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Following the final two races at the Laser Radial World Championship this morning, Ireland has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing regatta in the women’s single-handed event, the only sailing discipline so far in which Ireland has qualified. 

The berth was secured by the current Irish Radial ChampionLough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) who had her best day in the Gold fleet final series to finish 46th overall in the 56-boat Gold fleet.

“This is a weight off my shoulders for sure, it’s probably the hardest regatta I’ve ever sailed,” Keller said. “To come in off the water and know that it’s done and dusted is just amazing (I’m) so happy.”

Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins placed 48th and both Irish sailors were inside the qualification criteria with Keller taking the seventh of ten-nation places decided at the championship. Hopkins would otherwise have been in the ninth nation place.

“It’s been a really long road to this moment. We’ve been working for a year towards this event particularly and even longer towards Olympic qualification,” said Hopkins. “It’s really nice to come away with the outcome we wanted.”

The world championship was won by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom who led overall going into to the final day of Gold fleet racing on Wednesday. Ten nation places for Tokyo 2020 were also decided at the event in addition to the 20 already won in 2018.

Now that Ireland has qualified, an Irish Olympic Trials Series will be held to determine which sailor represents Ireland in Tokyo. More details on the Olympic Trials format is here.

“Qualification was something that had to happen so that ended up being the focus here at the end of the regatta,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Next we go to the Olympic venue (at) Enoshima… now that we know we’re going to be there (at the Games) we’ve got to make the most of it.”

The sailing venue for next year’s Olympic regatta will host national representatives in all events next month for a scheduled test series for competitors and organisers alike.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ballyholme Yacht Club will host the 2019 Irish Laser National Championships from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th August 2019.

All eyes have been on Japan this week and the Laser Radial World Championships where Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller are looking close to confirming qualification for Ireland at Tokyo 2020.

Meanwhile, Ballyholme is getting ready to host their first major Laser event since 2014 when Ballyholme’s James Espey used to rule the Irish Laser roost and Finn Lynch had just become the Under 19 Laser World Champion. At the same event in 2014, Annalise Murphy became Irish Radial Champion on her way to Olympic Silver at Rio 2016, and another regular name in the sailing news these days, Johnny Durcan, won the Laser 4.7s.

Ballyholme’s Colin Leonard was the winner at the Laser Ulster Championships last month at East Antrim Yacht Club showing the form he has shown in the BYC Icebreaker and Club Points series.

Grand Master Chris Boyd is still often the one to beat at BYC - much happier now that he has returned to the Standard class after a year in the Radials training for the Dun Laoghaire 2018
Laser Master Worlds.

Over 130 Lasers are expected at the National Championships with support from Ards and North Down Borough Council, CH Marine, Quay Marinas and the Guillemot Deli & Kitchen Cafe.

A large Standard fleet will be boosted by the BYC Lasers, many of who make up for their lack of experience at the top end of the fleet with their enthusiasm. Last year's National Champion - Ballyholme’s Liam Glynn - is expected to defend his trophy at his home club, hopefully against the others from the Irish Performance Squad.

Ronan Wallace leads the Irish rankings from 2018 have narrowly missed out on a win at the Ulster’s after losing a protest with Nick Walsh.

Nick Walsh Laser SailorNick Walsh from Royal Cork Yacht Club

Jamie McMahon has ruled the Laser Radials recently winning the Laser Ulster’s from Aisling Keller as well as the Under 21 Laser Radial European title back in May in Porto. Competition with his siblings - Ewan (now in the Standard), Eve and Jack - obviously spurs the Howth sailors on. Jamie and Eve have both been competing in the World Sailing Youth Championships in Poland with both getting some top ten individual race results. It’s great to see some early form for Irish sailors who will be looking forward to the Laser Radial European Youth Championships to be held at Ballyholme Yacht Club next summer.

Jamie mcMahon Laser SailorJamie McMahon

The 4.7 class should see the resumption of competition between the Cork and Dun Laoghaire fleets with RCYC’s Michael Crosbie victorious at East Antrim while the National’s Hugh O’Connor won the Munster at Baltimore.

Entries so far are here

Published in Laser
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With just two races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan to be sailed on Wednesday, both Irish Olympic campaigners are within reach of the single Irish qualification place for Tokyo 2020. Ten nation places are being decided this week.

Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) moved up a place after the penultimate day’s racing to 41st place while team-mate Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tiperary) slipped down the standings from 40th to 49th.

However, Hopkins’ overall position equates to fifth nation while Keller’s result would be tenth nation: mathematically, it is still possible that both sailors could slip outside the criteria on the final day.

