The profile of the 2020 squad is that of fresh talent emerging from the Pathway system that currently has dozens of younger sailors actively competing to follow in future cycles."

Irish Sailing Team for the Sailing World Championships, Aarhus, Denmark 

49er skiff
Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle
Sean & Tadgh Donnelly
Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
Mark Hassett & Oisin O’Driscoll

Laser Standard - single-hander
Liam Glynn
Finn Lynch

Laser Radial - single-hander
Aoife Hopkins
Aisling Keller

Finn - heavyweight single-hander
Fionn Lyden
Oisin Mcclelland

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Pontoons for Irish Sailing's high-performance dinghy park at the Commissioner of Irish Lights building in Dun Laoghaire Harbour are now in situ.

As readers will recall, the new base, funded by the Irish Sailing Foundation, will be the new Head Quarters for the Olympic Squad's preparations for Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

The €300k plans for the new base were unveiled at the site last month. See the artist's impression of how the floating dinghy park will look here.

As reported in the Irish Times Sailing Column here, the aim of the Irish Sailing Performance HQ is to house the senior Irish sailing teams and improve both training and educational opportunities for them, thereby creating 'systematic medal potential'.

The new base will be home to Annalise Murphy's new 29erFX campaign among others and a new six–strong coaching team also announced last month in the build-up to Tokyo 2020.

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A 'renewed strategic approach' at the start of the year means a new coaching structure in Irish Sailing, with Rory Fitzpatrick moving to become Head Coach, overseeing a team of six. 

Irish Sailing Performance Director James O’Callaghan says:  “if you expect great things from athletes then you have to ensure you have great people around them. I can honestly say this is the strongest coaching team we have had in place. The coaches we have know how to get the most out of people so it’s a great time to be a sailor on our Performance Pathway”.

Rory FitzpatrickHead Coach Rory Fitzpatrick oversees a team of six
Rory Fitzpatrick: Head Coach
Working with Performance Director James O’Callaghan, Rory will create greater opportunities for the sailors through performance planning, athlete and coach review structures, overseeing interactions with team support services, and creating development strategies for the coaching team. Rory’s aim is to get the best coaching knowledge from our teams and generate a progressive Olympic-cycle legacy. This year, a key task is to gather knowledge on priority event venues. In September we’ll start sending out our coaches and senior athletes to Japan to scout the Olympic sailing venue. They will start to familiarise themselves with weather patterns, support structures and race courses so that all our information is collated and shared to gain maximum advantage for our athletes.

Vasilij Zbogar: Laser Coach
Our newest appointment is Lasers coach Vasilij Zbogar. Vasilij’s short-term goal is to obtain the best possible performances with the Irish Laser Team at the World Sailing Championship in Aarhus, Denmark this August, and in the long-term at the Olympic Games. As a triple Olympic medallist (under the direction of Irish Coach Trevor Millar) Vasilij is well placed to pass on his knowledge and energy to Ireland’s Olympic Laser sailors. He’ll work closely with Rory and Sean Evans (below) to follow the young Laser sailors coming up the ranks and progress the current team in this highly competitive class.

Ross Killian: Junior Performance Manager and 420 Academy Coach
Ross has the combined role of Junior Performance Manager, coach and manager to the 420 Academy, and event organiser of the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals. Ross will run the programming and coaching of the 420 Academy teams and manage coaches and squads for the Laser 4.7s, Toppers and Optimist classes. Ross brings considerable Olympic experience to the role, both from crew (Athens 2004) and coach (Beijing 2008) perspective in the 470 class.

Sean Evans: Academy Coach
Sean coaches our Laser Radial Academy and manages the Irish Team for the Youth Sailing World Championship, working closely with Rory, Ross and Vasilij. Essentially, Sean prepares our younger sailors to enter into senior Olympic sailing. Sailors learn personal development alongside the technical fundamentals such as boat handling, boat speed, and develop through participation in international sailing, focusing on experience and not solely results. 

Niko Resch: Olympic 49er Coach
Four-time Olympian Niko Resch coaches our senior 49er team, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle. As a new partnership there is lots of learning to be done but with the experience of Niko to guide them we are confident they will be ready for Tokyo 2020.

Tytus Konarzewski: 49er Development Team Coach
Tytus oversees our 49er Development team with the aim of bringing them to an experienced competitive level in senior Olympic sailing, and preparing for the challenge of Tokyo 2020 and beyond to 2024. Tytus has over thirty years coaching experience and is familiar with the Irish setup having coached our 49erFX team in the Rio Olympics.

Debbie Hanna, Laser 4.7s
Debbie works full time in the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, so we are lucky to have her involved with our Laser 4.7 squad. Debbie had a successful youth career representing Ireland twice at Youth Worlds. She went on to campaign for Beijing 2008 but ultimately lost the selections to Ciara Peelo. She is now one of Northern Ireland’s top coaches and will be passing on valuable insights to our young Pathway sailors.

Published in ISA

Irish Sailing has announced plans for a new €300k 'Performance Headquarters', funded entirely by the Irish Sailing Foundation and located on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, Dun Laoghaire.

As reported in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column here, the aim of the Irish Sailing Performance HQ is to house the senior Irish sailing teams and improve both training and educational opportunities for them, thereby creating 'systematic medal potential'.

Irish sailing performance HQ Irish lightsA graphic depicting Irish Sailing's proposed €300k facilities at its new 'Performance Head Quarters' in the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

The Performance HQ will be entirely mobile and will consist of three converted shipping containers which have space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area. The athlete briefing room can then be shipped directly to international competitions such as the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 and provide a base for our athletes overseas. Outside there will be a boat park and a pontoon for launching the boats.

Irish Lights berth 1172The Irish Lights berth today (above) and how it will be transformed for use (below) in the Performance HQ with a modular pontoon system and floating slipway in the dock

Irish Sailing pontoon with people

The new facility will provide senior sailing athletes with an improved, multi-dimensional performance environment. Regular events such as the Youth Sailing Nationals will continue to be hosted by clubs.

SECTION CUT PERSPECTIVE OF CONTAINERS V2The Performance HQ will be mobile and consists of three converted shipping containers which have space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area

President of Irish Sailing Jack Roy, said “when philanthropic generosity is combined with a passion for Irish sporting success on the world stage we see results – in this instance a Performance HQ that will ensure a bright future for Irish Sailing.” 

james ocallaghan1James O'Callaghan – 'the impact of the new Irish Sailing Performance HQ cannot be underestimated'

James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director added “lead by Rory Fitzpatrick our Head Coach, the impact of the new Irish Sailing Performance HQ can not be underestimated. We will finally have a place we can call “home”. The performance environment created will allow for consistent coaching, a base for equipment and our own direct access to the water which all adds up to give our athletes the best opportunities to reach their maximum potential”.

Subject to planning requirements, it is hoped that work will be completed by end of summer 2018

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!