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Stena Line’s recent announcement of acquiring shares in Africa Morocco Link (AML) follows another Scandinavian ferry rival, DFDS, which in January completed the process in its acquisition of a Strait of Gibraltar operator, writes Jehan Ashmore.

It was in September when Danish shipping and logistics company, DFDS announced its acquisition of FRS Iberia/Maroc. The company with a staff of 850, was a division of the German short-sea ferry company, FRS GmbH & Co. KG.

FRS had three routes running across the Strait of Gibraltar, and now DFDS can offer a new market, between Spain-Morocco through these new short-sea ferry routes. They are: Algeciras-Tanger Med, Algeciras-Ceuta, and Tarifa-Tanger Ville. This in a region where growth is expected to be supported by near-shoring of supply chains closer to Europe. In addition annual trade growth of 8% is expected between Europe and Morocco for the next five years.

The acquisition expands DFDS’ Mediterranean route network, currently connecting Europe with Turkey, Asia and Tunisia, Africa respectively.

In November of last year, DFDS passenger-freight ferry, Patria Seaways (formerly, Stena Traveller, the first ferry to serve Stena’s Dublin-Holyhead 'initial freight-only' route in 1995) was chartered by FRS, for an interim deployment on the Algeciras-Tanger Med route. The ferry has returned to this route as part of DFDS new operations between southern Spain and north Africa.

As for the agreement between Stena and AML, this is subject to approval by the Moroccan authorities, where the Tangier based AML operates a ferry route between Tanger Med-Algeciras, Spain. If approved, this would see Stena operate beyond its traditional ferry market in northern Europe by expanding into the Mediterranean Sea.

This summer, AML will also launch a new high-speed route between Tangier Ville and Tarifa. The first route is open for freight and travel customers, whereas the second one, will be a route for passengers and cars.

Afloat also highlights, should the agreement be granted, it will be full circle, as one of AML’s two-ship fleet, is the 1979 Harland & Wolff built Galloway Princess (later Stena Galloway), which serves as AML’s Moroccan Sun along with its fleetmate, Moroccan Star, the 1980 built former Danish State Railways (DSR) Rederei’s Prins Joachim.

The Galloway Princess first served Sealink/British Rail’s North Channel Larne-Stranraer and later Belfast-Cairnryan (under Stena) but ultimately became Stena Galloway following the sale of Sealink British Ferries to Stena Line in 1991. The ferry was the first of a quartet of the 'Saint' Class, but differed in design the most from the rest of the series built for other Sealink routes, including the Strait of Dover.

During its Irish Sea career, Stena Galloway in 1992 also had a stint on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route, as a half-sister, Stena Cambria (ex. St.David) had major engine problems. This led to the North Channel ferry having to cover in on the Ireland-Wales route, supporting Stena Hibernia, and chartered ro-ro freighter Auersberg, owned by German operator DSR Ro Ro.

This trio of vessels on the route was due to a busy high-season coupled with a surge in freight demand, and followed the sale in the previous year of SBF's dedicated freight ferry, St. Cybi on the route. 

Published in Ferry

Irish tourists looking to holiday in France next year received a welcome boost today as Ireland’s leading ferry company Stena Line announced it was introducing a second cruise ferry on its Rosslare to Cherbourg service. Providing best-in-class comfort and choice for passengers on the route in 2023, the new ship Stena Vision will increase frequency on the route to six departure days a week on the shortest, quickest, and most frequent ferry service to the European Continent, say the company.

The addition of Stena Vision to the Ireland-France route, will provide Stena Line with a significant increase in capacity operating alongside its existing vessel, Stena Horizon. Stena Vision is scheduled to begin service in June and will have space for 1,300 passengers and 485 passenger cabins, more than any other ferry current sailing from Ireland. It will offer a wide selection of accommodation ranging from standard and deluxe cabins, to suites. There’s also good news for dog owners with 42 pet cabins, so passengers can travel with their furry friends to and from France*.

Travel guests can sit back, relax and start their holiday as soon as they board the bigger and more spacious Stena Vision. The new travel experience includes a wide choice of bars and restaurants, as well as an onboard Nordic Spa. Whether passengers are going to hit the beaches on the Riviera, chill out in Provence, or party in Paris they can arrive in comfort, style and refreshed after their cruise.

Paul Grant, Irish Sea Trade Director at Stena Line, says: “Ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer in 2023, we will be doubling our sailing frequency and tripling our passenger capacity for tourists on our Rosslare – Cherbourg service as well significantly increasing freight capacity. We’ve seen increased demand for more services and bigger vessels and are pleased to announce that from next June we will have 12 sailings weekly on the shortest and most frequent direct service between Ireland and France. We are delighted to offer more options and choice for our customers with this significant addition to our Irish Sea fleet.”

