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Ireland’s Paris 2024 sailing Olympians will get a special send-off event at The Plaza in Dun Laoghaire at 5pm on Tuesday 18 June.

Before they leave Dun Laoghaire Harbour for Paris flanked by young academy sailors, Howth Yacht Club’s Eve McMahon in the ILCA 6 class along with 49er pair Seán Waddilove and Robert Dickson as well as ILCA 7 racer Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club will take part in a media day at Irish Sailing’s Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire.

As part of the day, the Association of Sports Journalists in Ireland (ASJI) will be hosting a ‘Legends Presentation’ including a lunch with Olympic medallists in sailing, Annalise Murphy and David Wilkins.

Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove have emerged best of the two Irish contenders to compete in the men’s skiff event at Paris 2024 this summer.

The Dublin crew — from Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively — qualified for the medal race final in eighth overall at the 49er European Championships in La Grande Motte, France on Sunday 12 May, the third and final event of the selection trials.

Their rivals for the place, Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, delivered an outstanding performance of their own over the past six days, finishing in 12th place — their personal best result as a pair — and within striking distance of taking the place.

But the Royal Cork Yacht Club pair were denied a final chance at closing the gap on Dickson and Waddilove when light winds forced their final fleet race to be cancelled on Sunday despite two attempts to go afloat hoping for breeze.

Light winds were also threatening the possibility of the medal race on Sunday afternoon, though the best that the Dublin crew can achieve is sixth overall in a fleet that comprises the best sailors in the world that will all be competing in the Olympics.

Dickson and Waddilove competed for Ireland at Tokyo 2020 for their first Olympic appearance and qualified Ireland for this year’s games at the 2023 Europeans in Portugal last November.

This selection marks the conclusion of a 45-race series which took place over three regattas.

It’s expected the nomination will be ratified by the Olympic Federation of Ireland in the coming weeks when Dickson and Waddilove join Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) and Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) in their respective one-person dinghy events for Team Ireland.

Big breeze and massive wind shifts of day two of the 49er European Championship delivered plenty of drama in La Grande Motte, the South of France as the gap narrowed between the two Irish rivals who are using this event as the final Olympic trial for the single Irish Paris 2024 berth this July.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove from Dublin's Howth Yacht Club and Skerries continue to lead in the Euros but now only by two points on 42 in 17th overall with Crosshaven's Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan from Royal Cork Yacht Club on 44 points in 19th place after six races sailed. 

As regular Afloat readers know, to win a place with Team Ireland for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Guilfoyle and Durcan must beat the Dubliners by five places and finish within the top 20 in La Grande Motte.

Three more races in wildly shifty conditions of up to 40 degrees variation have done nothing to dislodge Great Britain from the top two spots in the men's 49er. It's just the order of those British crews has changed with new pairing of James Grummett and Rhos Hawes now moving to the top and displacing James Peters and Fynn Sterritt to second overall.

Thursday is indeed forecast for a lighter breeze as the regatta reaches the final day of qualifying before the 49er men get regrouped for the gold fleet finals and Ireland produces its final member of its Paris Olympic sailing team.

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Great Britain’s Micky Beckett has won ILCA 7 gold with a day to spare, on day five of the World Cup Series at the 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar. Matching Beckett’s feat and conquering the Nacra 17 mixed multihull fleet before their Medal Race are Italy’s reigning World and Olympic Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti. This leaves eight gold medals yet to be decided on Super Saturday on the Bay of Palma.

From an Irish perspective, Paris qualified Finn Lynch lies 21st in the ILCA 7 after discarding 53rd in race 10, Paris qualified Eve McMahon 14th in the ILCA 6 and Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan are 23rd in the 49er skiff.

Beckett’s victory is his third back-to-back in consecutive years at this key indicator event in the men’s Olympic dinghy. The Welshman, who is targeting gold at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, has beaten a 193-strong fleet that is stacked with all of the recent Olympic and World Championship medal winners. Twenty-six-year old Beckett’s achievement is all the more impressive as he wins the event with a day to spare, just as he did on these same Palma waters a year ago.

