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As the world governing body for sailing, ISAF, sits down to its annual powwow this week in China it is in the knowledge that it intends sticking to plans to hold races in next year’s Summer Olympics inside highly polluted Guanabara Bay.

But polluted Olympic waters is by no means the only embarrassment on the table for the blazers attending in Sanya.

The fundamental governance structure of ISAF is in question, with a proposal from Portugal to disband Council to be considered at the AGM. The remote and costly nature of this year’s meeting in Sanya has resulted in a smaller than usual turnout of smaller nations who might support this move. 

The woes of the Sailing World Cup will also be discussed, with rescue proposals being placed on the agenda by ISAF, who acknowledged that 'the Final is a long way from being a compelling event that attracts top sailors'. In this year’s final two classes were cancelled for lack of entries, one class had only six boats and only two classes attracted the full complement of 20 boats.

Also, the decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC to drop sailing from the Paralympic Games programme in 2020 has galvanised ISAF into a rearguard action to prove to the powers that be that sailing merits its place. Afloat.ie will have more on this.

 

Published in World Sailing

#rio2016 – Just over a year before the Rio Olympics Sailing Regatta, the much anticipated 2016 Olympic Games Sailing Nomination Procedures has been published by the Irish Sailing Association (downloadable below).

A real dilemma for selectors has been the men's Laser class. Belfast's James Espey (31) did Ireland a great service in qualifying the country at the first attempt. The selectors have been aware that two years can make a difference to the development of younger sailors, suggesting that recent Youth World silver medalists Finn Lynch (19) and Seafra Guilfoyle (18) will come into the selection mix. Espey's age and performance profile suggest, that while he could triumph in an unambiguous trials format selectors have decided Irish sailing might be better served by looking to the future, especially as the talent glass in this class is more than half full.

It looks like early selection in the Laser Radial and 49er class has not been too hard a decision for the ISA. Any significant competition to the Rio nation qualifying sailors has not materilaised, and this removes the uncertainty of a trial series. This can bring benefits to the performances of Annalise Murphy (25), Ryan Seaton (26) and Matt McGovern (28), allowing them to build a programme focusing on podium positions at major events. Funding, coaching and athlete needs support can be built around this model. In the case of Murphy, in particular, improving performance in light air conditions is a must if Ireland is to improve on its 2012 result in Weymouth. 

In the nomination procedure, the ISA sets out a trials series for the Laser standard class (men) and notes that apart from the Laser standard, a trial will only take place in another class if more than one candidate meets a minimum standard. For the Laser Radial this is top 60% at the Oman Laser Worlds later this year. According to the criteria, if a trial is needed the entry will be open to all candidates.

So far Ireland has secured nation qualification for Rio in the Laser, Laser Radial and the 49er dinghies. A campaign for a fourth slot in the women's 49erfx is currently underway. 

In the 49erFX, selection has to await country qualification, but this should be a formality given recent top performances by Brewster and Tidey. Their performance may have inspired other young sailors to up their game and pose a challenge for them even late in 2015 or is such a prospect now too remote?

The Trial Regattas for Laser and Laser Radial shall be, 2015 Copa Brasil de Vela, 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, and the 2016 Laser Radial World Championships (Women) and the 2016 Laser World Championships (Men)

The Trial Regattas for 49er and 49erfx shall be, 2015 Copa Brasil de Vela, 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, and the 2016 49er and 49erfx World Championships

Full details downloadable below.

 

 




Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#isafworldcup – A satisfying medal race finish is in store this morning at 11.45 for Annalise Murphy whose hard work paid off yesterday when she took a 9,1,5 to be fourth overall and four points off the Bronze medal position currently held by Britian's Alison Young.

The positions for this morning's live Medal Races have been decided following an intense day of competition at ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland yesterday.

After Friday only served up a race apiece for the Men's RS:X and 470, Saturday was always going to be a hard day with an additional race for each fleet added.

A 13-17 knot breeze coupled with a lumpy sea state tested the competitors with the leader boards fully shaped for the live Medal Races which will be available to view here from 11:00 local time

The Irish Sailing star will be hoping to move up one place and improve on her Olympic sailing Regatta result three years ago. Critically though, the forecasted breeze is only 8 knots from the north-west, potentially leaving Annalise without her heavy air boat speed advantage.

Marit Bouwmeester (NED) has been head and shoulders above her 35 other rivals in the Radial.

From seven races Bouwmeester counts five bullets and two seconds, an outstanding collection of results that has only been bettered by Great Britain's Helena Lucas (GBR) in the Paralympic 2.4mR event.

