Following the final two races at the Laser Radial World Championship this morning, Ireland has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing regatta in the women’s single-handed event, the only sailing discipline so far in which Ireland has qualified.
The berth was secured by the current Irish Radial Champion, Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) who had her best day in the Gold fleet final series to finish 46th overall in the 56-boat Gold fleet.
“This is a weight off my shoulders for sure, it’s probably the hardest regatta I’ve ever sailed,” Keller said. “To come in off the water and know that it’s done and dusted is just amazing (I’m) so happy.”
Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins placed 48th and both Irish sailors were inside the qualification criteria with Keller taking the seventh of ten-nation places decided at the championship. Hopkins would otherwise have been in the ninth nation place.
“It’s been a really long road to this moment. We’ve been working for a year towards this event particularly and even longer towards Olympic qualification,” said Hopkins. “It’s really nice to come away with the outcome we wanted.”
The world championship was won by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom who led overall going into to the final day of Gold fleet racing on Wednesday. Ten nation places for Tokyo 2020 were also decided at the event in addition to the 20 already won in 2018.
Now that Ireland has qualified, an Irish Olympic Trials Series will be held to determine which sailor represents Ireland in Tokyo. More details on the Olympic Trials format is here.
“Qualification was something that had to happen so that ended up being the focus here at the end of the regatta,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Next we go to the Olympic venue (at) Enoshima… now that we know we’re going to be there (at the Games) we’ve got to make the most of it.”
The sailing venue for next year’s Olympic regatta will host national representatives in all events next month for a scheduled test series for competitors and organisers alike.