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#Santander2014 - With the last races sailed at the 2014 ISAF Worlds in Santander, the biggest plaudits are going to the new world champions who've seen their stock rise in the global rankings.

But they're not the only ones with reasons to celebrate, as Ireland's sailing team have added to their impressive performances in Spain last week with a strong showing in the latest world sailing tables announced today (23 September).

Not content with being Ireland's first Olympic qualifier, James Espey has jumped four places in the Men's Laser rankings from 62nd to 58th. But he's not even the biggest riser among the Irish.

That accolade goes to Laser prospect Finn Lynch, who didn't have much to write home about in Santander but still rocketed from 296th in the world to 194th: a remarkable improvement of 102 places. Well done, Finn!

Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey may have narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification in the 49erFX, but they've jumped two placed in the world table from 29th to 27th – not bad at all for the development duo who've only been sailing together for a year.

Holding steady, meanwhile, are Rio-bound Annalise Murphy at 18th place in the world Laser Radial rankings, and Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern, who are just one spot off the world top 10 in the 49er class.

It wasn't the best performance for independent Irish sailor Ross Hamilton, who slipped two places from 59th to 61st in the Finn class, but he will have further opportunity to improve his position and stake claim on a coveted spot in Rio for the 2016 Olympics.

Published in Olympic

#santander2014 – Ireland's only medal race crew took ninth in this afternoon's light and shifty 49er medal race at the ISAF World Championships in Santander, northern Spain.The result gives Belfast's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern eighth overall in the high speed skiff class and, more importantly, country qualification for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The result is the third country qualification for Ireland at the ISAF World championships, an event that was plagued by light winds.

The Medal Race was just like the regatta, dominated by New Zealand. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) had an insurmountable lead going into the final. They had a middling first beat, but then made their move with a gybeset on the first run. They got into the lead by the bottom marks and never looked back, taking a huge win in the Medal Race to cap their huge win in the regatta. The duo are winning regattas and races by margins never seen before in the 49er, and look unstoppable. Time will tell whether they can hold this kind of form all the way through to Rio.

The real fight in the Medal Race was for the silver medal in the battle of Olympic gold medallists. Jonas Warrer, the Beijing 2008 Gold medalist with Anders Thomsen (DEN) were only two points off the London 2012 Gold medallists, Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen (AUS).

Outteridge and Jensen got off to a good start and were third around the first top mark while the Danes were back in eighth. However, there were position changes on every leg of the race, and on the final upwind the Danes got past the Aussies to secure their silver medal, leaving the Aussies to settle for Bronze.

The crowds were so big that it was standing room only, and they reserved their biggest cheers for the Paz brothers from Spain, who get their highest ever worlds finish with a 10th place.

In a week of highs for Irish qualifications in Santander James Espey in the Laser Standard was the first to qualify. A total of 72 nations were in contention for the top 23 spots but Espey secured Ireland's first ticket to Rio with ease as 16th nation. He finished 37th overall from a fleet of 147 boats.

Annalise Murphy, who had a poor start to the regatta, made a comeback to win the country its second place - this time in the Laser Radial class. Murphy finished 20th overall from 120 boats and 16th nation. Only the top 19 nations from a total of 58 earned their right to compete in Brazil.

Narrowly missing out on qualification were Andrea Brewster & Saskia Tidey. Competing in the female 49erFX skiff, they wrapped up an intense event as 13th nation and just shy of the necessary top 10. 

18–year–old Finn Lynch was also competing in Spain at his first Laser Standard World Championship and finished in 101st place finish from 147.

Ross Hamilton was competing in the Finn class and finished 64th from 78.

Published in Olympic

#Santander2014 - Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern are the third and fourth Irish sailors to clinch their spots for Rio 2016 on Day 8 of the ISAF Worlds in Santander, joining James Espey and Annalise Murphy among those already bound for Brazil.

Despite still having one more race to go tomorrow (20 September) in the 80-boat 49er class, the Northern Irish pair have built enough of a points gap to secure a coveted top 10 nation place in the 49er class.