Bouwmeester was unlucky not to make it a clean sweep of race victories on the penultimate day of racing. She took the first race victory with a certain degree of comfort, finishing 19 seconds ahead of Anne Marie Rindom (DEN).

In the next race she took an early lead but relinquished the spot to Annalise who finished 19 seconds ahead. Bouwmeester led the third and final race of the day from the beginning but was passed by Evi Van Acker (BEL). Very little separated the pair as the race played out and the Belgian took the bullet by just seven seconds.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#saildlr – A forecast of strong winds looks set to sweep Annalise Murphy to the the top of the fleet in Medemblik this week and assure her of the single Irish place at the Olympic test event in Rio in August. Already the Dun Laoghaire solo sailor has made the gold fleet, curently in fifth overall, clear head of four other Irish rivals in her 82–boat fleet. Likewise Belfast's James Espey in the mens division is counting four top ten results after another solid day yesterday with a seventh and a seventh to put him eighth overall, critically he's placed in the gold fleet with discard still intact. He leads four other Irish trialists.

Also competing in Medemblik for just two places at Aqueece Rio, Brazil are radial saiors Aisling Keller, Aoife Hopkins, Erica Ruigrok and Nicole Hemeryck. Irish Laser men competing are Fionn Lyden, Chris Russell, Finn Lynch and Darragh O'Sullivan.

Published in Olympic

#isaf – The ISAF Sailing World Championships in Aarhus in 2018 will be the biggest World Championships ever. This was the message when the contract was signed today between the organisers and the International Sailing Federation, ISAF.

It will be a World Championships of records when the Bay of Aarhus forms the backdrop for the World Championships in 2018 for all Olympic boat classes. In terms of both the number of sailors and the number of participating countries, this will be an event that will surpass the sailing competition at the Olympic Games.

"This is a huge event, and it will leave its mark on the city and the bay. Once again, the Sailing World Championships place Aarhus and Denmark among the best event sites. The many participants and travelling companions will create life and atmosphere in the city and on the water, and it will be a unique experience for the city's citizens and the many visitors," said Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard and Councillor for Culture and Citizen Service, Rabih Azad-Ahmad, who have signed the contract together on behalf of the Danish organisers.

The 2018 ISAF Sailing World Championships are organised in collaboration between the International Sailing Federation, ISAF, Dansk Sejlunion, Sailing Aarhus, Sport Event Denmark and the City of Aarhus. The parties share a joint ambition about ensuring that the event becomes the biggest World Championships ever for Olympic boat classes.

ISAF President Carlo Croce said, "The ISAF Sailing World Championships is one of our pinnacle events and it's very complicated to run, you cannot do it by yourself. The Danish organisers are highly competent and the team convey the feeling that they are a strong, united group. The legacy of sailing in Aarhus is fantastic and there is a great opportunity ahead. We are very happy to be taking the event to Aarhus in 2018.

"ISAF is looking for universality and having 100 nations and upwards of 1,600 sailors competing on the Bay of Aarhus in 2018 will be amazing for the sport."

Lars Lundov, Director at Sport Event Denmark, adds, "The World Championships for all Olympic boat classes will head towards Denmark in 2018, and we have set all sails even now together with Aarhus and Dansk Sejlunion in order to establish new standards for the event".

The goal is to set a new record with upwards of 100 participating nations. The World Championships are to attract spectators from Denmark and abroad and set completely new standards for both sailors and spectators. The 2018 World Championships are to bring sailors and spectators closer together and spread enthusiasm both at sea and on land.

The ISAF Sailing World Championships are held every four years, and without comparison, they are the largest event that has the participation of all 10 Olympic boat classes. The distribution of national places in the Olympic Games will start on the Bay of Aarhus. This is where the dream about Olympic medals in Tokyo in 2020 begins for the greatest stars in sailing. As something completely new, kitesurfing has also been added to the World Championships programme.

For decades, Denmark has been among the best sailing nations in the world. A large number of World Championship and Olympic medals won over the years speak of sailing as a sport in which Danish sailors repeatedly manage to deliver top performances when it matters most. It is therefore only natural that Danish sailors look forward to competing in their home territory.

"The ISAF Sailing World Championships will make Aarhus an international brand in sailing once and for all. From the moment the Olympic flame is extinguished in Rio in 2016, every sailing nation in the world will start focusing on Aarhus. Over the next two years, a steady and ever increasing stream of sailors and coaches will visit Aarhus to get to know the World Championship waters. However, nobody knows the Bay of Aarhus better than the Danish sailors, and we look forward to demonstrating our skills to a home audience," says Hans Natorp, Chairman of Dansk Sejlunion.

