Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: 49er

Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club Olympic skiff duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have had a pre-Olympic boost by taking second overall at the 49er Championships in Cascais, Portugal.

It's not the only boost for Irish Skiff sailors either with the Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey taking sixth for Team GB in the 49erFX with partner Charlotte Dobson of Scotland.

As regular Afloat readers know, the Howth debutantes put the zing back into the Irish Olympic sailing scene in March when they put double Olympian Ryan Seaton to the sword to win the last available Olympic place in Tokyo this summer. 

The weekend international result from Portugal (with three race wins) represents another significant step forward to July on Enoshima Bay for the duo that previously won Under 23 World Championship Gold three years ago.

Cascais blows up some very breezy weather and as heavy airs are predicted for the Japanese Olympic venue, it gave the Portuguese Championships extra meaning.

Even with the Howth duo's immaculate boat handling it wasn't all plain sailing to the silver medal position. The strong winds on day one presented a sail tearing challenge as CN Cascais/Luis Fraguas's photographs reveal.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

On the last day of the 2021 Cascais 49er & 49erFX Championship after a stormy morning, the sun shyly appeared and filled the bay of Cascais with light. The championship could not have ended in the best way with the Cascais Bay delivering the best for the Olympic sailors, its fantastic conditions for sailing. In these fabulous conditions, the Olympic sailors had the day most similar to the sea conditions of Sagami Bay, in Tokyo, with a large and wide wave. The last day was reserved for the medal race for both fleets. This is a single race for each class, 49er and 49erFx. This regatta is special since it was double points for the overall with only the ten best competitors in each division being eligible to race.

The first Medal Race was for the male Olympic skiff class, which started at noon as scheduled. The race course at that time was in a northwest wind and 14 knots in intensity.

The big winners of the championship in the Olympic class 49er were the North Americans Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson who led the leaderboard for a couple of days. Irish youngsters Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runner ups. In the lowest place on the podium were the North Americans Ian Barrows and Hans Henken.

On their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in CascaisOn their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in Cascais

After the Men's Medal Race, it was the ladies' turn to take the stage in Cascais. With the weaker wind that made the wind shift on the right more prominent for the 49erFx class race.

Lutz and Beucke had a conservative race having finished the final race in fourth place, this result being enough to overtake Echegoyen and Barcelo by one point and thus conquer the highest place on the podium in Cascais. While Denmark and Holland were glad to compete in the medal race regatta for the supposed third place, the team from Brazil also had a very successful regatta having finished in second place. This good result from Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze was enough to leave the northern European teams out of the podium in this championship. Grael and Kunze ended their show in Cascais in the third position of the overall.

Top ten, 49er

1. Nevin Snow / Dane Wilson, USA, 52.0
2. Robert Dickson / Sean Waooilove, IRL, 54.0
3. Ian Barrows / Hans Henken, USA, 60.0
4. Marco Soffiatti Grael / Gabriel Borges, BRA, 67.0
5. Jorge Lima / Jose Costa, POR, 84.0
6. Revil Theo / Tim Depery, FRA, 94.0
7. William Jones / Evan DePaul, CAN, 101.0
8. Hippolyte Machetti / Sidoine Dantes, FRA, 123.0
9. Robert Solune / Sipan Valentin, FRA, 128.0
10. Joshua Richner / Nilo Scherer, SUI, 141

Top ten, 49erFX

1. Tina Lutz / Susann Beucke, GER, 83.0
2. Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Barcelo, ESP, 84.0
3. Martine Soffiatti grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 86.0
4. Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz, NED, 90.0
5. Marie Baad Nielsen / Marie Thusgaard Olsen, DEN, 91.0
6. Charlotte I Dobson / Saskia Tidey, GBR, 92.0
7. Kimberly Lim / Cecilia Low, SIN, 133.0
8. Tanja Frank / Lorena Abicht, AUT, 137.0
9. Isaura Maerhaub / Anouk Geurks, BEL, 141.0
10. Helene Ness / Marie Renningen, NOR, 174.0

 Full results here

In July 2022, one of the largest sailing championships of the year will be held in Aarhus since the Sailing World Championships in 2018. 

The regatta will be one of the important milestones for the Paris Olympics 2024, just three years away.

From 5 to 10 July, three of the classes will thus revisit Aarhus for the European Championships in 49s, 49erFX, and Nacra 17.

As regular Afloat readers will know, there is a new force in Irish 49er sailing since March, the month in which young guns Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove put double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle to the sword to claim the last available 49er place for Tokyo

Up to 200 crews from over 35 different nations are expected to compete in 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 in Aarhus, representing a major hosting of an international sailing championship by Denmark. 

