Irish Sailing unveiled its new €300k 'Performance Headquarters', funded entirely by the Irish Sailing Foundation and located on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, at Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning.
With under 500 days to Tokyo 2020, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, a local Dun Laoghaire TD, was on hand to launch the ‘new home and training centre’ for the team that has yet to qualify for the Olympic Regatta.
Thirteen sailors from throughout Ireland will be based there, including the 2016 Olympic Games silver medallist, her new sailing partner, Katie Tingle, from Cork, and six other world championship medallists.
As well as Murphy and Tingle in attendance today were team members Liam Glynn, Finn Lynch, Aoife Hopkins, Rob Dickson & Sean Waddilove, Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle; and training partners Aisling Keller, Ewan McMahon, Tadgh and Sean Donnelly.
As Afloat.ie reported previously, the Performance HQ is entirely mobile and consists of three converted shipping containers which have space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area. The athlete briefing room can then be shipped directly to international competitions such as the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 and provide a base for our athletes overseas. Outside there is a boat park and a pontoon for launching boats.
Speaking at the launch, Annalise Murphy said: “Having this new base is fantastic. For the first time we have a home, somewhere we know we can train, share experiences and focus as a group on how we can make our sailing performances better. It will be a huge support to our campaigns at international events this year as we look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We’ve got a saying, ‘Leave home stronger’, which is there to remind us that we’ve got a home to come back to where we can recover, gain strength and prepare for the next campaign. That’s what the new HQ gives us – it means we don’t need to rely on the nomadic overseas campaigns of the past.”
The new HQ will improve both training and educational opportunities for the sailors. It has been instituted with the specific aim of maximising Ireland’s medal potential in international competitions and qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing Performance Head Coach, said that it represents a massive step forward on the journey to medal-winning success for Irish Sailing.
He said: “We will finally have a place we can call ‘home’ and for that reason alone the impact of the new Irish Sailing Performance HQ cannot be underestimated. The environment created will allow for consistent coaching, a base for equipment and our own direct access to the water, which all adds up to giving our athletes the best opportunities to reach their maximum medal-winning potential in the long-term.
This is a major milestone for Irish performance sailing. The new HQ clearly demonstrates the positive impact philanthropy can have on a sport like sailing. We are delighted that private individuals believe in our vision of delivering consistent medal success for Ireland on the world stage”.
The new HQ was officially opened today by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education. Ms Mitchell O’Connor commented: “I have no doubt that with this terrific new facility, Irish sailors will be stronger as a squad and be better positioned than ever before to mount successful campaigns at international events in 2019 and beyond, including at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. I would like to wish the senior squad the best of luck and look forward to them building on the incredible international success they have experienced up to now. “
The CEO of Irish Sailing, Harry Hermon, added: “The creation of the Performance HQ is great news – there is no doubt that we’re at the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Irish Sailing, delivering on the medal-winning potential that the facility will help shape and focus. Clearly, however, this new home for the Performance team would not have been possible without the generosity and far-sightedness of those who, through the Irish Sailing Foundation, funded the project.
Competitive sailing requires incredible dedication and sacrifice from the athletes, their families and supporters, and Irish Sailing and its chances of success on a global stage rely on the vision and philanthropy of a group of individuals to whom we are extremely grateful.”
Sailors currently at the Performance HQ
49erFX – Women’s double-hander
Annalise Murphy & Katie Tingle
49er skiff – Men’s double-hander
Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle
Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
Sean & Tadgh Donnelly (training partners)
Laser Radial – single-hander
Aisling Keller (training partner)
Laser Standard – single-hander
Ewan McMahon (training partner)
Read tomorrow on Afloat.ie: Annalise brings stardust to Sutton and the Dickson-Waddilove Tokyo 2020 campaign