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Displaying items by tag: Laser

In Japan, public opinion may be divided as to whether this summer’s already postponed Tokyo Olympics should be postponed even further, or indeed completely cancelled. But completely focused athletes such as Laser sailor Ewan McMahon of Howth have no choice other than to keep battling on to see if they and Ireland can secure a place in Tokyo in July, and this week he has been in high-powered action off Malta in some seriously big waves.

The plan is to go on to Lanzarote in the Canaries at the end of the month for more competition, and then there’s further diversion for a challenge on Croatia in the buildup to the final Olympic qualifier in Hyeres in April.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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2018 Laser Grand Master World Champion and 1996 Olympian Mark Lyttle reflects on a lifetime sailing against his old rival and great friend Bill O'Hara, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List 2021.

I first recall Bill at the 1978 Pimm's Irish Lasers Nationals at Lough Ree Yacht Club (actually sailed from Hodson Bay and yes, they did sponsor the Irish Laser class) but it wasn't on the race course. As a 15-year-old sailing what we now call a Standard rig as that's all there was, I was nowhere near the front of the fleet especially as a hurricane passed through during the regatta. But I do remember Bill was the centre of social activities ashore as a young university student.

Over the next couple of seasons, Bill emerged as one of the top Lasers sailors along with Gordon Maguire (turned professional skipper), Dave Cummins (twice all Ireland champion) and Colin Galavan. Following a fifth place in the light air Kinsale Nationals (1979) and the curtailed (with another gale) Dun Laoghaire Nationals (1981), Bill took the Irish titles in Ballyholme (1981 where I recall driving to the event in a Renault 5 with three Lasers) and Galway Bay (1982 with Australian and NZL visitors following us home after our extensive continental European tours).

But I remember the 1982 season as my first Laser Europeans, in Athens, where I stayed with Bill and Simon Brien (Dragon Edinburgh Cup winner from Royal North of Ireland YC) and was supported and encouraged all the way by Bill – a true mentor figure.

Bill sailed a brilliant regatta, coming second overall behind the even more brilliant Peter Vilby, a result that has never been beaten by an Irish Laser (Standard) sailor. Consistent with many other Laser sailors across the world in that era, Bill had to realise his Olympic dreams away from Lasers, in his case in the single-hander Finn class.

Some of the 1982 Irish Laser Class supremos, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982Some of the 1982 Irish Laser Class supremos, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982

I recall stories of him campaigning the Finn with Terry Nielsen (1982 Laser World Champion and eventual Bronze Medal winner) in 1983 in North America in the build-up to the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Like many Olympic campaigners he returned for the Laser Worlds in Gulfport, Mississippi in October 1983 along with Frank Glynn, Con Murphy (better known now as Annalise's dad), John Simms and me. Most of us Irish stayed with nuns in a convent nearby but that is not what we most remember of the regatta. It was a no discard 14 race series in which Bill was doing brilliantly until a protest by the Jury for his boom allegedly hitting a NZL boat on his outside at the gybe mark. Both were disqualified and Bill ended the regatta knowing he would have been World Champion but for that.

It is often said that Juries stopped protesting boat on boat incidents because of that.

Bill went on to race at the Olympics and recorded a 4th, 10th, 9th and 8th in the first four of seven races and finished 13th overall in a very competitive fleet with sailing legends Russell Coutts and John Bertrand winning Gold and Silver. But Bill affirmed his status as role model and great supporter of Irish dinghy sailing by returning from the glories of the Olympics to race in the Irish Laser Nationals at the end of that summer.

These days Bill O'Hara is an international race judge and race officerThese days Bill O'Hara is an international race judge and race officer

Of course, he was the man we all strived to beat at that event and subsequent seasons in the Laser (he didn't win that one but did win the Irish title three times in the nineties). I remember many great battles around the race course with Bill often ahead at the windward mark with his superior upwind speed and me trying to overtake him by the leeward mark with my superior downwind speed. Bill continued to combine his Laser and Finn sailing through the 1988 Games in Seoul, where he was joined by Peter Kennedy, the 1986 Irish Laser Champion, as David Wilkin's Flying Dutchman crew.

