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Espey Ends Olympic Palma Regatta in 38th Place

7th April 2013
Espey Ends Olympic Palma Regatta in 38th Place

#olympicsailing – Ireland's sole interest in Palma de Mallorca, James Espey has finished 38th overall, the third event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit. The Belfast sailor scored a 26th in the final race in the gold fleet on Saturday, his best result of the tricky series.

A fantastic week of sailing has come to a close in Palma. The 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre delivered great racing conditions and a real test coming into the new Olympic quadrennial.

It was interesting to test here a new scoring system and format, and despite mixed opinions, the regatta has deserving winners in all classes and most of the regatta leaders conserved their yellow jersey after their medal races.

Denmark's Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard had an incredible finish and took three wins out of four Medal Races in the 49erFX.

"We tried to be very relaxed and focussed going into the Medal Races," said the excitable duo. "Our main decision was to decide whether to go right or left after the start to find a position where we could be alone and able to make our moves freely. It was great fun with this stadium format to have so many tacks and gybes! It was tiring too because we needed to concentrate and anticipate our next move."

The Danes have dominated for most of the week and have shown they are the top sailors in the developing 49erFX fleet. Their skiff experience over the years together is proving to be the right recipe for success.

After a fantastic week to add the cherry on top of the cake, the pair will be awarded the Absolute Winner trophy which recognises the sailors with the best average score over the regatta. This trophy was won last year by 2.4mR sailor Thierry Schmitter (NED).

Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL), never too far behind the Danes, took the last race win to place second. Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) complete the podium.

Germany's Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel secured their first major regatta victory in the 49er having picked up their game throughout the week. "We had an average qualification stage and got into the finals in eighth position," they said. "Our first final day was great with three wins. Today we had another win and top three results only in the four Medal Races. We have great speed and enjoy the breeze, so this was a week for us."

The pair will be following the World Cup circuit in a bid to move up the rankings, "Our objective this year is to be in the World top five. We will be doing a maximum of 200 points regattas like Hyères and the Worlds but also some of the Eurosaf circuit."

Andy Maloney (NZL) nailed the Laser Medal Races and took two race wins to overturn a huge deficit over Australia's Tom Burton (AUS) who despite a steady first race had a disaster in the second, "I was set up pretty well for the last one so I could only get beaten by one guy," said Burton. "I ended up getting an OCS and he beat me. So a few tough lessons and probably something I won't do again but these things happen."

Maloney was able to capitalise on Burton's mistake and was delighted with the way it went, "It was a really good day. With the new system there were a lot of points up for grabs and it went pretty well to get two wins and I couldn't ask for much more. It feels pretty good to come from equal third to win the event. It was a bit unfortunate for Tom Burton in the last race but that happens to all of us."

New Zealand's Sam Meech rounded off the Laser podium.

In the Laser Radial Alison Young (GBR) secured a deserved gold medal having dominated the fleet all week long.

"I am really pleased to have won. I have learnt lots of lessons from this regatta and I am looking forward to the rest of the season. Going into the final medal race, only the Danish could beat me so I had to make sure of the result."

A second in the first Medal Race gave her a handsome advantage and she kept Sarah Gunni (DEN) at bay on the last race with the Dane settling for silver. Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) won the Medal Race to pick up bronze.

Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) stepped it up in the Women's RS:X on the final day and was first past the post in both Medal Races. The World #1 was all smiles on shore after racing, "I'm super happy," she said. "I just had a perfect day. I was coming into the day in fourth so a pretty good position. I was not that close to the first but with two Medal Races everything is possible so I tried to do two good races to finish the competition and it paid off."

Her two race wins knocked overnight leader Bryony Shaw (GBR) down into second and Germany's Moana Delle into third.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Men's RS:X champion Ivan Pastor (ESP) made it two World Cup gold's in a row after two fourths in the Medal Races. The Spaniard led coming into the final day and held on to top spot. Toni Wilhelm (GER) and Kiran Badloe (NED) took the race wins and subsequently moved up to the podium places.

Giles Scott (GBR) took gold in the Finn. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) threatened the Brits dominance when he closed the gap to one point after the first Medal Race. However, Scott made sure from the start he would leave the Dutch in his trail. "PJ and I match-raced at the start of the second race," explained Scott. "I finally succeeded in forcing him in an uncomfortable position and took a safe advance over him." On the new format Scott added, "It did work out all right for me but I don't really like it as I prefer consistency over the week and the varied conditions to be recognised in the results."

Postma (NED) ended up second with Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) in third. London Bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) missed out on the podium in fourth.

Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) came fifth in the days first Medal Race in the Women's 470 and finished with a bang in the last, taking the race win and the gold medal. "We are very happy," exclaimed Barbachan. "We didn't expect to win like this. We thought it would be a hardest race but these conditions seemed to be nice for us."

Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) finish second with the American pair of Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) third.

With shifty conditions only one Men's 470 Medal Race could be completed on the final day and a fourth from Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) ensured they maintained their unbeaten life in the Men's 470. Belcher is the only sailor this week to keep his title won last year with Malcolm Page. Greece's Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis place second and Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield (GBR) third.

Despite a mid-race mishap on the final day Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser (NED) took gold over their team mates Renee Groenenveld and Karel Begemann in the Nacra 17. "We had some issues during the races and in the first one we capsized," explained Mulder. "One boat nose-dived just in front of us and we had starboard and I was like 'uh oh we're going to hit the boat' so I went inside very quickly and then I went swimming behind the boat and it capsized. We were top three but got upright really quick and ended up sixth."

Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet complete the Nacra 17 podium.

"We are happy about our speed. We made some tactical errors today on the last race, but in definite, I am happy to be able to prove myself on the Olympic circuit" said Moana Vairaux.

Sailors focus now turns to ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres in the South of France. Ireland's Annalise Murphy returns to the circuit and racing gets going on 22 April through to 27.

Published in Olympic
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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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