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Erin McIlwaine is an 18-year-old sailor from Kilkeel on the South Down coast and a member of the nearby Newcastle Yacht Club and Royal St. George in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay.

Erin has recently teamed up with Ellie Cunnane from Tralee Bay SC to campaign a 49erFX for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, USA. Erin is the skipper, and she and Ellie began sailing together in the 49erFX in July of this year after a long friendship that evolved in the Junior Topper Class. They currently sail out of the Royal St George Yacht Club.

The 49erFX European Championship will be held at Vilamoura in Portugal in October next, so Erin and Ellie head out to that venue on Boxing Day to train and will return to Ireland in March ahead of a busy competition season.

Erin McIlwaine on the helm and Ellie Cunnane in the 49erFX Photo: via FacebookErin McIlwaine on the helm and Ellie Cunnane in the 49erFX Photo: via Facebook

Erin can count among her achievements to date the Female World Topper Championship in China in 2018 and then she moved into the 29er two-person dinghy. She travelled to CN El Balis, in Spain in August last to the 29er World Championships.

Erin said “ This was a huge event, with a record number of boats for the 29er class. With 240 teams competing, we were split into six fleets, spread over three courses. I was sailing with Emily Conan from Royal St George Yacht Club, and we got eighth in the Silver Fleet and eighth Girls overall”.

Ellie was placed in the top third of the 72-boat fleet at last year’s EURILCA Youth Championships in Croatia.

Around the middle of May Erin and Ellie bought an FX with the aim of training over the summer. That began at Tralee Bay SC with Thomas Chaix from Dinghy Performance before starting training with Irish Sailing as part of the new 49er FX Development Programme.

RYA Northern Ireland posted on Facebook “Great to see further diversity in our sport, with double-handed sailing becoming more popular and increased Olympic Sailing opportunities for female athletes”.

Erin is being supported by Boost Drinks through its partnership with SportsAid.

Published in 29er
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Five Irish sailors will be looking to make a big impression at the 49er Worlds 2022 in the frigid waters of Nova Scotia, which get under way this coming Wednesday 31 August.

In the 49er division, the experienced skiff duo of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (Howth Yacht Club/Skerries Sailing Club) will be up against the new Royal Cork pairing of Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan within a challenging field.

Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny DurcanSéafra Guilfoyle (left) and Johnny Durcan

Meanwhile, in the 49erFX, Dun Laoghaire’s Saskia Tidey and new Team GB skiff partner Freya Black will be looking to improve upon their 24th-place finish in last month’s Europeans and make a bigger splash at Hubbards on St Margaret’s Bay, some 50km west of Halifax.

Robert Dickson and Sean WaddiloveRobert Dickson (left) and Sean Waddilove

The village’s community waterfront on the site of a former fish processing plant has been completely transformed in preparation for the championships hosting the cream of 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 racers the world over.

Racing at the 2022 World Championship runs from Wednesday 31 August to Monday 5 September with daily live streams from Day 3 (Friday 2 September). 

A teenage sailor who competed for Tunisia at Tokyo 2020 has tragically died after an accident while training at sea.

According to BBC Sport, 17-year-old Eya Guezguez drowned after the boat she was sailing with her twin sister Sarra, who survived the incident, capsized in strong winds in the Mediterranean off the North African country's capital Tunis on Sunday (10 April).

The Guezguez twins were 16 when they raced in the 49erFX class at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer — in a field that included Dublin sailor Saskia Tidey — and placed 21st overall.

They had been tipped to be future stars in the two-handed class.

BBC Sport has more on the story HERE.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The current Olympic and world champions in the 49er and 49erFX will compete for the 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca against top contenders in both classes.

Many of the leading sailors have been training during recent days, taking advantage of the excellent conditions on the bay of Palma, sporting the striking black sails that have been incorporated as the new official equipment for Paris 2024.

Among the 10 classes that will compete for the 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofía, the 49er stands out as the fastest and most spectacular monohull in the fleet.

The powerful two-person skiff has been an Olympic class for the 49er since the Sydney 2000 Games — and since Rio 2016 for the women’s 49erFX. Both share the same hull and crew of two, but the FX has a scaled-down rig.

According to Canadian Ben Remocker, manager of both classes: "The special thing about the 49er and FX is the balance between skipper and crew.

“In other classes, the crew is almost anonymous, whereas here he basically drives the boat with the sails and works in full conjunction with the skipper, which has allowed many sailors in the class to become great and respected sailing professionals, such as Xabi Fernandez, Blair Tuke or Iain Jensen. The 49er was the catalyst for them to become what they are today.”

With just under two weeks to go before the annual showdown begins on the waters of Palma, the list of entries includes a total of 80 boats from 28 nations in the 49er class and 59 teams representing 25 nations in the 49erFX class.

A cocktail of talent

The 49er fleet will include the world leaders in the class, who arrive in Palma after making interesting crew changes. Such is the case of GBR’s Olympic champion helm Dylan Fletcher, who will now compete with Rhos Hawes as crew.

Also changing partners are the 2021 world champions, the Dutchmen Bart Lambriex and Pim van Vugt, now in different boats, and Denmark’s representatives in Tokyo 2020, Jonas Warrer (the 2008 Olympic champion) who now sails in a rival boat against his former crew Jakob Precht Jensen.

In addition to the performance of these new partnerships, the new Spanish duo formed by Diego Botín and Florian Trittel is generating a lot of expectation. This new pairing will land in Mallorca directly from San Francisco, where they are competing with the Spanish SailGP team.

The 470 Olympic runner-up, Swedish Fredrik Bergstrom, will be making his debut in the 49er. And wwo boats will fly the Indian flag, something slightly more unusual in this division.

