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Irish Olympic Sailors Miss Gold Fleet Cut at World Sailing Cup, Miami

28th January 2016
ryan_seaton_matt_mcgovern_miami
Belfast Lough's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast Lough in 39th overall from 61 in the mens 49er class Credit: Jesus Renedo/World Sailing

Tricky conditions have got 2016 off to an inauspicious start for Ireland's Rio Olympic sailing team with neither Laser or 49er making the gold fleet cut of the World Sailing Cup in Miami, the first major event of the Olympic year. 

The 49erfx crew of Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey was not able to start due to injury. The Irish Paralympic Sonar crew of John Twomey, Austin O'Caroll and Ian Costelloe are lying seventh from nine.

In the second round of the Irish Laser Radial trial being sailed as part of the Florida–based regatta, the 2020 prospect Aoife Hopkins from Howth Yacht Club lies 60th, just one place behind the National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy in the 81–boat fleet. Results after five races indicate both will race in the silver fleet for the balance of the regatta that concludes on Saturday. Murphy will be disappointed at scoring two penalties in the early stages but also with the fact that she was unable to make the top ten in any race, just seventh months out from the Games itself.

A premature start in race nine added to a black flag penalty scored in race two puts Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast Lough in 39th overall from 61 in the mens 49er class. Nine races have been sailed.

Full results are here.

The regatta got off to a flukey start on Monday and Tuesday and although the breeze blew stronger yesterday, Irish boats had a mountain to climb in order to get back into any sort of gold fleet contention. Unfortunately for Team IRL, however, Rio rivals appear to be able to knock in top results in any weather. A case in point is the unstoppable performance of Murphy's London 2012 rival, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) who has won all five of her remaining qualifying races to open up a four-point lead. Evi van Acker (BEL) another veteran and fellow Olympic medalist, has won a pair of races herself and was able to discard a black flag disqualification from today to sit second. Defending Olympic gold medalist Lilja Xu (CHN) in third, a point further back.

Had a tough day on the water. Two more days left so will refocus and do my best. On wards & Upwards!Aoife x

Posted by Aoife Hopkins Sailing on Wednesday, 27 January 2016

With qualification completed, the fleet will be split into a gold and silver grouping and winning the races will be that much tougher over the final two days.

The top American in the fleet is Paige Railey, who is currently 17th with 36 points. That's good enough for a 9-point cushion over Ericka Reineke (USA), who is Railey's chief rival for the 2016 Olympic berth in the Radial class. That battle will be an interesting one to watch during the next few days. This event is Part 1 of the two-stage selection series for that class.

The Laser class, one of only two to start the Day three on schedule, sailed a pair of afternoon races. Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) won his final race of the day—as with the Radial fleet, the 98-strong Laser fleet has been sailing in two groups for qualification—and has built himself an impressive 16-point lead heading into the gold and silver fleet split. Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) sits second with 27 points, but there is a pack of four sailors all within 5 points of the silver-medal position. At the back end of this group is 5-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA), who has rebounded from a tough start with three straight second place finishes.

Charlie Buckingam (USA) is the top American in 11th. While he has his sights focused on the top 10—only the top 10 in each class qualify for Saturday's medal race, which will be carried lived on ESPN3—Buckingham has to be comforted by the knowledge that the next American sailor is 20 points behind. As with many of the other classes, this regatta serves as the first part of the selection trails for the U.S. Laser berth in the Rio Olympics.

49er and 49erFX

The 49er qualifying series concluded with three further races on Wednesday ahead of the fleets separating into Gold and Silver for the duration of the World Cup.

Diego Botin and Iago Lopez (ESP) advanced to top spot in the 49er, recording an 8-4-3 to leave them on 45 points. The Spanish duo tend to excel in the qualifying series and more times than not, come out at the top of the leaderboard.

When push comes to shove and they race in a top quality Gold fleet they fall down the pack. Six Gold races are ahead of them now to see if they can buck the trend. Carl P Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark of Sweden follow in second and Jorge Lima and Jose Costa (POR) are third.

Defending 49erFX champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) moved up to first after four good races. A pair of seconds, a seventh and a sixth hand them a ten-point advantage over Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN).

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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