The introduction of the Stena Vision is welcome news for the freight sector, which has seen demand grow for direct services to France from hauliers since Brexit. Stena Vision will also increase driver accompanied capacity with more cabin space for freight drivers.

Stena Vision will come fresh from the Baltic Sea, where it has been operating on the busy Swedish/Polish Karlskrona to Gdynia route. It will be replaced by the Stena Line’s new larger E-Flexer Stena Ebba early next year.

Starting service in June 2023, with a choice of fares from as little as €289 for a car and driver, crossings can be secured with only a €100 deposit. Bookings can be made at stenaline.ie and stenaline.fr.

Published in Stena Line
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In the early evening of Saturday, 2nd October, Belfast Coastguard put out a MAYDAY in response to a 20ft yacht with four people on board reportedly taking on water and without power, a mile north of Corsewall Point, at the mouth of Loch Ryan on the southwest coast of Scotland.

The Stena Superfast VIII, the ro-ro/passenger ferry between Belfast and Cairnryan on Loch Ryan, passed and responded. They launched their fast rescue craft and stood by the vessel until the arrival of Portpatrick and Stranraer RNLI lifeboats. The craft was assisted to Stranraer marina by the lifeboats.

Belfast Coastguard, with Headquarters in Bangor on Belfast Lough, coordinates Search and Rescue for Northern Ireland, Southwest Scotland and North West England. They commented, "We are very grateful for the swift and professional response from Superfast VIII and at no time was the ferry or its passengers or crew in any danger".

Published in Ferry
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Duty-free shopping is making a big impact as it proves popular with passengers once again on routes between Ireland and Wales. Early sales figures show the huge potential it has to help the travel sector bounce back after the pandemic. Nowhere has the boost from duty free become more apparent than at Swedish ferry company Stena Line, where spend per passenger in its onboard shops saw a fourfold increase in August, on routes where passengers can now enjoy tax-free shopping.

With duty-free shopping back onboard it has meant lucky passengers can now access large discounts of up to 50% off on a wide range of items such as whiskeys, vodkas, gins, wines, beers and champagnes. With famous brands like Jameson, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks, Budweiser, and Bollinger, all available at a fraction of onshore prices.

The removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions by Ireland meant that August was the first month where full tourist and non-essential travel with Britain was permitted. The response was instant, with high demand for sailings from people desperate to travel after so long in lockdown and keen to make the most of what was left of summer. The demand for duty-free was equally high, resulting in the spend per passenger in Stena Line’s onboard shops more than quadrupling compared to pre-pandemic levels in August 2019.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Irish Sea Trade Director commented: “Like most travel businesses we have experienced a very difficult time over the last 18 months, but now as our passengers start to return in large numbers, we are delighted to be in a position to offer them the added benefit of duty-free shopping on our ships for the first time in over 20 years. Our expanded onboard shops now offer a great range of items from spirits to jewellery, fragrances to electrics, some at over 50% cheaper than high street prices.”

Duty-free shopping is now available to any passengers on Stena Line’s services between Holyhead – Dublin and Fishguard – Rosslare, where the company’s large, modern vessels have newly refitted and expanded shops.

The company has also reintroduced its famous low-cost duty-free return trips, known as ‘non-landers’, where people take return trips across the Irish Sea, without leaving the ferry, just to access the bargains now on offer. Duty-free return fares are only £20.

Published in Stena Line
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Continuing the strengthening and expansion of its services in the Baltic Sea, Swedish ferry company Stena Line is deploying two new large and modern ferries on the route between Ventspils in Latvia and Nynäshamn in Sweden this year. The first of the two vessels, Stena Scandica, arrived in the port of Nynäshamn this morning when it completed its overnight maiden voyage from Ventspils. The vessel adds another 70% more cabins and 30% more freight capacity compared to the existing vessels and offers an attractive alternative way to travel on the Baltic Sea.

“We have been carrying passengers and freight in the Baltic Sea region for almost ten years. During this period, we have experienced a strong yearly growth. Furthermore, we have more than doubled our operations from one vessel and 10 departures per week in 2012 up to two vessels and 24 departures per week for passengers and freight in 2021. Our expansion is driven by an increased demand for sea travel and the requirement for additional freight capacity from our customers on the Baltic Sea. We are now strengthening our position and customer offer further with two new modern and bigger vessels that will add extra 30 % freight capacity and provide an attractive onboard experience on both our routes to and from Latvia during 2021,” says Johan Edelman, Trade Director Baltic Sea North.