The Howth sailor was disqualified for premature starting in the opening race of the day though sailed the course amongst the leading boats. She then scored a 25th in the race that followed while using the single discard to drop the earlier disqualification.

Meanwhile, her team-mate from Lough Derg sailed well in the opening stages of both races but suffered on the downwind legs as conditions were the freshest of the series so far.

“Aoife did exactly what she needed to do after the disqualification - get stuck in and get a good result,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Her confidence and momentum are growing with the experience of racing at this level.”

Two final races are scheduled for Wednesday (early-morning Irish time) that will decide the world championship that is currently led by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom.

Subject to qualification for Tokyo 2020 at this opportunity, a selection trial series will follow next year. A further qualification opportunity also exists for European nations in Genoa in April.

Genoa will also be the qualification opportunity for the men’s single-handed Laser event while Ireland’s skiff sailors will seek qualification for the Olympics at the 49er and 49erFX men and womens’ world championships in New Zealand in November.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

With just four races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan, Ireland’s Aisling Keller and Aoife Hopkins are on target to secure Ireland's berth on the Tokyo startline in the Laser Radial class.

Both Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) are placed 40th and 42nd in the 56-boat Gold fleet final round of the championship that started last Friday.

Hopkins had the stronger day on Monday with two top 30 results while Keller had two 42nd places, one of which she drops using the discard system. Another discard comes into force if the series achieves ten races.

Keller had been in 15th place in the second race but received a 'yellow flag' penalty for excessive propulsion technique and dropped back after taking the mandatory turn.

Conditions on Miho Bay, Sakaiminato have proven tricky for competitors and organisers alike with light, shifty winds delaying racing and causing the qualification series to miss one race.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) qualified for the Gold fleet final round at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan earlier today (Sunday 21st July 2019).

The event is the penultimate qualification regatta for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women's single-handed event sailed in the Radial.

After two days of light winds that put the championship behind schedule, the fleet had a protracted third day afloat for eight hours as the organisers staged three races to catch-up on most of the event schedule.

Both Keller and Hopkins had two good results apiece with an eighth and an eleventh respectively that leaves them 29th and 37th overall at the end of the qualification series for the 111-boat event.

A six-race Gold fleet series begins on Monday with two races scheduled daily before concluding the world championship on Wednesday.

A total of ten-nation places are available from the world championship for Tokyo with 14 countries in the Gold fleet all seeking one of the quota. Both Keller and Hopkins are currently inside the qualification standings.

"It was a challenging day to be consistent with winds ranging from fresh to moderate to light but flukey at all times," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach. "The plan continues to be to sail one race at a time as a very tough Gold fleet final round lies ahead."

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Lough Derg Yacht Club's Aisling Keller continues to lead Irish hopes of Olympic qualification at the Laser Radial World Championships today.

Both Irish women competing at the World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan achieved top 20 results as the pair aim to secure the single place for Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) had a 14th place while Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) was 17th in the single race day for their 55-boat Blue flight.

The moderate breeze that the two qualification flights started in proved quite unstable and soon eased to near calm conditions. Plans for a second race were dropped.

As Afloat reported previously, a second day of slack winds on Miho Bay has put the qualification round behind schedule and while three races may be attempted on Sunday, the finals series must begin on Monday regardless.

Two races on Sunday would see the series discard come into force and allow Hopkins to drop her 34th place from the opening day to maximise her potential to achieve Gold fleet for the finals.

“We have good momentum now so I’m pretty happy that Aisling and Aoife have settled in,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. 

Ten nation places for the women’s single-handed dinghy in Tokyo will be decided at this world championship in addition to the 20 already allocated from 2018 events. Either or both Irish sailors must first qualify for Gold fleet on Sunday and score well by Wednesday’s final race to achieve Irish qualification.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Aisling Keller of Lough Derg Yacht Club leads Irish hopes in chasing one of ten Olympic places at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan today.

Near-calm conditions made for a tricky opening day where Ireland has two sailors aiming to qualify for the women’s single-handed event at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Only one of two races was held and a big shift in wind direction eventually saw the course shortened after three legs.

The first three days of the event are qualification rounds with the 111 entries split into Blue and Green flights. Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) are currently sailing in the Blue group.

National Radial Champion, Keller sailed well in the shortened race, reaching as high as tenth place with the leaders and consistently held a top 20 position to eventually place 16th for the first day.

The 40-degree wind-shift caught Hopkins on the wrong side of the course and she ended in 34th place with no opportunity to recover places when the race ended.

“Both our sailors are sailing well considering the conditions,” commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Aisling’s result is definitely a ‘counter’ but Aoife was unlucky that the race was shortened.”

Although the opening-day of racing faced light conditions, forecasts for Saturday suggest an improvement with around ten knots of breeze expected.