The ambition is that the World Championships in 2018 will, in several ways, be bigger than the most recent World Championships in Spanish Santander.

In Santander, 1,167 sailors from 82 nations took part. The area for the sailing finals was visited by 285,000 people, and the event was covered by 196 journalists. The local authorities assess that the financial effect of the World Championships amounted to approx.37.18 million Euros.

"The 2018 World Championships are a clear victory for sailing on the Bay of Aarhus. The event will place Aarhus on the 'world sailing map' once and for all, and Sailing Aarhus is ready with a strong and experienced crew," says Mette Rostgaard Evald, Chairman of Sailing Aarhus.

The 2018 ISAF Sailing World Championships will be launched in August 2018.Second only to the Olympic Games, these ISAF World Championships are the most important event for the Olympic boat classes. The ISAF World Championships are held every four years – during the even years between the Olympic Games – most recently, they were held in the autumn of 2014 in Santander, Spain. All other years, the World Championships are spread out as separate events for the individual boat classes.

Published in World Sailing
Tagged under

#ISAFupdates – Prize money is to be awarded in the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères. €72,000 is to be distributed across the 12 events on show in Hyères when the medals are decided this Sunday.

Irish Olympic sailing campaigners including London 2012 sensation Annalise Murphy – who has already secured a Laser Radial berth for Rio 2016 –  are in the hunt for the new cash prizes. And Belfast Lough's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern (also through to Rio) will be looking to repeat their 2014 performance when they earned silver on the Cote D'Azur.

ISAF President Carlo Croce said, "We are pleased to be awarding the best of the Olympic and Paralympic sailing world with prize money at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères. Alongside the drive to be crowned a Hyères gold medallist and qualifying a spot at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final, the sailors have an added incentive with the addition of prize money.

"The list of athletes competing in Hyères is exceptional and over five days of competition I am looking forward to see how the racing unfolds."

Racing from 22-26 April, the elite level fleets will put their skills to the ultimate test with 40 of the world's best in each class. ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères marks the first occasion where fleets are decided based on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and a qualification regatta.

The world's top 30 sailors from the 2 February 2015 ISAF World Sailing Rankings release were invited to Hyères with the remaining ten receiving their spot at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères qualification regatta, Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

600 Olympic sailors in 400 boats and 39 Paralympic sailors in 25 boats will commence racing on 22 April. A four day racing series will build up to the Medal Races on Sunday 26 April where titles will be won and ISAF Sailing World Cup Final spots snapped up.

Published in Olympic

#trofeosofia – Annalise Murphy of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire enters the final day of racing this morning before Saturday's medal races in third place overall at the Trofeo Sofia in Palma. Breeze lovers in all classes made the most of the conditions with some perfect scores and are closing the gap on some of the regatta leaders. Today will see the last day of finals and the last chance to break into the top ten for medal race participation.

One of Annalise's arch rivals, Evi Van Acker (BEL) is continuing undefeated in the Laser Radial finals with two more bullets added to her perfect score. It has been a formidable performance eclipsing Annalise's own heavy weather speed edge. The 2014 SWC Champion is obviously enjoying the breezy conditions and is closing the gap on Alison Young (GBR) who is conserving a one point lead going into the last day of finals. "There is a very strong competition in this regatta. It has been good racing and I have been consistent in all conditions. We will see what the rest brings in." Van Acker said.

Annalise's capsize dropped her out of the top ten for the first time in the competition, scoring an 11th, her discard, in race seven. The main hope for an Irish sailing medal in Rio tweeted last night: 'A hard day for me today including a unintentional swim in the second race. In 3rd overall now'.

After scoring some big points in the first day of finals, the Spanish FX team of Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos are back in contention with a win and top five results. They are placing second overall, just four points behind Danish sisters Maiken and Anne-Julie Foght-Schutt. The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Glamrockers Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey are in the top half of the skiff fleet, 21st from 47.

Despite a penalty collected for starting too early, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) are conserving a healthy 21 points lead over Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER), but can't make any more mistake. The German have also increased their lead to 22–points over Brazilian team of Bianchi and Lowbeer. Another two top ten places (7,8) scored by the Belfast Lough 49er pair Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern keep them eighth overall and in medal race contention barring slip–ups today.

