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Displaying items by tag: Laser

November sunshine plays tricks with how we see things. Maybe it's because it's so rare. But at the weekend at Howth – with just a month to go to the shortest day of the year – a special coaching course being run in Lasers by international champion Aoife Hopkins was taking place with a low-slung sun so powerful – under a sky of a blue so utterly blue that it hasn't got a name yet – that an educational circuit of Ireland's Eye under the watchful Hopkins' eye did strange things to vision.

Be careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctlyBe careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctly

Maybe it's just us, and maybe it's time we re-visited the pioneering HYC Brass Monkey Winter Series creator Pat Connolly in his day job as an optician. But if you look at the pic above of the trainee flotilla of Abby Kinsella, Una Connel, Fiachra Farrelly and Charlie Keating heading eastward towards the Martello tower and the cliffs along the north coast of Ireland's Eye, there's no doubt that the nearest boat is going away, but the strong low light somehow makes it look as though the sail is coming back again…….

Either way, in the idyllic circumstances a circuit of Ireland's Eye provided an ideal opportunity for a multi-layered day of training, as there was pilotage, navigation and useful wildlife observation added to the mix, even if The Stack on the northeast corner – a summertime Gannet Central since 1989 – was winter silent, with just one gannet watchman left behind.

Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...

……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird

It was difficult to imagine the place in a harsh grey easterly, which in some Novembers is the default weather condition around Ireland's Eye. But in Howth, nothing is allowed to go to waste – as Aoife observed after winning the Laser U21 Euros 2017 at Douarnenez in Brittany in a week of extra-fresh westerlies, determined days of sailing in strong easterlies off Howth will set you up for anything, Breton westerlies included…..

Aoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in BrittanyAoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in Brittany

Published in Laser

Ireland's 2018 Laser Grand Master World Champion Mark Lyttle reveals the depth of his ambitions in the solo Laser class when he interviewed for a UK Laser Class podcast recently. 

One of the most fascinating statistics in the hour-long chat with Ben Flower of the UK Laser class is that in 1996, Laser sailing had the most nations competing of any sport at the Atlanta Olympics. 

As long time Afloat readers will know, Savannah is where the Laser made its Olympic debut and where Lyttle was a race winner, a result that led him to the inaugural Afloat Sailor of the Year award

It's not the only blast from the past contained in the podcast either where Lyttle gives plenty of anecdotes about the 2018 Worlds on Dublin Bay and his homecoming win. A really nice progression in his sailing career from Olympics into masters.

The London based sailor gives some great description of laser campaigning in the 80s; no coaches, just a bunch of lads taking their Lasers off to Europe for the Summer.

There's an interesting account of how old long races have given way to shorter races and how this puts huge emphasis on the run and downwind technique, since the run can be straight after the first beat and so fleet stays so compressed compared to old big triangles when the run was at the end (I assume they did triangle, sausage or triangle, triangle, sausage)

Significantly, as a former chairman of the UK Optimist class, and the architect of the modern Irish Olympic programme, Lyttle speaks about his experiences with youth burnout in sailing.

Listen in to the podcast below:

Published in Laser
Tagged under

2016 Irish Rio representative Finn Lynch believes that he can take one of the final two qualification spots for Tokyo 2021 in the Men's Laser class if he focuses on improving areas that prevented him from doing so at the last two qualification regattas. 

"There’s a bunch of good people who still haven’t qualified. There are five or six nations with guys who can have regattas in the top ten but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m focussing on trying to improve on the things that held me back on the last two qualification regattas. And If I can do that, there’s no reason that I cannot get a spot", he told the Irish Laer Class AGM last week.

Lynch gave his online interview coming off the back of the European Championships in Poland last month where he showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions and secured a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126. It's a highly creditable result that will boost the 24-year-old's confidence in his race for one of the final Olympic berths.