Ten nation places for Tokyo are available at the end of this event following the 20 places already allocated out of a total of 44 berths in the women’s event at the next Olympics.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Jamie McMahon of Howth Yacht Club is back in the hunt after his disappointing start and counted 28,17, 7 yesterday to be 20th overall in the boy's Laser Radial fleet from 57 in Gdynia, Poland.

The Boy’s and Girl’s Laser Radial fleets only completed one race on opening day and sailed three on Tuesday to catch up on their schedule of races.

Ireland is represented in the Laser classes by Ireland's first-ever siblings with Jamie's sister Eve competing in the Girls class.  

More than 400 sailors from 66 nations are racing in Poland. Even to make it to the Youth Worlds is an achievement in itself with only one nation represented in each fleet.

Poland’s Tytus Butowski has come to the forefront for the home nation and grabbed the lead in the boy’s division. His 3-5-7-(10) scoreline positions him one point clear of Wonn Kye Lee (SGP) and a further two ahead of Juan Cardozo (ARG), the silver medallist from 2018.

In the Girl’s Laser Radial, 15-year-old Eve McMahon is 22nd from 47 after four races sailed. 

overnight leader Chiara Benini Floriani (ITA) had a mixed day with a 3-7-(22) scoreline but that was enough to hold onto the lead. Laser Radial Youth Girl European Champion Ana Moncada Sanchez (ESP) sailed beautifully, recording a 4-4-5 which positions her in second. Shai Kakon (ISR) is third.

Racing is scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time as the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships reaches its mid-point.

Published in Laser
Tagged under

There was an inauspicious start for Ireland's Jamie McMahon at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Gdynia, Poland today when the Howth Yacht Club youth was disqualified from the first race following a premature start.

McMahon was one of 11 in the 47-boat Laser Radial Boy’s fleet to incur the Black Flag penalty.

Finland’s Otto Dahlberg claimed the win. He was followed by Connor Nelson (USA) and Polish hopeful Tytus Butowski. 

After two days of preparation, boat work and practice, Monday signalled the start of the 49th edition of the Hempel Youth Worlds with 409 eager sailors from 66 nations ready to race across nine events.

In a light breeze, just one Laser Radial race was completed in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions.

In the Girls Radial, McMahon's sister Eve fared better and was 26th in her 47-boat fleet.

Results are here.

Radial youth worldsThe Radial dingy park at the Youth Worlds in Gdynia, Poland

Just one year ago, Italy’s Chiara Benini Floriani was sailing the Laser 4.7 in Gdynia at their World Championships. The Italian won the first race of that World Championships and later went on to win gold. She won the first Laser Radial Girl’s race at the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships and was delighted with her start, "This is my first Youth Worlds. I’m using my experience from last year. I was able to understand a lot of things about this place last year and it’s certainly helped.

"Today was a little bit gusty and shifty. I started today’s race well and some boats headed to the right of the course. I stayed left and that paid off for me. It was between 7-8 knots with gusts up to 10 today. They’re my type of conditions. I like 11-12 knots normally."

Whether she can go on and replicate her Laser 4.7 Worlds performance is a question that will be answered on Friday 19 July when racing concludes.

Manon Peyre (FRA) finished in second and 2017 Laser 4.7 World Championship silver medallist Simone Chen (SGP) came in third, also drawing upon her own experience of the Polish waters.

Racing is scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time on Tuesday 16 July.

The Howth brother and sister are the first Irish siblings to qualify for the same Irish Youth Sailing Team.

Alongside the McMahons in Poland are Rian Geraghty McDonnell and Nathan van Steenberge (of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire), read about their race win here, and Leah Rickard (from NYC) and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty (from Kerry’s Tralee Bay Sailing Club) in the 29er class.

Joining the team is Irish Sailing Laser Radial coach Sean Evans, and Thomas Chaix who will coach the 29ers.

Published in Laser
Tagged under

George Kingston has won the Laser Standard division of the prestigious 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta by seven clear points overall.

The Cork native led the 11-boat series from Thursday's first race and counts five race wins from seven sailed.

As Afloat reported previously, the Royal St George sailor gave a masterclass in race management and consistency last weekend when he strolled to the Laser Leinster title in the waters off Rush.

Second overall is Kingston's clubmate Ross O'Leary with a third Royal St George sailor, Gavan Murphy, the Dun Laoghaire Laser Class Captain in third.

Published in RStGYC
Page 3 of 46

Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.

'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best.

Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.

Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.

"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends.

"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.

The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

Who is Your Sailor Sailor of the Year 2019?
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Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

The 2021 Regatta runs from 8-11 July

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