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Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won gold for Ireland at the European Rowing Championships today in Italy, adding to an excellent silver for the women’s four earlier. 

 The Ireland lightweight double saw off a spirited display by Germany, who led early on. Ireland moved decisively through the middle stages and took over the lead at 1300 metres. They then sprinted through the final few hundred metres to win by a length from Germany, with Italy third.

 “It was a decent race, it’s good to be back,” O’Donovan said. “I was off last season so Fintan raced in the single last year. Fintan is just dragging me along in the double. We need bigger biceps. We’re gonna work on some curls which will see us through to the end of the summer.”

 The Ireland women’s four looked impressive as they took silver in Varese.

 The crew of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty raced so well that they pushed up very close to the Netherlands in a push for gold.

 The new Irish combination started slowly, but slotted into the leading trio of the Dutch, British and Irish. In the third quarter the Ireland four pushed through Britain and then tested the Dutch coming to the line. 

 Britain, with Rebecca Shorten of Northern Ireland in the stroke seat, took bronze. 

 Keogh said: “The medal this year means a lot to us because were so close to Olympic qualification. A lot of crews from Ireland are already qualified, and for us to be able to finish that close to the Dutch is a really huge confidence boost.”

 Earlier, the women’s pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska showed well in the early stages of their A Final, but in a hot race they were pushed back to sixth at the finish. Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann justified their favouritism to race to gold – but they were given a battle by Romania, while Spain took the bronze. 

 The racy lightweight double scull of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen gave a good performance in a superb final. Italy were the surprise winners from Britain and the Netherlands, with Ireland taking fifth. 

 Gary O’Donovan had to settle for fourth in his A Final of the lightweight single sculls. The race belonged to Peter Galambos of Hungary: he led through all four quarters. O’Donovan made ground in the closing stages, but was 4.3 seconds off Galambos at the finish. 

 Lydia Heaphy got off to a great start in the lightweight women’s single and led early on. However, Alena Furman of Belarus moved swiftly into the lead and stretched it down much of the course to win gold. Heaphy finished sixth. 

 Enniskillen woman Holly Nixon teamed up in the Britain double with Saskia Budgett to take a bronze medal in a race won by Romania. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Lightweight Double – A Final: 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:18.14, 2 Germany 6:19.94, 3 Italy 6:21.05. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Hungary (P Galambos) 7:01.52; 4 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:05.82.  

Women

Four – A Final: 1 Netherlands 6:27.51, 2 Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:27.96, 3 Britain (4 R Shorten) 6:31.27. 

Pair – A Final: 1 Britain 7:02.73; 6 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska) 7:11.83.

Double Sculls – A Final: 3 Britain (1 H Nixon) 6:55.13. 

Lightweight Double – A Final: 1 Italy 6:58.66, 2 Britain 6:59.56, 3 The Netherlands 7:01.13; 5 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:07.42. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Belarus (A Furman) 7:41.81; 6 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:58.70.

Published in Rowing

The Ireland women’s four took a wonderful silver medal at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, today.

 The crew of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty raced so well that they pushed up very close to the Netherlands in a push for gold.

 The new Irish combination started slowly, but slotted into the leading trio of the Dutch, British and Irish. In the third quarter the Ireland four pushed through Britain and then tested the Dutch coming to the line. 

 Britain, with Rebecca Shorten of Northern Ireland in the stroke seat, took bronze. 

 Earlier, the women’s pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska showed well in the early stages of their A Final, but in a hot race they were pushed back to sixth at the finish. Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann justified their favouritism to race to gold – but they were given a battle by Romania, while Spain took the bronze. 

 Gary O’Donovan had to settle for fourth in his A Final of the lightweight single sculls. The race belonged to Peter Galambos of Hungary: he led through all four quarters. O’Donovan made ground in the closing stages, but was 4.3 seconds off Galambos at the finish. 

 Lydia Heaphy got off to a great start in the lightweight women’s single and led early on. However, Alena Furman of Belarus moved swiftly into the lead and stretched it down much of the course to win gold. Heaphy finished sixth. 

 Enniskillen woman Holly Nixon teamed up in the Britain double with Saskia Budgett to take a bronze medal in a race won by Romania. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Hungary (P Galambos) 7:01.52; 4 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:05.82.  