Finn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser EuropeansFinn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser Europeans

Presumably, Lynch's training will focus on some uneven performances where the Irish ace has shown himself well able to win world championship races but, unfortunately,  just not managed to string together a consistent series to seize one of the prized Olympic berths.

As Afloat reported previously, the World Sailing Championships at Aarhus, Denmark, in August 2018 was the first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo, but Irish crews in three events did not pass the test then. Despite winning Race 7 in the Gold fleet, Lynch missed qualification by about 20 points as he carried two mid-forties results after he was disqualified from Race 8 for a premature start. Yet, in all this, his score sheet showed three top ten results, an otherwise very positive result. At the next qualification opportunity, the 2019 World Championships in Japan, Lynch ended the championship in 40th overall in the 148-boat fleet, 11th unqualified country and some 56-points off the tally required.

Prior to that, in the early part of 2019, the dedicated Olympic solo sailor had overall placings within the top ten at three major international events, and at Genoa 2019 he was an overall leader at one stage, and a slight turn of fortune would have seen him in the medals. His solid Laser performance moved him up to 15th in the world rankings in April 2019, so Lynch really does have the turn of speed required.

Fast forward to today and the scenario is that Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland are in the running for the final places with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the 2019 World Championships, so the race is well and truly on to take one of these final European places. 

Portuguese winter training camp

During the special AGM interview section, Lynch also gave details by Zoom of his planned extended training camp in Portugal under coach three-time Olympic medallist Vasilij Žbogar.

Lynch says he is 'really excited' about the plan for this winter. The National Yacht Club sailor will be training with the Norwegian team and aims to stay in warmer climes until the final Tokyo qualification regatta, the venue for which is as yet unconfirmed due to COVID-19.

"It's just a rumour but it could now be Hyeres Regatta next April or it could be Palma or Hyeres or maybe a different World Cup," he told Jim McMahon, Secretary of the Irish Laser Class during the online Q & A.

Also looking to secure Ireland's place in the forthcoming regatta are trialists Bangor's Liam Glynn and Howth's Ewan McMahon and whoever can secure the place at next Spring's Regatta automatically becomes the Irish nominee for Tokyo.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) say in an update that Irish athletes across most sports are still on the qualification journey for the Tokyo Olympic Games which now take place next year from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Sailing is no different with only one of a possible three confirmed so far.

To date, there are 52 confirmed athlete spots for Tokyo, with many more athletes and teams sitting inside qualification status.

Eleven sports to date will enjoy Irish representation in Tokyo, and the current tracking of the team could see Team Ireland travelling next summer to Tokyo with the largest Olympic team to date.

In sailing, Ireland has already qualified one boat for Tokyo – the Women’s Laser Radial, which was achieved via Aisling Keller at the World Championships in 2019 – this position is set to be filled by Annalise Murphy, who has been nominated by Irish Sailing after a cut-short trial that left both Keller and Howth rival Aoife Hopkins 'devastated'. 

'Selection', say the OFI, will be made once the process has been completed.

Seafra Guilfyole (left) and Ryan Seaton are one of two Irish 49er campaigns looking for the last nation berth for Tokyo 2021Seafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton are one of two Irish 49er campaigns looking for the last nation berth for Tokyo 2021

There are still limited opportunities for Ireland to qualify another boat – the 49er can still qualify at the planned European Sailing Cup where one spot is available. As Afloat reported earlier, Ireland is vying with Belgium, Sweden and Italy for the one remaining European place. Form at the 2020 Worlds suggested that Irish sailors would be favourites having finished ahead of the other three candidates.

Laser sailor Finn Lynch, one of three Irish helmsmen seeking one of two final nation berths for Tokyo 2021Laser sailor Finn Lynch, one of three Irish helmsmen seeking a final nation berth for Tokyo 2021

In the Men’s Laser, there are two spots available at the planned European Sailing Cup. Up to six countries are in the running – Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium and Ireland with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the latest World Championships.