Hat-trick for Beckett

“Winning this three times in a row really is something very special, not least because it is the first World Cup I did 10 years ago and honestly then I got hammered,” said Beckett. “But to come back after the regatta was cancelled in 2021 [due to COVID] and win three times in a row is incredible. I am a little bit lost for words and still surprised it is something I have been able to do. It is such a difficult class, everyone is here, everyone comes here and brings their A-game and so to come out on top of an entry of 193 - that’s a huge number of people to beat.”

This is an important psychological victory at a critical time in the Olympic year, according to Beckett. “Sailing is about details, do the details well, manage the risk well and don’t get distracted - that is the key. And I guess I have managed the risk well this week. I have dug myself out of trouble a few times this week by having good boatspeed. That has helped a lot. And keeping your head out, watching ahead is key as this is quite a changeable race track.

“Compared with the Marseille Olympic race track this is different and it requires a certain, nuanced skill set. Some things are clearly working for me but there is plenty more to do. I will enjoy this, I will enjoy the Medal Race tomorrow and then get back to work soon.”

Italians dominate again

Patience and razor-sharp focus were key also in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull class where Tita and Banti won the Sofía title for the third time, victorious also in 2018 and 2022 when they took the event’s top overall trophy.

Going into Saturday’s Medal Race, Tita and Banti have an insurmountable 24 points margin over their young compatriots Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei, who won last year’s Olympic Test Event in Marseille.

Banti was quite matter-of-fact about the victory: “Actually it was a strange Palma, I don’t remember a Palma like this, a lot of light winds, but finally we got some good races, foiling races and light wind races. So we’re happy because Palma is the first event after winter training. It means we have done a good job with our training, but this is only the first step because we have many things to work on, to win the Olympic Games which is our aim this year.”

Moroz and Maeder flying high

For Daniela Moroz and Max Maeder who go into the final day at the top of the Formula Kite leaderboards, their reward is to take two wins into the four-rider final. In the first-to-three-wins format, this puts the American and Singaporean riders on match point. They’re only one race away from taking their respective Sofía titles, whereas the rest of the top 10 have a steeper mountain to climb.

470s finely balanced

The 470 mixed dinghy medal title is perfectly balanced with France’s Camille Lecointre and Jérémie Mion carrying just a single point’s advantage over Spain’s new world champions, Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman.

The Spanish are ahead of three German crews all engaged in a fierce Olympic trials - Malte and Anastaysia Winkel, Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort, and Theresa Löffler and Christopher Hoerr who are all separated by just three points.

Their 2022 world champions Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth painfully miss out on the Medal Race by a single point. And last year’s winners, Japan’s 2023 world champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka, make the Medal Race while their selection rivals Tetsuya Isozaki and Yurie Seki don’t - which should ensure Okada and Yoshioka take the Olympic spot.

Spain on top in the 49er

The 49er men’s skiff Medal Race will see Spain’s Diego Botin and Florian Trittel, will carry an almost negligible four-point margin into the title showdown, while in the 49er FX women’s skiff Norway’s European champions Helene Næss and Marie Rønningen were overhauled by Italy’s Jana Germani and Georgia Bertuzzi today and lead by a single point. Both crews have a sufficient advantage to be more or less assured of gold or silver.

Érdi takes ILCA 6 lead

Hungary’s Maria Érdi, the reigning European champion, assumed the lead in the ILCA 6 women’s dinghy event after Australia’s Mara Stransky had what she had expected to be third place annulled for a BFD disqualification in the first race, a mistake she then compounded by being gun-shy on the second start which left her 34th.

Windsurfing Showdown

Powerful Pole, Pawel Tarnowski, has a trio of top French iQFOiL windsurfers, including 2021 world champion Nico Goyard set to challenge for the Sofia title while the women’s Palma title final could be one of the most exciting of the final day, which looks set to be raced in the morning in a north-easterly offshore breeze.

