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The 49erFX partner of Dun Laoghaire’s Saskia Tidey at Tokyo 2020 has spoken of her fond memories of competing at the highest level as she called time on her Olympic career.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Charlotte Dobson was among a host of top names in British sailing who announced their retirement from Olympic campaigning this week.

Originally contesting in the Laser Radial (now ILCA 6), the Scottish sailor switched to the 49erFX skiff when it was introduced in 2014, teaming up with Sophie Ainsworth. The pair won their spot with Team GB for Rio 2016, finishing ninth.

Dobson then joined forces with Ireland’s Saskia Tidey following the Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor’s decision to move to Team GBR in 2017, citing a lack of opportunities for her to pursue her career at home.

The duo quickly established themselves as a powerhouse of the 49erFX fleet, backed up by string of podium results silvers at the Olympic test event and the 2020 World Championships.

Dobson and Tidey led the Tokyo 2020 regatta in the windy early stages before being overhauled later on as the breeze turned light, eventually finishing sixth.

Dobson, who married Dylan Fletcher a few weeks after returning from Tokyo, is now looking to work in banking.

“We gave it a really good crack but it wasn’t enough at the end. I think you have to know when it’s time to say that we did our best but it wasn’t really good enough”

On retirement, the 35-year-old from Rhu, near Glasgow, says: “The latest news for me is that I’m going to hang up my sailing boots and trapeze harness and say goodbye to the Olympic world. It’s been an amazing period of time, and now I’m going on to work out what the next thing is.

“It was a pretty easy decision to be honest. I genuinely felt in the couple of years before Tokyo that Saskia [Tidey] and I had given ourselves the best chance of winning a medal in Tokyo. We’d worked with some incredible coaches and support staff, and had some amazing sailors in our training groups. When you’re proud of the campaign you put together you have to accept the result at the end.

“We gave it a really good crack but it wasn’t enough at the end. I think you have to know when it’s time to say that we did our best but it wasn’t really good enough.”

Asked for her fondest memories of the Games, Dobson says: “It’s probably more of feeling than a memory. Regardless of the result not turning out the way we wanted, I wholeheartedly feel hugely proud to be part of that Tokyo team.

“We were surrounded by excellent people doing pretty incredible things. The atmosphere was one of elevating yourself. It was a huge honour to see some of the sailing greats that we had do their thing, and try to emulate that.”

As for her future plans? “I’m dipping my toes into the real world slowly, and I’m hopefully going to find a job in banking,” she says. “I’m definitely not going very far from Portland, I love it here. Sailing has brought me all the way from the west coast of Scotland to this little island and I love it. I won’t be completely disappearing.”

Dobson also had the following advice for sailing’s next generation: “I’d say just stay in love with our sport. It’s the most incredible sport, and so wide-ranging. You can sail fast boats, slow boats, complicated boats, simple boats, with people, on your own… Never lose the love for the sport.

“Do as much sailing across a variety of boats. And if you decide you want to go to the Olympics it’s totally possible. Anything is possible when you set a goal, put your mind to it and crack on.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) have won gold in the 49erFX Women with Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke (GER) taking silver and Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) bronze.

The remaining Irish interest in the Tokyo sailing regatta focussed on one-time regatta leader Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who sailed with Charlotte Dobson into sixth overall after finishing seventh in the medal race.

Brazil was struggling for a lane out of the start but found a gap at the committee boat in the last 10 seconds and tacked out to the right on a lonely path while the other nine boats carried on towards the left.

First around the first mark was Argentina, Norway in second with Brazil in third and the Netherlands in fifth - advantage Brazil.

On the first downwind leg, the Netherlands were fighting with Germany and Spain for the silver and bronze but Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) got stuck on the outside of a slow mark rounding at the leeward gate, held up the French team. The Dutch were now at the back, in 10th and out of the medals.

However, up the final windward leg, the Dutch pulled back two critical places, enough to get them ahead of Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo (ESP) for the bronze medal.

Victoria Travasco and Maria Sol (ARG) won the Medal Race by a long distance from Norway. But a third across the finish was sufficient for Brazil to win the gold medal. Grael and Kunze have successfully defended the Olympic title they won in Rio 2016.