Aarhus has previously hosted the Hempel Sailing World Championships, and The Ocean Race 'fly by' in 2018. In 2021, a 29er World Championships, and a SailGP are in the pipeline, while 2023 will be the year of the first Danish stop-over in The Ocean Race's history.

Tagged under

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 of the world’s best sailors from over 35 countries when the World Championships for three Olympic classes, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17, kick off in September 2022. Taking place in Canada for the first time in its history, the competition will be held on St. Margaret’s Bay during the six-day event.

Sail Nova Scotia won the rights to host the 2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, which will run September 6-11, 2022, in partnership with Hubbards Sailing Club, St. Margaret Sailing Club and Sail Canada.

Building on Nova Scotia’s long-held affinity and connection to the sea, the province is gaining a reputation in the sailing world as an accomplished host of national and international sailing events. The event will be held on the waters of St. Margaret’s Bay, which has played host to numerous national and international sailing events over the years. These waters make an excellent venue for the championship. The venue has clean water and moderate to strong consistent winds in a spectacularly beautiful setting.

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 mood of the nation generally.

The inspiration has been heightened by knowing that the path of the "Flying Fingallions" to a Tokyo place has been specially challenging. They'd a carefully planned route towards a serious challenge for a full Olympic challenge in 2024. But their unexpected yet convincing victory in the U23 Worlds in September 2018 saw a re-alignment of objectives, with a new programme towards Tokyo which was in turn upset by the Pandemic-induced year's delay in the 2020 Olympics.

It became a continuous character-testing situation in which the two seemed to find new reserves of mindset and performance which, last week in Portugal, produced a showing which went far beyond the minimum required, and was rounded out by a victorious showing in the Medal Race.

We could not ask for more worthy winners of the latest "Sailors of the Month" award.

Read more about this new Tokyo Olympic duo here

Published in Sailor of the Month

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 Olympic Qualifying regatta in Lanzarote.

An unusual southerly wind, dying towards the end of the race, put a premium on position on the racecourse. Coming off the middle of the line, the Irish boat took the favoured left side on the first beat and rounded the weather mark first, never to be headed despite a strong challenge from the Dutch team. It was the lightest conditions that had been experienced all week for the final two legs, with not only directional shifts but considerable velocity shifts ensuring constant changes to sail and boat trim.

It rounded off a great week for this young team, winners of the 2018 49er Junior World Championship. Now they are booked on the Tokyo flight, and the quality of the performance in Lanzarote suggests that they are well up to the Olympic challenge.

Final Top 3 at Lanzarote International RegattaFinal Top 3 at Lanzarote International Regatta

Published in Tokyo 2020

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 the young sailors have won the battle with Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle for the honour to be the Irish representatives in Tokyo.

The Irish team of Robert Dickson (right) and Sean Waddilove booked their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (49er class) at the Lanzarote International Regatta in the Canary Islands today. The Irish duo got the place even before the Medal Race, for which they qualified in the top fiveThe Irish team of Robert Dickson (right) and Sean Waddilove booked their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (49er class) at the Lanzarote International Regatta in the Canary Islands today. The Irish duo got the place even before the Medal Race, for which they qualified in the top five. Photo: Sailing Energy

An 11th place in the 15th and final fleet race this morning puts the Irish pair on 101 pts and despite the Belgians finishing five places ahead, it appears that the 24 pt gap cannot be closed in this afternoon's medal race.

Official confirmation of the above is awaited but Lanzarote organisers have already posted the result on social media:

The medal race will be livestreamed here:

The 49ers start at 1:30 pm.

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

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 to the Irish sailing community too. 

Sheer hard work paid off in the Canary Islands as the Howth and Skerries pair sailed a solid series to win their Olympic dream at the last throw of the dice.

Now the place on the Enoshima startline is secured with such a standout performance, the tantalising question is what else might we expect from the Olympic debutantes this July?

On the podium - the Irish 49er medal race winners finish third overall and Tokyo Olympic qualification Photo: Sailing EnergyOn the podium - the Irish 49er medal race winners finish third overall and Tokyo Olympic qualification Photo: Sailing Energy

As Afloat reported yesterday, following qualification with a race to spare, the duo went on to win the double points medal race yesterday afternoon – the first one they had ever competed in – and secure the bronze medal at the Lanzarote International Regatta into the bargain. Success certainly tasted sweet standing on the podium in the Lanzarote sunshine.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (green spinnaker) lead Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle on a downwind leg in Lanzarote this week Photo: Sailing EnergyRobert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (green spinnaker) lead Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle on a downwind leg in Lanzarote this week Photo: Sailing Energy

It might have been the last Olympic place available, as viewed in some quarters, but the way in which it was won represents far more as a new chapter opens for Irish skiff sailing in Ireland. And It's a chapter that holds out so much promise both for Tokyo and Paris 2024.

