The first European 49er test after COVID has produced some important markers for both Irish men's skiff teams at Kiel, Germany last weekend, not least the fact that it was the Under 23 duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove that came out on top.
The Howth and Skerries pairing finished 14th some 13 places ahead of double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle who had a silver fleet finish in 27th place in the 52-boat fleet.
However, it's something of a moot victory because despite four-year campaigns neither team has yet qualified Ireland for an Olympic berth. After missing out on qualification at the Australian based World Championships, Ireland is now in the last chance saloon competing with Belgium, Sweden and Italy for the one remaining European place for Tokyo 2021.
This final Olympic qualifier will not take place until 2021 but the lesson from Kiel at the weekend is that the Belgian pair Yannick Lefebvre and Tom Pelsmaekers beat both Irish teams when they tied for tenth place. And given the Italian's were only three places behind Dickson and Waddilove, it is going to make for an interesting few months of competition.
Both the Irish 49er teams will head to Austria for the 49er European Championships, from 28 Sept – 4 October on Lake Attersee, and another important test.
Meanwhile, Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland finished eighth overall in the Finn Class at Kiel.
Kiel results are here.