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Currently sitting in 19th place, Irish skiff duo Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle have got off to a good start (two fifths in three races) at this week's warm-up Oceania Championships in Auckland that is a precursor to next week's critical 49er World Championships, an Olympic qualification event for two Irish boats seeking a single Tokyo berth from four on offer.

Howth rivals for Tokyo, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, former 49er youth world champions, also got off to a good start (a 15 and a 17) yesterday but a black flag in race three meant after three races sailed they are 66th from 81 starters. 

Full results are here.

As Afloat previously reported, next week's championships represent the best chance of securing a Tokyo skiff berth for Ireland in the 19-boat Olympic fleet with just a single final place available next season in Genoa.

Glamour conditions greeted the 178 international teams on the opening day of racing at the 2019 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 Oceania Championships. The three-day warmup regatta before next weeks world championships is hosted by Auckland’s Royal Akarana Yacht Club. With the weeks leading up to the event being filled with strong winds and sunshine, the bar was set high and New Zealand certainly delivered.

The 49er class once again staked its claim of being one of the tightest fleets in Olympic sailing. Just ten points separate the top 13 teams after three races with the young American team of Andrew Mollerus and Ian MacDiarmid taking the top honours. France’s Erwan / Pequin were the only team to record two wins and see themselves just one point behind the Americans, while the red hot Kiwi squad were lead by young guns Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie, finishing the day in third.

America’s Cup heroes Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had a consistent day to see themselves in 7th overall and just five points off the lead.

Day one in the 49erFX class was also lead by a team from the United States with Stephine Roble & Maggie Shea relishing in the conditions, claiming two wins and a third to lead by 7 points from Rio 2016 Gold Medallists Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze of Brazil, with reigning European and World Champions Annemiek Bekkering & Annette Duetz just two points further back.

“We’re excited about how we sailed today,” Roble commented after racing. “It was a really fun day out there in really beautiful conditions on Auckland Harbour. We really just focused on good start execution and trying to sail big lanes upwind to just let it rip and try to get to the pressure; staying on the lifted tack and we were really happy with just keeping it simple out there.”

New Zealand’s Alexandra Maloney & Molly Meech finished the day in 5th place, with two second places marred by a 13th in race three.

It was the Ben & Nikki show in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull fleet. The reigning European Champions from Great Britain, Ben Saxton & Nicola Boniface rattled off three bullets from as many races in the building conditions to lead the fleet by 5 points. This show of dominance sets the scene for a thrilling selection battle with their fellow teammates John Gimson and Anna Burnet, currently 7th. The two teams have been trading wins throughout 2019 and a decisive win at the 2019 worlds could book the winning team a ticket to Tokyo.

USA’s Riley Gibbs & Anna Weis showed blistering speed downwind to finish the day second, ahead of Finland’s Sinem Kurtbay & Akseli Keskinen, with the chasing pack all producing consistent results across the board. The Auckland conditions are proving perfect for the foiling multihulls, with strong winds and flat water producing blistering speeds and tight racing across the fleet.

The full schedule of racing was streamed live to a global audience by broadcast partner SidelineApp. Hosted by New Zealand’s Jesse Tuke and featuring commentary from the likes of three-time Olympian PJ Postma and match racing expert Chris Steele, viewers were treated to previously unforeseen coverage of a continental championship. Live and free coverage will continue over the next two days of racing, (find at 49er.org/live) with viewers tuning in from 10:00 am Auckland time (NZDT / GMT+13).

(Live coverage of the 2019 Hyundai World Championships will be available for 9.95 euro if purchased before November 30, or 14.95 euro thereafter.)

Results

49er

1st Andrew Mollerus & Ian Macdiarmid (USA) 3-6-2; 11pts

2nd Fischer Erwain & Clément Pequin (FRA) 1-10-1; 12pts

3rd Isaac McHardie & William McKenzie (NZL) 1-4-7; 12pts

4th Diego Botin & Iago López Marra (ESP) 9-1-3; 13pts

5th Dominik Buksak & Szymon Wierzbicki (POL) 5-7-2; 14pts

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Sky Sport will broadcast live all six days of December’s 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships in Auckland, New Zealand, which is believed to be a world-first for an Olympic class sailing world championships it has been announced by the 49er and 49erFX world president Marcus Spillane from Cork.