In both of these events, the majority of spots were available at the World Championships in 2019 but unfortunately, Ireland missed out.

As Afloat reported in back in March the IOC, in their determination to maintain normality – or to return to normality as soon as possible – have issued a position update on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the potential changes to the qualification process disrupted by the spread of Covid-19.

Many sports, including sailing, have had to cancel qualifying events and the IOC has asked International Federations to consider revising the qualification process which may include ranking or historical results. More on this here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the European Championships in Poland a fortnight ago has led organisers to contact all 300 competitors alerting them to the outbreak of the virus at the event.

Sailors competing in Gdansk received an email communication from organisers, Eurilca, that a male Portuguese competitor tested positive for Covid-19 and is still in quarantine in Poland.

Last night, Irish Olympic team manager James O'Callaghan told Afloat, it was a case of 'all good' for the seven-boat Team IRL who finish their quarantine period after travelling to the Polish event today. 

Some competitors were reported as feeling unwell as soon as they returned home.

The championships drew competitors from as many as 40 countries in the men's and women's divisions of the Tokyo Olympic class.

In Denmark, the championship silver medalist, Anne Marie Rindom is reported to have tested positive by national media. 

Rindom, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist,  is said to be recovering from 'some hard days with covid-19'.

“It has gotten a little better over the last few days, but I have had a high fever, pain in my head and all over my body,” she told Denmark's TV2 Sport.

During the course of the Gdansk event, the Polish government moved to put the country into a ‘yellow zone’ in a bid to curtail the spread of COVID, according to the organisers who provided health checks as part of the regatta set-up.

The championships were heralded as the 'first opportunity since the pandemic outbreak for Olympic campaigners to race again in such a big fleet', so it will be very disappointing news for all concerned that despite measures taken - including onsite testing - that the virus has had such an impact on the international sailing circuit.

A copy of the email received by the sailors is below.

Senior Europeans 2020 In Poland: Very important information

Dear Sailor,

We have been informed later this morming that a sailor from the portuguese was tested positive to covid-19 and is still in quarantine in Poland.

His portuguese roomate in the room during the event is back in Portugal and has been also tested positive.

The rest of the portuguese team has been now tested and waiting for the results of the test in Portugal.

The organizing committte and EurILCA wanted to inform you of that situation and if you have been in contact with them suggest to be testing.

Please follow the procedures with the medical authorities in your country and contact them as they will advise you how to proceed.

We know some people were tested arriving at their airport destination if they were flying.

But it could not the case for all and for the ones who travel by car or van.

We suggest to extremely carefull and we will update you if any more news. [SIC].

Irish sailors say there has been no further follow-up by organisers since the event.

Tagged under

Finn Lynch showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions when he continued up the scoresheet in Poland today to finish with a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126 at the Laser European Championships.

It's a remarkable comeback from the National Yacht Club sailor who sailed a strong final series to close out the six-day championships in his highest position of the week.

The result easily trumps his 27th scored at the May 2019 Euros in Porto and also the 55th overall scored at the 2018 La Rochelle Euros.

As Afloat reported this week, Lynch went from 37th on day one before moving up to 25th after two races sailed in the opening qualifiers. He then dropped to 42nd overall after four races sailed but by Saturday, the Rio 2016 rep was back up into the thirties and yesterday he had recovered to 18th. It was clear he was on a comeback, sealing his best ever Euro result today just three tantalizing places outside the coveted top ten.

The result, of course, shows the real potential of the County Carlow native if he can iron out some troubling inconsistencies. However, the overall scoresheet also provides a snapshot of the size of the challenge Lynch faces if he is to secure one of the final berths for Tokyo 2021. Rivals for the last Euro Olympic berth, Spain and Italy, finished just ahead of him and Belgium and Greece just behind, so the battle ahead is clear. 

Confidence boost

While there is no doubt just how tight the margins are for the last Olympic qualification event next year, this Polish result at least will give Lynch the confidence to continue pushing forward for what amounts to his last chance at becoming a double Olympian in this quadrennial.

