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Displaying items by tag: Tokyo 2020

Weather experts are monitoring a developing typhoon that is threatening to affect the Tokyo Olympics. With the storm in its infancy, accurate trajectory predictions are difficult, but it is certainly a potential threat reports New Zealand's Stuff website.

This week's building storm has surfers excited at its potential to provide decent sized waves for the sport's Olympic introduction, to be held at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba, south-east of the capital on the Pacific coast.

The weather is on the radar of the powerful New Zealand sailing team, with Laser ace Sam Meech opening their campaign in Enoshima on Sunday.

"There is a lot more typhoon activity in the area than there has been," Meech, a bronze medallist from the Rio Olympics, told Stuff on Friday.

"We have been in a pretty nice south-westerly flow for the last week. There's a bit of a mix-up coming with some typhoons hitting which will be good for the surfing, but it might be a bit different for us."

Meech said some of the weather models weren't aligning at this stage, but it appeared the wind would flip in the complete opposite direction with north-easterlies forecasted which could develop to "really strong" on Monday.

Much would depend on the course the storm took, with the small island of Enoshima situated 50km south of Tokyo.

The sailors were expecting the storm to provide a lift in swell as well as the increased winds.

More from Stuff here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The 49erFX made its first Olympic appearance at Rio five years ago, when the battle for gold and silver remained in the balance until the final stages of the Medal Race.

The gold and silver medallists from Rio 2016 - respectively Brazil’s Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze and New Zealand’s Alex Maloney and Molly Meech - will again be in contention for the podium. They’re not the stand-out favourites, however. No one is. This field appears to be wide open to a number of contenders.

This includes Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Saskia Tidey from the Royal Irish Yacht Club who has every right to expect a medal from Tokyo as she represents Team GB with Charlotte Dobson.

Spain’s Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo sailed a really smart series to win the 2020 World Championship in Australia. Echegoyen knows how to win at the Olympics, having taken gold as helm of the Spanish entry in the women’s match racing event at London 2012. She also went to Rio 2016 as the reigning 49erFX World Champion, but just missed out on the Olympic podium, finishing in the dreaded fourth place.

Arguably the most consistent performers over the past five years since Rio are the ever-smiling Dutch duo of Annemiek Bekkering & Annette Duetz, who won back to back World Championships in 2018 and 2019.

Duetz recalls when they first came across each other as keen youth sailors in the 29er skiff, the junior go-kart version of the bigger 49erFX, "There was this superstar, we met at training sessions, we sailed a few times together, but not knowing we would one day sail together all the time!"

Bekkering can’t speak highly enough of her tall crew, "Annette, she can do anything. She’s amazing. We really like the windy conditions, we still keep on racing, pushing through the big waves. It doesn’t matter what happens, Annette is always the same emotions, - keep going, keep fighting - that’s a really good strength to have in the boat."

Duetz returns the compliment, "You’re really on it, if there are any gains to be made on the race course, you find them!"

The team needed all of their composure to bounce back from a difficult start to their qualification trials after being outsailed by their Dutch rivals, Odile van Aanholt and Marieke Jongens, at a really light and fluky Hempel World Cup Genoa regatta in early 2019.

Bekkering and Duetz pretty much needed to win the next qualifying event, the 49erFX European Championships in Weymouth a month later. When the pressure was on, they executed the plan and won the event and with it, selection for Tokyo 2020.

They will be leaning on that experience when they start racing at their second Games together. "There was a lot of pressure on us to sail those European Championships well, and we did," says Bekkering, looking to do much better than their seventh in Rio five years ago.

"It was a good experience to compete at the Games, but we struggled with the whole Olympics. In some ways it was not the nicest Games, didn’t enjoy it as much as we hoped, but it was super useful to do Rio. We’re super keen to do a great event this time and make the most of it, to get the best out of ourselves."

Of course, every Olympic athlete believes that competing at the Games is a dream come true, but no team will appreciate that feeling of arriving at the venue and getting that buzz than the German 49erFX crew. Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke have dreamt of this moment for most of their lives, and have been sailing together as a team since 2007. After narrowly missing out on selection for London 2012 and Rio 2016, when they finally earned selection for Tokyo 2020 it was a huge release of emotions for the two friends. It happened at the European Championships in Austria, one of the few events that actually managed to take place in late 2020. The German team found they had boat speed to burn, and if they can carry that speed edge from the smooth fresh waters of Lake Attersee to the salty swell of Enoshima, then they will be right up there in the fight for gold. It was Lutz and Beucke’s first major regatta win having finished fifth and ninth in the two most recent World Championships.

