Irish Olympic Sailing campaigners are now in Japan with two big events in Enoshima. With only one Irish boat qualified and a year to go to the Olympic regatta itself, the race is well and truly on to try and get more Irish sailors at the Games. Ireland ultimately hopes to contest four classes. Taking place between 15-22 August 2019 at Enoshima Yacht Harbour, the official Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing venue, is 'Ready Steady Tokyo', the official test event for the Games in one year's time. And if the last two Olympic Games are anything to go by, this week will be a good indicator of how the medal challengers will fare in one year's time.
At Rio 2016, 13 sets of medallists at the test event went on to claim glory at the Games, with 18 replicating podium positions in 2011 and 2012 at the London Olympiad.
Out of those 21 individual sailors involved in 2015 and 2016, 17 of them will line up at Ready Steady Tokyo eyeing similar results, including six who achieved the impressive feat of winning gold at both.
As regular Afloat readers will know silver medal winner Annalise Murphy has switched classes to the 49erFX for Tokyo and will compete in this week's test event but Rio team-mate Ryan Seaton, now sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle, is not competing in the men's 49er skiff ceding the single place to the Howth duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove.
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Overall, 30 individual medallists from Rio 2016, as well as an additional 11 from London 2012, are amongst the 363 sailors competing at Ready Steady Tokyo. With only a small percentage already confirmed for next year's Games, the stakes are high on the road to Tokyo 2020, and this week's test event will play a big part in the decisions made before next year.
But it's not just the sailors using this week to test proceedings ahead of 2020. Ready Steady Tokyo will be a perfect opportunity for World Sailing and Tokyo 2020 to finalise their planning for the Olympic Games next year. It also provides a great opportunity for the race management team to test the field of play that will be used at the Games - and all of the Chief Officials appointed to Tokyo 2020 are here too.
49ers Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have described how they cool down on the water (a lot of ice in their rash vests), and having a canopy on the boat to protect them from the sun. Each nation has one entry per class, but Ireland has got two in the Laser Radials. That means Ireland is represented by: Aisling Keller and Aoife Hopkins (Laser Radial); Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove (49er) and Annalise Murphy & Katie Tingle (49erFX).
The second event is the World Sailing World Cup starting in Enoshima on 25th August-1st September. Ireland will have got a full team competing in this: Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller in the Laser Radial; Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon in the Laser; Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49ers; Annalise Murphy and Katie Tingle in the 49erFX.