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom TouwBelfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom Touw

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn’s result (43rd place) and qualification for the gold fleet sets him up well for the coming season. Ewan McMahon (43rd in the silver fleet) will be disappointed given the fact that he qualified for the gold fleet at the 2019 World Championships but at only 20 years of age, McMahon is gaining valuable experience at this level.

British podium lock-out

The British squad confirmed they wanted the whole podium for them on the Laser Men’s championship, but with a little surprise in the end, with their next Olympic representative Elliot Hanson GBR (11-5) overcoming Michael Beckett GBR (17-14) in this last two races and conquering the Gold medal. Silver for Mickey and Bronze for the 2019 European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR (10-19).

"I wouldn’t have cared which one of us won today. To lockout, the podium with 2 of your best mates since I was 11 years old is something special in the laser fleet and something I’ll hold on to for a long time" – Elliot Hanson GBR

“Very very happy! With only 6 days sailing pre-event, I definitely wasn’t expecting this result! A big thanks to Nick Thompson who kept me on the right track! I enjoyed every moment of this event. Over the moon to come away with a medal alongside the Brit Lads”, emphasized Lorenzo.

Almost there on the podium was Croatian Filip Jurisic CRO (16-3), finally fourth with same points than third.

A good championship for Russian Sergey Komissarov RUS (2-8), wrapping the event with nice results and climbing to the fifth place overall.

A second discard today allowed the 2020 World champion Philipp Buhl GER (1-7) to drop his two Black flags from the score and jump to the Top 10 for the first time in the event, conquering the 6th European place.

Joel Rodriguez ESP, Tonci Stipanovic CRO, Jonatan Vadnai HUN and Jean Baptiste Bernaz FRA completed the European Top 10.

Charlie Buckingham USA (7-54) finished 6th overall in the Open European Trophy.

Tom Higgins sixth in Radial

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins finished in sixth position in the Men’s Laser Radial, just missed out on a U21 podium finish.

Results here

Published in Laser
Tagged under

Light breeze dominated the first Final series day at the 2020 Laser Radial Senior European Championships and Open European Trophy in Gdansk, Poland today that sees Annalise Murphy maintain her 18th position overall in the 107-boat fleet.

Howth Yacht Club teenager Eve McMahon, however, has moved up four places to be within four places of the Rio Silver Medalist in 22nd overall. Aoife Hopkins, also of Howth, lies 30th.

Howth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins Photo: Thom TouwHowth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins Photo: Thom Touw

Murphy says she is enjoying the regatta and its efficient organisation when she is interviewed briefly in the day 3 video highlights below, scrub to 0.13, 1.01 and 1.49 on the timeline to hear the Irish star. 

Reigning 2019 European champion Anne Marie Rindom DEN (1-4-1-1-2-2-7) shows determined to repeat the title, although scoring her worst race today on the single race contested, leading the Radial Women’s championship with 11 points.

Polish sailor Agata Barwinska POL (22-1-3-4-2-8-2) is also determined to fight for that Gold medal, scoring a great result today on very difficult conditions and following the leader just 9 points behind.

Third place is now for consistent 2018 World champion Emma Plasschaert BEL (7-5-4-5-11-4-6) with 31.

2020 World champion and overnight second Marit Bouwmeester NED (2-3-2-7-23-3-20) is fourth now with 37, escorted by her teammates Maxime Jonker NED –41 pt– and Mirthe Akkerman NED –44 pt– on 5th and 6th.

Greek sailor Vasileia Karachaliou GRE has enter the top 10 now after winning the race today and holds the seventh position with 45.

The second day of finals racing continues tomorrow and the championships conclude on Tuesday.

Results here

Published in Annalise Murphy

Tricky light breezes prevailed in the first Final series day at the 2020 Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy in Gdansk, Poland today that saw Finn Lynch move up three places overall in the 107-boat fleet to 25th place.