A few short years ago, Stephanie Roble was an incredible match racer in keelboats but when she stepped aboard the 49erFX she discovered that it was a much more wobbly platform than she was used to. Hundreds of capsizes and nosedives later, Roble and her crew Maggie Shea have emerged stronger from the all the bruises and moulded themselves into serious skiff contenders who seem to be able to come out on top in marginal situations. They had a battle on their hands to beat USA rivals Paris Henken and 2008 Radial Olympic Champion Anna Tobias (née Tunnicliffe), but Roble and Shea passed the test with flying colours, taking bronze at the 2020 World Championships.

The crew that finished just ahead of the Americans at those Worlds in Geelong is Great Britain’s Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey who competed at Rio 2016 as rivals in separate boats. Dobson, crewed by Sophie Ainsworth, finished eighth in Rio while Tidey, sailing for Ireland with Andrea Brewster, were 12th. Born to an Irish mother and English father, Tidey took a lot of heat from some Irish quarters for switching flags to Great Britain ("the hardest and probably one of the most controversial things I’ll ever do in my life"), but as a sailing partnership Dobson and Tidey worked almost straight away. They have always been strong in the breeze, Tidey standing 1.88m tall helps, but they’ve worked hard over the past two years to iron out any weaknesses at the lighter end of the wind spectrum. Now Dobson and Tidey look like the full package and have every right to expect a medal from Tokyo.

The Scandinavian nations have a strong history in the 49erFX and Denmark, Sweden and Norway are all ones to watch. Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) have been at or near to the top end of the FX fleet since competition in the women’s skiff began back in 2013 when they won the first European Championship. A third place at the 2019 World Championship is the high point of more recent years for this tight-knit crew.

The daughter of five-time Olympic medallist Torben Grael, can Martine Grael along with Kahena Kunze repeat their gold from Rio 2016? The Brazilians continue to reach the podium on a regular basis, most recently at two winter regattas in Lanzarote. Grael and Kunze seem to thrive on the big occasion, and they won on Olympic waters at the Test Event two years ago.

Having been beaten by the Brazilians by the tightest of margins five years ago at Rio 2016, perhaps this time it will be the Kiwis’ opportunity to turn the tables on their long-term rivals. Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have been sailing together now for nine years, experience which should count on their favour at such a unique event. "I think as a team we can feel pretty confident that we’re in good shape," says Maloney. "It will be a case of who executes on the day."

The fact that the Games is going ahead at all is something to celebrate, says Meech. "I think that with everything that has been happening over the last year and coming to an Olympics that was postponed, it feels quite special," she says. "It feels quite different to Rio. You were racing and seeing your competitors quite a lot in the build-up to Rio. This feels quite fresh. It’s exciting.

"It's also really cool to finally be back in Japan. Getting the bus across the bridge [to the yacht club] the other day actually felt like coming back to somewhere really familiar."

Racing in the Women’s Skiff – 49erFX starts on Tuesday 27 July. The 21-boat fleet will start the first of 12 fleet races on the Enoshima course area at 1200 JST. They will finish racing on Monday 2 August with their Medal Race.

A full list of competitors is available here.

-Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Since winning Olympic gold in the Men’s Skiff – 49er at Rio 2016 five years ago, Pete Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) have packed a whole lifetime of sailing achievements into their busy careers.

In 2017 Burling steered Emirates Team New Zealand’s foiling catamaran to victory at the America’s Cup in Bermuda, with Tuke further forward running the flight control for his best mate. A year later they were pitched against each other on rival boats in their first round-the-world adventure. Coming into the finish of the final leg of that year-long marathon called the Volvo Ocean Race, Burling or Tuke looked set to emerge as first-time winners of the race, before being pipped by the other boat, the Chinese, in a three-way, last-gasp battle for victory.

Earlier this year Burling and Tuke were again right at the core of New Zealand’s successful defence of the America’s Cup. This was meant to have happened after the Tokyo 2020 Games, but with the year’s postponement, the Kiwis had to hop straight off their multimillion-dollar foiling AC75 spaceship and reacquaint themselves with the somewhat more affordable, simpler pleasures of 49er racing.

New Zealand's Burling and Tuke start as 49er favourites in TokyoNew Zealand's Burling and Tuke start as 49er favourites in Tokyo

Despite the distractions of the Volvo Ocean Race, two America’s Cup campaigns, and more recently the SailGP circuit, the six-time World Champions still start as favourites for 49er gold in Tokyo.