Only 10 places are up for grabs in Santander by the top nations from a competing pool of 33. But the Northern Irish pair, who previously sailed at London 2012, knew that to qualify for Rio at this early stage would significantly ease the pressure.

Upon hearing the news, Seaton said: “Getting the qualification for Rio is a big boost for us. It’s one box ticked but we still have a job to finish. We’re here to get a medal so we’ve still got to keep pushing hard."

McGovern added: “Now we can focus on events in Rio rather than having to compete in Europe at the other qualifiers. From a preparation point of view it makes things a lot smoother”.

Seaton and McGovern made waves when they began competing in Santander earlier this week, finishing second in their opening race and quickly stationing themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

After the initial two days of the qualifying series, the pair qualified with ease for the Gold Fleet. From there they have remained in sixth place overall and sixth nation.

After two races today it was confirmed that they had enough of a points lead to have earned Ireland yet another Olympic place. They will have one final Gold Fleet race tomorrow before the top 10 boats progress to Sunday’s medal races, where they’ll battle it out for the 49er world title.

Meanwhile, in today's 49erFX Gold Fleet, Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey had a physically and mentally gruelling four races. The pair capsized in the first race and were unable to finish. Things did not improve too much with a 25, 19 and 20.

However, they will have one final shot at Olympic qualification tomorrow where they must be among the top 10 nations. The pair are currently 14th nation.

Published in Olympic

#Santander2014 - Both of Ireland’s 49er teams pulled out the necessary results on Day 7 of the ISAF Sailing World Championships to stay in contention for Olympic qualification.

Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey qualified for the female 49erFX Gold Fleet while their teammates Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern moved up to sixth overall in the 49er Gold Fleet.

Today was the final day of the qualifying series for the 55 boats in the 49erFX fleet. Brewster and Tidey had a fifth and a sixth, which boosted them significantly from 35th overnight to 17th, and meant they made Gold Fleet along with the other top 24 teams.

The ISA development sailors will now fight it out with the 14 other nations in Gold to try and secure one of the 10 coveted Olympic spots available.

Commenting after racing, Brewster said: “We needed to have two really good races today and we nailed it.”

Tidey added: “It was really gusty but we found all our skills were really good on the course. Everything we’d been practising really paid off and we’re so thrilled with today.”

Meanwhile, Seaton and McGovern last night finished the 49er qualifying series in 12th position, making the cut for their class Gold Fleet.

In order to earn Ireland another place at Rio 2016, the Northern Irish pair must also finish the regatta within the top 10 nations. A total of 88 teams from 33 nations are competing in the men’s skiff class so every result counts.

Sailing in 20 knots this afternoon, the boys warmed up with an 11th in Race 6. From there they kept on an upward trajectory with a ninth in Race 7, followed by a sixth in Race 8 and finally a second in Race 9. These solid results were enough to move them up three places in the leader board to sixth overall.

ISA performance director James O’Callaghan said it was “a really solid day from the skiff teams today. Both are now really well positioned going into Gold and the fight to secure nation qualification."

Published in Olympic

A live crowd of thousands and a worldwide TV audience watched the Laser and Laser Radial fleets conclude racing at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships with Dutch dominance afoot. Unfortunately there was no Irish participation as both James Espey and Annalise Muprhy, although gold fleet racers, did not make the medal race cut.

Marit Bouwmeester (NED) took a ten point lead into the Laser Radial Medal Race and finished third to seal the deal with Josefin Olsson (SWE) taking silver and Evi Van Acker (BEL) picking up bronze.

Nicholas Heiner (NED) dominated the Laser Medal Race as he emphatically sealed the world championship title. Tom Burton (AUS) had to settle for silver whilst Nick Thompson (GBR) takes bronze.

Laser Radial

The Laser Radial fleet were first away on the Medal Race course at 13:15 local time. In a gusting southerly 20 knot wind blowing straight on to the stadium breakwater Evi Van Acker (BEL) won the start at the committee boat and was one of the first to tack off to the starboard side of the course.