Afloat's 1983 Laser World's reportAfloat's 1983 Laser World's report from Gulfport, Mississippi

Many of us were envious of that given the limited opportunities to access Olympic sailing in those days but that changed with the introduction of the Laser in the 1996 Olympics. Although Bill started off as a competitor in the search for the single Irish place in Atlanta, he still provided advice and encouragement to me all the way. That is the thing about Bill, a fearsome competitor afloat but a true friend ashore. Nothing supports that more than in the 1994 Irish Laser Nationals when going into the deciding last race where I had a slender lead over Gary McCarthy, I had broken my tiller extension and Bill offered me his with the words "this title needs to be earned not won by default" - sorry Gary. Bill went to the 1996 Games as a coach and provided me with vital advice and encouragement throughout the Games.

Although our interaction has been more social than on the race course in recent years, I look back and say he has been a true motivator and influencer on my sailing journey but more importantly a true friend, which like many friendships based on so many years of shared experiences and the ups and downs of competition, will remain despite the passing of time. Bill is a man who knows loyalty and integrity and I am proud to be his friend. Well done, Bill on your OBE.

Published in Laser

The Irish Laser class would remind you of a murmuration of starlings. They major in highly flexible shape-changing formations in which the actual moving around of the fleet is a matter of independent individual units somehow sweeping together with apparently telepathic communication and little hassle. A Laser skipper has no crew problems, and all they need to be part of the countrywide circus is a driving licence and a sufficiently robust car to take the boat and launching trailer on a roof rack.

Admittedly with some very talented juniors such as Eve McMahon making an impact before they’ve even got to the age of 16, the driving licence requirement may need an element of family and older friends support. But either way the class’s approach seems as modern as tomorrow, and it takes an effort to remember that these timeless classics have been in Ireland for nearly fifty years.

With their flexibility of fleet movement, they were sufficiently confident to publish their outline 2021 Events Calendar early in the weekend, and though any fixed post-pandemic programme planning must be in the balance with the developments of the past two days, at least it reminds us that as soon as there’s any possibility of sailing resumption, they’ll be ready and willing for a leaping of Lasers.

IRISH LASER ASSOCIATION 2021 EVENTS

  • 2/4 April – Munster Championship: Baltimore SC
  • 8/11 April – Irish Sailing Youth Nationals: Royal Cork YC
  • Dates TBC – Leinster Championship: Venue TBC
  • 12/13 June - Masters National Championship: Roya St George YC
  • 26/27th June – Ulster Championship: County Antrim YC, Whitehead
  • 17/18 July – Connacht Championship: Wexford Harbour BC
  • 19/22 August – National Championship, Royal Cork YC
  • 2/3 October - End–of-Season Event (new): Kinsale YC
Published in Laser
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As Ireland tries to boost its Olympic sailing team from currently one dinghy (Annalise Murphy in the Radial) with two more (a men's Laser and a 49er), the final Olympic qualifier for the men's Laser class has been confirmed for France in April 2021 (French Olympic Week, April 17-24 in Hyeres).

There are still two nation places up for grabs and three Irish men are chasing a final berth. Ireland is up against Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands so it is likely to go right down to the wire before we know who ultimately claims the place. 

Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are all looking for the single berth and whoever finishes on top in the Cote D'Azur will be deemed to have been selected.

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

After training from the Irish Sailing Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire all summer, once restrictions lifted the Lasers and Laser Radials headed to Lake Garda in Italy for training, and then on to the Italian National Championships – the first time the team had competed since Covid restrictions began. Murphy won this competition overall and from there the team headed to the European Championships in Gdansk, Poland.

As Afloat reported previously, Finn Lynch had a great regatta finishing in 13th position in Gdansk, a personal best for the Dun Laoghaire ace but there was a disappointment overall for Tokyo qualified Murphy. There was another personal best for Lynch's rival Glynn too, who finished 43 from 126.