Overall Class leaders going into Friday's racing are:

470 Men: Luke Patience / Elliot Willis, GBR
470 Women: Jo Aleh / Polly Powrie, NZL
49er: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke, NZL
49er FX: Maiken Foght Schutt / Anne-Julie Foght Schutt, DEN
Finn: Giles Scott, GBR
Laser: Philipp Buhl, GER
Laser Radial: Alison Young, GBR
NACRA 17: Billy Besson / Marie Riou, FRA
RS:X Men: Julien Bontemps, FRA
RS: X Women: Charline Picon, FRA
2.4 Metre: Megan Pascoe, GBR
Dragon: Patrick Monteiro De Barros / Pedro Manuel, POR

Class winners:
Kiteboard Men: Florian Trittel, ESP
Kiteboard Women: Elena Kalinina, RUS

Published in Olympic

#sailing – A leading Cork sailing official who praises the reform of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has raised concerns over a new initiative to raise €2.7m for Irish Olympic and ISA pathway sailing.  The comments follow a reader piece yesterday: Is Being an Olympic Sport Good for Irish Sailing? 

Barry Rose, a former ISA President, says it is 'incredible' during a period of consultation by the ISA that the sailing community was not asked about the set–up of a 'new quango' called the 'Irish Sailing Foundation'. In a sport that is attempting to navigate its way out of recession, Rose warns If resources are 'sucked out of a limited pot' it will effect the ability of Clubs. The challenge, he says, is to 'regrow in a balanced way'.

Firstly I want to state that I fully support the high calibre current Olympic sailing campaigns that I believe have real chances to produce sailing medals that will lift our sport at the next Rio Olympics. Annalise's fantastic performance at the last Olympics richly deserved a medal and lifted all our enthusiasm for the sport. Watching the medal race in Newenhams in Schull was like watching a Six Nations final. It was great.

The current reform and re–connect with the grassroots of sailing taking place in ISA is admirable and needs to happen. Well done to the team driving this through. It seems incredible to me that in the middle of this process without consultation with the wider sport and seemingly out of the blue an advertisement would appear for a CEO of what appears to be a new quango called ISF (apparently under the auspices of the ISA) whose brief is to raise €2.7m a year from a tight economy for elite and Olympic sailing in addition to funds currently generated.

Where has this come from? If this amount of resources is sucked out of a limited pot will it effect the ability of the grassroots to raise funds for Clubs and the events that form the backbone of the sport on the ground in the form of sponsorship and funding vital support structures to grow the wider sport.

We live in interesting times for our sport. There are green shoots everywhere. Enthusiastic sailors and volunteers on the ground are driving the sport in positive directions. Classes like the National 18s are re inventing themselves with a new boat and double figures ordered in its first year, the well organised RS classes are attracting great sailors back in to dinghy sailing in two man dinghies and are having a blast in cool competitive boats at reasonable cost for all age groups. The dynamic of each Class sailing together Fevas, 200s and 400s has really worked with a fun friendly inter reaction at events. Clubs are developing fleets of 1720s and dinghies to offer opportunities to get on the water without owning a boat and grow the sport.

On the Cruiser Racing front ICRA are promoting the sector enthusiastically despite the economic environment and initiating crew training programmes (with ISA support) and growing ever stronger National Championships. Strong Irish teams have won two Commodore's Cups since 2010 exposing many young and some not so young Irish sailors to the highest level of Competition in this field in what is effectively the World Championship of IRC racing. This has happened with incredible commitment by dedicated owners, sailors and a voluntary support team effort by ICRA who are endeavouring to raise some funding support for these types of Irish International challenges.These teams have brought huge credit to Irish sailing displaying a clinical winning approach to every detail on and off the water in significant International events.

We need at this time to plot a careful course for all our sport to regrow in a balanced way that supports the great enthusiasm and innovation that is driving bringing the fun back in to sailing from the ground up in all aspects of the sport.

The Glass is definitely half full not half empty, let's not knock it over! That's the challenge!

Well done for raising the question! It's healthy to debate and reflect! 

Published in Your Say

#olympicsailing – Water Rat's article: Is ISAF Alive To Sailing's Survival As An Olympic Sport? has raised the issue about the future viability of the Olympic sailing movement and brought reaction from readers, including Midshipman, who says it begs two interesting questions:

· Is being an Olympic sport good for sailing?

· Why have the amazing advances we have witnessed in technology over the last 15 years not made sailing more accessible and less expensive?

With the exception of the Laser (a manufacturer controlled boat which is not cheap at €7,250), none of the boats used in the Olympics are to be found in mainstream sailing.

The explosion in sailing during the 60's and 70's was fuelled by the development of exciting low cost boats built, mainly by amateurs, in plywood using new adhesive and coating techniques.

The turn of the century has seen vast improvements in the technologies used in boat building, making boats lighter, faster, stronger safer, but certainly not cheaper, as amateur construction can no longer compete with the sophisticated techniques of the boating industry.

That is probably why the most popular dinghy class in the world remains the inexpensive and simple Sunfish while low tech Hobie Beach Cats still dominate the multihull scene.