Among the Tokyo line-up is Ireland’s debutantes Sean Waddilove and Rob Dickson who probably wouldn’t have made it to Tokyo if it had taken place in 2020, but this young team made the most of winter training in southern Europe to really show that they mean business. The young Irish crew earned the final spot for Tokyo competing at the Lanzarote International Regatta in March, winning their first-ever Medal Race at the event and seizing a bronze medal ahead of a world-class fleet. 

Among the challengers to the Kiwi crown are the bronze medallists from Rio 2016, Erik Heil and Tommy Ploessel (GER) who always turn it on for the big occasion. Despite taking time out from their campaign, they scored second at the 2019 Worlds and third at the 2020 Worlds. Now in their early 30s, Heil and Ploessel feel ready for another life-defining performance in Tokyo.

"We want to win a medal again," said Heil, "preferably in an even more beautiful colour than last time."

Medical student Heil and mechanical engineering graduate Ploessel ran the Kiwis close for the 2019 world title in Auckland. "We have come closer to them, closer than ever before," Heil remarked at the time.

In with a shout of a medal at the end of Rio 2016 was Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher who, crewed by Alain Sign, ended up sixth overall. Fletcher has since teamed up with Stu Bithell, Olympic silver medallist in the 470 at London 2012. Fletcher is focused, sometimes spiky, while Bithell appears to be the entertainer but is far more than that. From being rivals they have become good mates and have strung together some good results over the past four years, including victory at the 2017 World and European Championships.

However, in 2017 Burling and Tuke were absent from the 49er as they raced their way around the Volvo Ocean Race world. Fletcher and Bithell haven’t beaten the Kiwis at a World Championship, so do they have the self-belief to take away the Olympic crown from their feted rivals?

Bithell admits the duo are "super tough competition".

"We’re up against perhaps the most successful sailing team in the world – they are formidable together," he expressed. "I like to put a positive spin on things and say it creates an opportunity for us to go out and beat the best team in the world."

Spain’s Diego Botin and Iago Marra have spent the last few years chipping away at the front of the 49er fleet, gradually improving their scores season by season. The Spanish team were fourth at the 2019 Worlds and runners-up in 2020 to their regular training partners Burling and Tuke, who they know probably better than anyone in the Olympic fleet.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion Jonas Warrer is back representing Denmark, crewed by Jakob Precht Jensen. In 2008, even Warrer would admit he used more than his fair share of fortune to clinch gold in the most extraordinary and controversial of circumstances. Contrary to predictions of a windless Beijing, the 49er Medal Race that year proved extremely breezy and enormously wavy, and everyone was unprepared and underweight for those heinous conditions.

"I was sailing before the start with my crew Martin Kirketerp," Warrer recalls. "We broke the mast half a minute after hoisting the spinnaker. We thought our regatta was over but we rushed ashore and the Croatians lent us their boat for the race." There’s much more to that incredible story, but the story now is can the 42-year-old repeat gold, 13 years on?

Warrer knows what it’s like to finish first, and he knows how it feels to finish fourth, his position at Rio 2016. "I had a break from sailing after Rio, but I think my idea was to do another Olympics. I know what it’s like to be in the medals and to be out of the medals. Winning a medal is more fun."

Warrer’s crew Jensen is hoping the spirit of 2008 returns to carry them to victory.

"Leading the regatta, breaking a mast and winning a medal, let’s do that again," jokes Jensen about his helmsman’s streak of Beijing luck. "Of course we want to come away from Tokyo with a medal and if it’s made of gold, even better."

Sime Fantela became the first sailor to win a sailing gold medal for Croatia in the 470 class five years ago in Rio. Teaming up with his brother Mihovil, Sime made a rapid and successful switch to the 49er. The brothers won the 2018 World Championship after just 18 months in this demanding class. They’re probably an outside bet for the 49er podium, but Sime is a wily competitor who’s unlikely to be intimidated by the occasion.

Another couple of brothers to watch out for, particularly if the breeze and the big waves kick in, are first-time Olympians Will and Sam Phillips racing for Australia. Following in the wake of the London 2012 gold medallists and Rio 2016 silver medallists, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, the Aussie siblings have big footloops to fill, but a recent big wave training session on the Queensland coast with Burling and Tuke should stand them in good stead for the Pacific swell of Enoshima.

Others to watch include Austria’s Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl, who have a very good record on Olympic waters with the high point being a silver medal at the Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima two years ago. They were bronze medallists at the 2017 Worlds, with sixth in 2019 and fourth in 2020, very consistent scores that make the Austrians a real threat for the podium.

The fast-improving Dutch team of Bart Lambriex and Pim van Vugt are starting to look like the real deal, regularly finishing in the top six of major events.