Spillane is also a member of Irish Sailing's Olympic Steering Group charged with assisting Irish Sailors to reach medal winning positions in the Olympic Games so he will have added interest in ensuring Ireland's 49er crews, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle and Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove will be in the best possible position to compete for the final chance of an Olympic berth at Tokyo 2020.

Unfortunately, the championships will not now include Annalise Murphy and Katie Tingle who quit their fledgeling campaign last week.

49er Dickson Waddilove 1854Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove are New Zealand bound Photo: Afloat

As many as 400 of the world’s best sailors, including New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, are expected to compete at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club from December 3-8.

Not only will world titles be on the line, but many countries will be using it as an Olympic selection event so the stakes will be high.

Sky Sport will screen live all six days of racing – six races a day – and also produce a daily highlights package, which will also be shown on free-to-air partner Prime TV.

On-the-water gyroscopic cameras will capture all the racing action, including state-of-the-art drones, and there will be comprehensive analysis and interviews from the boat park before and after the racing presented by a team of sailing experts.

Tracking and animation will also be provided by Animation Research Ltd, who are world leaders in graphics visualisation.

“We’re proud to be the host broadcaster for this great event, and we look forward to bringing sailing fans racing coverage from December 3-8 on Sky Sport,” Sky head of sports production Brian Hitchcock said.

The scale of the production is believed to be a world-first for an Olympic class regatta and will enable New Zealand fans to get close to the action. Negotiations are also progressing to distribute the feed internationally.

The 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 are arguably the most exciting of all of the Olympic classes, with the boats reaching speeds in excess of 20 knots.

Burling and Tuke have made a successful comeback to the 49er after a couple of years focusing on the America’s Cup and Ocean Race, winning last month’s Olympic test event in Japan, and will be looking to add a fifth world title in December.

“We are thrilled to have Sky Sport New Zealand broadcast our upcoming world championship,” 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 president Spillane said. “The 2019 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 world championships are likely to be the most competitive regatta in all of sailing this year.

“To have a passionate New Zealand audience and our global fanbase be able to watch the whole thing is wonderful for the sport.”

The regatta is one of the highlights on the upcoming sailing calendar, which also includes February’s RS:X world championships in Auckland as well as the 2021 America’s Cup.

“It’s a great time to be involved in sailing in this country,” Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said. “With Sky Sport’s partnership, we have an opportunity to further inspire our young sailors through sharing content, telling stories and showing live just how exciting sailing, and in particular, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 sailing, can be.

“As a passionate nation of sports enthusiasts and sailors, we look forward to what promises to be an exciting week of competition and thank Sky Sport for their commitment to work with us in showcasing sailing and Auckland and New Zealand.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Northern Ireland's Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme Yacht Club and Séafra Guilfoyle of Royal Cork Yacht Club have made the cut for their 49er Gold fleet which begins this morning, the result was confirmed with a strong fourth place scored yesterday afternoon to put the duo 19th overall. 

The fact will not be lost on Seaton, however, that three years ago – in a red hot Olympic year – he won this regatta outright indicating there is much work for the new Belfast-Cork pair to do if a result is to be achieved in Tokyo next year to eclipse the creditable tenth overall he secured at Rio 2016 with former partner Matt McGovern.

The pair said on social media: "Some solid races in qualifying have us set up nicely for gold fleet. Still focusing on the processes but really happy with how we’re going".

Other Irish skiff results from Howth's Rob Dickson (sailing this week with Robbie Gilmore) and Sean and Tadhg Donnelly are here.

The top of the 49er fleet is tight after three more qualifying races were completed. GBR’s 2017 world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell are just one point clear of the Argentina’s Yago and Klaus Lange, winners here last year. 

“At the important moments we chose the right positions on the race course.” Klaus Lange recalled, “We had a really good winter of training sailed with the Austrian squad in Argentina. We have made progress and for us, we have to work perfectly as a team we are really strong".

Their Austrian training partners Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl won two from three races yesterday and are third overall while reigning world champions Sime and Mihovil Fantela of Croatia moved up to fifth with a 12pts aggregate.