Results here

Charlotte Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said:

“That was some morning I think I’ve had. The end of our campaign and our medal hopes, but amazing to watch Dylan and Stu win their gold medal.

“They’ve been amazing supporters of ours the whole way through this cycle and this morning optimises to me the ying and yang of sport - with amazing results someone has to lose. That’s kind of what we know when you get into this world. You risk feeling terrible for the moment to be able to feel how Dylan and Stu feel right now.

“I’m sure this gold medal [Dylan Fletcher’s] is going to follow me around. It will be on our dining table I’m sure for the foreseeable future, but I’m just really, really, really proud of him and the team that has been around both Dylan and Stu, and Sas and I. The support we’ve got, the help we’ve had from the National Lottery to even be here, is just second to none.

“Sometimes this campaign when it got difficult, certainly with covid, you look around at the support around you, you think if you can’t do it with these guys around you, you probably don’t deserve to. And I mean the support we’ve had has been incredible.

“We had another light wind and choppy medal race. Just as the breeze was starting to pick up, we were on first. We didn’t have the best start and lane hold, and then we got a bit dictated to by that time, so really the race was kind of out of hands in that light wind stuff and it’s really important to be in control of your race.

“We kind of did come back into it right at the end, so that was really nice to do that last little bit with the kite up past the rest of our team. To be honest a large part of the damage was done in the last two days in the lighter winds.

“At this level you can’t expect to win medals with holes in your performance and unfortunately we kind of got found out this week in these lighter winds, which is frustrating because in the past we’ve dealt with that weakness. But yeah, really disappointing.

“We fought for every place we could around the medal race, the spirit was really good all the way up to the end so we have that to be proud of.

“It’s been amazing [to watch Dylan win gold]. Very, very stressful, I feel really bad for what we have done to our parents and friends and family over the last couple of weeks, but really, really proud. This morning he just seemed so on it and so ready. When I saw the split from the kiwis, I was really proud of him, like he was backing himself and he was really confident. And he and Stu are such an incredible team together, they bring the best out in each other. I can’t really be more happy for him to be honest.

“[The wedding is planned for] 26th August, so not too long to even out the tan lines! No [the preparations aren’t done] in the slightest, but time and pressure will make us organised. I’m sure we’ll just be decisive. The wedding is in Portland which is where we live.

“Quite often it does happen like that [a close finish], but not usually for gold and silver, that will probably be one of the moments of the sailing games I would have thought. It’s just amazing for that to be broadcast to our friends and family at home and all the people who have really put us here, buying lottery tickets, supporting sports, so thank you National Lottery we hope we gave you a good show this summer.”

Saskia Tidey, 28, from Sandycove on Dublin Bay, said:

“It was a week of two halves. We started off with some pretty glamour conditions here in Japan, a lot more what of what we were expecting, real skiff conditions and we started off on the right foot. And the second half of the week we lost wind which is pretty challenging in our boats. But you know we fought through it and we pushed hard and tried to fight for every inch and it hasn’t gone our way.

“But in saying all that, we’ve put together a campaign over five years and it’s been an honour to sail with Charlotte and to be part of this team. Now it’s about cheering on everyone else and being part of the rest of the experience.”

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Royal Irish Yacht Club skiff crew Saskia Tidey from Dun Laoghaire Harbour faces another 24-hour wait for her medal race at Tokyo 2020

The 49er and 49erFX medal races are each postponed until tomorrow. They will be added to the programme that includes the Nacra 17 Medal race.

As Afloat previously reported, Tidey sailing with Charlotte Dobson for Team GB are eight points off the 49erFX Podium and 11 points off the lead. 

One time fleet leaders, the Scottish-Irish duo excelled in this week's stronger conditions but had a torrid couple of days in Enoshima's light stuff.  The pair are silver medal winners from the 2017 World Sailing Cup

Going into the 49erFX Women Medal Race two high-class teams share the top spot on equal points – the double World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) who will wear the yellow bibs, and Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) looking to defend their Olympic title from five years ago.

