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ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Off To A Spectacular Start

27th November 2014
ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Off To A Spectacular Start

The opening day of racing at the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates has been described as spectacular, fantastic and perfect.

Smiles were present before racing at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club, on the waters off of the Corniche and around Lulu Island and back ashore upon the conclusion of racing.

Although three Irish sailors were invited to the Cup they are not competing due to budget and time constraints.

A north westerly breeze that ranged between 9-14 knots greeted the sailors across the four race tracks. The outside courses saw big waves to add some spice to the sailors lives whilst the flat water on the inside Corniche course tested the sailors all round abilities.

Racing for the 270 sailors from 38 nations across the ten Olympic and open kiteboarding fleet commenced at 12:00 local time and wrapped up with a full complement of races in the Olympic events.

Finn

Slovenia's Vasilij Zbogar was dominant in Abu Dhabi's conditions, picking up a pair of race wins in the 19-boat Finn fleet.

After racing, ashore at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht, the Slovenian was visibly pleased yet shocked with his regatta opening, "I am a bit surprised with the two first places. It's much better than I thought I would start. The conditions were perfect for my technique and weight and my boat speed was extremely good. The main issue was that I got a yellow flag in the first race which was a bit annoying but I still finished first."

Zbogar's victories came by different margins. A close encounter with Jake Lilley (AUS) in the opening race saw him take the victory by a narrow two seconds. He ramped it up in the second race, taking the gun by 30 seconds over Pieter Jan Postma (NED) and Zbogar wants to continue in the same way on the second day, "I hope we will have the same conditions. I will try to keep this first place until the end but I know it is going to be very hard. Today it was really nice sailing conditions and I'm looking forward to the next few days."

Abu Dhabi is a new venue for the Slovenian and he has taken to it well, not only the sailing side but offshore as well, "Until now, Abu Dhabi has been a big surprise for me. Everybody was a bit sceptical at first, maybe the venue and the sailing conditions weren't right but here we are and people are extremely helpful, everything is extremely well organised and the sailing is spectacular.

"I think all the sailors are really happy and they all see it's a big step forward in Olympic classes."

Lilley trails the Slovenia by five points in second place whilst Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic occupies third overall, a point behind Lilley.

49erFX

New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech started the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final with a bang by taking the opening race victory in the 17-boat 49erFX fleet.

The pair picked up a second victory in the third race of the day but a sandwiched tenth tarnishes their good start. Nonetheless the Kiwis had some great racing as Maloney explained, "It was beautiful conditions out there with a nice Abu Dhabi breeze and really nice waves. We were on Course C in front of the Emirates Palace and it was pretty nice out there. The first and last race we had 8-10 knots and it dropped down and got a bit interesting, it's really nice racing out there.

"We were pretty disappointing with our performance at the Worlds but we had a good break and have had some good preparation for Abu Dhabi. We were in Rio for three weeks and we're feeling a lot more confident again and a lot more focused."

Whilst the Kiwis lead, it's the Italian pairing of Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich who were the masters of consistency as they notched up a race win and a pair of seconds. They sit second overall by nature of the Kiwis discarding their tenth and Conti's face was full of smiles after racing, "It was perfect, perfect conditions. There were 10-14 knots with good waves and we enjoyed it a lot. We had good results and that's why we enjoyed it a lot.

"We felt very comfortable with the boat. It's good to have a brand new boat as we used to sail with a pretty old one so there are a lot of differences in performance. It's just perfect to escape from winter and to be here, we love it."

Conti was also full of praise for everything she has seen thus far at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, "We are staying in such a beautiful hotel and the people here are just so gentle and kind. They're so curious about sailing as well. The venue is just perfect. There is plenty of space so we can move around without having the problem of touching other boats. The weather is warm and there is a huge mall right here, it has everything. I would stay here the whole winter."

Sweden's Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga complete the podium after the opening day but it's still early stages in the competition with six fleet races to follow ahead of the Medal Race.

49er

Captain America and Superman's Polish alias' Tomasz Januszewski and Jacek Nowak have swooped in to Abu Dhabi to take the 49er lead on the opening day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final.

The pair picked up two races wins and a 13th, discarding the latter to top the bill in the 18-boat 49er fleet. They lead Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign by a single point, "It's great to be here and race here with the best of the best," commented Nowak. "We were on Course D so we were inside the bay and the wind was inshore so there was a lot of shifts and gusts. It was good to have great speed and to be able to read the shifty conditions. All the teams were very close to each other throughout the races."

The Polish competitors are instantly recognisable on the race track with their superhero outfits and Januszewski explained the origin of their tops, "We are co-operating with under armour, so when the t-shirts went on sale our friend gave us a couple of them.

"He asked who we would like to be and I was just like, stop there, 'I want to be Captain America', because I love that superhero and Jack loves Superman.

"After we first wore them everybody has called us Superman and Captain America," continued Januszewski with a beaming smile, "They're defending someone's honour and ambitions so we like those and they're really friendly, they're not bad guys.

"It's a good way to show potential sponsors what we can do and how many opportunities we can give them."

The racing on the 49er race course was exceptionally close with little separation of the fleet across three races. Fletcher and Sign picked up the first race victory before finishing second behind the Polish sailors in the second. The Brits did not sail the third race due to an equipment issue as the Polish sailors swooped through to take their second race win and the lead.

Januszewski and Nowak are in a good spot to progress with six fleet races and a Medal Race remaining and will be looking to draw on their super strength from within, "With any power you can achieve anything," said Januszewski, "but if we were to have a power I think we'll take super speed."