The 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca by Iberostar will bring the curtain down on Saturday. The Medal Races (or Medal Series for iQFOiL windsurfing and Formula Kite), the races that will decide the podiums in each discipline, are scheduled to start at 10:00 am, with light winds according to the weather forecasts. The trophy ceremony will take place at 20:00 in Ses Voltes, at the foot of Palma Cathedral.

Final day schedule

Starting Order, first warning signal:
COURSE AREA 1: Nacra 17 10:00 49er 10:45 49er FX 11:30
COURSE AREA 2: Formula Kite Men 10:00 Formula Kite Women 10:10
COURSE AREA 3: iQFOiL Women 10:15 iQFOiL Men 11:00
COURSE AREA 4: ILCA 6 10:15 ILCA 7 11:00 470 11:45

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Over 1,100 sailors from 75 countries have arrived in the Bay of Palma, Mallorca, Spain for the 53rd edition of the Trofeo Princess Sofia, which is set to run from April 1 until April 6. Among the participants are Irish sailors aiming for the Paris Olympic Games later this year.

In the ILCA 7 class, the National Yacht Club’s Finn Lynch, who is selected for Paris, and Howth’s Ewan McMahon (no longer an 'independent' campaigner but back on the national squad) will be competing against the top sailors in their class, striving for a podium place and testing their skills ahead of the summer’s major regattas.

Meanwhile, recently crowned Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year 2023, Eve McMahon, will represent Ireland in the ILCA 6 class. McMahon, who finished fourth at the U21 ILCA European Championships in Pollensa, Spain, last week, will be up against a strong fleet that includes current world champion Anne Marie Rindom from Denmark.

The Royal Cork duo of Seáfra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, who are still in the running for the Irish berth in the 49er class for the Paris 2024 games, will be the only Irish 49er attending this event.

After spending their entire winter season training in Lanzarote, which has similar conditions to Palma, this regatta will serve as a good test for the pair. However, it is important to note that this World Cup will not stand as a test event for the Irish Olympic boat selection, led by Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove.

Both the men's and women's dinghies will have 10 races plus a medal race, while the men’s skiff will have 15 races plus a medal race.

The world’s best Olympic sailors have made Hyères on the French Riviera their meeting spot each April for more than 50 years.

And this year the stakes are even higher, as the 55th edition of Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM from 20-27 April will be the final opportunity for sailing’s elite to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

French Olympic Week 2024 comprises two events hosted concurrently: The ‘Qualified Nations’ in Hyères harbour, with two participants for each nation and class; and the Last Chance Regatta which will bring together the nations that have still to qualify for Paris 2024 to compete for the 39 places still up for grabs.

SOF 2024 banner

All 10 Olympic classes will be competing in both events: ILCA (men’s and women’s single-handed dinghy), 49er (men’s and women’s skiff), Nacra 17 (mixed multihull), 470 (mixed double-handed dinghy), Formula Kite (men’s and women’s kitefoil) and iQFOiL (men’s and women’s windsurfing).

This exceptional line-up means that “La SOF” is set to break its record for the number of participating nations in Hyères, with nearly 1,000 athletes and 500 support staff from 90 countries across five continents expected.

And among them will be Irish 49er pairs Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove, and Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan who will be looking to make up for a disappointing 49er Worlds to clinch Ireland’s single spot in the men’s skiff event in Marseille this summer.

The schedule for the week looks like the following:

The Semaine Olympique Française:

  • Friday 19 April: welcome and registration
  • Saturday 20 April: welcome and registration
  • Saturday 20 April: opening ceremony
  • Sunday 21 April to Wednesday 24 April: iQFOiL and Formula Kite qualifying rounds
  • Monday 22 to Friday 26 April: ILCA, 49er, Nacra 17 and 470 qualifying rounds
  • Thursday 25 April: iQFOiL and Formula Kite Medal Races
  • Saturday 27 April: ILCA, 49er, Nacra 17 and 470 Medal Races
  • Saturday 27 April: Prize-giving and closing ceremony

The Last-Chance Regatta:

  • Thursday 18 April: welcome and registration
  • Friday 19 April: welcome and registration
  • Saturday 20 April: opening ceremony
  • Sunday 21 April to 24 April: iQFOiL and Formula Kite qualifying rounds
  • Sunday 21 to Thursday 25 April: ILCA, 49er, Nacra 17 and 470 qualifying rounds
  • Thursday 25 April: iQFOiL and Formula Kite Medal Races
  • Friday 26 April: Medal Races: ILCA, 49er, Nacra 17 and 470
  • Saturday 27 April: Prize-giving and closing ceremony

For more details, including the Notice of Race, see the SOF website HERE.