Stena Scandica is 222m long and has a capacity of 200 cabins, 970 passengers and 2,875 freight lane meters, plus an extra car deck – adding another 30% freight capacity and 70% more cabins on the route. The vessel is fitted with several sustainable features and fuel efficiency improvements, such as hybrid scrubbers, ballast water cleaning systems, twisted leading edge rudder and others to offer a more sustainable transportation across the Baltic Sea. The larger tonnage also means a lower emission per transported unit.​ The interior includes new cabin categories, spacious shop with great deals and well-known brand products, lounge areas and several dining facilities, as well as a sundeck.

“We see RoPax as our key competitive advantage and an integral part of our success story, therefore, we will continue to combine freight and passengers. These two new vessels represent a fantastic addition to the fleet for our customers, and it is just a first step towards our ambitious plan to double the number of passengers on the Baltic Sea route in 3 years,” highlights Johan Edelman.

Ventspils – Nynäshamn is the shortest route between the Baltics and Scandinavia. When Stena Scandica and Stena Baltica take over the route Ventspils – Nynäshamn and they will replace the Stena Livia and Stena Flavia, which will then be redeployed on the route Liepāja – Travemünde.

Published in Stena Line
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In 2015 Stena Line made history by converting one of the largest RoPax ferries in the world, the 240-metre Stena Germanica, to become the world’s first methanol powered ferry. Now the Swedish ferry company has achieved another world first, by powering Stena Germanica with methanol recycled from residual steel gases.

This week Stena Line took the next step on their sustainable journey towards achieving zero carbon when the Stena Germanica travelled from Sweden to Germany powered by recycled methanol. The new fuel dubbed ‘Blue Methanol’, is recycled from residual steel gases, a by-product of the steel production industry and helps reduce the ferry’s reliance on diesel, thus lowering the vessel’s carbon emissions further.

By making Stena Germanica blue the new fuels helps the vessel become greener! This week’s journey is another milestone in this ground-breaking project, which launched in 2015 when the dual-fuel system onboard Stena Germanica was converted to allow the vessel to run on both methanol and diesel fuel. It is the world’s first methanol powered RoPax (passenger and freight) ferry, which operates on the Gothenburg – Kiel route.

Stena Line developed it with several partners, including Methanex, Wärtsilä and EU's Motorways of the Seas project. The conversion project was the first of its kind in the world and was so unique that it established methanol as a marine fuel for the first time ever.

"It is exciting to be part of our sustainable journey and try out another new sustainable fuel. I can confirm that we sailed with the new fuel from Gothenburg to Kiel on June 22 and it worked very well,” says Peter Holm, Chief Engineer Stena Germanica.

While methanol is a fossil fuel, it is much cleaner than traditional marine fuel. Sulphur and particulates are reduced by 90% and nitrogen by 60%. The steel industry and the maritime sector are two of the world’s biggest emitters of CO2, accounting for 6-8% and 2.5% of all CO2 emissions respectively. The FReSMe project, funded by H2020 EU program, aims to demonstrate the whole process that enables the CO2 captured from the steel industry to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the ship transportation sector.

“This collaboration between the steel and the maritime sectors is the first of its kind and demonstrates that by working together companies from different backgrounds can greatly improve their effect on the climate. For Stena Line this is another successful proof of concept for our methanol conversion ferry and a further bridge towards our aim of fossil free shipping,” says Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability Stena Line Group.

Published in Stena Line
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Despite the ongoing pandemic, ferry company Stena Line has achieved another important milestone in its major new fleet investment programme with the ‘launching’ ceremony of the first new extended E-Flexer vessel in Weihai, China. The vessel was ordered in 2018 and the delivery is expected in 2022. For now, the name of the new vessel and the route on which it will operate are being kept a closely guarded secret by Stena Line.

Stena Line is well underway in modernising its large European fleet of ferries and has not let the ongoing pandemic affect these ambitious plans. The new vessel that took to the water for the first time on 24 May is the fourth out of five new next-generation E-Flexer vessels that are designed and built in collaboration with the sister company Stena RoRo at the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard in China. The vessels are among the world's most modern and efficient RoPax vessels. The three first vessels have already started to operate on the Irish Sea during 2020 and 2021.