Howth's Eve McMahon at only 16-years-old had her first senior European championships, qualifying for the Gold Fleet and finishing in 45th - a great marker of future potential.

More on Finn Lynch's plans here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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November sunshine plays tricks with how we see things. Maybe it's because it's so rare. But at the weekend at Howth – with just a month to go to the shortest day of the year – a special coaching course being run in Lasers by international champion Aoife Hopkins was taking place with a low-slung sun so powerful – under a sky of a blue so utterly blue that it hasn't got a name yet – that an educational circuit of Ireland's Eye under the watchful Hopkins' eye did strange things to vision.

Be careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctlyBe careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctly

Maybe it's just us, and maybe it's time we re-visited the pioneering HYC Brass Monkey Winter Series creator Pat Connolly in his day job as an optician. But if you look at the pic above of the trainee flotilla of Abby Kinsella, Una Connel, Fiachra Farrelly and Charlie Keating heading eastward towards the Martello tower and the cliffs along the north coast of Ireland's Eye, there's no doubt that the nearest boat is going away, but the strong low light somehow makes it look as though the sail is coming back again…….

Either way, in the idyllic circumstances a circuit of Ireland's Eye provided an ideal opportunity for a multi-layered day of training, as there was pilotage, navigation and useful wildlife observation added to the mix, even if The Stack on the northeast corner – a summertime Gannet Central since 1989 – was winter silent, with just one gannet watchman left behind.

Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...

……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird

It was difficult to imagine the place in a harsh grey easterly, which in some Novembers is the default weather condition around Ireland's Eye. But in Howth, nothing is allowed to go to waste – as Aoife observed after winning the Laser U21 Euros 2017 at Douarnenez in Brittany in a week of extra-fresh westerlies, determined days of sailing in strong easterlies off Howth will set you up for anything, Breton westerlies included…..

Aoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in BrittanyAoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in Brittany

Published in Laser

Ireland's 2018 Laser Grand Master World Champion Mark Lyttle reveals the depth of his ambitions in the solo Laser class when he interviewed for a UK Laser Class podcast recently. 

One of the most fascinating statistics in the hour-long chat with Ben Flower of the UK Laser class is that in 1996, Laser sailing had the most nations competing of any sport at the Atlanta Olympics. 

As long time Afloat readers will know, Savannah is where the Laser made its Olympic debut and where Lyttle was a race winner, a result that led him to the inaugural Afloat Sailor of the Year award

It's not the only blast from the past contained in the podcast either where Lyttle gives plenty of anecdotes about the 2018 Worlds on Dublin Bay and his homecoming win. A really nice progression in his sailing career from Olympics into masters.

The London based sailor gives some great description of laser campaigning in the 80s; no coaches, just a bunch of lads taking their Lasers off to Europe for the Summer.

There's an interesting account of how old long races have given way to shorter races and how this puts huge emphasis on the run and downwind technique, since the run can be straight after the first beat and so fleet stays so compressed compared to old big triangles when the run was at the end (I assume they did triangle, sausage or triangle, triangle, sausage)

Significantly, as a former chairman of the UK Optimist class, and the architect of the modern Irish Olympic programme, Lyttle speaks about his experiences with youth burnout in sailing.

Listen in to the podcast below:

Published in Laser
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2016 Irish Rio representative Finn Lynch believes that he can take one of the final two qualification spots for Tokyo 2021 in the Men's Laser class if he focuses on improving areas that prevented him from doing so at the last two qualification regattas. 

"There’s a bunch of good people who still haven’t qualified. There are five or six nations with guys who can have regattas in the top ten but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m focussing on trying to improve on the things that held me back on the last two qualification regattas. And If I can do that, there’s no reason that I cannot get a spot", he told the Irish Laer Class AGM last week.

