With the prospect of the Tokyo Olympic Regatta just two years away, the first qualification opportunity for Irish sailors takes place in Denmark at the start of August. A total of 14 Irish sailors will be competing and the bulk of them were in Dublin this morning for a pre-event briefing and media opportunity but the Olympic Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy was absent due to Volvo Ocean Race duties.
As Afloat.ie previously reported, The Sailing World Championships will be staged in Aarhus, Denmark from 30th July to 10th of August 2018 and 1,500 competitors from 100 countries are expected.
Importantly, the World Championships are the first of three opportunities for each country to win a single place at each of 10 sailing events for the Olympics. Once qualified, selection and nomination of athletes will follow.
Ireland has sailors competing in four classes of boats: 49er, Laser Standard, Laser Radial, and Finn.
Olympic silver medallist Murphy, currently competing in the closing stages of the Volvo Ocean Race will not attend Aarhus but recently announced that she will switch discipline from the single-handed Laser Radial to the double-handed women's 49erFX skiff event. She has paired up with Katie Tingle and they will begin training together in July.
Murphy's switch to the skiff event leaves two rising stars in the Laser Radial as Howth's Aoife Hopkins and Lough Derg's Aisling Keller contest the single-handed class.
Over in the men’s events, the Laser Standard rig features Rio 2016 Olympian Finn Lynch from Carlow and Belfast Lough sailor Liam Glynn competing in this demanding event.
The men's 49er skiff class features two-time Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton from Belfast who is teamed with Cork's Seafra Guilfoyle. Three other teams from the Irish Sailing Development Squad will also head to Denmark, including Dun Laoghaire's Sean and Tadgh Donnelly; Howth's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove; and Mark Hassett with Oisin O’Driscoll from West Cork.
Irish Sailing concentrates its support on four of the ten Olympic sailing disciplines but other sailors may compete independently such as in the heavyweight Finn dinghy where Baltimore's Fionn Lyden and Ulster sailor Oisin McCclelland will both be seeking to qualify Ireland for Tokyo.
"This will be a huge indicator of form and the likely prospects over the next two years for all the sailors," commented James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Performance Director. "The profile of the 2020 squad is that of fresh talent emerging from the Pathway system that currently has dozens of younger sailors actively competing to follow in future cycles."
Irish Sailing Team for the Sailing World Championships, Aarhus, Denmark
Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle
Sean & Tadgh Donnelly
Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
Mark Hassett & Oisin O’Driscoll
Laser Standard - single-hander
Laser Radial - single-hander
Finn - heavyweight single-hander