Ireland face an uphill battle to qualify the 49er for the 2020 Olympics at the Genoa World Cup event next Easter. That’s if the form over the last 12 months is the yardstick by which to judge Ireland’s chances at the last opportunity, the European qualifier for Tokyo 2020.
The remaining European contenders were done a huge favour through European countries taking the four places on offer at the just concluded World Championship in Auckland.
Form indicates that Genoa will be a four-way battle for the one remaining spot between Ireland, Belgium, Sweden and Italy. Adding to the difficulty of predicting the outcome is the fact that, like Ireland, there is more than one contending crew from two of the other countries.
Last year in Genoa, the Belgium team of LeFebvre/Pelsmaekers were one place ahead of Italians Visconti/Togni, with Howth Yacht Club's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove 11 places further back. The top placing of a nation in contention was by the Russian team of Chekh/Zotov, but they could only manage 56th in this year’s worlds.
Perhaps the most consistent performers are the Swedes, Hedstrom/Hamel, but it is the two Irish teams that are currently enjoying upward results trajectories.
There is another World Championship in just two months time in Australia, but perhaps the Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma at the end of March will be the best indicator of form entering the decisive event. After all, that is a venue where Ryan Seaton has enjoyed one of his skiff career highs, winning the 2016 Trofeo Princesa event outright.
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