Women

Four – A Final: 1 Netherlands 6:27.51, 2 Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:27.96, 3 Britain (4 R Shorten) 6:31.27. 

Pair – A Final: 1 Britain 7:02.73; 6 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska) 7:11.83.

Double Sculls – A Final: 3 Britain (1 H Nixon) 6:55.13. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Belarus (A Furman) 7:41.81; 6 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:58.70.

Published in Rowing

On a day of promise for Ireland in A Finals of the European Rowing Championships, Ireland’s Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished their campaign with a fine win in the B final of the double sculls.

 Italy set the early pace in Varese, with Ireland and Germany closely tracking them through the middle and later stages. Doyle and Byrne produced a good sprint finish to win. This places them seventh overall. 

 The C Final was won by Norway’s Kris Brun and Are Strandli. The lightweight crew, which finished third at Rio 2016, campaigned in the open weight class at this event. 

 Daire Lynch finished his campaign in the single sculls quite well. He took a close-up second in the C Final behind impressive Russian sculler Nikolay Pimenov, who led down the course from the start. Lynch, who pushed hard at the end, places 14th overall at the Championships in a very tough event. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Published in Rowing

Two superb performances by lightweight doubles got Ireland off to an excellent start on day two of the European Rowing Championships in Varese today. 

 The men’s crew of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy would go on to have a great win in their semi-final, but Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen deserve the plaudits for taking second in their semi-final.

 This crew is aimed at the Olympic Qualification regatta next month in Lucerne and looked to be an outside bet initially. Their performances at this regatta changed that.

 In today’s semi, they showed great maturity. Italy took over early and were never headed, while Russia and Ireland tracked them in second and third. But the final quarter Ireland pushed through into a firm second place.

 Cremen and Casey take their place in the A Final on Sunday. The other semi-final, won by Britain from the Netherlands, looked stronger, but Ireland even have an outside chance of a medal. 

 McCarthy and O’Donovan were favourites for gold right from the start. Doubts, if there were some, related to the ability of the 2019 World Champions to turn it on again after effectively missing the 2020 season, such as it was.

 They had a real test in Italy, who led early and might have expected another battle in the closing stages. It never happened. Coming up to halfway, McCarthy and O’Donovan zoomed past the men in blue. They opened up the lead to clearwater and won. 

 Germany, who won the other semi-final, will contend on Sunday. However, their winning time was slower than the Irish today.    

 The Ireland double of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne were well off the pace in their semi-final and finished sixth. France, Britain and Switzerland got off to good starts and duly took the A Final places. Ireland had a poor start. They tried to move into contention in the middle stages but could not get a hold on the contest.  

 Daire Lynch qualified for the C Final (places 13 to 18) of the men’s single sculls, taking second in his semi-final. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy – Day Two (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 France 6:10.26, 2 Britain 6:11.17, 3 Switzerland 6:12.79; 6 Ireland (P Doyle, R Byrne) 6:21.38. 

Lightweight Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:22.74, 2 Italy 6:25.53, 3 Czech Republic 6:27.14. 

Single Sculls – C/D Semi-Final Two (First Three to C Final; rest to D Final): 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:02.22. 

Women 

Lightweight Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 Italy 7:11.44, 2 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:14.44, 3 Russia 7:15.46. 

Published in Rowing

Ireland’s good first day at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, was all the better because two crews targeting qualification next month for Tokyo did the business.

Of the eight Ireland crews competing, the rejigged women’s four were the dark horses. Well, no more. Only by winning their heat would they qualify for the A Final. This was pressure for what is a new formation, but Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty showed none of it. Russia led early, but Ireland took over with good speed in the middle stages and won well – in the faster time of the two heats. The Netherlands, who won the first heat from Britain, are likely to be hunting medals alongside the Irish and British on Sunday. 

The lightweight women’s double is another boat targeted at the Olympic Qualifier in Lucerne, and Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey did themselves no harm at all in their heat. They had a fuss-free qualification for their semi-final, slotting in behind the outstanding winners, Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands. Saturday’s semi-final will be a big test of whether this crew can look to go to Tokyo: an A Final place would be hugely promising. 