Only three points off the lead are Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke (GER) who are promising to race aggressively for the gold, while just back from them are the reigning World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Unstoppable and steadier through high-speed manoeuvres in the stronger winds, Charlotte Dobson and her Dun Laoghaire Harbour crew Saskia Tidey have ruled the waves of Sagami Bay this week for Team GB but light winds on Friday dropped the pair back to fourth overall after counting (16), 14 and 15 in their 21-boat fleet.

Others in the fleet took the softer breeze as an opportunity to attack for the lead in the Women’s Skiff fleet on the Kamakura Course.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Tidey, who represented Ireland at Rio and switched to Team GB because of lack of opportunity at home, remains an odds on favourite for medal success come Saturday though and is currently just seven points off the overall lead and one point off third place.

Results and overall standings are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson consolidated their top position in the 49er FX with three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in Tokyo.

There was sun, plenty of breeze and waves with 14 knots of northerly building to 19kts through the day.

Dobson and Tidey (GBR) may not have won a race in the big waves today, but 4,2,5 scores keeps the British in the lead by five points from the Dutch, who had the best results from the outing.

Double World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) notched up two races wins and a sixth, looking very comfortable in the difficult conditions. Two points behind them are the reigning World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo.

Bekkering admitted sailing the skiff in those waves is constant stress, "You can’t push the boat to 100%, otherwise you capsize, so it’s quite stressful concentrating so hard, but the stress is enjoyable too. It’s part of what makes sailing these boats so fun."

After racing Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said: “These boats are just epic to sail in those big waves and when you delete from your brain the fact that it’s the Olympics and these are big waves and capsizes are expensive, they’re just the most phenomenal boats to sail. I think what we did quite well today was just focussing on doing all of our little processes.

“We call Sas the air hostess as we’re going down the massive waves because she’s in charge of the kite control. So it was quite a good day on Tidey Airlines today.

Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson - three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in TokyoDun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey (right) and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson - three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in Tokyo

“There were times where it was definitely not boring, but I think we managed to keep doing our basics pretty well. And on a day like that with the big sea state, having three good counters is a really good day so we’re pretty happy.

“We’re feeling good. I think what’s really played out over the last couple of days for us is we’ve put so much work in the previous years to this of being really pernickety with the processes. Sometimes at the time they felt a bit over the top and a bit noisy, but what we’re feeling now is that we are ourselves on the water. We’re sailing the same boat that we’ve sailed for the last four years, we’re the same team, the same processes so it does feel really comfy. We’re leaning and playing on that a little bit at the moment.

“Looking forward to a rest tomorrow and then we’ll be back at it the next day.”

Saskia Tidey, 28, from Sandycove in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay and a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, said: “Today was a big day for everyone on the racecourse. It feels really really long and the conditions here are really challenging, so every race you have to regroup, start from scratch and figure out what you’re about to get into. So it’s a good day, but right now we’re pretty knackered so we’ll need a few hours to settle into relaxing.”

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Dun Laoghaire Harbour skiff sailor Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club has resumed her GBR campaign for Tokyo 2021 at Kiel Week in Germany this weekend and is lying third overall with Scottish partner Charlotte Dobson from the Clyde.

The pair who are confirmed as the Team GBR reps in the 49erfx are currently 15 points off the lead held by the home nation’s Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke.

Arising from the week, Lutz and Beucke have won their selection trials and will race in Tokyo. Kieler Woche is the third leg of the German national trials and since they were already leading the trials have mathematically locked up Olympic selection. The German duo are long time campaigners but have yet to attend a games. They won the 2017 European Championship in Kiel, so clearly they are comfortable in the Kiel waters

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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This weekend's RYA Dinghy Show was opened by members of the British Olympic Sailing Team including Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who will be competing in the 2020 Tokyo Games this summer.

Alexandra Palace, London, has transformed into a dinghy sailing paradise and the theme is ‘World of opportunity-see where dinghy sailing can take you’.

Tidey, who sailed for Ireland in Rio but switched to Team GB for Tokyo because of lack of opportunity in Ireland, recently finished second at the 49erFX World Championships with partner Charlotte Dobson from Scotland.