Irish 49er skiff sailors are set to compete in the 49er class world championship in Lanzarote, Canary Islands from March 4th to March 10th, 2024. With less than five months left before the Paris 2024 Olympics, this event marks an intensive phase for the Irish sailors. 

Two Irish boats will be contesting a three-event selection trials to decide who will be nominated by Irish Sailing to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for inclusion in the Olympic Team. Although a place in the men's skiff event for the games has already been secured, the Irish sailors are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the Olympics. 

Veteran Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will return to Lanzarote to compete in the event where they qualified for Tokyo 2020 just three years ago. In 2020, the duo secured bronze at the Spring Championships and will be seeking at least a top ten finish or a podium place next week. 

Royal Cork sailors Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan will contest an Olympic trial for Paris 2024 at the 49er class world championship in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, next week Photo: World SailingRoyal Cork sailors Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan will contest an Olympic trial for Paris 2024 at the 49er class world championship in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, next week Photo: World Sailing

Crosshaven's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, campaigning independently of Irish Sailing's senior squad, are also chasing selection and will be looking to see the fruits of their intensive winter training paying off and recently landed a sponsorship deal. The Cork Harbour pairing will also aim to secure Sport Ireland carding status with a good performance in Lanzarote, which is the first of the three-event trials series. 

A total of 75 crews from 28 countries will compete in the six-day series, which comprises a qualification round to decide the Gold fleet round. From there, the top ten boats will sail a short medal race to decide the podium. 

The French Olympic Week in Hyeres followed by the 49er European Championships will complete the trials that emphasise best overall event standings rather than a boat-on-boat competition, James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Director of Performance, said. "As with the ILCA7 for the men’s single-handed event, these trials will be decided on a low-points scoring basis," he added. "This incentivises both crews to concentrate on their best regatta score rather than winning the place for Paris 2024."

The single-handed events have already concluded, with Eve McMahon and Finn Lynch in the process of being nominated to the Olympic Federation of Ireland in their respective events at the Olympic regatta set for Marseille, which will begin at the end of July.

Lymington sailor Hannah Snellgrove has been selected as the 11th sailor for Team GB at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the British Olympic Association (BOA) announced on Tuesday. The 33-year-old will be competing in the women's dinghy class sailing the ILCA 6, formerly known as the Laser Radial, in Marseille this summer, taking on the world's best. 

Snellgrove earned a country quota place for Team GB at the 2023 Sailing World Championships last August, finishing in 11th place, before securing her selection by finishing 10th at the 2024 World Championships last month. She joins a strong line-up of athletes, including Tokyo 2020 medalists John Gimson, Anna Burnet, and Emma Wilson, and two-time Olympian Saskia Tidey.

Snellgrove, who has also represented Britain at the Paris 2024 test event in Marseille and won a silver medal at the 2022 Princess Sofia Trophy regatta, expressed her delight at being selected for Team GB. "It's the biggest honour to be selected for Team GB," she said. "It's really humbling to think of all the things that people have done to help me during the course of my career."

Mark Robinson, RYA Performance Director and Team GB sailing team leader, praised Snellgrove's determination to reach this point. "It is a great pleasure to announce Hannah's selection to Team GB today," he said. "Such is the British Sailing Team's strength over many Olympic cycles, with only one representative allowed to represent Great Britain in each class at the Games, it is often a long journey for our sailors to reach this pinnacle. I am sure she will represent Team GB with this immense inner drive and will do us proud at Paris 2024."

Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission, also congratulated Snellgrove on her selection. "Olympic selection is highly competitive, and Hannah has shown a huge amount of tenacity and resilience throughout her sailing career," he said. "I am delighted that she will be able to fulfill her Olympic ambitions this summer in Marseille."

Team GB has a rich history of excellence in Olympic sailing competition, having won 64 medals, including 31 golds, more than any other nation.

Former Team GB athletes Sir Ben Ainslie and Hannah Mills are the most successful male and female Olympic sailors of all time; Ainslie with four golds and a silver, Mills with two golds and a silver.

The sailors selected for Paris 2024 are:

  • John Gimson and Anna Burnet – Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17)
  • James Peters and Fynn Sterritt – Men’s Skiff (49er)
  • Freya Black and Saskia Tidey – Women’s Skiff (49erFX)
  • Emma Wilson – Women’s Windsurfing (iQFOiL)
  • Sam Sills – Men’s Windsurfing (iQFOiL)
  • Ellie Aldridge – Women’s Kite (Formula Kite)
  • Michael Beckett – Men’s Dinghy (ILCA 7)
  • Hannah Snellgrove – Women’s Dinghy (ILCA 6)
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Friday's final day of the second Irish Olympic trial for Paris 2024 in the men's ILCA 7 will be a tight contest at the European Championships in Athens.

Trials leader Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) is in 14th place, with his sole rival for Paris Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) in 17th, trailing in this regatta by just four points.

The fluky winds have led to a high-scoring regatta, so much can still change on the final day depending on how many races can be sailed.

After sputtering in the very light winds of today's first race, Lynch bounced back to form as the wind freshened steadily during the afternoon to score a third and a race win in his 47-boat qualification fleet. McMahon (Howth also had a good day, including third and seventh places, in addition to a 20th.

Among the overall championship contenders is Omer Vered Vilenchik from Israel, the current leader.

Despite being just 17 years old, Vilenchik has demonstrated remarkable skill, particularly in the previous light wind conditions, where he achieved impressive results (5-2). He continued his strong performance by clinching victory in the first race on Thursday and securing another commendable result (1-22-5).

First and seventh in the men's division are from so far unqualified Olympic Games countries, indicating that the standard at this regatta is missing some of the top names as the world's ILCA 7 leaders now focus instead on preparations for Marseille's Olympic regatta in July.

With a good forecast of similar conditions for Friday, organisers will attempt to sail three fleet races, but the weather-disrupted schedule means the Olympic-style medal race for the top ten boats has been cancelled.

Top 5 – Senior Europeans:

Omer Vered Vilenchik ISR 13 pt
Alessio Spadoni ITA 18 pt
Eduardo Marques POR 19 pt
Dimitri Peroni ITA 21 pt
Valtteri Uusitalo FIN 21 pt

Top 5 – Olympic qualification:

Omer Vered Vilenchik ISR 13 pt
Zan Luka Zelko SLO 23 pt
Oskar Madonich UKR 27 pt
Georgios Papadakos GRE 33 pt
Karl Martin Rammo EST 35 pt

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After three races sailed, Paris 2024 qualified Eve McMahon of Ireland lies in 20th place at the ILCA 6 European Championships in Athens. 

In light and flukey conditions that have delayed the racing schedule, the Howth star scored a consistent seven and a 12 in the 110-boat fleet.

Fierce competition is unfolding among the front-runners, vying for both European titles. Viktorija Andrulyte LTU (1-4-2) and Elena Vorobeva CRO (1-2-30) currently share the lead in the rankings and are tied on three points. 

Maria Erdi HUN (3-5-3) stands third in the provisional podium with 6 points. Anne Marie Rindom (4-12-3) DEN and Louise Cervera FRA (12-3-4) follow closely with 7.

In the fight for the Olympic tickets and also among the Top 10 are Katrina Micallef MLT (30-4-4) and Ursula Balas CRO (9-10-1), with 8 and 10 points respectively.

More light winds are expected for Day 4 on Wednesday, organisers will again try for three races although once four have been completed the minimum standard for a championship event will have been reached.

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