The Irish Olympic Sailing Team is to 'carefully review' its plans after failing to qualify for Tokyo 2020 in any of the four classes it contested at this week's Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.
It was expected at least two qualification places would have been earned at the championships where 40% of all Tokyo berths were up for grabs but the decision to reduce the number of Olympic places being determined at Aarhus from 50% to just 40% meant the steep qualification slope got even steeper for the young Irish team.
"There's no denying our disappointment that Ireland didn't qualify in any of the classes for Tokyo 2020 at this first attempt though this belies just how promising some of the individual performances actually were over the past week," commented James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director. "The average age of the squad is 21 and while we will carefully review our approach to Tokyo, we still expect that these sailors will continue to improve over the coming months."
After eight days of competition, the 14 Irish sailors at the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Denmark have ended their individual events. In spite of several strong performances including individual race wins, Ireland will have to wait for the next opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
In general terms, in six of the ten Olympic events, a finish in the top eight places overall was rewarded with a place in the 2020 Olympic Regatta in Aarhus.
The exceptions were the two single handers - the Laser and Laser Radial - which get 14 spots for the Men and 18 for the Women but even this turned out to be too steep for Ireland.
After several days of unsettled weather and light winds, near perfect sailing conditions greeted the sailors on the Bay of Aarhus today with competitions concluded in the Laser and Laser Radial Gold fleets as well as the 49er Silver and Bronze fleets where most of the Irish sailors have been competing.
Ireland’s best hope for qualifying for Tokyo at the event was Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club competing in the Men’s Laser event and he ended his ten-race series with a creditable performance when he placed ninth out of 58 boats in the single race that concluded the delayed schedule.
Despite winning Race 7 in the Gold fleet, he 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 shows three top ten results and that must be seen as trending positively two years out from the Games.
Wednesday also saw another Gold fleet race victory for Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins that hinted at similar to come as her senior career develops. She discarded the last race of ten-race series today (Thursday) to finish in 50th place overall.
In the Silver and Bronze fleets in three other events for Irish boats, there was a long day afloat as the Men’s 49er skiff event caught up on its weather-delayed schedule but was concluded in a four-race day. London and Rio veteran Ryan Seaton of Ballyholme Yacht Club, now paired with Séafra Guilfoyle of the Royal Cork Yacht Club ended their event in 36th place overall following sixth and second places today
Robert Dickson of Howth Yacht Club with Sean Waddilove from Skerries Sailing Club racing in the Silver fleet placed 53rd overall and best of the Development Academy crews. Sean and Tadgh Donnelly from the National Yacht Club picked places in the overall standings thanks to first and second places on the final day and ended 71st overall. Mark Hassett from Baltimore Sailing Club and Oisin O'Driscoll from Schull Harbour Sailing Club placed 75th out of the 86 entries in the class.
Amongst the single-handers, Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club finished in 93rd place overall out of 165 Lasers while Aisling Keller from Lough Derg Yacht Club was 85th out of 119 Laser Radials.
In the Finn class that ended fleet racing yesterday, Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden was finished second in the Silver fleet and 47th overall while Donaghadee Sailing Club's Oisín Mcclelland was close behind in 49th out of 90 boats.