Meanwhile Marit Bouwmeester (NED) went for speed off the start and sailed off more to the left before crossing to the right hand side. Van Acker led Mathilde de Kerangat (FRA) and Alison Young (GBR) round the first mark with Bouwmeester 20 seconds behind in fourth. The backwash from the spectator breakwater was causing some awkward waves on the downwind leg but all 4 boats got to the halfway point of the 30 minute race without incident. The second upwind was all about change. Acker led a group to the left whilst Bouwmeester played the middle to right won. Defending champion, Tina Mihelic (CRO), was best placed to take advantage of a right hand shift and she jumped from eighth to first.

Van Acker failed to cover the right hand side of the course and paid a high price dropping to eighth on the next rounding of the windward mark, one place behind Young. Bouwmeester maintained her fourth place which was all she had to win the title. In fact she gained a place on the downwind leg to the finish third to regain the title she won at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Australia.

In amongst a crowd of Dutch press and TV Bouwmeester said, "I am really happy to come away with a win. I had a good start with a good back swell. It was kind of tricky on the first upwind. I wanted to go right but didn't quite make it. I was happy with my second upwind. I tried to defend a little watching the girls on the left but it was tricky. The back swell was awesome."

Laser

At the start Nick Thompson (GBR) won the committee boat end above Phillipp Buhl (GER) and Nick Heiner (NED). Further down the line defending champion, Robert Scheidt (BRA) powered off the line and tacked on small shift to pass behind all the boats that were to windward of him. It got him to the favoured side of the course and when he tacked back he had moved up to fifth which he turned into fourth rounding the first mark behind New Zealander Sam Meech, Heiner and Buhl.

Overnight leader, Tom Burton (AUS), stuck to the left hand side of the first windward leg and struggled to get across to the favoured right and as a result rounded last with championship title slipping through his hands.

Heiner took his chance and held his second place on the downwind leg before finding an extra gear, pulling out a one minute lead on the next upwind whist those behind "played mix the places" in the shifting conditions. After that Heiner only had to navigate the back wash downwind and finish to take the title which in spite of a scary roll as a gust hit just before the finish. Thompson had worked his way up to fifth in the race and second overall before he got caught in a backwash wave on a gybe just before a tight finish. In a close fleet the stall was enough to drop him to eighth place behind Burton in seventh and drop him to third overall with Burton taking the runner up position.

After racing Heiner said, "Going out to the race I knew it was going to be a battle between the five us so I just wanted to give it everything I could and do my best. I wasn't nervous. I was really keen to get racing. The start was difficult. I had a lane but it was really a case of who got the first wave off the break water. It took me a little time to find my rythym I struggled a bit on some chop but half way up the first beat I found it. Pretty much after that I got going.

"When I went round the downwind mark I look around and pretty sure the next shift was coming from the right. I found a nice set of waves on the right with some pressure and then pretty much planed up wind for half of the beat. It was awesome."

Laser and Laser Radial Reports courtesy of Jeff Martin, International Laser Class Association

Published in Olympic

#Santander2014 - The medal races in the Laser and Laser Radial classes at the 2014 ISAF Worlds in Santander are being broadcast worldwide via YouTube right now.

Follow all the action via the embedded video above and see the course where Annalise Murphy and James Espey have secured their Olympic dream tickets to Rio.

Published in Olympic
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#Santander2014 - Annalise Murphy became the second sailor to qualify Ireland for the 2016 Olympics on Day 6 of the 2014 ISAF Worlds in Santander, placing 20th overall and 16th on the nations table - well within the top 19 that earned their country the chance compete in Rio.

“I started the regatta pretty badly so it was difficult to back out on the second day and make Gold Fleet," she said after the day's racing. "But I had a really good day and then continued to claw my way back up the fleet."

She continued: “My primary goal for competing here was to win a medal but my secondary goal was to qualify to county. Unfortunately I didn’t quite reach my first goal but it’s great to have been able to qualify Ireland in the Laser Radial.”

The 23-year-old from Rathfarnham had a mixed performance in Santander, the first Olympic qualifier where half of all places in Rio were awarded. Her results ranged from a fifth to a 43rd in what were light conditions for the majority of the regatta.

