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Displaying items by tag: Laser

The Irish Laser Association’s 2021 pre-season virtual training programme kicks off this Tuesday, April 6th with what the organisers promise to be a fun and informative session geared at new and recent converts to the Laser class in Ireland.

As Afloat previously reported, this first session in the 6-week series will address the many questions from both junior and adult sailors considering jumping into this boat for the first time.

Topics covered in the session include:

  • Adult Pathway
  • Junior Pathway
  • Starting a Laser Class in Your Club
  • Laser Rigs Explained
  • Where to Buy a Laser
  • Laser v ILCA
  • Basic Laser Fitness
  • Laser Competitions & Events
  • Insuring You Laser
  • Top Tips from Laser Sailors

In this 60-minute interactive session, attendees can have their questions answered by a panel of adult and junior laser sailors, which includes:

  • Rachel Crowley (class captain of Dun Laoghaire’s adult Kindergarten)
  • Finn Walker (Ranked 5th in Ireland in Radial and recently transitioned to Standard)
  • Ali Robinson (recently started adult Radial sailor)
  • Brendan Hughes (class captain of Dublin Bay Laser fleet)
  • Rob Cage (chair of the UK Laser Association)

Irish Laser Association’s training co-ordinator Aisling Keller is encouraging anyone who is new to the Laser fleet to attend. “This is a not-to-be missed event for anyone thinking of getting involved with the Laser this season. It is a unique opportunity to have your questions answered by junior and adult Laser sailors from across Ireland,” says Keller.

These sessions are free to attend but registration is essential.  To register for this session click here.

Published in Laser
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The Irish Laser Association is launching a comprehensive virtual training programme geared towards new and regular fleet sailors across the island.

While the Laser one-design dinghy is officially 50 this year, in Ireland the fleet has probably never been stronger.

Much of the current popularity of the Laser can be attributed to it being one of the few classes which can be safely sailed in most levels of Covid-19 restrictions. The national Laser class is certainly not missing the opportunity to encourage new sailors to get on board with the launch of a 6-week programme of virtual events. 

Commencing on April 6th and running until May 13th, the Irish Laser Association supported has put together a comprehensive programme of ten live virtual training sessions for sailors of all ages and abilities. The programme kicks-off with a session entitled “Getting Started in a Laser” and is intended to provide any sailors who haven’t previously sailed this dinghy with the answers to all of their questions. The session is geared towards younger sailors and their parents who might be curious about the pathway to competitive sailing in a Laser. It will also address the many questions from adult sailors considering jumping into this boat for the first time.

Other sessions will focus on different aspects of race strategy and tactics, race fitness and the rules of racing as they apply to the Laser class. One of the highlights of the series is surely a session focused on preparation for the upcoming 4.7 Laser World Championships taking place in Dun Laoghaire this summer. We’re told to expect some exclusive insights from our current Olympic campaigners at this session.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Irish Laser Association’s Head of Training, Aisling Keller said “We’re seeing unprecedented interest in the Laser class right now and we really want to support anyone with a desire to get started and all those who are looking to take their skills to the next level. We have always had really strong international participation from within the Irish fleet and one of our objectives is to encourage younger sailors to understand the opportunities that exist if they get involved early.”

While the Laser one-design dinghy is officially 50 this year, in Ireland the fleet has probably never been stronger.While the Laser one-design dinghy is officially 50 this year, in Ireland the fleet has probably never been stronger.

Getting Started in a Laser (Tuesday, April 6th, 7.30pm)

An interactive and fun session featuring junior and adult sailors from across Ireland sharing how to get started individually or starting a Laser fleet in your club plus the pathway to competitive racing both nationally and internationally. 

Racing Strategy & Tactics with Toby Hudson-Fowler (Thursday, April 8th, 7.30pm)

Dun Laoghaire sailor and top coach, Toby, will deliver a high-tech and engaging training programme on race strategy and tactics applied specifically to Lasers.

Laser Fitness with Aisling Keller (Tuesday, April 13th, 7.30pm)

There’s still plenty of time to get that core and those quads in shape for the upcoming season. Aisling will take you through your paces, so come prepared! 

Gybes and Tacks with Jack Fahy (Thursday, April 15th, 7.30pm)

Learn how to avoid unnecessary capsizes and even go faster coming out of key manoeuvres with unique insights from Dun Laoghaire's Jack Fahy.

Preparing for the 4.7 Laser World Championships (Tuesday, April 20th, 7.30pm)

The biggest sailing event of the year is taking place in Dun Laoghaire with (fingers-crossed) hundreds of international competitors. Aisling Keller will share top tips on getting ready.

