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Dear Reader,

At the end of another busy year at Afloat.ie in 2020, we want to express our thanks for your continued support.

Because of the generous backing from you and our other supporters, Afloat.ie is looking at another record year for visitors, with a significant 14% increase on 2019 figures.

Our website dedicated to Irish sailing, boating and maritime issues reached another high watermark, informing and entertaining a larger boating audience than ever before, and is now set to repeat that as we head into 2021.

The latest statistics show unique visitors to the site are over 1.6 million by year-end — a phenomenal number in what remains a challenging climate for online media.

2020 Stats for Afloat readershipsThe 2020 Statistics for Afloat readership showing unique 'visitors' to the site (top) and (above) the number of 'actions' or 'hits' of those visitors

Ironically, despite the challenges in 2020 with event cancellations due to COVID, interest in our boating and marine stories increased and this is reflected in many sections of the site. Afloat’s popular online format has a strong returning readership, with nearly half of daily visits being repeat readers, and with strong social media engagement.

Based on site analytics, 75% of our traffic is from Ireland, with a good geographic spread across the Irish Sea and into the west coast of Britain.

Most encouragingly, nearly two-thirds (65+%) of Afloat.ie traffic now comes from mobile devices — an important return on investment in the mobile site by our journalist and developer team.

What’s more, our website’s bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page) of 22% is well below the industry average of 40% to 60%, according to HubSpot.Together, those numbers make a strong argument for Afloat.ie growing as a go-to resource for an engaged audience with sailing, boating and marine interests.

Our high authority in the boating market is reflected, too, in Google and other search engines’ quick indexing of our stories, giving them valuable reach beyond our core readership.

All of this is a testament not only to our tight-knit and active community of readers, but also Afloat.ie’s combination of opinion, hard news and features which puts it at the very heart of the national — and increasingly international — conversation on sailing, boating and maritime affairs.

The growth this year is the fifth consecutive year of increase since the site broke the one million readers mark in 2015.

Last year marked the first time reader numbers broke the 1.5m barrier, and now that figure is climbing even higher. It’s proof positive that our mission — to provide Irish sailing and boating clubs, classes and the wider maritime community with a comprehensive, reliable and independent platform promoting our great sport to the wide and connected audience only the internet provides — is truly working.

This success, as we’ve said before, would not be possible without our full–time marine journalists and web developers, and indeed our advertisers and supporters who are dedicated to promoting Irish sailing and boating. Progress, like we have achieved to date, would not have been achievable without it.

As previously acknowledged, it remains a challenging climate for online media, particularly when it comes to monetisation.

Thanks to your support, however, we have not resorted to putting our content behind a paywall like other news websites — because we want to keep our marine journalism open to the widest possible audience, which we believe is one of the keys to our growth. The figures bear this out.

All of us at Afloat wish you the best for Christmas and 2021, and hope you will continue your valued support in the new year to come.

Stay safe

The Afloat team

Published in News Update
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There will be two Afloat newsletters over the Christmas period. One on Friday, December 27th and the other on Friday, January 3rd.

The e-news highlights the latest content from popular sections of our website. Read previous editions here.

The daily enews returns on January 7th. 

Keep an eye out for regular boating updates on Afloat.ie and our social media channels over the festive season.

Sign up for the enews in the right-hand column of Afloat's home page.

Happy Christmas to all our readers.

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This 64-page full-colour A4 magazine includes a review of 2019 plus all the details for 2020 Afloat and all your latest sailing news in time for Christmas! BUY IT HERE!

Order your copy online now at €8 plus €2.50 shipping fee in Ireland and UK – click HERE to order.

We'll post all orders received daily up til December 23rd! for Christmas delivery!

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In a survey of competitors at the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay, 60% of respondents said the Irish boating portal 'Afloat.ie' was their 'go-to' website for Irish sailing & boating news.

Nearly 200 sailors were polled from the 500-boat international regatta fleet that attracts sailors from across Ireland and the UK.

In reply to the single question: 'What's your go-to resource for Irish sailing and boating news?', 117 or 60.31% responded 'Afloat'.

The popular UK magazine site 'Yachts and Yachting' accounted for 30 or 15.46%.

Club or association websites totalled 26 or 13.4%.

Last December, Afloat reported statistics showing unique visitors to the site were heading for 1.3 million per annum.

Afloat’s popular online format has a strong returning readership, with half of daily visits being repeat readers, and with strong social media engagement.

Based on-site analytics, 70% of Afloat web traffic is from Ireland, with a good geographic spread across the Irish Sea and into the west coast of Britain. It is a result that tallies with the weekend survey at Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Read more on Afloat here.

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#Rowers of the Month: Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan are the Afloat rowers of the month for June. Both brothers showed outstanding form at Cork Regatta. Paul O’Donovan won the single sculls. In the heats, Gary had not been the next fastest, but come the final the elder O’Donovan brother was second only to Paul. The two raced in the double, where they were tested by Fintan and Jake McCarthy, but came through with the win.

 The O’Donovans were run close by David O’Malley and Shane Mulvaney. The UCD pair were outstanding at Cork Regatta. They won the pairs title, beating world lightweight champions Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, and they slotted into the UCD four which also won. O’Malley and Mulvaney form the Ireland lightweight pair in a strong team for the World Under-23 Championships this month. The O’Donovans, who went on to reach the final at Henley Royal Regatta, head for the World Cup in Lucerne next weekend (July 13th to 15th). Good luck to all those competing in this busy month.

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times and David O'Brien, Editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2018 champions list grow.