 Belfast lough's Liam Glynn is 45th. Ewan McMahon from Howth is in fourth position in the silver fleet.

Two new races were added to scores in the Laser Men’s Gold competition, with a nice day for the British sailor Michael Beckett GBR (4-15-4-1-2-7-4) reinforcing now leadership with 22 points, getting a nice gap to second Elliot Hanson GBR (3-8-1-7.3RDGq-17-17-2) with 38.3. Third place is still on hands of Pavlos Kontides CYP (2-21-2-9-4-37-7), although with a worst discard and counting 45 units.

Bad day for the overnight co-leader Filip Jurisic CRO (1-4-3-3-40-32-28), adding 60 points to his score and dropping to the 12th place.

Sergey Komissarov RUS and Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR are close to the podium positions in fourth and fifth, with 50 and 52 points respectively.

Ascendant William De Smet BEL is now sixth on ranking with 57 points, based on a great consistency work. Alessio Spadoni ITA is also climbing positions and ranked now seventh with 64.

Eighth place for Joaquin Blanco ESP with 66. It's the same score for Dimitris Papadimitriou GRE, entering the top 10 list for the first time in the event. Giovanni Coccoluto ITA holds the last of awarded positions on tenth with 69 points.

Charlie Buckingham USA is best of non-European sailors participating of this competition, holding the 8th place overall with 64 units.

Tom Higgins stays eighth in Radial men's fleet

Tom HigginsTom Higgins of the Royal St. George Yacht Club competing in the men's Radial Europeans. Photo: Thom Touw

In the men’s Radial division, Royal St. George’s Tom Higgins lies sixth in his 30-boat fleet.

The second day of finals racing continues tomorrow and the championships conclude on Tuesday.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

It’s no secret that the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Laser fleet is in good shape. Anybody strolling the piers or looking out on club forecourts will have seen that for themselves. DBSC (Dublin Bay Sailing Club) in 2020 drew a huge entry of 92 Laser 4.7s, Radials and Standards, with regular turnouts of 60-70 boats, with sailors of all ages. Likewise, numerous pods go out training once or twice a week, sharpening race skills and getting newer or returning sailors up to scratch for the real deal.

Everybody in this local Laser community just gets on with it in a great spirit of co-operation and camaraderie. We will get the sailors on the water for racing, but that’s where experienced DBSC Race Officer Suzanne McGarry steps in, aided by a wonderful flagship team. DBSC delivered a wonderful programme from late June to mid September, despite all the challenges of this annus horribilis. Until Level 3 kicked in, organizers squeezed in 24 great Saturday Laser races, as well as a comprehensive Tuesday night series. The funny thing now as we all reflect is that many of us can’t remember a more enjoyable sailing season, even with no showers, outdoor changing at times and all the very necessary protocols. I suppose it was all about local sailing again and people got into a really nice rhythm, uninterrupted by regattas, Championships or foreign holidays! The class captains for the last six years were, therefore, delighted to meet Suzanne at the RStGYC yesterday to present a token of our appreciation for her and the whole team. She went to great lengths to explain about the importance and dedication of everybody involved in the race management team and it’s striking so many have worked together for so many years.

It was in 2015 that Lasers really came out from the shadows in Dun Laoghaire after the fleet had dwindled to 3 or 4 stalwarts, by then subsumed into the Mixed PY division. DBSC had the foresight to listen, giving us our own class again, more shorter races and low entry fees (especially for Under 25s). We were immediately up over 30 boats by 2015 and we’ve basically added 10 regular racers each season since then, even more this year with the push into solo sailing.