Lynch gave his online interview coming off the back of the European Championships in Poland last month where he showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions and secured a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126. It's a highly creditable result that will boost the 24-year-old's confidence in his race for one of the final Olympic berths.

Finn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser EuropeansFinn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser Europeans

Presumably, Lynch's training will focus on some uneven performances where the Irish ace has shown himself well able to win world championship races but, unfortunately,  just not managed to string together a consistent series to seize one of the prized Olympic berths.

As Afloat reported previously, the World Sailing Championships at Aarhus, Denmark, in August 2018 was the first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo, but Irish crews in three events did not pass the test then. Despite winning Race 7 in the Gold fleet, Lynch missed qualification by about 20 points as he carried two mid-forties results after he was disqualified from Race 8 for a premature start. Yet, in all this, his score sheet showed three top ten results, an otherwise very positive result. At the next qualification opportunity, the 2019 World Championships in Japan, Lynch ended the championship in 40th overall in the 148-boat fleet, 11th unqualified country and some 56-points off the tally required.

Prior to that, in the early part of 2019, the dedicated Olympic solo sailor had overall placings within the top ten at three major international events, and at Genoa 2019 he was an overall leader at one stage, and a slight turn of fortune would have seen him in the medals. His solid Laser performance moved him up to 15th in the world rankings in April 2019, so Lynch really does have the turn of speed required.

Fast forward to today and the scenario is that Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland are in the running for the final places with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the 2019 World Championships, so the race is well and truly on to take one of these final European places. 

Portuguese winter training camp

During the special AGM interview section, Lynch also gave details by Zoom of his planned extended training camp in Portugal under coach three-time Olympic medallist Vasilij Žbogar.

Lynch says he is 'really excited' about the plan for this winter. The National Yacht Club sailor will be training with the Norwegian team and aims to stay in warmer climes until the final Tokyo qualification regatta, the venue for which is as yet unconfirmed due to COVID-19.

"It's just a rumour but it could now be Hyeres Regatta next April or it could be Palma or Hyeres or maybe a different World Cup," he told Jim McMahon, Secretary of the Irish Laser Class during the online Q & A.

Also looking to secure Ireland's place in the forthcoming regatta are trialists Bangor's Liam Glynn and Howth's Ewan McMahon and whoever can secure the place at next Spring's Regatta automatically becomes the Irish nominee for Tokyo.

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

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the European Championships in Poland a fortnight ago has led organisers to contact all 300 competitors alerting them to the outbreak of the virus at the event.

Sailors competing in Gdansk received an email communication from organisers, Eurilca, that a male Portuguese competitor tested positive for Covid-19 and is still in quarantine in Poland.

Last night, Irish Olympic team manager James O'Callaghan told Afloat, it was a case of 'all good' for the seven-boat Team IRL who finish their quarantine period after travelling to the Polish event today. 

Some competitors were reported as feeling unwell as soon as they returned home.

The championships drew competitors from as many as 40 countries in the men's and women's divisions of the Tokyo Olympic class.

In Denmark, the championship silver medalist, Anne Marie Rindom is reported to have tested positive by national media. 

Rindom, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist,  is said to be recovering from 'some hard days with covid-19'.

“It has gotten a little better over the last few days, but I have had a high fever, pain in my head and all over my body,” she told Denmark's TV2 Sport.

During the course of the Gdansk event, the Polish government moved to put the country into a ‘yellow zone’ in a bid to curtail the spread of COVID, according to the organisers who provided health checks as part of the regatta set-up.

The championships were heralded as the 'first opportunity since the pandemic outbreak for Olympic campaigners to race again in such a big fleet', so it will be very disappointing news for all concerned that despite measures taken - including onsite testing - that the virus has had such an impact on the international sailing circuit.

A copy of the email received by the sailors is below.

Senior Europeans 2020 In Poland: Very important information

Dear Sailor,

We have been informed later this morming that a sailor from the portuguese was tested positive to covid-19 and is still in quarantine in Poland.