Tidey's fellow Olympian Sarah Ayton commented on the show: “We’re really excited to officially launch the 2020 show - the atmosphere is already fantastic! It always amazes me the range of boats here, all the things you can buy. We’ve also got a whole line up of brilliant speakers so this weekend, come and escape the rain and enjoy a day out here at the Dinghy Show!”

Dinghy ShowThe Dinghy Show in full swing

Visitors of all ages are able to enjoy family-friendly show favourites including the 360° ‘On the Water’ VR experience, sailing simulators and the model boat pool. You’ll also find a brand new line up of expert speakers across three stages

If you haven’t already got your ticket, weekend (£24) tickets are available to buy on the door. The show is open from 10:00 - 18:00 10:00 - 17:00 on Sunday 01 March.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Charlotte Dobson teamed with Dublin Bay's Saskia Tidey (who will sail for GBR in Tokyo) won World Championship races one and two in the FXs in Geelong, Australia today then just bailed out of the top 10 to finish fifth overall.

“We’ve had a pretty long day on the water today. We spend all year trying to maximise time in all different types of conditions and this venue is throwing us all sides of the dice. We’ve had a challenging day, everyone has, but I think we have come out of it pretty well,” Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club said.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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British Sailing’s performance director Ian Walker has predicted a five-medal haul for Team GB at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

In a recent sports podcast conversation, as reported on Sailweb, the boss of the UK’s Olympic sailing squad would not be drawn on what medals they would take home, nor in which class.

But the former Irish Green Dragon skipper, and RYA racing director, did indicate that the team were capable of greater things provided the conditions were more windy than light.

Irish 49erFX sailor Saskia Tidey is among those who will be in contention with Team GB at this summer’s Olympic Games.

She and her sailing partner Charlotte Dobson were selected last October and head to Enoshima as serious medal contenders.

This follows a string of successes since forming their partnership in 2017 when Tidey switched from Team Ireland due to a lack of opportunity here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

The Royal Irish Yacht Club’s Saskia Tidey and her Team GB sailing partner Charlotte Dobson have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support their efforts to qualify for the 49erFX class in next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The pair, who finished seventh among a strong field of contender at the 49erFX Europeans last month, say they have reached a “hurdle” in their present fundraising efforts.

“The level of financial backing we have needed to maintain podium positions has now exceeded beyond what our campaign budget is capable of.”

But with additional backing, they say, “we absolutely believe we can complete and deliver the training programme we have planned to bring home a medal”.

Saskia and Charlotte have set a £5,000 of which they have raised nearly a quarter in less than a week.

For more on the pair’s campaign, see their GoFundMe page HERE.

Read the pair’s full appeal below:

We are Olympians Saskia Tidey & Charlotte Dobson. Team mates onboard our 49er FX Olympic class skiff dinghy representing Great Britain on the British Sailing team. We need your help!

After the Rio 2016 Olympic games concluded we left with fire in our bellies and our eyes and hearts set on the goal to medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

For three years we have battled on the International World Sailing circuit to bring home medal winning performances for Great Britain. It has been a honour to fly the flag and and a privilege to be under the pressure of striving for greatness.

Unfortunately we have reached a hurdle in our campaign which we are finding increasingly difficult to jump. The level of financial backing we have needed to maintain podium positions has now exceeded beyond what our campaign budget is capable of. With additional funds we absolutely believe we can complete and deliver the training programme we have planned to bring home a medal.

This summer we will represent Great Britain at the 2019 Olympic Test event in Japan. Please follow our journey and donate before August 2019 to help us reach the gold standard program we need to continue to succeed!

With Tokyo 2020 just around the corner we are seeking help and support from anyone would would like to join our journey and help us keep on the podium for Great Britain in 2020!

Sailing is a sport that can be overlooked and misunderstood but it is an exhilarating sport which is accessible to everyone and we would love to entice more viewers to enjoy it too!

Please help us on on our journey!

Follow our story on Instagram @gbr_44fx

Help Spread the word! 

Charlotte & Saskia xox

Published in Tokyo 2020
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