In years gone by, most young sailors got their start in wooden Optimists, often built by enthusiastic parents at modest cost over a couple of weekends and then typically graduated to a home built Mirror or its equivalent for their first experience of multi crewed sailing with multiple sails.

opty4.jpg

A wooden framework of the early Optimist dinghy

Nothing less than a relatively expensive Glass Fibre Optimist will do now and the Street Cred of young people is dependent on graduating to costly Lasers and 420s. In Ireland this situation is also compounded by the sense of failure youngsters experience if they fail to qualify for one of the Academy or Elite development squads which currently involves over 100 youth sailors of varied abilities.

opty10.jpg

The scene today – charter boats used at Dun Laoghaire for the 2014 Optimist Europeans

Sailing has become so fixated on exciting performance and elite achievement that it has lost sight of the sheer enjoyment of messing about in boats at modest cost which is the principle attraction to the vast majority of people.

We all admire the highly skilled and motivated sailors who aspire to the ultimate Olympic challenge, but let's face it , what they do has virtually no relevance to the activities of most recreational sailors. ISAF uses racing formats and boats which are not reflective of the sport in general, largely on the grounds of needing to excite TV viewers.

With the exception of horse riding, sailing is probably the most equipment dependent (meaning most expensive) sport in the Olympics. I am not sure that this is a message which ultimately helps encourage people to become involved in sailing.

If we want to use the Olympics as a marketing opportunity for sailing, we should use inexpensive boats which are used on a widespread basis by regular sailors and only have 2 events each for men and women whilst eliminating the cost of shipping boats by supplying evenly matched equipment.

Olympic sailing has created a very costly industry which contributes little back to mainstream sailing. The costs are truly horrendous as demonstrated by the recent announcement that the ISA is appointing an additional CEO to head up a funding programme to raise a further €2.75m a year over and above the €1m plus it receives from the Irish Sports Council for Irish Elite sailing activities.

Does the Irish sailing community believe an annual level of expenditure of €3.75m on elite sailing provides the best economic payback to the sport in Ireland? If we could replicate what has been done in New Zealand, maybe there is a business case which can be justified.

However, €15m seems an outrageous amount of money to propose spending over an Olympic cycle, which is equal to something in excess of €800 on behalf of each member of the ISA.

Let's make sailing accessible, less expensive and more engaging and use the Olympics as a shop window to remove the elitist and esoteric imagery created by the current profile of existing Olympic classes.

What we are doing at the moment is deluding ourselves into believing that presenting our sport like NASCAR or Formula 1 motor racing will attract new people to buy Ford Mondeos and Fiat Pandas. – Midshipman

Published in Your Say

#sailingolympics – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decision to drop sailing from the 2020 Paralympics is a wake-up call for the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). While the commentary talks about failures on the part of IFDS, the real issue seems to be sailing's lack of penetration into national sports programmes. Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, said sailing did "not fulfil the IPC handbook's minimum criteria for worldwide reach."

Last October, Water Rat commented as follows about the modern sailing world: ISAF is still very much a white, first world, wealthy organisation, with little outreach to the developing world. The same is true of the International Federation for Disabled Sailing. And all the participating countries can complain all they like, but until more disabled sailing programmes are established in the developing world their pleas will fall on deaf ears. It is tough to establish such programmes when equipment and access are such an important part of getting afloat, but such is the reality.

Is there a parallel with mainstream sailing. Well, it's not just about numbers, because ISAF has those with 140+ affiliated Member National Authorities, but many of those don't turn up at events, The Youth Worlds, for example, gets about 60 MNAs participating, well less than half the total affiliated number. Squash, one of the candidate sports for 2020 has a similar amount and although another of the candidate sports, softball has less, they have much greater activity in the developing nations in Africa and central America and Caribbean. Wushu, a martial art candidate sport, claims 147 affiliated nations.

And while it is not believed that sailing is under serious threat for 2024, it is not currently because of its lack of universality, rather that it is lower down the list than say, equestrian, synchronised swimming or pentathlon. Indeed pressure may come off sailing as some sports are facing dropping disciplines in an attempt to make the games more relevant, Athletics could well lose walking and triple jump for example, while rhythmic gymnastics could also go.

However, neither the paralympic or the mainstream sailing community will be impressed by ISAF's latest statement regarding their review of the IPC decision, which, albeit perhaps unintentionally, suggests that ISAF has accepted the IPC's 2020 decision and intends to concentrate on 2024 re-instatement. It is to be hoped that ISAF are now alive to the pressures on sailing's survival as an Olympic Sport.

Published in Your Say
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