Today (Wednesday 17 September) was the final day of racing and the final chance for Murphy to qualify. Overnight she was 28th individually and 21st nation so everything hinged on her performance in today’s scheduled three races.

The wind had arrived by this morning, averaging about 20 knots. With no room for error, Murphy went straight to the top the fleet in the first race of the day. Neck-and-neck with the world’s best, she crossed the finish line in 13th place – exactly what she needed boosting her up to 20th overall and 16th nation.

Two further races had been scheduled but at 6.05pm local time the decision was made to cancel due to the lack of wind.

ISA high performance director James O’Callaghan said of her achievement: “While the overall result was not her best, you can’t but be impressed with the way Annalise fought back after a disastrous first day. We are delighted with nation qualification."

Elsewhere, there was a sense of déjà vu for Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er. The pair had been reseeded to the Yellow Fleet but matched yesterday’s results with a 2nd and a 15th.

One further race will have to be sailed tomorrow by the Blue Fleet in order to make a qualifying series. At that time the overall positions will be known and the Gold and Silver Fleet cut will be made.

The 20-knot breeze in the early afternoon caused plenty of drama for Ireland’s 49erFX pair Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey, who broke their mast before the first race of the day had even begun.

They raced ashore where real sportsmanship quickly became apparent. Team USA and Ireland teammates Seaton and McGovern, as well as numerous others, rushed to their assistance.

Within moments they had replaced their mast and were making their way back out to the race course. Within that time the race had been riddled with capsizes and was ultimately abandoned, which meant no penalty for the girls.

The FX fleets then had one race apiece in the afternoon. Brewster and Tidey finished 14th and now lie 35th overall. They’ll have two more qualifying races tomorrow before they separate into Gold and Silver.

There was only one final fleet race today for Ireland's other Olympic qualified sailor James Espey and the Laser Standard Gold Fleet. He finished 44th in Race 8 and 38th overall.

Meanwhile, Finn Lynch and the Laser Bronze Fleet had no racing again today for their final day of the regatta. Lynch finishes his first Laser Standard World Championship in 101st place out of 147 sailors – no mean feat for the 18-year-old who only graduated to this highly competitive senior class earlier this year.

In the Finn class, Ross Hamilton sailed three races today, placing 33rd, 32nd and 30th, leaving him 64th overall and qualifying for the Silver Fleet for the rest of the championship. Racing will continue for the Finn class until 21 September.

Published in Olympic

#Santander2014 - No racing yesterday meant the ISAF Worlds race management team were under pressure not only to complete the originally scheduled races, but also to also make up for the missed races yesterday. A total of 55 races were planned across nine classes, with only the RS:X windsurfing women not taking to the water.

Thankfully the wind had arrived by late morning, between 7-12 knots depending on which of the seven courses they were on, though it did die off again later in the afternoon, causing postponements and abandonments all round.

Following their rest day yesterday, James Espey and Annalise Murphy were back on the water again with the Laser Gold Fleets. Murphy was on form for her first Laser Radial Gold race of the day, dominated at the top of the 60-boat fleet to finish in fifth place – an important result in such tricky conditions.

Later in the afternoon Race 7 was attempted and then abandoned as the wind dropped. As it stands, Murphy is now 28th overall and 21st nationally. After tomorrow’s final day of fleet racing, the top 19 nations will earn an Olympic spot for Rio 2016.

In the Laser Standard Gold Fleet, Espey had two mid-fleet results. Lying 26th overnight, he slipped to 34th overall after a 28th and 36th in Races 6 and 7. He will continue racing tomorrow, with the top 10 from the 147 competitors then progressing to the medal race on Thursday to fight for the world title.

Meanwhile, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er had a strong start with a second place finish in Race 1 for the Blue Fleet. They followed that up with 15th place in Race 2 but slipped down the fleet to 38th in the day's third race. They have one more day of qualification fleet racing tomorrow before the Gold, Silver and Bronze split.

Also, ISA development sailors Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey finally made their Santander debut this morning in the 49erFX. Initially they sailed two races in the Yellow fleet, placing an encouraging 16th and 11th, putting them 29th overall out of 55 once the Blue Fleet had also sailed.