His portuguese roomate in the room during the event is back in Portugal and has been also tested positive.

The rest of the portuguese team has been now tested and waiting for the results of the test in Portugal.

The organizing committte and EurILCA wanted to inform you of that situation and if you have been in contact with them suggest to be testing.

Please follow the procedures with the medical authorities in your country and contact them as they will advise you how to proceed.

We know some people were tested arriving at their airport destination if they were flying.

But it could not the case for all and for the ones who travel by car or van.

We suggest to extremely carefull and we will update you if any more news. [SIC].

Irish sailors say there has been no further follow-up by organisers since the event.

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Finn Lynch showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions when he continued up the scoresheet in Poland today to finish with a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126 at the Laser European Championships.

It's a remarkable comeback from the National Yacht Club sailor who sailed a strong final series to close out the six-day championships in his highest position of the week.

The result easily trumps his 27th scored at the May 2019 Euros in Porto and also the 55th overall scored at the 2018 La Rochelle Euros.

As Afloat reported this week, Lynch went from 37th on day one before moving up to 25th after two races sailed in the opening qualifiers. He then dropped to 42nd overall after four races sailed but by Saturday, the Rio 2016 rep was back up into the thirties and yesterday he had recovered to 18th. It was clear he was on a comeback, sealing his best ever Euro result today just three tantalizing places outside the coveted top ten.

The result, of course, shows the real potential of the County Carlow native if he can iron out some troubling inconsistencies. However, the overall scoresheet also provides a snapshot of the size of the challenge Lynch faces if he is to secure one of the final berths for Tokyo 2021. Rivals for the last Euro Olympic berth, Spain and Italy, finished just ahead of him and Belgium and Greece just behind, so the battle ahead is clear. 

Confidence boost

While there is no doubt just how tight the margins are for the last Olympic qualification event next year, this Polish result at least will give Lynch the confidence to continue pushing forward for what amounts to his last chance at becoming a double Olympian in this quadrennial.

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom TouwBelfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom Touw

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn’s result (43rd place) and qualification for the gold fleet sets him up well for the coming season. Ewan McMahon (43rd in the silver fleet) will be disappointed given the fact that he qualified for the gold fleet at the 2019 World Championships but at only 20 years of age, McMahon is gaining valuable experience at this level.

British podium lock-out

The British squad confirmed they wanted the whole podium for them on the Laser Men’s championship, but with a little surprise in the end, with their next Olympic representative Elliot Hanson GBR (11-5) overcoming Michael Beckett GBR (17-14) in this last two races and conquering the Gold medal. Silver for Mickey and Bronze for the 2019 European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR (10-19).

"I wouldn’t have cared which one of us won today. To lockout, the podium with 2 of your best mates since I was 11 years old is something special in the laser fleet and something I’ll hold on to for a long time" – Elliot Hanson GBR

“Very very happy! With only 6 days sailing pre-event, I definitely wasn’t expecting this result! A big thanks to Nick Thompson who kept me on the right track! I enjoyed every moment of this event. Over the moon to come away with a medal alongside the Brit Lads”, emphasized Lorenzo.

Almost there on the podium was Croatian Filip Jurisic CRO (16-3), finally fourth with same points than third.

A good championship for Russian Sergey Komissarov RUS (2-8), wrapping the event with nice results and climbing to the fifth place overall.

A second discard today allowed the 2020 World champion Philipp Buhl GER (1-7) to drop his two Black flags from the score and jump to the Top 10 for the first time in the event, conquering the 6th European place.

Joel Rodriguez ESP, Tonci Stipanovic CRO, Jonatan Vadnai HUN and Jean Baptiste Bernaz FRA completed the European Top 10.

Charlie Buckingham USA (7-54) finished 6th overall in the Open European Trophy.

Tom Higgins sixth in Radial

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins finished in sixth position in the Men’s Laser Radial, just missed out on a U21 podium finish.

Results here

Published in Laser
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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.

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