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Olympic update - launches and litigation

12th May 2008

As legal challenges crystallised over Ireland's Olympic Star nomination, it's business as usual for the majority of those involved in the Olympic sailing process.

Solicitors' letters arrived at the ISA's offices towards the end of last week, making formal legal threats over the nomination.

However, those inside the ISA's Park Road offices consider it an open-and-shut case, and are confidently planning to formally unveil their Olympic squad for Beijing (Qingdao) in Dun Laoghaire this Thursday.

Rising above the kerfuffle, squad members have been in action in various locations over the last week.

Star nominee Peter O'Leary proved he's no one-trick pony, heading north to take second place at the Laser Ulster Championships at Ballyholme last weekend after a long absence from the class.

Weighing in at a Star-weight 90 kg (the optimum weight in a Laser is 80kg), O'Leary said that while downwind was a challenge, heavy airs helped him take silver.

The Royal Cork sailor was philosophical about the controversy that has dogged his nomination.

"There was always going to be someone disappointed," he told Afloat, "but there's not much we can do about it."

"It hasn't really sunk in yet. We're delighted," he said.

O'Leary and Milne plan to head to China with training parnter Iain Percy, and dismissed rumours in English papers that the English team could take back the boat used by O'Leary and Milne at the Worlds, and that Milne had no Irish passport.

"It's our boat, we've paid for it. There was an agreement that they could take it back before the worlds if there was a problem. And no, Stephen has an Irish passport.

Elsewhere, Finn sailor Timothy Goodbody put in a respectable 21st at the Finn Europeans in Italy, rounding out his event with a second place in the penultimate race.

470 pairing Ger Owens and Phil Lawton are training in Sweden with a host of female European teams. Lawton told Afloat that training against the ladies was hugely beneficial ahead of Qingdao, a predominantly light airs venue.

Lightweight ladies' teams are quicker in light airs giving them an instant competitive advantage, so by pacing with the ladies, the Irish pair hope to improve on their boatspeed.

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