The draw pushed Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy into an easy heat of the lightweight double sculls, and the world champions ate up the challenge and won easily to qualify for the semi-finals. 

 The heavyweight double will be disappointed to have to negotiate a repechage, but they made it through by taking second behind Serbia. Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle were the world silver medallists in 2019; in this morning's heat only a win would take them straight through to the semi-finals and their sprint finish left them short by .72 of a second, with Russia the surprise winners.  

 The next man up in this heavyweight group is Daire Lynch. He had a fifth-place finish in a tough heat of the men’s single sculls, which was won by Kjetil Borch of Norway. In the repechage, Lynch finished fourth and missed out on a place in the A/B semi-finals.  

 The women’s openweight pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska took second in their heat to go straight to the A Final, while lightweight single scullers Lydia Heaphy and Gary O’Donovan both did well. 

 Heaphy looked like she might have made it hard for herself by leading to halfway, with France and Poland challenging her in the third quarter. However, Heaphy is a sterling competitor and she held off her opponents to win and go straight to the A Final. 

 Gary O’Donovan took the second qualification spot in his heat. 

European Championships 2021, Varese, Italy

Men

Double Sculls – Heat Three (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechages): 1 Russia 6:17.24, 2 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:17.96. Repechage Three (First Two to A/B Semis; rest to C/D Semis): 1 Serbia 6:33.47, 2 Ireland 6:36.22. 

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat Three (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage) 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:54.75.

Single Sculls – Heat Two (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Norway 7:43.60; 5 Ireland (D Lynch) 8:14.87. Repechage Three (Two to A/B Semi-Final; rest to C/D Semi-Final): 4 Ireland 7:19.74.  

Lightweight Single Sculls – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Germany 7:06.17, 2 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:07.23.  

Women

Four – Heat Two (First to A Final; rest to Repechage): Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:36.98. 

Pair – Heat Two (First two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Romania 7:16.40, 2 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska)  7:22.04.

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat One (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Netherlands 7:52.01, 2 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:56.41, 3 Germany. 

Lightweight Single – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:50.15, 2 France 7:50.40. 

Published in Rowing

The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) will fly athletes, including rowers, canoeists and sailors, in business class to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. With less than five months left until the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, the composition of Team Ireland is starting to take real shape.

Qatar Airways, who will fly the team, has a 5-star rating by Skytrax, which also awarded the airline World’s Best Business Class

Athletes will benefit from full lie flat beds and catering to suit their nutritional routine. The mood lighting in the cabin will help adjust athletes’ body clocks to the Tokyo time zone and the cabin is pressurized to a lower altitude which equates to more oxygen and less travel and fatigue.

Speaking today, Sarah Keane, President of the Olympic Federation of Ireland said,

“We as a board and executive really want to give our athletes every opportunity to arrive in Tokyo rested and ready for what for many will be the most important competition of their lives. This is their time, and we are proud to support them with business class travel amongst other things.”

Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard said,

“For the first time, we are able to provide business class travel for our athletes, and the upgrade is thanks to the support of our sponsors, FBD, and partners Indeed and Circle K. Our shared goal is to do everything in our power to enhance the performances of our athletes.

“While we would like to be able to provide the same for the support staff, everyone on Team Ireland agrees that our priority needs to be the athletes who will be competing to represent the whole country at Tokyo 2020.”

The OFI has also teamed up with Vita to offset the carbon emissions involved with travelling to Tokyo and will make a contribution of €10,000 to support their work. Vita is a next generation Irish overseas development agency working in Africa. Their innovative programmes transform lives of women and their families in Africa by providing food security as well as access to clean water and clean cooking, while also, generating carbon emissions savings that are sold as certified carbon offsets. 

CEO of Vita, John Weakliam said,

“We are very proud that Team Ireland has chosen Vita to collaborate with on climate action. By offsetting their travel with us, the Olympic Federation of Ireland is supporting some of the world’s most disadvantaged families while demonstrating the importance of flying responsibly.”

To date Team Ireland has made one official team announcement – with Liam Jegou competing in the Canoe Slalom in Tokyo. Further team announcements will be made in the coming months once final rankings, selections and nominations have been completed by athletes and sports.

