A top-eight position needed to secure Ireland’s single place at next year's Tokyo Olympics will be the aim at the 2019 49er World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand next month.
It's going to be a big ask for the two Irish teams who have already departed for New Zealand in what is one of the final chances for 2020 Olympic qualification.
As many as 400 of the world’s best sailors, including multiple champions New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, will compete at the world championships at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club from December 3-8. The event will be broadcast by Sky Sports.
Both Ryan Seaton (a double Olympian) and Seafra Guilfoyle and rivals Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have each shown how capable they are this season at separate events but the competition will not get any hotter than December's fleet in Auckland.
In August, as Afloat reported at the time, Seaton and Guilfoyle put a patch of inconsistent sailing behind them at the World Sailing World Cup in Enoshima, venue for the 2020 Olympic sailing regatta, to finish as medal race finalists and in tenth position overall. Likewise, in another fine display, defending champions Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove of Howth Yacht Club put in an outstanding U23 49er World Championship campaign to win a bronze medal in Norway in July.
So with both teams showing great potential to make the grade, it will be interesting to see who can perform when it really matters in Auckland.
New Irish 49er coach
The team also have a new coach in Matt McGovern. The Bangor County Down sailor is Ryan Seaton's old crew from London and Rio. McGovern, who in 2017 embarked on his own campaign for Tokyo with Strangford's Robbie Gilmore. He takes on the coaching role after moving into an RYA NI High-Performance management position.