Transitioning to a Full Rig with Johnny Durcan (Thursday, April 22nd, 7.30pm)

Cork’s Johnny Durcan talks to those considering switching to the full rig and takes you through the ins and outs of the switch and what lies ahead. 

Advanced Laser Sailing with Aisling Keller (Tuesday, April 27th, 7.30pm)

Not for the faint-hearted, Aisling explains what it takes to compete at the highest levels and will answer questions from all sailors looking to compete nationally and internationally.

Racing Rules I - The Basics and More with Cxema Pico (Thursday, April 29th, 7.30pm)

World Sailing International Judge and Umpire, Cxema Pico launches a three-part racing rules series with a much-needed refresher after a long winter of individual training. This session will be a good overall refresher on the basic racing rules of sailing. 

Racing Rules II - Windward & Leeward Marks (Thursday, May 6th, 7.30pm)

All rules are important, but mark roundings represent the biggest opportunity to make gains or lose big. So, know your rights! And wrongs! In this advanced session, Cxema dives into the specific rules regarding approaches to the windward and leeward marks.

Racing Rules III - Rules 15, 16, 17, 42  (Thursday, May 13th, 7.30pm)

In this final interactive session, participants will take an opportunity to refine their understanding of some of the most important rules that can help you win or lose at the top end of the fleet.

This ten-part programme, sponsored by CraftInsure,  is completely free to all Irish Laser sailors and those interested in getting involved, however, places are limited and everyone is encouraged to register early to avoid disappointment.  

The full programme and registration details are available on the Irish Laser Association website here

Published in Laser
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Marine insurer Craftinsure has renewed its partnership arrangement with the Irish Laser dinghy class Association for 2021.

"Ireland has produced some great Laser sailors in recent years, and we're proud to have been able to help a little in supporting them," says Craftinsure's Rod Daniel. "Hopefully, we will see them in action at events again soon". ILA Treasurer, Nick Walsh said 'Craftinsure has been a 'friend' to the class for a number of years'.

2021 Irish Laser Dinghy Calendar

Subject to COVID guidelines, the Laser class eight event calendar for 2021, published on its website, is scheduled to begin at Baltimore Sailing Club, West Cork on April 3rd with the next confirmed event, the Master Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club on June 12th. 

The 2021 Irish Laser Dinghy calendarThe 2021 Laser Fixtures list

The single-handed Olympic class moves to County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead for its Ulster Championships on June 26th. The 'Connaughts' are scheduled for Wexford on July 18 and the National Championships are at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven on 19th August.

A new end of season event is scheduled for October 2nd in Kinsale.

Published in Laser
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After so much doubt over its final Olympic qualifying event, the men's Laser class has been confirmed for the 17-24th April in Vilamoura, Portugal.

As Afloat previously reported, this is the last chance for the Irish Laser Men to qualify with two nation places up for grabs.

Representing Ireland will be Rio rep Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club, Liam Glynn of Ballyholme in Northern Ireland and Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club.

For Ireland to qualify, an Irish sailor has to finish in the top two of those European countries that have yet to qualify.

The main contenders for these slots are Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Barton Marine’s Laser dinghy kits have now been approved as class legal for the Laser class, providing an option for sailors looking for lightweight, free-running gear to upgrade their one-design Laser. Extensively tested, sailors across the globe can train and race with confidence given Barton’s proven quality and durability in the dinghy classes.

The Barton Laser range consists of three complete kits for the Outhaul, Downhaul and Kicker as well as Mini K-Cams, Size 0 Blocks and Ratchet Blocks. All of these products are class legal and provide great value after-market upgrades.

Barton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plate, fitted with the unique Barton fully swivelling triple cam block. The Outhaul Kit is strong and lightweight, with a simple toggle release for the mainsail clew. The Barton Downhaul Kit comes with 8:1 purchase for those who find the standard system a struggle. The whole kit range is easy to fit and includes high-performance line.

Barton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plateBarton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plate

Christian Brewer, Barton Marine Global Sales Manager said,“ It’s fantastic that our Kicker, Downhaul and Outhaul kits are now officially approved by The Laser Class. We have been manufacturing replica kits to the class for years and these can now be used at Laser class events. Our Rising Star, Harry Newton is also on board to help us with R&D as we look to further improve our Laser kits.”

Barton is available from CH Marine

Published in CH Marine Chandlery
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With the continued interest in Laser dinghy sailing among adults, the Dún Laoghaire harbour Laser fleet has announced the launch of an adult pathway that supports adults from beginner level right up to elite racing.