The 49er fleet features 19-world class teams. They will sail an Opening Series of 12 races, with the first three races scheduled for Tuesday 27 July on the Enoshima course, starting at 1445 JST. Their Medal Race on Monday 2 August will bring their competition to a close.

A full list of competitors is available here.

-Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020

After five long years the moment has come – it’s time for Tokyo 2020. The delayed Olympics is on!

With less than a week to go until the opening ceremony –  and a promising forecast –  here’s how you can follow the Irish sailors looking to bring home medals.

Ireland is represented in the Laser Radial by Annalise Murphy who starts racing on July 25. Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove represent Ireland in the men's 49er dinghy and start on July 27.

Irish sailor Saskia Tidey from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is sailing for Team GB in the 49erFX and also starts racing on July 27.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove represent Ireland in the men's 49er dinghy and start racing on July 27Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove represent Ireland in the men's 49er dinghy and start racing on July 27 Photo: INPHO/OFI

Where is the Olympic sailing venue?

Enoshima, around an hour south of Tokyo. It is one of Tokyo 2020’s legacy venues, having staged the sailing competition for the 1964 Olympics. 

When does the racing start?

Racing starts on July 25, two days after the opening ceremony. The first medal races are on July 31, and the final medal races are on August 4, although there is a reserve day on August 5 just in case. The full schedule and results can be found here.

How can I watch the racing? 

Live Olympic action begins on RTÉ2, RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Player from 1:30 am on 23 July as the Irish rowers take to the water with the Olympics Opening Ceremony following from 11:30 am. 

There's no schedule of what RTE will cover sailing wise but RTÉ Sport says it is geared up to report on the largest-ever Irish Olympic team of 116 Team Ireland athletes including Kellie Harrington, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Paul O'Donovan & Fintan McCarthy, Annalise Murphy, Thomas Barr, Mark English, Phil Healy and many, many more.

Eurosport/Discovery+ and the BBC. Unlike in past Olympics, the BBC will not be streaming all events live via the red button, so if you want to watch it live you’ll need to subscribe to Eurosport or Discovery+. The good news is it’s cheap – around a fiver for the entire month (UK rate). Via the Eurosport player, you’ll be able to watch live racing from one pre-determined course area each day. 

Is there any other way to keep up to date with the racing? 

We hope to keep you right up to date as we have done over the past five years on our dedicated Tokyo 2020 page

Where can I find out more about the sailors representing Team IRL?

Afloat has got you covered. Our dedicated Tokyo 2020 page has biographies of our athletes plus the latest headlines from Enoshima.

I only do social media. What have you got for me?

Not one but three social media channels. Head to our Facebook for the headlines and daily galleries, Instagram for the best pics coming out of Tokyo 2020, and Twitter for, well, everything else.

For full results and the competition schedule, please click here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The simplest of all dinghies, and barely changed since it surfaced 50 years ago, the Laser made its first Olympic appearance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

A 23-year-old Brazilian called Robert Scheidt narrowly won the gold medal in Atlanta ahead of Great Britain’s 19-year-old Ben Ainslie. Somehow, a quarter of a century and seven Games appearances later, the Brazilian magician will be vying for the podium yet again.

Unfortunately, from an Irish perspective, despite a four-year campaign, Ireland did not make the qualifying grade in the men's Laser so no Irish sailor will be racing against Scheidt in Tokyo next week.

Winner of five Olympic medals and narrowly missing out five years ago on home waters at Rio 2016 where he finished an agonising fourth place, Scheidt is defying his age and setting out to prove that a 48-year-old can conquer athletes half his age.

"The competition is very tough and the boat is very demanding from a physical point of view,” says Scheidt.

“But I'm motivated to improve my competitiveness. I'm going to fight as hard as I can in Tokyo for another podium finish. Clearly, it’s not so easy anymore because the years go by, but I think I can get to Tokyo in good shape. It was a difficult decision, because I stopped for two years after Rio, doing other things in the world of sailing, but now I’m going there with great commitment. I don’t like to go just to attend the event, I want to be ready and play for a medal once more.”

The 35-boat Tokyo mens Laser fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 AugustThe 35-boat Tokyo mens Laser fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 August

Even the dedicated Brazilian would admit that he is no longer considered the favourite for gold, however. Back in his heyday, the nine-time Laser World Champion started every regatta as the stand-out favourite. Then along came Australia’s Tom Slingsby who dominated for a few years, culminating in a straightforward cruise to Olympic gold at London 2012. Four years later in Rio, Tom Burton continued Australia’s winning ways, narrowly beating Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) in his bid to become Croatia’s first-ever Olympic Champion in sailing.