Published in Olympic

#Rowing: Ireland will have crews in five A Finals at the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong on Sunday. Men’s crews came through well on Saturday, qualifying two solo scullers and Myross in the coxed quadruple. The Arklow double of Alan Goodison and John Whooley had made it through as a fastest loser in the double in Friday’s session. Two women’s coxed quadruples and four women’s solo scullers had also made it through on Friday.  

World Coastal Rowing Championships, Hong Kong, Day Two (Ireland crews)

Men

Quadruple, coxed – First Eight to A Final; rest to B Final: Heat One: 7 Myross 16:22.17; 11 Galley Flash/Kilmacsimon 17:34.57.

Double – B Final: 7 Kilmacsimon/Ring 19:35.10; 13 Courtmacsherry 21:05.76; 14 St Michael’s, Dublin 21:41.30.

Solo – First Five to A Final; 7 plus to B Final; 11 plus B Final or eliminated: Heat Two: 13 Portmagee 23:14.19. Heat Three: 3 Bantry (A Hurley) 20:02.92; 5 Galley Flash (J Harrington) 20:40.77; 13 Myross 25:21.83.   

Women

Double - First Eight to A Final; rest to B Final – Heat Two: 9 Castletownshend  20:36.64; 11 Arklow (Kinsella/Kinsella) 21:47.40; 13 Arklow (Jordan/Reid) 22:54.85.

Mixed

Double – Heat One – 7 to 10 to B Final: 10 Kilmacsimon 19:21.81

Published in Coastal Rowing

#Rowing: Five Ireland entrants in the women’s solo single made it through heats into Sunday’s A Final of the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong. Miriam Sheehan of Castletownbere placed best, taking third in the first heat, one place ahead of Sionna Healy. The Arklow sculler was one of three from her club to make it to the A Final in this class. Both women’s coxed quadruples, from Belfast and a composite of Castletownbere and Myross, also qualified for the A Final.  

 The Ireland men’s crews found the going tougher. Only the top five in the heats of the men’s double were guaranteed places in the A Final. John Whooley and Alan Goodison finished sixth in their heat - making it through. The three other Ireland crews missed out.

World Coastal Rowing Championships, Hong Kong – Day One, Heats (Ireland crews)

Men

Double (Five to A Final) – Heat One: 6 Arklow 19:04.39; 10 St Michael’s, Dublin 21:28.54.

Heat Three: 8 Kilmacsimon/Ring 21:15.37; 11 Courtmacsherry 22:53.45.  

Women

Quadruple, coxed (Eight to A Final) – Heat One: 7 Belfast BC 19:33.28.

Heat Two: 7 Castletownbere/Myross 20:40.31.

Solo (Eight to Final) – Heat One: 3 Castletownbere (M Sheehan) 22:07.48; 4 Arklow (S Healy) 22:16.07; 7 Galley Flash (N Hayes) 23:13.68; 8 Arklow (MA Kent) 24:41.77.

Heat Two: 6 Arklow (X Jordan) 24:02.30.

Published in Coastal Rowing

#Canoeing: Ronan Foley and Jonathan Simmons took 14th place in the men’s K2 at the canoe marathon World Championships in Shaoxing in China today. Quentin Urban and Jeremy Candy of France won in under two hours, while Simmons, a former British international, and Foley covered the course in two hours six minutes and 16.97 seconds.  

Published in Canoeing

#Canoeing: Robert Hendrick qualified Ireland for an Olympic place in canoeing at the World Championships in La Seu d’Urgell in Spain this morning. Going off first in the C1 competition, the Kildare man put down a nerveless run of 95.12 seconds without a time penalty. It stood up as a fine time even as 29 more paddlers came down the course. The top 11 nations qualified for the Olympic Games and Hendrick gave Ireland 9th overall in this ranking. His personal placing of 11th saw him miss out by one place on an A Final place.  

Canoe Slalom World Championships, La Seu d’Urgell, Spain (Irish interest)

Men

C1 – Semi-Final (First 11 nations qualify boat for Olympic Games; First 10 to A Final): 11 (ninth nation) R Hendrick 95.12 seconds.

Published in Canoeing
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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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