The Laser with all its variants has long been considered one of the most versatile single-handed dinghies for both adults and juniors. The boat was originally designed with what is now known as the Standard rig as a “car-topper” with the intention that it would be easy to transport on the roof-rack of a car. Today in Dún Laoghaire, adults continue to sail the Standard rig, plus the smaller Radial and 4.7 rigs, depending on the individual sailor’s weight and ability. “The Laser can be a challenging boat to sail and what’s remarkable is that many of these adults never sailed before or if they did, never sailed a Laser,” says local Laser sailor Rachel Crowley.

Crowley was nominated in the Volunteer of the Year category in this year’s Irish Sailing Awards for her work with the affectionately named Dún Laoghaire Adult Kindergarten for Lasers. A member of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, she only started sailing cruisers as an adult, never having sailed before. She crewed for a few years in Cruisers 3 in Dublin Bay Sailing Club and recalls how one “evangelical Laser sailor” encouraged her to try Laser sailing after racing one evening.

Lasers launchingDue to the popularity of the Kindergarten, the coaching squad has divided the group into two levels. Absolute beginners can join the Basic Skills sessions while the more confident beginners join in with the Start Racing sessions Photo: Rachel Crowley

Rachel approached the Sailing Manager in her club who provided her with access to a club boat and found a coach who was willing to take her out the first time. “Ronan [Adams] was really helpful in making it easy for me to try the boat as I was a bit nervous. When I came in after that first day, he said to me that there were a lot of other adults expressing interest in trying out the Laser.” says Crowley. And thus the Kindergarten started to take shape.

That was September 2018, just after the Laser Masters World Championships came to Dún Laoghaire. Today there are 49 adults in the Kindergarten group with more waiting to join once Government restrictions allow. The group is organised out of the RSGYC club, but sailors participate from right across the Dún Laoghaire clubs and from the Coal Harbour. Due to the popularity of the Kindergarten, the coaching squad has divided the group into two levels. Absolute beginners can join the Basic Skills sessions while the more confident beginners join in with the Start Racing sessions.

Crowley outlines how a typical coaching session in the group starts with an onshore briefing at the club followed by some on-the-water warm-up exercises. “These are followed by specific skills instruction and practice. The session usually finishes some fun activities and a debrief onshore again.” Richard O’Rahilly who leads the coaching team describes how coaching adults can be different to coaching juniors. “Adults are usually looking for more specific skills training. They’re less competitive than juniors typically and ask for lots of feedback on how they can improve. We spend as much time as possible on the water as adults are looking for hands-on experience” says O’Rahilly.

Mick Shelley who joined the Kindergarten group in 2019 highlights how the support received from more experienced Laser sailors has impressed him greatly. “I hadn’t sailed a Laser before, and the support and encouragement I received from people up the fleet was great. There were days when I was nervous about heading out in heavier conditions and some tips or advice that someone would give me on the forecourt gave me the confidence to push myself a little more.” says Shelley. He went on to say “getting out on the water after many years out of the sport has given me a new lease of life”

Crowley agrees that the support from the experienced sailors has been “phenomenal”. “We have experienced Laser sailors who not only support us ashore, but have helped us organising fun racing for our group and even finding second-hand boats to buy.” Crowley also acknowledges the continued support provided by the local clubs, encouraging adults to try Laser sailing specifically and also facilitating access to boats, coaches and safety ribs.

Crowley intends to tap into the willingness of the more experienced sailors at this year’s Irish Laser Association Masters National Championship event which is slated to be hosted by RSGYC on the weekend of June 12/13. “We’re launching a buddy system at the Masters Nationals where a more experienced sailor will be paired off with a beginner sailor and support them over the two days of the event. It will be simple things like offering advice and encouragement before racing and checking in at the end of the day to see how they got on.”

Laser training at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Rachel CrowleyLaser training at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Rachel Crowley

The Dún Laoghaire adult pathway doesn’t stop with the Kindergarten. While many sailors are happy to remain within the Kindergarten group for the fun and camaraderie, the coaches encourage those who are ready to get involved with the Masters Race Training sessions that take place right throughout the year. These sessions are focused on adult sailors who aspire to compete at the top end of the fleet nationally. Here the coaches, who are all top Laser sailors, focus on fine-tuning race strategy and boat handling skills.

In addition, a number of elite racing clinics are held each year with top Irish and international coaches drawn in. Irish and Olympic athletes such as Finn Lynch and Aisling Keller have run weekend-long clinics over the past couple of years. The fleet also has connections with the high-performance Laser training centres in Malta and Viana, Portugal. In 2020, the fleet intends to send a delegation to the Europa Cup regatta taking place in Malta in November.