Women's RS:X

Great Britain's Bryony Shaw stole the show in the Women's RS:X taking three consecutive race victories to hold a steady lead over her rivals at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The British racer, who won bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, was in exceptional form, mastering the conditions and ruling the waves on one of the outside course areas.

"We were out on Course C today so we had quite a bit of swell and waves," said Shaw. "The wind was between 10 and 13 knots and I was pleased to be sailing fast."

Shaw proved to be a class above the rest as she read the conditions perfectly to lead at the first mark in all of the races as she explained, "I got a good start in the first race but not such a good start in the second race. The wind had just started flicking to the right so I made a gain from going to the right in that race. The first two races I rounded first and was able to extend my lead.

"In the last race we had lighter winds. I had a great start by the committee boat and really good height and speed and managed to round first again. It was quite a physical race that one. I kept it quite simple and stayed between my competitors and the mark and managed to win that third race. It was a really good day."

With 270 sailors from 38 nations competing in Abu Dhabi, the British sailor is just one of many competitors who are revelling in the Emirati capital. With a blend of old traditions in a modern metropolis there is plenty for the sailors to learn and enjoy, both on and off the water, "I've tried to immerse myself in the culture and we've been going out for dinners and the people here seem really friendly," added Shaw. "The conditions today were fantastic. To be sailing out there in board shorts and for it to be warm, sunny and to be sailing in planing conditions is the best for windsurfing. I've had a great time here so far. It's been a short regatta for them to try and set up but it's going well."

China's Qiaoshan Weng is second overall following a third, second and a discarded 14th. Charline Picon (FRA), 2014 Women's RS:X World Champion, is third overall after an up and down day that included a second, a fourth and a discarded 14th place finish.

Men's RS:X

Youngsters Pawel Tarnowski (POL) and Louis Giard (FRA) are showing their experienced counterparts how to race in Abu Dhabi as they top the bill in the Men's RS:X fleet.

Tarnowski, 20-years-old, stormed into the lead following an exceptional day on the water. He amassed two race wins and a third and holds a two point advantage over Giard, 21-years-old, who took a pair of seconds and a third.

The youngsters lead their more experienced rivals but only time will tell if they are able to continue it through for a podium finish on Sunday 30 November.

Laser Radial

Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) is in control in the 18-boat Laser Radial pack. She picked up a fourth and a first to hold a five point advantage over Alison Young (GBR) going into the second day of competition.

Young has had some time away from the boat throughout 2014 and is happy to be back, competing against the best Laser Radial sailors in Abu Dhabi, "It's been great fun racing against all the great sailors that are here this week. I'm here this week to learn as much as possible. There are 18 great sailors here so every race is really tight and every point counts.

"It was such tight racing today out on the water with boats crossing the line in packs and I expect that will be a similar story for the rest of the regatta."

London 2012 bronze medallist Evi Van Acker (BEL) completes the podium at the early stage of the event.

Laser

World #1 Tom Burton (AUS) showed his worth in Abu Dhabi by grasping the Laser lead after the opening day of racing. Burton was strong on the race track and took a fifth and a bullet and was pleased after racing, "It was pretty solid day all around," commented Burton, "The top guys are all here and with the 20 boat fleet you can't afford to have a bad race because the guys that will win this regatta, won't do that so you won't have a chance to catch up."

Pavlos Kontides (CYP) took the first race win but an 11th in the second race relegated him down to fifth overall.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) is tied on points with Burton in second whilst Nick Thompson (GBR) occupies third.

Men's and Women's 470

It was business as usual for World Champions Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) in the Men's 470. The pair strolled into pole position following a 2-4 scoreline. Greece's Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis are second on eight points with Austria's David Bargehr and Lukas Mahr in third on ten points.

The day's race wins went the way of Stu McNay and David Hughes (USA) who are sixth overall and fifth placed Matthias Schmid and Florian Florian Reichsteaedter (AUT).

China's Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao and Austria's Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar shared places one and two in the Women's 470 and are tied atop of the 11-boat fleet on three points.

Very little separated the two teams on the opening day and they will do battle once again on the second day with two more races scheduled.

America's Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha are third overall on 10 points, seven off the leading duo but there is plenty of time for change.

Nacra 17

It's an all French top three in the Nacra 17 with World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou leading the way. Besson and Riou are seemingly unstoppable in the Nacra 17 and amassed a steady scoreline that featured two seconds and a race win.

Their compatriots Audrey Ogereau and Matthieu Vandame follow in second with Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet in third.

Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger (SUI), Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) and Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT) are hot on the French teams heals, tied on nine points.

Open Kiteboarding

Riccardo Leccese (ITA) came out on top on the opening day of kiteboarding after he picked up a pair of bullets. He heads into the next stage as top seed. 2014 World Champion Maxime Nocher (FRA), European and Open Asian Champion Oliver Bridge (GBR) and 2013 World Champion Florian Gruber (GER) follow in places 2-4.

The 20 competitors will be divided up for Stage 2 heats on Friday and Saturday based on their seeding from Stage 1. The top ten boats will then progress to the medal stage.

Two semi-finals will be held with five racers in each. Places 1 and 2 will carry forward ten points, 3 and 4 seven points, 5 and 6 five points, 7 and 8 four points and 9 and 10 three points. Two races in each semi-final will follow with the top two placed sailors in each heading to the final.

From there, it's a four way single race shoot out for the podium spots.

Racing across the fleets is scheduled to commence at 12:00 local time on Friday 28 November.

Results are available here

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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