Another three top ten results scored in the gold fleet of the 49er World Championships for Dubliners Robert Dickson (Howth YC) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) moved the pairing up to 19th overall in Auckland Harbour today. It's been this week's stand out Irish performance that saw them overtake rivals double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in the hunt for one of four elusive Tokyo places on offer in the 88-boat fleet.
The breeze on the race course today was a little softer than previous days, and at times extremely unpredictable and shifty.
The Irish Under 23 World Bronze medalists counted a seventh and a tenth are were heading for a race win in the third race when they were pipped into second place by multiple world and Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke who now lead the regatta.
Unfortunately, despite the bravo performance in their first senior gold fleet event, Dickson and Waddilove only move up one country place to seventh, with the top four countries in the fleet qualifying this week for the Tokyo Olympics.
Pre-event forecasts indicated a top-eight finish would be required to secure a place. The gap for Dickson and Waddilove (currently in 19th overall) to that fourth country place occupied by Poland in tenth place is some 21 nett points. The battle continues on Sunday in two final gold fleet races in the morning followed by the double points medal races later in the day for the top ten in the fleet.
Racing in the Silver fleet, double-Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton (Ballyholme Yacht Club) with crew Séafra Guilfoyle (Royal Cork YC) overcame their disappointment from Thursday counting two top ten places and a 16th for the day and are 34th overall.
Failure to secure an Olympic berth this weekend means Ireland will look for the single final place on offer next year at the European Continental Championships in Genoa in April.
Burling and Tuke are the benchmark
Following four years of dominance leading up to their gold medal at Rio 2016, Burling and Tuke continue to prove that they are the benchmark in 49er racing. Heading into today’s racing the Olympic Champions needed to gain seven points to reel in the regatta leaders of Erik Heil / Thomas Ploessel (GER). Finishing the day with a race win, the four-time 49er World Champions amassed a 13 point lead over the second-placed Germans. However, they didn’t do it by themselves – with Heil / Ploessel stumbling in a major way to rack up a whopping 38 points from just three races.
Closing in on the top pair but with still a large gap are the 2017 World Champions Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR). Even more interesting is the pack of four boats behind them with only 17 points separating this bunch, all of whom will be scrapping hard to climb on to the podium on Sunday.
Full results are here