Burton embarked on another campaign for Tokyo 2020, yet just weeks after winning the Laser World Championship in 2019 the Australian selectors chose Matt Wearn ahead of the reigning Olympic and World Champion.

Wearn’s metronomically consistent performance across many major regattas - wins at the European Championships and Olympic Week in Hyéres, as well as second places at the Laser World Championships and the World Cup Series in Enoshima - was deemed the better bet for the Olympic berth.

“I am really excited to be able to go and compete for Australia,” says Wearn who is looking forward to the potentially massive conditions on Japan’s Pacific seaboard.

“Enoshima can have quite a big swell with bigger waves, which is similar to sailing off Sydney Heads. The wind tends to come off the land there, which makes conditions shifty and quite hot. We can recreate those conditions whenever there’s a hot westerly in Sydney, so it gives us confidence to be able to train in similar conditions at home.”

The field is wide open in this division, with at least 10 athletes who will be disappointed if they don’t make it to the podium. Among those would be France’s Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, fourth at last year’s Worlds and fifth at Rio 2016, and Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard, sixth at the 2020 Worlds.

Then there are the previous medallists, not least Stipanovic who came oh-so-close to Olympic gold five years ago before his attempted match race against Burton went pear-shaped and the Croatian was forced to settle for silver.

Now aged 35, Stipanovic continues to train with other top Laser sailors including his good friend Pavlos Kontides (CYP) who first came to global prominence at London 2012 when he took the Olympic silver medal behind Tom Slingsby. More recently he won consecutive world titles in 2017 and 2018. To this day, Kontides’ silver is the only Olympic medal ever won by a Cypriot athlete in any discipline, so it’s no wonder that Kontides enjoys ‘national treasure’ status on his Mediterranean island. The Republic of Cyprus honoured Kontides through the issue of a commemorative stamp. How many sailors can claim that kind of household fame!

Bronze medallist from Rio 2016, Sam Meech is back representing New Zealand at his second Games, not quite sure how things will pan out after so little international competition. "It has been really difficult [not racing] so it's been a completely different buildup," says Meech. "You’d normally be racing every couple of months, so you’d have your goals to work on from those races and you structure your year around those.

"We tried to do the same but just around training blocks and you take as much as you can from those. We have also been heading to Australia [to train with their best Laser sailors], which has helped, and treated them almost like regattas. We haven’t checked in with the Europeans since February last year so it will be interesting to see how they are all going.”

Philipp Buhl (GER) was disappointed to finish 14th at Rio 2016, but the German has remained dedicated to his craft. Winning the World Championships in early 2020 means Buhl goes to the Olympics as the reigning World Champion although a lot has changed in the past 18 months. At 1.87 metres tall, the athletic German should relish the big conditions that Enoshima can bring, although all-round conditions should suit him fine too.

When the pandemic struck, the British Laser squad grew tighter, realising that their best chance of success in Tokyo was if they worked together and shared knowledge and learning as openly and honestly as possible. That collaboration resulted in the British team taking the top three spots at the European Championships last year. But in the end, only one man can go, and that honour goes to first-time Olympian Elliot Hanson.

Hanson came to sailing almost by chance during a family holiday in Anglesey, but took to the sport like a duck to water. He moved swiftly through the club ranks and won the Topper World Championships at the of 14 after only three years in the boat. Since then, victory at last year’s European Championship and fifth at the Worlds make him a serious contender to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ben Ainslie and Paul Goodison who respectively won Olympic gold for Great Britain in 2000 and 2008.

So many nations compete in the Laser fleet from all parts of the world. Representing one of the largest nations, but a small nation in sailing terms, is Vishnu Saravanan who flies the Indian flag on his seven square metre mainsail.

Non-sailors perhaps don’t appreciate the strength required to hike out a Laser as relentlessly as they do at Olympic level. “If you can hold a plank for 50 minutes you will be okay,” jokes the 22-year-old who serves in the Indian Army.

Sailors use core and lower body strength to make sure the boat stays as flat and as fast as possible. Lockdown forced Saravanan off the water for a while, and he had to look for more creative ways of staying fit and strong, such as when he tied himself to the back of a car and pulled it. “I did that to improve my back and core strength,” he says. “But the car was too light. My coach had to keep applying the brakes [to increase the load]. Maybe next time I can try it with an Army truck!”