”The E-Flexer vessels represent an important part of our sustainable growth journey for the future and we look forward to welcoming two more vessels to our fleet next year. The first three vessels are making waves with our appreciative customers across the Irish Sea and both their flexibility and efficiency has already made them great assets for the company during the pandemic and following Brexit” says Niclas Mårtensson, Managing Director of Stena Line.

”Despite the challenges connected to the pandemic we have been able to deliver our new buildings in time and thereby enabling Stena Line to perform their fleet renewal program as planned, says Per Westling, Managing Director of Stena RoRo.

The fourth and the fifth vessel will be 240 meters long with a load capacity of 3,600 length meters, compared to the first three which are 214 meters long and have a load capacity of 3,100 length meters. In total, the larger vessels also get 50 % more cabins and beds, 30 % increased passenger capacity and an additional 15% cargo capacity. The name of the new vessel and the locations where it will operate will be announced later this year.

Among the distinguishing features are:

  • Efficient loading and unloading with drive-through lanes on the two levels.
  • Up to 30 % more energy efficient than existing vessels in the fleet, thanks to optimum design of the hulls, propellers, bulbs and rudders.
  • All five vessels are delivered gas-ready, to allow conversion to methanol or LNG fuel.
  • The two longer vessels will be equipped to use shore power during port calls to reduce emissions. The electricity connection also enables a conversion to battery hybrid in the future.
  • Stena Lines’ Scandinavian heritage is clearly visible on the interior and the design is spacious and light, with amazing panoramic views.
Published in Stena Line
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With the expectation that travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain will be removed soon, ferry company Stena Line is bringing its new vessel Stena Estrid back to its key Holyhead – Dublin route.

It will replace the Stena Horizon, which will return to its former role serving Rosslare – Cherbourg.

The ships had swapped due to increased freight demand on direct routes to France and low travel volumes between Holyhead and Dublin. The end of lockdowns have resulted in freight volumes increasing again, so the company needs to switch the vessels back to their pre-lockdown roles.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Trade Director says: “With huge pent up demand for travel between Ireland and Britain, and the added bonus of Duty Free, now’s the right time to switch Stena Estrid back.

Stena Horizon will again operate alongside Stena Foreteller on Rosslare – Cherbourg, offering 12 sailings per week to France. We’ve doubled our frequency on our direct services to the Continent.”

The last sailing of the Stena Estrid to France will be the 15:00hrs departure from Cherbourg on 23rd May; the ship will then reposition for the 20:30 departure from Holyhead to Dublin on 24th May.

The last sailing of the Stena Horizon from Dublin to Holyhead will be the on 14:45hrs departure on 24th May. The vessel will then return to join the Stena Foreteller on the Rosslare – Cherbourg route, where Stena Line has doubled frequency post-Brexit and offers freight customers the most frequent and shortest service to North West France. Stena Horizon’s first departure from Rosslare to Cherbourg will 21:00hrs on 25th May.

Stena Estrid will provide two daily return crossings each way between Holyhead and Dublin. Where it is expected that onboard Duty-Free sales, now available after Brexit, will become very popular.

Stena Line offers the most comprehensive choice of services on the Irish Sea, with 6 routes from Ireland to Scotland, England, Wales and France, and more than 220 sailings weekly.

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Irish Ferries and Stena Line, the two key players in Ireland’s ferry industry, are today calling for the reopening of the Common Travel Area (CTA) at the earliest opportunity. They also welcome comments made last week by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, when he talked about the possibility of restoring the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and Britain as an “initial first step” for the travel and tourism sectors.

With virus levels now low in Ireland and the UK, and vaccination programmes progressing in both countries, Irish Ferries and Stena Line are calling on Ministers and industry stakeholders to urgently look at restoring the long-standing CTA agreement for Irish and UK citizens, and permit unrestricted travel between Britain and the island of Ireland.

Paul Grant, Trade Director for the Irish Sea, at Stena Line said: “COVID-19 infections are now at low levels and vaccination levels are increasing significantly in both countries. In the UK for example 66% of adults have now received their first dose and 30% have had both, so there is now a real need to focus on solving some of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and an obvious starting point are the hard-hit tourist, hospitality and travel sectors. With the restoring of travel between the islands of Ireland and Britain, we can start to rebuild these sectors locally in advance of the full resumption of international travel, which may take more time to agree and deliver.”

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director for Irish Ferries commented: “The ferry industry has played a key role in helping to keep vital food and medical supply lines open during the height of the pandemic. With the current UK infection rate of 48 cases per 100,000 population comparable to the lowest in Europe, we need to acknowledge the shared land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and eliminate the discrepancies and loopholes on travel restrictions on the island. Irish Ferries and Stena Line welcome the Tánaiste’s recent comments on the possibility of restoring the CTA in advance of the full resumption of international travel and would urge the Irish Government to prioritise its implementation.”

