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Ireland's Oisin McClelland on Day two of the Finn European Championships in Portugal
Donaghadee's Olympic campaigner Oisin McClelland has had a difficult start to the opening four races of the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal and is currently placed in the bottom quarter of his 49-boat fleet. The…
Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland is hoping to secure the last European Finn berth next month at the Gold Cup
Tokyo Olympic solo sailor campaigner Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland is among the entries for the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship that gets underway in Vilamoura, Portugal, this morning with around 49 sailors from 29 nations competing. Over the…
Dun Laoghaire and Greystones Mixed Offshore Keelboat campaigners Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee are competing in the Saint Hilaire-Sardinha Cup
Dun Laoghaire and Greystones Mixed Offshore Keelboat campaigners Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee lie 18th after the first night at sea of the Saint Hilaire-Sardinha Cup, the second stage of the Sardinha Cup in France. The fleet of 21 Figaro Beneteau…
The doublehanded offshore racing team of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee (left) start the second leg of the Sardinha Cup today
The doublehanded offshore Racing team of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee embark on the second leg of the Sardinha Cup this evening. It's a gruelling 775 miler that immediately follows yesterday's conclusion of a 300-mile first leg in which the…
Sail Nova Scotia
It looks like Ireland's newly qualified 49er Tokyo pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will be making a trip to Canada in 2022 if they continue their skiff campaign for Paris 2024. Nova Scotia will host a 400-strong field…
Caution Advised on Grand Canal in Celbridge For Canoeing Ireland Selection Event This Saturday
Waterways Ireland advises that a Canoeing Ireland selection event will take place this Saturday 3 April on the Grand Canal at the Celbridge Paddlers Canoe Club–Alymer’s Bridge area. This event is part of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic qualification pathway…
The magic moment at Vilamoura on March 26th – Sean Waddilove (left) and Robert Dickson have just secured a 49er place for Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics in July
It says everything about the quality of the Dickson-Waddilove team's securing of the Tokyo Olympics 49er place, that it not only sent the spirits of the Irish sailing community soaring skywards, but in these difficult times, it helped to raise the…
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove
With Ireland's Olympic place secured in fleet racing, Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) showed a clean pair of heels to the 10-boat fleet and propelled themselves back onto the podium with a medal race win at the 49er…
Tokyo bound: Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove
Preliminary results from the 49er Olympic Qualifying event in Lanzarote this morning indicate that the Howth and Skerries pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have done enough to secure not only Ireland's Olympic slot in the 49er skiff, but…
Sean Waddilove (left) and Robert Dickson a stand out performance in Lanzarote has landed them Olympic berths in the 49er skiff
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove's mission for Tokyo 2021 was accomplished yesterday when they took the last Olympic berth in the men's skiff class but the way it was achieved has been revelatory not only to the 49er fleet itself but…
Ireland's Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC)
The penultimate day of racing at the 49er Olympic Qualification regatta in Lanzarote proved to be a very nervy one for the Irish teams seeking to secure Tokyo Olympic qualification. What appeared to be a comfortable lead was quickly eroded…
Dubliner's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have a 38 point cushion for Olympic selection entering the final stages of the Lanzarote International Regatta
Ireland's Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) mixed good with bad in today's three races, a disqualification for premature starting following 3rd and 1st place finishes.  However, the chasing fleet didn't improve enough to displace the Irish from their…
Dickson and Waddilove did file a protest seeking redress in the second race, claiming they were incorrectly identified as being over the line
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have withdrawn their protest for a UFD penalty made against them in today's important Lanzarote International Regatta, the final Olympic Qualification event for the European 49er fleet. As Afloat reported earlier, Dickson and Waddilove did…
Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) combined two firsts with a U flag disqualification and now lie in third place overall
Both Irish 49er skiff teams improved their positions in today's racing at the Lanzarote International Regatta. Three races were completed in NE winds of 7 to 10 knots. Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) combined two firsts with a…
Double Olympic veteran and World Cup silver medallist, Ryan Seaton, from Carrickfergus, is paired with crew Seafra Guilfoyle from Cork
Three Northern Ireland sailors are all battling for a place at the Tokyo Olympic Regatta with qualification events taking place this week and in the next few weeks. Ryan Seaton, Oisin McClelland and Liam Glynn have been training for over…
Two 8ths and a 6th saw the top Irish team drop to 5th overall
The Irish 49er team of Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) didn't quite emulate day one's fleet leading performance but performed solidly enough to maintain Ireland's position as the leader in the battle for Olympic qualification. Two 8ths and…

Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020

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