Many at home had expected Northern Ireland skiff ace Ryan Seaton would use his 16 years experience from London 2012 to Rio 2016 to easily qualify Ireland early for Tokyo but when that campaign stalled it left the door open for youth to triumph over experience and Dickson and Waddilove seized the opportunity.

Olympic bound - Sean Waddilove (left) and Robert Dickson take the Tokyo berth with a race to spare in Playa Blanca Photo: Sailing EnergyOlympic bound - Sean Waddilove (left) and Robert Dickson take the Tokyo berth with a race to spare in Playa Blanca Photo: Sailing Energy

Frankly, Irish Olympic sailing needed a short in the arm after so many disappointments this quadrennial and the manner in which Dickson and Waddilove put one of Ireland's main medal hopes to the sword has been quite the eye-opener. 

It is six years almost to the day that Dickson and Waddilove first set foot in a 49er and what a voyage of discovery it has been from absolute beginner to Tokyo Olympians at the first time of asking as Afloat's WM Nixon wrote here.

Aside from two UFD scores this week, the young team has been a revelation into the top tier of senior 49er fleets and are now clearly on top of their game, prompting interviewer John Emmet in Lanzarote yesterday to ask how far the modest pairing think they can go in Tokyo (in the video below).

The result is also a big relief for the fledgeling Irish 49er class that at one point had up to five campaigns bidding for Tokyo but each one falling away as key earlier qualification opportunities were missed in Aarhus 2018 and Auckland 2019.

What started out as something of a vertical learning curve for the 420 teen duo in the high powered skiff in Howth in March 2015 was rewarded just three years later with Under 23 World Championships success in 2018 (and an Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year Award). Dickson wrote about that achievement for Afloat here.

Early signs of success - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulates Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove after their Under 23 win in 2018 at Howth Yacht ClubEarly signs of success - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulates Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove after their Under 23 win in 2018 at Howth Yacht Club

But it was from this point on that they truly showed the depth of their ambitions making gold fleet at the first time of asking at the 2019 World Championships in Auckland.

Despite the havoc COVID-19 disruption brought to campaign plans, the pandemic, in fact, played into their hands as it gave valuable time to 'keep learning' as the qualification regatta was repeatedly cancelled to within five months of the Games itself. Dickson and Waddilove stuck to a religious training programme and the buds of Lanzarote success this week were well in evidence last season when they came out ahead of Seaton & Guilfoyle in a Kiel Week 49er test last September. It was the same again in Austria in October at the 2020 Europeans on Lake Attersee when Dickson and Waddilove finished on top in 18th place.

Congratulations from Howth, Skerries & Across Ireland

Dickson's own club at Howth Yacht Club and Waddilove's Skerries were celebrating the qualification news yesterday. Both have both been following the campaign intensely and especially this week's last chance event. It is clear from social media the duo have a strong following especially in north Dublin and are surrounded by supporters and sponsors who admire their progress born out of a strong work ethic.

Reaction from home and indeed across the world has been quick with so many offering their congratulations. Here's a selection of comments via social media: 

GBR Olympic sailor Saskia Tidey wrote: “Just buzzing for you! Well done lads xxx”.

Irish sailing Pro Maurice O'Connell: "TREMENDOUS".

Flying Fifteen class president Chris Doorly: “Brilliant, well done! Great watching the event as we are locked in!”

Royal St George Match Racing champion, John Sheehy: "Was tuned in all week. Phenomenal. Congratulations". 

Howth’s Richard Kissane: "Great result and well deserved!"

Royal Cork's Neil Kenefick: "Wonderful, Sail on". 

Gillian Guinness of Howth: "Well done boys, delighted for you both. Robert your grandfather Roy would be so so proud of you". 

Success in Lanzarote this week was born in the hard conditions of Dun Laoghaire's Coal Harbour says former coach Tytus Photo: Sailing EnergySuccess in Lanzarote this week was born in the hard conditions of Dun Laoghaire's Coal Harbour says former coach Tytus Konarzewski Photo: Sailing Energy

From Warsaw, the coach that took them to their under 23 gold medals in Marseilles, Tytus Konarzewski also sent his congratulations. He believes the duo can go all the way to the podium, if not in Tokyo, then certainly at Paris 2024.