Just before 7pm local time the pair sailed one more race in very difficult light conditions. The entire fleet were struggling and the course was shortened but later abandoned.

The Finn class also began racing today which included one Irish sailor in Ross Hamilton. He had a 27th in his first race, putting him 53rd overall. Not further races were successful completed. Finn Lynch and the Laser Bronze Fleet also attempted one race in the early evening which was promptly abandoned.

Racing is scheduled tomorrow for all fleets.

Published in Olympic
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#santander2014 – Only the 49er yellow fleet were able to get racing in on the fourth day at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships as light, teasing winds played havoc across the seven race courses.

The 470, 49er, 49erFX, Finn, Nacra 17 and RS:X fleets were all scheduled for racing early on in the day with the Laser (silver and bronze fleets) and Laser Radial (silver fleet) penned in later in the afternoon.

It was a frustrating day for the Race Committees who attempted several starts but a combination of wind shifts and a strong current made things exceedingly hard with only the 49ers getting racing away.

Despite light winds it was a glorious day for residents who enjoyed a local bank holiday and were able to pay the championship venue a visit. A spectator Dune has been purpose built for the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds and will be used for many years to come for rowing and sailing events. Throughout the day thousands of spectators paid the Dune a visit with thousands more expected as the event unfolds.

49er

The 49er fleet had some really tough qualifying conditions on their first race day. The wind did not co-operate said Irish 49er coach Ian Barker, "It was a maximum of 5 knots out there." With the world's best skiff sailors competing and only 25 boats of the 80 registered making it to gold fleet, it was always going to be a tough test. The races were short and sharp which meant the starts and lane holding were vital.

Only yellow fleet managed to get races in with veterans Nico Delle Karth and Niko Resch (AUT) taking the overnight lead after two fifth place finishes. There are not too many other favourites up in the top 10 right now, as most of the fleet could only manage a single good race out of the two. Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) managed to salvage the day with a good come back in the first race moving from deep up the first beat to a 16th followed with a fourth in the second race.

Probably the most interesting news of the day are which teams have taken poor starts to the event and are at risk of missing gold fleet. European Silver medalists Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) had a UFD and a 21. Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen (DEN) had a 33 and 11 placing them well down the pack while Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) had a UFD and a 10. All three of these top teams face unlikely odds now of making the gold fleet, though they'll surely give it a try.

The blue fleet sailors were lucky on the day to avoid racing in the light winds. Typically qualifying races are conducted at the same time to avoid some fleets being exposed to different conditions that other fleets, but that is n

Racing is scheduled to start at 11:00 local time on 16 September with all sailors, apart from the Women's RS:X, down to compete.

Schedule of Racing:

12-18 September, Laser and Laser Radial
13-19 September, RS:X Men and RS:X Women
14-20 September, 470 Men and 470 Women
15-21 September, 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17

Published in Olympic
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#Santander2014 - Not one to rest on his laurels after securing his place at the Rio Olympics – the first Irish sailor to do so – Belfast Laser helm James Espey made the most of Day 3's light winds to climb up the rankings at the ISAF Worlds in Santander.

Few fleets managed to get any racing in, and even at that there were frustrating delays before their class sprints were abandoned. But Espey remained cool and calm where many of his Gold Fleet competitors let their nerves get to them – nine disqualifications for crossing the line early was the result.

When the race did get under way, Espey sailed with the leading pack the 4-8 knot breeze, only slipping down in the second half to finish 10th, leaving him in 26th place overall – 14 places higher than where he finished yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the women's Laser Radial Gold Fleet, Annalise Murphy was unable to repeat yesterday's impressive recovery when she got caught out on the wrong side of the fleet and had to settle for 37th. The Olympic hero is now 45th overall in the 60-boat fleet.

There was no race today for Finn Lynch with the Laser Standard Bronze Fleet abandoned, though tomorrow's rest day may be rescheduled if the winds are favourable to make up for today's lost action.

Also on the water tomorrow for Team Ireland will be Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the men’s 49er class, Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the female 49erFX and Ross Hamilton in the Finn fleet.

Published in Olympic
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