A 'renewed strategic approach' at the start of the year means a new coaching structure in Irish Sailing, with Rory Fitzpatrick moving to become Head Coach, overseeing a team of six.
Irish Sailing Performance Director James O’Callaghan says: “if you expect great things from athletes then you have to ensure you have great people around them. I can honestly say this is the strongest coaching team we have had in place. The coaches we have know how to get the most out of people so it’s a great time to be a sailor on our Performance Pathway”.
Rory Fitzpatrick: Head Coach
Working with Performance Director James O’Callaghan, Rory will create greater opportunities for the sailors through performance planning, athlete and coach review structures, overseeing interactions with team support services, and creating development strategies for the coaching team. Rory’s aim is to get the best coaching knowledge from our teams and generate a progressive Olympic-cycle legacy. This year, a key task is to gather knowledge on priority event venues. In September we’ll start sending out our coaches and senior athletes to Japan to scout the Olympic sailing venue. They will start to familiarise themselves with weather patterns, support structures and race courses so that all our information is collated and shared to gain maximum advantage for our athletes.
Vasilij Zbogar: Laser Coach
Our newest appointment is Lasers coach Vasilij Zbogar. Vasilij’s short-term goal is to obtain the best possible performances with the Irish Laser Team at the World Sailing Championship in Aarhus, Denmark this August, and in the long-term at the Olympic Games. As a triple Olympic medallist (under the direction of Irish Coach Trevor Millar) Vasilij is well placed to pass on his knowledge and energy to Ireland’s Olympic Laser sailors. He’ll work closely with Rory and Sean Evans (below) to follow the young Laser sailors coming up the ranks and progress the current team in this highly competitive class.
Ross Killian: Junior Performance Manager and 420 Academy Coach
Ross has the combined role of Junior Performance Manager, coach and manager to the 420 Academy, and event organiser of the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals. Ross will run the programming and coaching of the 420 Academy teams and manage coaches and squads for the Laser 4.7s, Toppers and Optimist classes. Ross brings considerable Olympic experience to the role, both from crew (Athens 2004) and coach (Beijing 2008) perspective in the 470 class.
Sean Evans: Academy Coach
Sean coaches our Laser Radial Academy and manages the Irish Team for the Youth Sailing World Championship, working closely with Rory, Ross and Vasilij. Essentially, Sean prepares our younger sailors to enter into senior Olympic sailing. Sailors learn personal development alongside the technical fundamentals such as boat handling, boat speed, and develop through participation in international sailing, focusing on experience and not solely results.
Niko Resch: Olympic 49er Coach
Four-time Olympian Niko Resch coaches our senior 49er team, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle. As a new partnership there is lots of learning to be done but with the experience of Niko to guide them we are confident they will be ready for Tokyo 2020.
Tytus Konarzewski: 49er Development Team Coach
Tytus oversees our 49er Development team with the aim of bringing them to an experienced competitive level in senior Olympic sailing, and preparing for the challenge of Tokyo 2020 and beyond to 2024. Tytus has over thirty years coaching experience and is familiar with the Irish setup having coached our 49erFX team in the Rio Olympics.
Debbie Hanna, Laser 4.7s
Debbie works full time in the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, so we are lucky to have her involved with our Laser 4.7 squad. Debbie had a successful youth career representing Ireland twice at Youth Worlds. She went on to campaign for Beijing 2008 but ultimately lost the selections to Ciara Peelo. She is now one of Northern Ireland’s top coaches and will be passing on valuable insights to our young Pathway sailors.