“I remember when it was was really cold in Dun Laoghaire in winter 2017. We were changing sailing clothes on the street in the Coal Harbour. They never complained,  so, months later when it was windy and wavy in Marseille, they were very happy to race in any conditions and gave it all, right up to the end” 

“Success was born in hard conditions, it is why Irish sailors could be successful if they are not spoiled!

I love them, they are good guys and I wish them all the best, I’ll always cross my fingers for them”, Konarzewski told Afloat.

Irish Sailing's James O'Callaghan says "The whole team have all worked really hard preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and qualifying today is a really important step and a milestone for Rob and Sean. It’s a bittersweet feeling for Ryan and Seafra, as they had hoped to win the nomination, but without these two boats working as a team Ireland would have had no chance securing the last available Olympic place." 

Click to read more on 49er sailors Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Published in Tokyo 2020

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 when nearest contenders Belgium posted a 5th, 1st and 12th compared to the 13th, 11th and 8th recorded by Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC), leaving a gap of 29 points going into the final fleet race tomorrow.

Once again, near-perfect conditions of ESE 12/15 knots were experienced by a 25 boat gold fleet. The Belgians sailed aggressively in the first two races, recognising early that the left side was favoured and going for it, while the Irish, defending their points lead, seemed to be somewhat more conservative, concerned more with avoiding disaster than recording podium finishes.

Racing was streamed live, with the Irish supporters being very active on the chat line.

The Irish pairing of Ryan Seaton (CYC) and Seafra Guilfoyle scored 18th, 16th and 4th to fall 9 points behind the Belgians.

Tomorrow's final fleet race will be particularly crucial for the Belgians, who cannot overtake the Irish in the fleet racing, but who will need to stay in the top ten to prolong the battle into the medal race. Worst case scenario, a 1st for Belgium and a last for Ireland (Dickson and Waddilove) in the final fleet race would see them entering the medal race with the Irish 5 points ahead. With medal race points counting double, the Belgians would then need to finish 3 places ahead of the Irish to secure the Olympic place.

Olympic Qualifying positions with one fleet race and the medal race to be sailed tomorrow Friday:

  • 3 IRL Dickson/Waddilove 90pts
  • 9 BEL Lefebvre/Pelsmaekers 119pts
  • 11 IRL Seaton/Guilfoyle 128pts
  • 12 ITA Crivelli/Chiste 130pts
  • 15 ITA Anessi/Gamba 141pts
  • 17 ITA Ferrarese/Togni 141pts

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

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 3rd place overall. And, more significantly, the nearest challengers for the Olympic slot fell further in the ranking to give the Irish pair a 38 point cushion entering the final stages.

Ryan Seaton (CSC) and Seafra Guilfoyle (RCYC) scored 13th, 11th and 14th to lie in 10th place.

Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle lie in 10th place Photo: Sailing EnergyRyan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle lie in 10th place Photo: Sailing Energy

Racing took place in an 8 to 10-knot easterly breeze, graced with warm sunshine.

The Irish sailors will look to consolidate their position tomorrow in the final three races, with a target of two Irish boats in the medal race, but more crucially, aiming to maintain the 38 point advantage to secure the Olympic berth.

Overall scores, 3 gold fleet races and medal race to come.

  • 3 IRL Dickson/Waddilove 58pts
  • 10 IRL Seaton/Guilfoyle 94pts
  • 12 ITA Ferrarese/Togni 96pts
  • 14 BEL Lefebvre/Pelsmaekers 102pts
  • 15 ITA Crivelli/Chiste 107pts
  • 16 ITA Anessi/Gamba 109pts

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

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 file a protest seeking redress in the second race, claiming they were incorrectly identified as being over the line. However, when they appeared in front of the jury this afternoon it was to withdraw the protests, so the results stand.

Three of the seven countries seeking the one available Olympic slot have qualified for the gold fleet. 

Belgium is in ninth place, while Italy has boats in 15th, 18th and 19th places.  The top 25 boats from the qualifying series will compete in the gold fleet finals, carrying forward their scores from the qualifying rounds.  

The real battle begins tomorrow, Wednesday, with three races scheduled, followed by three on Thursday and a 10 boat medal race on Friday. 

The Olympic qualifying positions are as follows:  

  • 3   IRL       Dickson/Waddilove        31pts
  • 9   BEL      Lefebvre/Pelsmaekers    56pts
  • 10 IRL       Seaton/Guilfoyle             58pts
  • 15 ITA        Ferrarese/Togni              65pts
  • 18 ITA        Anessi/Gamba                71pts
  • 19 ITA        Crivelli/Chiste                 73pts

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Page 1 of 15

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating