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Displaying items by tag: 49er

As Ireland's two 49er campaigns prepare for their last chance to win an Olympic berth in Tokyo, details of the final major championship of the 2020 Quadrennial have been announced in Greece.

After four years of campaigning, minds have been focussed in the Irish camp with the news that the 49er’s Tokyo Olympic qualifier has been confirmed as the Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma, Spain – 26 March – 3 April 2021.

As Afloat previously reported, there are four nations in contention for just one skiff place, including Ireland.

Two Irish boats are up against Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle and Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove both chasing the elusive Olympic place.

The teams are currently training at the Irish winter base in Villamoura, Portugal with the Princesa Sofia crunch regatta just 70 days away.

If either of the Irish boats is successful in Palma, there is no doubt they will be heading to Thessaloniki, Greece from May 4-9, 2021 for the 49er, European Championships. Just two months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, it is expected to be the final chance for Olympians to get into racing form and for the next generation of aspiring Olympians to catch the favourites before they head onto the World Stage.

The regatta will be hosted by the Nautical Club of Thessaloniki is the oldest Nautical club in all of Greece, a country rich a rich history at sea. The club has sent members to the Olympics as long ago as 1948 and more recently has been a centre of 470 and Tornado sailing in Greece. In hosting the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 European Championship, NCTH will continue this Olympic spirit in the modern double-handed classes.

It is expected that most Olympic contenders will attend, while the Organising Authority understands the need to be careful in bringing people together and of the many travel restrictions in place globally. Onshore activities will be limited and done electronically for the most part, while on water racing activities will simulate the regular racing environment as much as possible.

Path to Paris 2024 Regatta

2021 initiates the Path to Paris, and many new and younger teams are expected to join the racing aiming toward the 2024 Olympics. Four years out from the Olympics is typically when many sailing campaigns get started, and 2021 should be no different.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Minds have been focussed with the news that the 49er’s Tokyo Olympic qualifier has been confirmed as the Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma, Spain – 26 March – 3 April 2021.

There are four nations in contention for just one skiff place, including Ireland.

Since late summer performance sailing has been back in regatta mode with the two 49er teams competing across Europe in Poland and Italy. 

As Afloat previously reported, two Irish boats are up against Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle and Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove both chasing the elusive Olympic place.

After training in Denmark, the 49ers headed to Germany with some good racing at Kiel Week.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove finished in 14th place, and Ryan Seaton and Séafra Guilfoyle finished in 27th.

The European Championships then took place in Lake Attersee in Austria with Dickson and Waddilove finishing in 18th - a personal best performance and a strong indication of their rising talent.

The 49ers are currently training in Villamoura, Portugal ahead of March's date with destiny.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The Olympic Federation of Ireland has announced that 49er skiff crew Seafra Guilfoyle has become one of its ‘Dare to Believe' ambassadors.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club sailor was included in the unveiling of 25 ‘Dare to Believe’ athlete ambassadors from across a variety of sports.

Guilfoyle teamed with Double Olympian Ryan Seaton of Belfast Lough is currently seeking the final country berth for Ireland in the 49er skiff class in order to get to Tokyo next year.  

The OFI also announced FBD Insurance as the sponsor of this year’s ‘Dare to Believe’ Olympic Schools Programme. Ireland’s homegrown insurer is the Official Sponsor of Team Ireland on the road to Tokyo, and this extension of the sponsorship will allow ‘Dare to Believe’ to continue to grow and inspire schoolchildren nationwide. Today’s announcement  

In its first year, ‘Dare to Believe’, which was set up with funding from Olympic Solidarity support, surpassed all of its targets, bringing the Olympics into the classroom for over 5,000 children nationwide. The school activation programme, championed and supported by the Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission, was developed by 2008 Olympian Roisin McGettigan and, as the programme moves into the next phase, the focus is on further expansion, with a boost of 16 new ambassadors to the programme, bringing the total to 25 athletes.

‘Dare to Believe’, will teach primary school students about Olympic Values and Olympism through a curriculum that includes over 40 of the approved education methodologies. The ‘five-ring’ programme allows teachers to interactively explore broad themes that reflect the Olympic Values of Respect and Equality, Healthy Body and Mind, and Joy of Effort. The final ring focuses on Striving for Excellence, which sees the athlete ambassador deliver their personal sporting story to the class, with the changing environment meaning that these visits will now be virtual. 

A host of the ‘Dare to Believe’ athletes, including boxer Kellie Harrington, hockey stars, Anna O’Flanagan, Roisin Upton and Emma Buckley as well as Oliver Dingley (Diving), Sive Brassil (Modern Pentathlon) and Brendan Boyce (Race Walking) will also appear on RTÉ’s After School Hub programme next week from Monday, November 23rd, with Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission member and Olympic medallist in boxing, Kenneth Egan, also set to feature on the programme.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) say in an update that Irish athletes across most sports are still on the qualification journey for the Tokyo Olympic Games which now take place next year from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Sailing is no different with only one of a possible three confirmed so far.

To date, there are 52 confirmed athlete spots for Tokyo, with many more athletes and teams sitting inside qualification status.

Eleven sports to date will enjoy Irish representation in Tokyo, and the current tracking of the team could see Team Ireland travelling next summer to Tokyo with the largest Olympic team to date.

In sailing, Ireland has already qualified one boat for Tokyo – the Women’s Laser Radial, which was achieved via Aisling Keller at the World Championships in 2019 – this position is set to be filled by Annalise Murphy, who has been nominated by Irish Sailing after a cut-short trial that left both Keller and Howth rival Aoife Hopkins 'devastated'. 

'Selection', say the OFI, will be made once the process has been completed.

Seafra Guilfyole (left) and Ryan Seaton are one of two Irish 49er campaigns looking for the last nation berth for Tokyo 2021Seafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton are one of two Irish 49er campaigns looking for the last nation berth for Tokyo 2021

There are still limited opportunities for Ireland to qualify another boat – the 49er can still qualify at the planned European Sailing Cup where one spot is available. As Afloat reported earlier, Ireland is vying with Belgium, Sweden and Italy for the one remaining European place. Form at the 2020 Worlds suggested that Irish sailors would be favourites having finished ahead of the other three candidates.

Laser sailor Finn Lynch, one of three Irish helmsmen seeking one of two final nation berths for Tokyo 2021Laser sailor Finn Lynch, one of three Irish helmsmen seeking a final nation berth for Tokyo 2021

In the Men’s Laser, there are two spots available at the planned European Sailing Cup. Up to six countries are in the running – Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium and Ireland with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the latest World Championships.

In both of these events, the majority of spots were available at the World Championships in 2019 but unfortunately, Ireland missed out.

As Afloat reported in back in March the IOC, in their determination to maintain normality – or to return to normality as soon as possible – have issued a position update on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the potential changes to the qualification process disrupted by the spread of Covid-19.

Many sports, including sailing, have had to cancel qualifying events and the IOC has asked International Federations to consider revising the qualification process which may include ranking or historical results. More on this here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Olympic sailor Ryan Seaton is back training at his home club in Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough following the completion of a slipway widening project.

In past campaigns Ryan has had to train away from home because the slipway at Carrickfergus was unsuitable for launching a high-performance dinghy.

Part-funded by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the new slipway means Ryan, who represented Ireland in the 49er Class at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, can now launch safely and undertake his winter training on familiar waters for the first time as he bids for a place at next year's games in Tokyo.

With qualification for the much-anticipated competition just around the corner, Ryan and his crew, Seafra Guilfoyle from Royal Cork YC and University College Cork Sailing Club, are busy training and making plenty of use of the new slipway as Seaton aims for this third Olympics in a row. The duo competed in Austria at Lake Attersee last month to battle it out at the Europeans, as Afloat reported here.

The newly widened slipway at Carrickfergus Sailing ClubThe newly widened slipway at Carrickfergus Sailing Club

Ryan said "Carrickfergus and Belfast Lough is one of the best sailing locations throughout the UK and Ireland but I was unable to take full advantage of training on it due to the lack of a slipway suitable for my dinghy. This new facility is an absolute game-changer for me and will make a huge difference as I can now continue my professional sailing career at my home club and complete some vital training ahead of Tokyo 2021 qualification".

He continued "My thanks are extended to Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for making this possible and improving my training opportunities."

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said the initiative will be a boost to the entire sailing community. "As a Council, we are proud to be able to assist with this very worthwhile project and wish Ryan every success as he aims for next year's Olympic games. This new feature is a boost to both the Club and other users and will hopefully inspire others to get involved and may even produce a few future Olympians."

Published in Belfast Lough

Northern Ireland sailor Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough, took to the water at Lake Attersee, Austria, earlier this month to battle it out at the Europeans with the other half of his 49er duo Seafra Guilfoyle from Royal Cork Yacht Club.

They finished 26th in the 55-boat fleet in the event which took place from 28 September to 4 October - no mean feat after a difficult few months.

The pair have been able to get only 30 days' sailing in the last six months due to Covid-19 restrictions. Setting out for their journey to compete in Austria, they also had to borrow kit as theirs is still on its way home from Palma after competing there earlier in the year.

Seaton explains that the Europeans were very different to the usual event: "With it being COVID19 times, it made big changes to the racing; we didn't have any measurement or social gathering at all. Masks on and no hugging, though it was great to see all the other sailors from the big Olympic family."

Commenting on their result, Seaton says: "We were happy with how well we sailed under all the circumstances and to be racing in the gold fleet with others who have sailed more and who were using their Olympic kit. To say conditions were shifty is an understatement. We had 60-degree wind shifts and many times we couldn't cross the start line on starboard tack. The event organisers did a great job under the circumstances. Seafra and I kept really positive. We used this event as an opportunity to get more hours on the water, in preparation for next year's Olympic qualification in Palma."

While it is difficult to plan in the current Covid-19 climate, the pair are looking ahead to 2021 and preparations are underway.

They plan to sail in Ireland until the beginning of December and then travel to Villamoura in Portugal to race in better conditions alongside international teams and log quality hours. They will then move down to Palma until April to take part in camps and sail at a small club regatta, working towards the Palma Regatta, an Olympic Qualification event at the end of March.

Seaton comments: "We are super motivated now to get lots of hours on the water. We aim to get 20 days a month completed and we are in the process of getting our kit all back home and sorted in preparation for next year."

RYA Northern Ireland's Performance Manager Andrew Baker says Seaton is on course to a solid year of racing ahead.

"This was Ryan's first real event of the season and was a fantastic opportunity to compete in a world-class field. He has now got a feel for the fleet and his strengths and weaknesses within it. RYA Northern Ireland is pleased that Ryan can now enter the Winter training phase with a clear pathway and goals to achieve."

Tagged under

Despite Royal Cork Yacht Club's Seafra Guilfoyle's super efforts at the sharp end of Ryan Seaton's 49er campaign for Tokyo 2021 next year, there's been little in the way of Olympic skiff sailing going on in Guilfoyle's home port for the past two seasons. 

These fast and tricky skiffs are a handful for most and this has put them on a downward spiral in Cork Harbour

So it was interesting to spot Optimist and Laser 4.7 ace James Dwyer Matthews of RCYC trying out a 49er (one of two in active use), with Chris Bateman of Monkstown Bay as his crew. 

Guilfoyle, a 2014 world youth silver medalist, meanwhile, continues his campaign for selection in the 49er and is vying with a Dublin crew to win a single Irish berth against stiff competition for one of the final slots available for Japan.

Published in Optimist

In the hunt for the last Olympic berth for Toyko next year, the Irish under-23 duo of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have, for a second time in a fortnight, beaten double Olympian Ryan Seaton sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle at an international regatta.

In their first Olympic campaign, the Howth and Skerries duo finished 18th overall at the European Championships on Lake Attersee in Austria this afternoon leaving the Belfast and Cork combination of Seaton and Guilfoyle ten places behind in 26th overall in the 55-boat fleet. 

At Kiel Week Regatta in northern Germany, on September 15th, the Dublin pairing finished 14th, some 13 places ahead of Seaton and Guilfoyle who had a silver fleet finish in 27th place in the 52-boat fleet. 

Seafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton finished 26th at the Lake Attersee 49er Europeans. Photo: Tobias StoerkleSeafra Guilfoyle (left) and Ryan Seaton finished 26th at the Lake Attersee 49er Europeans. Photo: Tobias Stoerkle

It's a satisfying result for the former U23 49er world champions as they seek Olympic qualification early next season but it is tempered by the fact that the other three nations chasing the final Tokyo place all finished ahead of them. Italy finished seventh, Belgium eighth and Sweden 17th and that is an urgent reminder to the Irish teams of the work that lies ahead if Ireland is to be on the Tokyo startline next July. 

A third Irish team competing, Sean Donnelly and Marcus O'Leary of Dun Laoghaire, placed 48th.

Fischer and Graf cling on to win 49er European Title

Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf have become European Champions in the 49er, despite a wobbly finish to their regatta. A bit like their German counterparts in the 49erFX, Fischer and Graf clocked up two useful scores earlier in the day with 3,2 but then faded in the final two heats with 13,11.

The Lake Attersee fleet line up for a 49er Euros start Photo: Tobias StoerkleThe Lake Attersee fleet line up for a 49er Euros start Photo: Tobias Stoerkle

In the final race, it looked like the recovery of the regatta was about to crowned with the best possible finish for local heroes Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl. On day one, Hussl had been so ill that the Austrian team’s coach stepped in at the front with Bildstein. They were sitting outside of the top 10 with a mountain to climb if they were to have a chance of getting on to the podium. With Hussl recovered and the team back together, they started to put together a solid set of scores.

At the final bear away of the regatta, the Austrians rounded next to an Irish team in 4th place. The simultaneous gybe-set would have gone fine except the Irish trawled the gennaker. In trying to avoid their suddenly-stopped rivals the Austrians capsized! They slipped six places to 10th. The losing margin to the Germans was just 3 points. If only Bildstein and Hussl had avoided the Irish - but that’s yacht racing at the highest level. A game of small margins.

For the Croatian brothers, Šime and Mihovil Fantela, it was also a case of what might have been when they discovered that their race win in the first heat of the morning was a U-Flag disqualification for breaking the start line just a fraction early. The 2018 World Champions had to be satisfied with a bronze medal in Lake Attersee. A race win in the final heat lifted Jonas Warrer and Jakob Precht of Denmark to fourth overall.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Fortunes have improved for two Irish 49ers after six qualifying races of the 49er European Championships in Austria. After a shaky start, double Belfast Olympian Ryan Seaton sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle, are now one place (and five points) behind Dubliners Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in 16th overall. A third Irish entry in the 55-boat fleet on Lake Attersee is Sean Donnelly and Marcus O'Leary from the Royal St. George Yacht Club who are in fiftieth position.

Šime and Mihovil Fantela scored a 3,1,1 from their qualifying group, moving the Croatians slightly further ahead in the overall standings. The 2018 World Champions are 3 points ahead of the fast-improving Dutch crew, Bart Lambriex and Pim van Vugt, who took 1,3,2, from their side of qualifying. The Dutch team, recently selected for Tokyo 2021, were vigorous in claiming early rights on the pin end of the start line and defending that place with pinpoint precision slow-speed boat handling. In third overall are the Italians Uberti Crivelli Visconti and Leonardo Chistè.

It was good to see David Hussl recovered sufficiently from recent illness to be back in the 49er with his helmsman Benjamin Bildstein and the Austrian team improved throughout the day to move to 11th overall. Two places further back are the Danish duo who won Kiel Week last month, Jonas Warrer and Jakob Precht. Unlike fellow Kiel winners Lutz and Beucke, the Danes seem to be struggling to adapt their winning ways to this very different kind of challenge, lake sailing in light and fluky winds.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Lack of wind on Lake Attersee meant no racing for day two of the 2020 49er European Championship in Austria.

Ireland has three men's skiff teams at the Austrian venue with Howth and Skerries duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove faring the best after the only day of racing so far on Tuesday, as Afloat reported here.

Qualification races continue on Wednesday.

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under
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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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