The issue with the CTA has arisen due to differing approaches by the Irish and UK governments. The Irish Government requires passengers from Britain to have a negative PCR test and they must also quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The UK Government has never imposed requirements for testing or quarantine for people travelling from anywhere on the island of Ireland to Britain. The Northern Ireland Assembly also has never imposed testing or quarantine on anyone travelling from Britain.

Both companies are also stressing that they need time to prepare for the resumption of travel. Urgent clarity is needed regarding dates so that the ferry companies can ensure they are ready from an operational perspective.

Published in Ferry
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Swedish ferry company Stena Line’s revenue from its onboard shops for the first quarter of the year has shown a large increase on its routes between the UK and the EU compared to the same period last year. The growth is due to 'Duty-Free' sales, which exceeded the company's expectations. It shows the huge potential the onboard retail sector has to provide a much-needed boost to the travel industry after lockdown.

Following Brexit, 'Duty-Free' sales are permitted onboard ferry routes between the UK and the EU. Passengers can make 'huge' savings, sometimes of up to 60%, compared to high street prices on alcohol, cigarettes and cosmetics, which can all be purchased tax-free.

Sales figures from the first three months of 2021 are far outstripping 2020, despite having only half the passengers travelling onboard the company’s ferries. Overall sales on UK – EU routes were 34% higher in Q1 2021, than they were in Q1 2020. These figures were even higher on the Irish Sea where they were up 53%, while they were 14.6% higher on the North Sea. Duty tends to be higher in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, than on the Continent, so there is more incentive to buy tax-free.

Stena Britannica

However, it is the amount that each passenger is spending that is showing the largest increases. On average the amount spent in Stena Line’s onboard shops per person has risen an impressive 80%, as people snap up bargains on the likes of Jameson Whisky, Absolut Vodka and Amber Leaf tobacco.

Stephen Bryden, Stena Line’s Head of Onboard Sales and Services, said: “‘we have invested heavily in revamping and, in some cases, extending our onboard shops so the response is very positive and has outstripped our expectations. Following the large demand that we are experiencing from people eager to enjoy the savings they can make onboard, the company will now be extending our sales offering even further. The ferry sector has suffered worse than many other sectors as we have remained fully operational 24/7 during pandemic, despite having lower passenger and freight levels, so the boost from 'Duty Free' is a welcome side-effect of Brexit not only for us but for all our passengers too.”

Sales of alcoholic drinks highest with popular brands leading the way. For instance on the Irish Sea sales of Jameson Whiskey for the first quarter of this year have outstripped sales for the whole of 2020, despite the much lower passenger levels.Figures are gathered from sales data on Stena Lines four UK routes where 'Duty Free' is currently permitted, these include routes from Wales to the Republic of England and the four routes between England and The Netherlands (see full list below).

Stena Line’s routes where 'Duty Free' is permitted

  • Holyhead – Dublin
  • Fishguard – Rosslare
  • Killingholme – Hook of Holland
  • Killingholme – Rotterdam Europoort
  • Harwich – Hook of Holland
  • Harwich – Rotterdam Europoort
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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

Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition

Where is the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition being held? Sailing at Paris 2024 will take place in Marseille on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea between 28 July and 8 August, and will feature Kiteboarding for the first time, following a successful Olympic debut in 2018 at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. The sailing event is over 700 km from the main Olympic Games venue in Paris.

What are the events? The Olympic Sailing Competition at Paris 2024 will feature ten Events:

  • Women’s: Windsurfing, Kite, Dinghy, Skiff
  • Men’s: Windsurfing, Kite, Dinghy, Skiff
  • Mixed: Dinghy, Multihull

How do you qualify for Paris 2024?  The first opportunity for athletes to qualify for Paris 2024 will be the Sailing World Championships, The Hague 2023, followed by the Men’s and Women’s Dinghy 2024 World Championships and then a qualifier on each of World Sailing’s six continents in each of the ten Events. The final opportunity is a last chance regatta to be held in 2024, just a few months before the Games begin.

50-50 split between male and female athletes: The Paris 2024 Games is set to be the first to achieve a 50-50 split between male and female athletes, building on the progress made at both Rio 2016 (47.5%) and Tokyo 2020 (48.8%). It will also be the first Olympic Games where two of the three Chief roles in the sailing event will be held by female officials,