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Irish Olympic Keelboat Trials Starts this Month

5th May 2011
Irish Olympic Keelboat Trials Starts this Month

Act one, scene one of Irish sailing's bid for Olympic glory in London next years kicks off this month when rival helmsmen Max Treacy and Peter O'Leary square up for the right to represent Ireland next July at the Olympic Regatta in Weymouth.

The Irish Star keelboat Olympic trials gets underway on May 24th on the waters off Medemblik, Holland as part of the massive ISAF Delta Lloyd regatta.

O'Leary with new crew (and triple Olympian) David Burrows will go head to head with Treacy and Anthony Shanks in a 23-boat fleet that has attracted all the top teams, a mirror of next year's Olympic regatta itself.

The two Irish boats haven't met since last August when O'Leary sensationally won Britain's Sail for Gold Olympic test event at Weymouth and Treacy withdrew with boat problems.

Since then O'Leary and Burrows have been training in the USA scoring a significant second overall at the Bacardi Cup in February.

Treacy and Shanks have proved a formidable combination clocking up some impressive results over a decade or so in the Star class competing first for a place for Athens 2004, then Beijing and now London. It is understood the pair are hooking up next week with long time training partner (and British Olympic Gold medalist) Ian Percy for an intensive two week training session.

While the first of the nomination trials is to be held in Holland, the second is in July in Weymouth but it's worth remembering the first chance of nation qualification – where 75% of Olympic slots are up for grabs – is not until December in Perth, Australia.

The new procedures set out for Olympic qualification were announced by the Irish Sailing Association in January.

The memory of the selection debacle from four years ago is still very much in mind. Back in 2008 a decision to send O'Leary instead of Treacy was made by an ISA selection committee rather than on the water trials, a move that was unsuccessfully appealed by Treacy to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI). It was a divisive period for Olympic sailing in Ireland.

Confirmation this week that both teams are entered for the Delta Lloyd regatta in Holland and both boats are also entered for Perth indicates the stage is set for the next episode of Star wars.

Published in Olympics 2012
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