Full results are here Check out all our Irish Olympic sailing coverage in the build-up to Tokyo 2020 here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Belfast Lough and Cork Harbour duo Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle are 20th overall in quite possibly the largest 49er fleet ever assembled in Palma of 108 boats after the first day of racing at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia regatta.

Helmsman Ryan Seaton, tenth in Rio, and who won the class in Palma in 2016, is only now getting up to speed after a troublesome winter of injuries for new crew Guilfoyle. The pair counted a (17), 9 and an encouraging third in the final race yesterday.

But these early qualifying rounds in light winds have not been plain sailing for the other Irish skiffs. Afloat.ie's Irish Sailor of the Year Rob Dickson, who is without his regular crew Sean Waddilove and sailing with stand-in Robbie Gilmore, lies 106th after 'gear problems' yesterday. 

The National Yacht Club's Sean and Tadhg Donnelly are 105th. Not competing this year are West Cork duo, Mark Hassett and Oisin O'Driscoll. 

Also absent from the Irish set-up in Palma this year is longtime coach Tytus Konarzewski who is credited with bringing the Dickson–Waddilove duo to U23 World Championship success last season. Konarzewski departed the Irish camp after the 'merger' of the youth and senior Irish skiff programmes this winter that saw the skiff numbers reduced.

Full results are here. Read more about Irish hopes for Tokyo 2020 here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

There has been a set back for Northern Ireland's Ryan Seaton and his new crew Seafra Guilfoyle of Royal Cork Yacht Club at their first world championships in the 49er class.

Guilfoyle had a bike accident on the eve of the Portuguese event and attended hospital in Porto for a hand injury ruling him out of the championships. After six months of hard work training for the event – and the stated aim of Gold in Tokyo 2020 – Carrickfergus Sailing Club's Seaton has opted to sail instead with the team coach, Nikolaus Resch.

Irish Results

This new impromptu combination are lying in 22 place in the 81–boat event, well ahead of the next of five Irish boats, Sean and Tadgh Donnelly of the National Yacht Club who are in 54th place. Next is Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in 60th with Matthew McGovern and Robert Gilmore 64th. Mark Hassett and Oisin Driscoll are 73rd and Cian Byrne and Patrick Crosbie are 75th. 

Afloat in Porto, Capsizes, gear failures, and even seasickness beat up numerous crews, but none of it fazed newly crowned European Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell at all. The British Olympic skipper and his new-for-2017 crew (a former Olympic medalist in the 470 Class) couldn’t put a foot wrong today, taking all three races on the Alpha course and carrying a four-point lead into the Gold Fleet action tomorrow morning.

It was moving day for Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, the young Spanish duo notching a 2,3,5 score to overcome yesterday’s UFD and move into second place overall – their best ever current position at a Worlds. For Botin the position is good but he knows it doesn’t mean much, especially with two boats tied with them on points. “Everything will be decided tomorrow and Saturday, we’re basically starting over now,” said Botin, who nearly threw away Race 5 with a capsize at the top mark. “I dropped the tiller at the last tack at the top mark so we flipped, but we were lucky the wind was so strong and so many of the other boats had problems,” said Botin. Lopez explained that the runs were extremely tough to handle; “The waves were nasty downwind, requiring big eases of the gennaker every five seconds or so,” he said. “Also finding a flat spot for the gybe was rare, and that’s why you saw so many teams overstanding the bottom marks.”

The strong German sailors we wrote about yesterday continued to excel in the big breeze, with two veteran and two youth teams advancing to Gold Fleet at the end of the day – double the number of any other nation. While the success of Schmidt/Boehme (3rd) and Heil/Ploessel (6th) after Day 4 surprised no one, youth sailors everywhere should rejoice to see two young German teams advance to the Worlds Gold Fleet for the first time. Nils Carstensen (22) and Jan Frigge (23) pulled an ultra-consistent 8,7,7 in the ultra-chaotic conditions to take 15th place after 6 races, while Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger squeaked through into the semi-final round in the last available position – 20th place.

The 20 and 21 year old phenoms seem to eat big breeze for breakfast – they showed poise and speed far beyond their years in Kiel when the winds came on at the European Championship, and they continued their heavy weather excellence today in Porto despite several capsizes and a major equipment issue. “Strong wind is so fun, but we didn’t expect to be so fast against some of these teams,” said Meggendorfer. And fast they were; the duo recorded some of the highest speeds on the water today, recovering well from their capsizes to advance to the next round. “Our coach says boat speed is king, so even if we have some problems, at least we have that!” said Spranger.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Four of five of Ireland's full–time 49er Olympic campaigns launch this morning at the showcase Trofeo Princesa Sofía Regatta in Palma, Mallorca.

Northern Ireland helmsman Ryan Seaton, tenth in Rio, won the class in Palma last year but sails this time with new crew Seafra Guilfoyle. The North–South duo will be looking for a repeat performance in their Goldfinger named boat to get their Tokyo 2020 campaign off to a perfect start.

Wet Dreams sailed by Mark Hassett and Oisin O'Driscoll from West Cork, Seán and Tadhg Donnelly from the National Yacht Club as well as Howth's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (recovered from injury) are also in action, all setting out on the first stages of what they hope will be a successful journey to the 2020 Olympic regatta in Tokyo, Japan. But only one will qualify.

The Olympic sailing competition of the 48 Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR will see almost 700 boats and 900 sailors from 56 nations race across the ten Olympic classes in the bay of Palma, in Majorca, Spain, from Monday 27 March to Saturday 1 April.

The 49er sailors are joined in Palma by two Belfast single-handers. Former Topper World Champion Liam Glynn and Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland will race in the Laser and Finn classes respectively.

There is also Irish interest in the women's 49erfx where the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Saskia Tidey competes for Team GB with Charlotte Dobson.

Seaton's London and Rio partner, Matt McGovern, who is now teamed up with Strangford's Robbie Gilmore, is not travelling to Palma, concentrating instead on the Delta Lloyd regatta in Holland in May. From there McGovern and Gilmore head to Kiel Week in June. In July the 49er Europeans are also in Kiel. The final event of our European season will be the 49er Worlds in Porto in August. 

In any event, there will be no shortage of competition in the 49er for the four Irish boats with Argentina’s young pairing of Yago and Klaus Lange finished seventh in Rio and were fifth in Miami at the Sailing World Cup also attending. Poland’s Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski were eighth in Rio and seventh in the 49er Europeans last year in Barcelona. And the Spanish pair of Diego Botin and Lago Lopez Marra were third in Miami, third in the 2016 Europeans and third in Palma last year and ninth in the Olympic regatta in Rio. In Miami in January Brasilian legend five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt opened a new chapter in his storied career with 16th at his first regatta in the 49er class with crew Gabriel Borges. They will be looking to prove their progression here. GBR’s 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Simon Hiscocks races with young Daniel Budden. Compatriots Dylan Fletcher and Alan Sign, sixth in Rio, start here after winning Miami.

There are changes to the format of the  race in Palma. For example the 49er and 49er FX Classes will now be decided over three ten minute races over an Arena Style rectangle course. 

The 49er fleet race in two groups Monday and Tuesday and then Wednesday and Friday are Semi Finals for 25 boats. From these aggregate scores there are ten boats advancing to a three race Medal Race Final.

Ferran Muniesa Manager of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía explains:

“ It was immediately obvious from last November’s World Sailing General Meeting that Olympic sailing needs changes to the format which was used in Rio 2016, as pushed for by the International Olympic Committee, by the Olympic classes and by the sailors themselves, recognising that Final day needs to be more understandable. At the last Olympics there were several cases where medals were already won before the Medal Race and that does not make sense to those who maybe do not know sailing, nor does it make for an exciting finale.
So we agreed with the Events Committee to get in touch with all of the different classes and to look at their proposals. Thus all off these formats come from the classes themselves. There is no point in experimenting without the backing of the classes. Now we hope we have formats which are more understandable to non experts.”

He adds:
“ We are a regatta which likes to innovate and to rise to a challenge like this. We have had a lot to adapt, not least the result systems. In practical terms that also means another course area on the last day and more people to run it. It’s a great challenge for the Trofeo Princesa Sofía IBEROSTAR. At first when we went through the proposals our people were looking at me like ‘what on earth?’…Now here we are ready to do it all. This is the right time to do it. We can be a little more flexible at this time in the quadrennial but you have to test it on a big scale like this, at a good level.

Published in Tokyo 2020

#49er - More than €5,000 is the cost of competition for Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle as they prep for their first event as a duo in Mallorca this coming spring.

The new combination have joined with PledgeSports to crowdfund the necessary budget for a new 49er skiff plus flights, accommodation and ferries as they ready for their debut competition event in the Balearic Islands.

Ahead of that, they will be training with other Olympic hopeful teams and coaches in Cadiz and Mallorca in preparation for a season that builds on a tremendously successful 2016 for Irish high performance sailing.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, last month double Olympian Seaton teamed up with 20-year-old Royal Cork prospect Guilfoyle, making his comeback from an injury that ruled him out of last summer’s Olympics, with ambitions to represent Ireland in the skiff class at Tokyo 2020.

But they will face strong competition for that spot, not least from Seaton’s former partner and fellow Belfast sailor Matt McGovern, with whom he finished in the top 10 in Rio, who is also currently looking for a new skiff partner.

More on the €5,350 Seaton and Guilfoyle are looking to raise can be found on the PledgeSports website HERE.

Published in Olympic

A unique north–south Olympic campaign was launched last night at Royal Cork Yacht Club when double Olympian Ryan Seaton of Belfast Lough announced new crew Seafra Guilfoyle of Cork Harbour as his partner for Tokyo 2020.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, the new pairing will face stiff competition not least from Seaton's former crew Matt McGovern who is among up to four campaigns aiming for Tokyo selection in the mens skiff class.

The Belast–Cork duo say they are looking to build on Rio's top ten finish, Ireland's top Olympic 49er result so far.

In a further boost for Irish skiff class hopes, a boat that is not yet raced here domestically, there are also three other fledgling campaigns readying for Tokyo and beyond too.

Oisin O’Driscoll from Schull and Mark Hassett from Baltimore, Sean and Tadgh Donnelly from Dun Laoghaire, and Robert Dickson from Howth with Sean Waddilove from Skerries have all been involved in training camps at home and in Spain bringing Irish interest in the 16–footer to an all–time high.

Read also: Irish 49ers Are Ahead of the Curve

Published in Olympic

Royal Cork dinghy sailor Seafra Guilfoyle (20) will team up with Belfast double Olympian Ryan Seaton for a Tokyo 2020 Olympic 49er campaign.

The move brings the curtain down on an eight year campaign by Seaton who split from crew Matt McGovern after Rio. Seaton had been trialling a number of crew replacements since Rio, as earlier reported by Afloat.ie. 

McGovern, also from Belfast, is in talks to find a new sailing partner as he intends to continue for Tokyo too.  

According to Royal Cork Yacht Club, Seaton and Guilfoyle will make a formal announcement of the campaign in Crosshaven this Friday. The duo will be looking to build on the Rio top ten finish.

Guilfoyle, an ISAF youth silver medalist in the Laser Radial from 2014, withdrew from the 2016 Mens Laser trial with a back injury.

As Afloat.ie reported in Ireland may field as many as four Olympic 49er campaigns for Tokyo. Read our 49er profile here.

Published in Olympic

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern entered the medal race in the Men's 49er today, knowing that medals were out of their reach, but they were looking to cap a fine performance in the preliminary stages with a good medal race result. The New Zealander pairing had been already declared winners before the ultimate race had started, so the fight was for the minor placings. Statistically, only the 4th place Brits could improve into a medal position, leaving 5th to 10th positions to battle it out for bragging rights.

The New Zealand team, with no pressure on them sailed straight into the lead, and, as so often in the past, did not relinquish it until the finish to crown a great series, a great quad and to win the gold in considerable style.
Behind them the Irish gamble on the left side on the 2nd beat didn’t pay off but a British capsize at the bottom mark and some smart sailing up the beat, followed by a gybe set at the final windward mark saw the Irish boat recover to 6th, only to lose three places in the final approach to the finish.

So a 10th overall for Seaton and McGovern, a wonderful result that sets them up for the next four years. They will take great confidence forward, particularly with a series that included two 1sts a 2nd and a 4th.

Published in Olympic
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