The message from the Dún Laoghaire Laser fleet is that no matter what level you are at, there’s a support framework in place from local sailors, coaches and clubs to help you access and enjoy this boat. Anyone looking to find out more about sailing Lasers in Dún Laoghaire is encouraged to contact the class directly via email: [email protected]

A massive breaking wave capsized Ireland's Olympic silver medalist sailor Annalise Murphy yesterday during training in Lanzarote.

As Ireland's only sailor so far nominated for Tokyo, Murphy continues to train with some of her rivals in the Canary Island's this week. The training camp has certainly been getting conditions they can expect in Japan this July at the Tokyo Olympic venue.

Of course, the National Yacht Club ace is well used to such big seas on her own Dublin Bay but she declared on social media that yesterday's Canary capsize was her first-ever experience of a 'backflip' in a Laser.

The footage is certainly dramatic (below).

Murphy, dropped back to fifth overall at the end of the ten race Lanzarote Winter Series Regatta in January, having held second overall in the ILCA 6 fleet until the penultimate day. It was a result that led to an honest review of her first regatta since the Euros in Poland last October.

Published in Annalise Murphy
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The Royal St. George Yacht Club Laser dinghy fleet hit the headlines at the weekend as the class also prepares to release a new video to promote solo sailing at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged.

As Afloat reported previously, for the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part. 

Now the fleet, under class captain Brendan Hughes, is on the promotional trail with a new Royal St. George YC video for the class ready expected for release shortly.

80 Laser sailors are involved at the RStYGYC, according to Hughes, where all year round sailing is on offer. Club boats are also available to rent. 

The video also features interviews with youth sailors Alannah Coakley, Oisin Hughes and the junior class captain at the club, Robbie Walker.

Meanwhile, Irish Times video journalist Enda O'Dowd featured the class prominently at the weekend in a feature around sailing during Covid here but we're not entirely sure how memberships of sailing clubs have "almost doubled" over the last year as claimed but of the rise and rise of the Laser, there is no doubt.

Published in DBSC

The Olympic Games Sailing Qualification system's "what if" scenarios may be called in to play if pandemic related cancellations continue to ravage the high-performance sailing scene.

There are particular implications for the two classes in which Ireland still has reasonable hopes of achieving qualification - the Men's one-person dinghy and the Men's skiff.

Afloat has mulled through the complex paperwork to provide a guide to the qualification system.

Men's one-person dinghy (Laser)

The remaining event for European qualification is the Hyeres regatta in France in April. For Ireland to qualify, an Irish sailor would have to finish in the top two of those European countries that have yet to qualify.

The main contenders for these slots, based on previous form, are Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Denmark and Poland.

However, should the qualification regatta not go ahead, and there is some doubt as organisers review the attendance quotas in the light of increased French government restrictions, then it is possible that World Sailing will revert to the reallocation list.

Ireland is currently 4th on that list which is based on results at the 2019 Worlds. As there are only two slots available for Europe, Ireland's chances of qualifying this way are slim.

However, there are also two slots available for Asian countries who have not yet held a continental qualifier. Should this event not take place and if World Sailing opts for using the reallocation list, those places are allocated, regardless of continent, according to the stated pecking order, which could benefit Ireland.

Men's Skiff (49er)

Much the same situation exists here. Although the remaining European qualifier (Palma) is cancelled, the European Championship is scheduled for Greece in May and could be substituted as a qualifier.

In this case, Ireland has to be the top of the unqualified European nations to win the remaining slot. The key contenders are Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Estonia and Russia.

In the event that a qualifier can't be sailed, the reallocation list puts Ireland second in line after the USA.

Should World Sailing decide to use this method, then Ireland may have to rely on the Asian and African qualifiers being cancelled also as Ireland's status on the list puts them ahead of the other unqualified nations.

Should any nation that is qualified or has yet to qualify, choose not to take up their slot, then the re-allocation list is used. This is a long shot but is still in play.

Clarification on this process is expected from World Sailing later this week.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch, Ireland's top hope for an ILCA 7 berth in Tokyo this July, stays sixth overall after six races sailed in a breezy second day of the Lanzarote Winter Series but neither of his Irish teammates competed in today's three tough races in 20-knots and big waves. 

Howth Yacht Club's Ewan McMahon was forced to retire from racing following an eye injury in race four this morning. Exact details are not known but it appears the UCD third-year engineering student was struck by a boom end at a gybe mark in the first race. The injury was bad enough to rule him out of racing for the day but it is understood McMahon is 'ok' and should be able to race tomorrow.

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins also counted three 'DNCs'.

Winds are forecast to be lighter for today's racing.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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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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