Andrew Lewis carries the goodwill of Trinidad & Tobago with him as he competes at his third Olympic Games. He wants to use his profile to help build a legacy of sailing back on his Caribbean island. “

Trinidad and Tobago is small but mighty,” says the 31-year-old. “The sport of sailing is small but, thanks to the vision that I shared with my father [David] and he shared with me, one day you’ll see a lot of white sails on the foreshore.

“When I return with silverware, hopefully, my role is to, pretty much, hand over any success I achieve. It’s not for me. You cannot take any medal to the grave. It’s for this country.”

Racing in the Laser fleet will commence at 14:30 on the Kamakura racing area on Sunday 25 July. The 35-boat fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 August.

A full list of competitors is available here

- Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Annalise Murphy has taken delivery of her competition supplied Laser dinghy in Japan but there's no clue yet as to what she has christened her new boat for next week's competition.

Regular Afloat readers will recall that her silver medal-winning boat from Rio 2016 was named 'Good Egg' and there's no doubting how prophetic that moniker was five years ago.

This season the National Yacht Club sailor had success in her boat 'CHAZZ', a campaign that saw her making it to the podium in Sail Melbourne in January 2020 and winning the Italian Olympic Week Regatta that September. Of course, there have been harder times for Annalise and CHAZZ more recently including a silver fleet finish at April's European Qualifier in Portugal.

Here's hoping that sort of finish is behind her as the nation gets behind Ireland's most successful ever Olympic sailor.

The hope now is that the 'Irish Breeze Queen' can make good on her RTE Late Late Show promise of five years ago, as her favoured big wind conditions are expected in Tokyo.

Annalise, and Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er, have completed their stay in the Team Ireland holding camp in Fukuroi and arrived in Enoshima this week, where the Olympic Regatta will take place. With their Olympic boats picked up the Irish sailors have been out on water taking their first tacks on the 2021 Olympic courses.

Published in Annalise Murphy

Team Ireland has officially selected 13 rowers to compete across six boats at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

The Olympic rowing regatta takes place in the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay between 23 and 30 July.

Among the Irish squad travelling to Tokyo are some of the most successful rowers on the circuit, containing multiple world and European champions and medallists.

Qualification for the Olympic Games gave Irish athletes two opportunities to claim and Olympic spot. At the World Championships in 2019, Ireland qualified four boats: the Lightweight Men’s Double Scull, Women’s Single Scull, Men’s Double Scull and the Women’s Pair, coming home with two golds and a silver medal on the way to securing their places.

At the final Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne last month, the Women’s Four and the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull stormed home to book their ticket.

Olympic silver medallist Paul O’Donovan will be competing in his second Olympic Games, this time partnering fellow Skibbereen rower Fintan McCarthy.

Pictured are the Men’s Double Scull pair of Ronan Byrne (left) and Philip Doyle | Credit: Seb Daly/SportsfilePictured are the Men’s Double Scull pair of Ronan Byrne (left) and Philip Doyle | Credit: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Speaking on his official selection, the triple World Champion said: “The Olympic Games are a really special competition, and as a rower it is often what you are driving towards. Each Olympic games is unique in its own way, with Tokyo being no exception, and as a squad we are going into them with high ambitions.

“We have worked hard since we set our Olympic goal, and it is nice to be officially selected ahead of the final weeks of preparation. Fintan and I are ready to push on and excited about doing some racing, and we can see that our teammates are equally driven and striving for excellence.”

Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle, said: “It is great to welcome such a large and high calibre group of Rowers to Team Ireland. We didn’t imagine that we would qualify so many crews and to have genuine medal prospects within the team is even more exciting.

“This is a day to celebrate what hard work, determination and high ambition can achieve. It is also a time to acknowledge all of the people behind the scenes, key performance support staff who every day are working with the athletes and coaches to make them better.”

The Olympic Federation of Ireland says one of the key driving forces behind the success of the Team Ireland rowers is performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni.

“This is a big moment for us, and we are going to the Olympic Games with the largest squad of Irish rowers in history and with a record number of six crews qualified,” he said.

Ireland’s Women’s Single rower in Tokyo is Sanita Puspure | Credit: Seb Daly/SportsfileIreland’s Women’s Single rower in Tokyo is Sanita Puspure | Credit: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

“I am very proud to be working with this group of athletes, coaches and administrators. Each of them has put in a considerable amount of work these past few years in preparation for Tokyo. The athletes and coaches’ dedication has shown how determined they are to represent Ireland at the highest level.

“We all must remember that the majority of this team, coaches included, is at the very first Olympic Games, which confirm the excellent job that coaches and athletes have done.