Published in Rower of Month

#Rower of the Month: The Afloat Rower of the Month for February is Paul O’Donovan. The Skibbereen quartet of Mark O’Donovan, Shane O’Driscoll, Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan warmed slowly to their task in competing in the New Zealand Rowing Championships. The arrival of coach Dominic Casey helped. When finals came around, they won a bronze medal as a four. But topping this achievement was that of Paul O’Donovan in the Premier Single Sculls. The lightweight world champion mixed it with two of the top heavyweights in the world: O’Donovan finished third, just a few boat lengths behind Robbie Manson, who in 2017 set the world’s fastest time, and ahead of Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale.

 The achievement makes Paul O’Donovan the Afloat Rower of the Month.

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times and David O'Brien, Editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2018 champions list grow.

https://www.facebook.com/WorldRowing/videos/10160199271930651/

Published in Rower of Month

#Rowers of the Year: The Afloat Rowers of the Year for 2017 are Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan. The two formed the Ireland lightweight pair which won European and World Championship gold. They also won gold in each of the three World Cup regattas, in Belgrade, Poznan and Lucerne. Their glorious run was the pay-off for enormous amounts of work – and a drive which came from their determination to make their mark after coming up short the in 2016, when they finished fourth at the World Championships.

 The two have opted to move up to heavyweight with the aim of competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Afloat wishes them every success.   

Afloat Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year appeared on afloat.ie.

Published in Rower of the Year

#Rowing: The Ireland team which brought the country glory at the World Rowing Championships in Florida are the Afloat Rowers of the Month for September. In that month, Ireland took two gold medals through Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll in the lightweight pair and Paul O’Donovan in the lightweight single sculls.

 The pair crowned the perfect season with their victory. They won gold at the three World Cup regattas and the European Championships. The pressure was on in World Championship final, with both Brazil and Italy rowing well on the day. But O’Donovan and O’Driscoll were peerless. They set a very high stroke rate, took the lead – and saw off their challengers.

 Paul O’Donovan retained the title he had taken with such an extraordinary set of performances in Rotterdam in 2016, just weeks after he had taken a silver at the Olympic Games in a lightweight double with his brother Gary. This time, Gary had to drop out of the lightweight double, as illness had restricted his training (he supported the team as a reserve). Paul was back in the lightweight single in a boat which was new to him. He won all four races (heat, quarter-final, semi-final and final), seeing off a new set of challengers in the lightweight single, including Matthew Dunham of New Zealand, who took silver, and Kris Brun of Norway (bronze).

 The rest of the Ireland team also gave the suppporters plenty to shout about. Sanita Puspure went on to take fourth in the single sculls and Denise Walsh reached the A Final of the lightweight single sculls, where she finished sixth. Two new heavyweight pairs gained experience of the top level as the team targets Tokyo 2020. Aileen Crowley and Aifric Keogh finished eighth and there was a 16th place for Patrick Boomer and Fionnán McQuillan-Tolan.

 Well done to all the members of the Ireland team, the Afloat Rowers of the Month for September.  

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2017 champions list grow.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: July 2017 was one of the most successful months for Irish rowing. There were multiple medals at international regattas: the World Cup in Lucerne, gold and bronze; the Under-23 World Championships, two bronze medals; Coupe de la Jeunesse, five gold medals; six wins at the Home International Regatta; a good showing by the Clonmel junior quadruple at Henley Royal Regatta.

 The Irish Rowing Championships regatta was the biggest ever. NUIG took nine titles. Enniskillen won the junior women’s and men’s eights (and fours) and the junior 16 women’s and men’s eights. Three Castles, with two wins, and UCC with a breakthrough win at novice level, had reasons to celebrate. Cork Boat Club and Bann could boast the champion junior single scullers as part of their three wins.

 Skibbereen’s top-rank rowers, usually ruled out by the international programme which sees them bring glory to their country, came to the show and helped the club to seven titles. Two Olympians, Sanita Puspure and Claire Lambe, took titles for Old Collegians and also helped UCD/Old Collegians to take the women’s senior eights crown. UCD had also won the women’s senior pair and the men’s intermediate eight.

 Year after year, the men’s senior eights final is the highlight of the Championships. This time out the Skibbereen eight could call on some of the best lightweight rowers in the world. The race was magnificient. In the closing stages, NUIG looked like they might revive the days of their domination; Skibbereen charged to the line. Commercial won. A crew of club rowers had put everything on the line and gained their reward.

 They are the Afloat Rowers of the Month.

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2017 champions list grow.

Published in Rowing

Johnny Durcan tops fleet of 50 to cash in at Royal Cork’s PY1000, 1720s take Spring Chicken 1-2, girl power triumphs at Leinster Schools champs, and four Irish 49ers launch Olympic bid in 

Roy takes over the helm of Irish Sailing

Former Olympic race officer Jack Roy is voted in as new ISA President, ISORA will trial ECHO for a ‘better spread of prizes’, & Winkie Nixon calls on VDLR to seize chance for in-harbour drama.

Progress in Rescue 116 recovery op

Marine Institute’s Holland 1 ROV plays key role in recovery of Rescue 116 pilot Mark Duffy and black box, Norway plans world first ship tunnel, & Greenway to Waterford Copper Coast opens.

New Irish rowing chief vows shake-up

Rowing Ireland critic Eamonn Colclough lands top job at dramatic agm, Gary O’Donovan hits mark atIrish trials after heats scare from clubmate, and Irish crews are left high and dry in London.

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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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