Tuesday DBSC night Laser racing in 2020 Photo: Rob WalkerTuesday DBSC night Laser racing in 2020 Photo: Rob Walker

Excellent race management has been a massive contribution to the growth of the class. We estimate that Suzanne has presided over more than 80% of the hundreds of races staged in the last six years. Start lines are square, beats and runs are true and results are gathered efficiently. But remember, we’re talking about very tricky conditions here. Racing is within the shifty confines of our wonderful harbour, or outside in Scotsman’s Bay, often in a fickle evening breeze, with a strong tide. Despite being in that characteristic, steely “zone” up on the foredeck, Suzanne is very approachable and receptive to feedback onshore. Indeed, this season, after only a few races, she quickly introduced an innovative tweak to the starting procedure, to give the big Radial fleet more time to digest course changes between races. Incidentally, the 53 boat Laser Radial entry is almost definitely the largest local racing Radial fleet in the world, just now.

Laser thank you trophy

The 2020 season was an amazing effort by all DBSC Officers and volunteers. Suzanne and her team got dinghies out competing on June 30th as Afloat reported here. This was at the earliest possible opportunity given government guidelines and well before DBSC keelboat racing started.

Undoubtedly, the Laser turnout that day of 60 boats was the biggest one-design racing staged anywhere in Ireland since the Pandemic began. We hope we encouraged others up and down the country. 

From all Dun Laoghaire Laser sailors, thank you, Suzanne and colleagues, for all your support and service down the years.

Below are the names of the core people who help Suzanne and keep the show on the road;

Barbara Conway. Ros Bremner. Caroline Liddy. Brendan Dalton, Declan Traynor, Dara Traynor, James Traynor, Dave Coleman, Liz Aylmer, Sharon Moylan, Ian Mathews, Ben Mulligan, Niki Wheatley, Susan Spain, Caitriona O’Brien Michael Costelloe and Joanne Sheehan

The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch made an impressive leap of 14 places from 42nd after four races to 28th overall this evening to complete the qualification stages of the Laser Radial Europeans on Gdansk Bay, Poland.

Light winds meant that the fleet only finished one race today in the final qualification day 2020 Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy in Gdansk, Poland.

Both Lynch and Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn make the gold fleet in 28th and 38th position but a black flag disqualification in race four cost Ireland’s 2016 Rio rep dearly with scores of 20,19,12,(64.0 BFD) and 8.0. 

Howth’s Ewan McMahon will continue racing in the silver fleet and currently places in 73rd.

Laser European Championships racing in Gdansk Photo: Thom TouwLaser European Championships racing in Gdansk Photo: Thom Touw

All three sailors are still trying to qualify Ireland for the Tokyo Olympics and take one of two final European berths available so this regatta represents an important opportunity before the Olympic qualifier early next season.

The leadership changed hands today after the single race contested with light wind. British sailor Michael Beckett GBR (4-15-4-1-2) is heading now the fleet with 11 points, sharing score with overnight leader Filip Jurisic CRO (1-4-3-3-41). Third place belongs now to multi-champion Pavlos Kontides CYP (2-21-2-9-4) with 17 points.

"Tricky and variable conditions so far which is visible from the results of the fleet. Tomorrow the real war begins in the gold fleet with the top 50% of the competitors battling it out in the 6 remaining races" – Pavlos Kontides CYP

Brits Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR (1-1-20-11-5) and Elliot Hanson GBR (3-8-1-7.3RDGq-17) are also close with 18 and 19.3 points respectively.
Joaquin Blanco ESP –26 pt–, Sergey Komissarov RUS –26 pt–, Alessio Spadoni ITA –33 pt–, William De Smet BEL –33 pt– and Jean Baptiste Bernaz FRA –37 pt– also wrapped the Qualifying series among the European top 10.

Juan Maegli GUA and Ryan Lo SGP are best non-European sailors, holding the 8th and 10th places in the overall ranking.

Tom Higgins eighth in Radial

In the men's Radial division, Tom Higgins of the Royal St George Yacht Club stays in the top ten of his 30-boat fleet in eighth overall.

The Final series will start tomorrow, where the Standard fleet will be split in Gold and Silver.

The first warning signal for the Standard will be at 11:00.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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