“We’re a small country, but we’ve proven we can perform and achieve alongside the world’s best. As a team, we are not just satisfied to go to the Olympics to make up numbers, but we are going with the ambitions to be as competitive as possible.”

Rowing is the first competition on the Irish schedule of events, and world champion Sanita Puspure will be the first Team Ireland athlete to compete in Tokyo 2020.

The officially selected rowers for the Olympic Games are:

Lightweight Men’s Double Scull (LM2X)

  • Fintan McCarthy (Cork)
  • Paul O’Donovan (Cork)
  • Gary O’Donovan (Cork) - Reserve

Women’s Single Scull (W1X)

  • Sanita Puspure (Cork)

Men’s Double Scull (M2X)

  • Ronan Byrne (Cork)
  • Philip Doyle (Belfast)
  • Daire Lynch (Clonmel) - Reserve

Women’s Four (W4-)

  • Emily Hegarty (Cork)
  • Fiona Murtagh (Galway)
  • Eimear Lambe (Dublin)
  • Aifric Keogh (Galway)
  • Tara Hanlon (Cork) - Reserve

Women’s Pair (W2-)

  • Monika Dukarska (Kerry)
  • Aileen Crowley (Kerry)

Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (LW2X)

  • Aoife Casey (Cork)
  • Margaret Cremen (Cork)
  • Lydia Heaphy (Cork) - Reserve
Published in Rowing
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Tokyo bound Annalise Murphy ended a tough week at Medemblik with a black flag disqualification in race eight this afternoon in her final international ILCA 6/Radial event before the Olympic regatta in less than fifty days time.

The Irish Rio silver medalist ended up 37th overall from 58 starters after an exceptionally tricky light and medium winds event on the Dutch ijsselmeer.

A similar black flag fate beset Howth Yacht Club teenager Eve McMahon who had been as high as 11th overall earlier in the series.  The Paris 2024 prospect finished top Irish sailor in 32nd overall.

McMahon's clubmate Aoife Hopkins, also campaigning for Paris was 42nd overall.

Howth's Eve McMahon was as high as 11th at the Allianz Regatta this week before finishing 32nd overall and highest place Irish finisherHowth's Eve McMahon was as high as 11th at the Allianz Regatta this week before finishing 32nd overall and highest place Irish finisher Photo: Sander van der Borch

The Medal Race line ups have been confirmed for the Allianz Regatta tomorrow in which Ireland will play no part.

Marie Barrue (FRA) has dominated the ILCA 6 all week long and also has a strong lead over the fleet. On 39 points, she is 17 points clear of Maria Erdi (HUN), and a top performance in the Medal Race will confirm gold.

Erdi is just six points ahead of the third-placed Agata Barwinska (POL). Ekaterina Zyuzina (RUS) and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) are in contention for the medals but will need to put several boats between themselves, Erdi and Barwinska to overturn the deficit.

Medal Races are scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Two tough days of light, fickle breeze were replaced with 9-11 knots of breeze in Medemblik, The Netherlands as Irish interest in the Allianz Regatta's ILCA 6 fleet includes this weekend.

Howth Yacht Club teenager Eve McMahon dropped back from 11th to 23rd overnight with Tokyo bound Annalise Murphy moving up four places from 32nd to 28th overall. McMahon's club mate Aoife Hopkins is 43rd in the 58-boat fleet.

Every sailor in the ILCA 6 fleet has a high score that they are using as their discard and this has led to high-pressure situations on the racecourse, as sailors avoid making the same mistakes that could severely punish them and see them drop.

Consistency is really at a premium in the ILCA 6 fleet, but Marie Barrue of France has been doing enough all week to cling on to her lead. She is eight points clear of Dutch favourite and Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED).

Bouwmeester had the best day on the water with a 2-4 scoreline, and the next best performer was Hungary’s Maria Erdi who moves into contention for the medals, sitting just six points off third-placed Agata Barwinska (POL).

After racing, Erdi commented, “We finally had some more breeze so we got some hiking in. It was still pretty tricky. The startline was crazy with a lot of general recalls. I was just trying to get off the line. I got in really risky spots, and I just took it from there with good starts and good speed.

“I was always rounding the top mark in the top ten. I was able to make up a few places in the first race but lost some in the second but today was a good day and I’m happy with it.”

Hempel World Cup Series – Allianz Regatta is an important event for the athletes targeting Tokyo 2020 as it’s their final opportunity to test themselves before they head to Enoshima.

Erdi knows a good performance here can set the tone come Games time. She continued, “This is our last regatta before the Games, so we really want to put things together. We’re trying to improve and see how it goes.

“We decided pretty early we were going to come here because there was not much racing anywhere. We didn’t want to arrive at the Games and think ‘ahh, so this is the startline!’ We wanted to get racing and we’re happy that everyone else followed and is here.

“I have a camp with my group at the end of this month and then we fly out to Japan on the 12th for the Games.”

The ILCA 6 fleet will sail two races on Saturday before the deciding race on Sunday.

Racing continues on Saturday 5 June from 10:30 local time.

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Two more Irish rowing crews have joined the four already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics this summer after this morning’s (Sunday 16 May) races in Lucerne, as The Irish Times reports.

The women’s four of Emily Hegarty, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh led the charge in their A Final ahead of China, where as previously reported on Afloat.ie only the top two were guaranteed Olympic places.

Meanwhile, the lightweight women’s double pairing of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen finished third behind the US and home team Switzerland to confirm their spot in Tokyo.

Elsewhere, Daire Lynch missed out on the men’s single scull final after he finished fourth in his A/B semi.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Rowing Ireland adds: 

The Irish Rowing Team qualified an additional two boats for the Olympics. There will now be six boats representing Ireland in Tokyo this summer.

The Irish crews led by High-Performance Director Antonio Maurogiovanni and Coaches Dominic Casey and Giuseppe De Vita all had strong performances over the two days. They secured the two extra Olympic boats on Sunday morning.

The Women’s Four of Emily Hegarty, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh qualified their boat by winning the Women’s Four Final and taking one of the two available slots. The Irish crew beat crews from China, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Emily, Eimear, Aifric and Fiona dominate the race, and they finished with a time of 06:31.99. The Women’s Four will now compete in the Tokyo Olympics later this summer.

Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen secured the Lightweight Women’s Double for the Olympics by finishing third in the Final. They fought hard throughout the race and caught the Chinese boat in the final 600 meters, and took the last Olympic Spot. Aoife and Margaret finished with a time of 07:09.22 to secure their spot for Tokyo.

Earlier in the morning, Aoife and Margaret finished second in their Semi-Final and qualified for the Final. They beat crews from China, Denmark, Greece and Brazil and finished behind the boat from the United States. Aoife and Margaret finished with a time of 07:21:23 and progressed to the Final.

Daire Lynch finished fourth in the Men’s Single Scull Semi-Final this morning. Daire faced tough competitors from Poland, Canada, Romania, Chile and Austria. Daire narrowly missed out on a place in the Final, the Romanian sculler who finished less than half a second ahead. Daire finished with a racing time of 07:05.46 after a strong performance throughout the two days.

Rowing Ireland’s High-Performance Director, Antonio Maurogiovanni, said, “We are very proud of all of the performances from our athletes this weekend, and all seven athletes gave a brave and spirited effort in each of their races over the two days.

We are delighted that the Women’s Four and Lightweight Women’s Double qualified their boats for the Olympics this summer. All of the team performed strongly this weekend. Daire narrowly missed out on the Final and gained invaluable experience this weekend that will benefit him for Paris 2024. Margaret and Aoife have continued to grow and develop in the double, and we are delighted that they qualified for the Olympics. Congratulations to Aifric, Eimear, Fiona and Emily for qualifying the Women’s Four Boat with a strong performance in their Heat and the Final

We have six boats confirmed and qualified for Tokyo, and we continue to train and prepare for the upcoming Olympics. Having these six crews qualified at the next Tokyo Olympic Games has put Ireland in a very challenging and exciting position not just for Tokyo but also for Paris 2024. As we all know, this is also year 1 of the 2024 cycle and the current Rowing Ireland squad, if well supported, has everything to keep the fantastic momentum going.

Behind these results, there is a huge amount of systematic work of athletes, coaches, and administrators that need to be reinforced and more supported to consolidate the current level.

I want to thank all of the athletes, coaches, support staff and their clubs and families for their continued support as we continue to move forward in Irish Rowing and look forward to competing again next weekend.”

Irish Results

M1x – Daire Lynch – 4th – A/B Semi-Final

W4- Emily Hegarty, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh & Fiona Murtagh – 1st -Final

LW2x – Aoife Casey & Margaret Cremen – 3rd – Final

Six Irish Boats Qualified For the Tokyo Olympics

Women’s Single Scull (W1x) – Qualified by Sanita Puspure
Lightweight Men’s Double (LM2x) – Qualified by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy
Men’s Double (M2x) – Qualified by Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Qualified by Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley
Women’s Four (W4-) – Qualified by Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Emily Hegarty and Fiona Murtagh
Lightweight Women’s Double (LW2x) – Qualified by Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey

Published in Rowing
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