In only their third-ever appearance at a senior event, World Under 23 bronze medallists Robert Dickson (Howth YC) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) have qualified for the 49er World Championships Gold fleet after a high stakes day in Auckland Harbour and stay in the hunt for a Tokyo 2020 Berth this week.
Double-Olympic Ryan Seaton (Ballyholme Yacht Club) with crew Séafra Guilfoyle (Royal Cork YC) missed a Gold fleet place in a three-way tie-break for 25th place and will sail the remainder of the series in the Silver fleet. Unfortunately, It is a return of the lack of consistency that has dogged the campaign billed as Ireland's top hope for Olympic qualification.
Results are here. Results denoted in a blue bar represent countries still seeking an Olympic place.
Following a nine-race qualification round at the 49er World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand today, the north Dublin pairing of Robert Dickson (Howth YC) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) have qualified for the event Gold fleet, no doubt buoyed up by their opening race win on Monday.
Dickson and Waddilove remain in the hunt for one of four Tokyo 2020 Olympic nation places available this week but only four places are available with the sole Irish duo now lying in eighth unqualified country position and 20th place. A top-eight finish is predicted as the requirement to make the Tokyo cut.
The duo were extremely consistent scoring three top ten places of 3.0, 4.0 and 9.0 in qualifying races six, seven and eight to leapfrog the Irish favourites and sail into the gold fleet at the first time of asking.
"Regardless of where Rob and Sean finish, they've achieved a personal best and have had a great regatta," commented James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Performance Director.
The end of the Qualifying Series in any Olympic-class World Championship is always a fraught scramble to make it through to the Gold Fleet Finals. Scrape through to the final 25 and you live to fight another three days. Fail to make the cut – and the best you can finish is 26th overall.
Add to that the fact that qualification to the Olympic Games is also on the line for many teams at the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX & Nacra 17 World Championships in Auckland, and there is an awful lot at stake for this group of committed sailors.
Seaton and Guilfoyle started the third day of racing with a sixth place in their flight, repeating their consistency from Wednesday. A dip in form followed with an 18th in the penultimate race. Starting with the leaders for race nine, an incident at the first turning-mark meant taking a penalty and they lost ten places to finish 18th once more.
"There's just no room for error and they had an error," said O'Callaghan. "Ryan and Séafra are very disappointed but they accept that it's a fine margin at this level and that they missed the cut for Gold fleet."
Racing continues on Friday with the final series in Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets leading to a medal race final for the top ten boats. Eleven nations are already qualified for Tokyo with four more countries to be decided this week. If qualification is not made this week, Ireland has one more chance to Q next year where a single final berth is on offer at the World Cup in Genoa.