Saskia Tidey and Freya Black are a new 49erFX team for Paris 2024Saskia Tidey and Freya Black are a new 49erFX team for Paris 2024

Simply the best

In the 49erFX category, the Olympic champions of Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, will be back in Palma. The Brazilians’ track record includes six medals in the last nine World Championships (one gold, four silver and one bronze) and the title of champions in the last edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca.

The Mallorcan Javier Torres, Grael/Kunze’s coach in their last titles, highlights the revolution undergone by the 49erFX fleet since the Games: “Of the top 10 from Tokyo, seven are no longer here, but there is a young generation that is very strong and will give us something to talk about: the Belgians, the Poles... We will have to see how the change of the New Zealanders works out.” Torres is referring to Alexandra Maloney, Olympic runner-up at Rio 2016, who is now competing with Olivia Hobbs.

Other pairs making their debut in Palma are those formed by the current World Champion, the Dutch Odile van Aanholt, and the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Annette Duetz; or the Team GB pair of Freya Black and Saskia Tidey, the latter a two-time Olympian, 2020 world runner-up and Dublin native now based in Dorset.

Black sails

As the first scoring event for the Hempel World Cup Series, the 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca will be the first time that the teams will use the new regulation equipment for Paris 2024 in competition, in which the incorporation of 3Di technology sails stands out.

This detail will mean a spectacular aesthetic change in the fleet due to the characteristic black colour of the material, but it will also mean an interesting change in performance, at least in theory.

“Still a few teams that don’t have it, and of course teams can use the old equipment through the season as well,” Remocker says. “We’ll see what the performances differences are.”

The 49er and 49erFX teams will be based at the Club Nàutic S’Arenal. Their competition programme will consist of a maximum of 12 races to be sailed between 4-8 April, and their medal race on 9 April.

The 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca is the first qualifying regatta for the Hempel World Cup Series 2022, organised by World Sailing, the International Sailing Federation. For more visit www.trofeoprincesasofia.org

Two-time Olympian Saskia Tidey has teamed up with 20-year-old Freya Black (pictured below) in the 49erFX after Tokyo partner Charlotte Dobson called time on her Olympic career.

A national champion in the 29er class, Black is returning to skiff racing after competing in the mixed 470 class for the past two years for a tilt at Paris 2024.

Tidey, a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, was forced to quit the Irish team after Rio and cited a lack of opportunities at home. 

As regular Afloat readers will know, Dobson and Tidey had a commanding lead in the early stages of the Tokyo Regatta before finishing sixth overall. 

“Freya is a great young sailor who has transitioned seamlessly into the FX from the 29er/ 470 class,” said Tidey, 28, from Sandycove on Dublin Bay but now based full time in Portland, Dorset.

Tidey told Afloat: “There was a sparkly feeling in the boat when we first sailed. I left the boat park that day feeling pretty motivated and excited to see more. Our attitudes, beliefs and raw competitiveness have blended so well from the get-go. I truly believe in our potential to represent Great Britain at Paris 2024 and challenge for medal-winning performances towards LA 2028.”

Black, from Goudhurst, Kent, added: “Partnering up with Sas in a 49erFX is a huge opportunity for me to make the jump into a team that has the experience and knowledge of a medal-worthy campaign. Bringing together Sas’ epic crewing skills and my 470 background of racing and boat feel, we see the potential of a great team.”

“It feels pretty good to be back in the harness and wearing the BST bib again. I have put a lot of thought into why I want to continue to develop as a world-class sailor with the BST. I still have the passion for pressure & the fire inside me to push for more.

“When the opportunity to sail with Freya Black presented itself I was really excited to take it. Freya is a great young sailor who has transitioned seamlessly into the FX from the 29er/ 470 class. There was a sparkly feeling in the boat when we first sailed. I left the boat park that day feeling pretty motivated and excited to see more. Our attitudes, beliefs and raw competitiveness have blended so well from the get-go. I truly believe in our potential to represent Great Britain at Paris 2024 and challenge for medal-winning performances towards LA 2028.

“Currently we are in Lanzarote training. This year is about playing with the boat as a new team and learning from our mistakes. With it being such a short cycle to Paris 2024 we will be making the most of every hour we have to ensure we qualify GB for the Olympic Games. I am honoured to have the opportunity to challenge a third Olympic Games in the 49erFX and be back with the British Sailing Team.”

The first major event of 2022 for the British Sailing Team will be the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma, Mallorca, in early April.

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The 49erFX partner of Dun Laoghaire’s Saskia Tidey at Tokyo 2020 has spoken of her fond memories of competing at the highest level as she called time on her Olympic career.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Charlotte Dobson was among a host of top names in British sailing who announced their retirement from Olympic campaigning this week.

Originally contesting in the Laser Radial (now ILCA 6), the Scottish sailor switched to the 49erFX skiff when it was introduced in 2014, teaming up with Sophie Ainsworth. The pair won their spot with Team GB for Rio 2016, finishing ninth.

Dobson then joined forces with Ireland’s Saskia Tidey following the Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor’s decision to move to Team GBR in 2017, citing a lack of opportunities for her to pursue her career at home.

The duo quickly established themselves as a powerhouse of the 49erFX fleet, backed up by string of podium results silvers at the Olympic test event and the 2020 World Championships.

Dobson and Tidey led the Tokyo 2020 regatta in the windy early stages before being overhauled later on as the breeze turned light, eventually finishing sixth.

Dobson, who married Dylan Fletcher a few weeks after returning from Tokyo, is now looking to work in banking.

“We gave it a really good crack but it wasn’t enough at the end. I think you have to know when it’s time to say that we did our best but it wasn’t really good enough”

On retirement, the 35-year-old from Rhu, near Glasgow, says: “The latest news for me is that I’m going to hang up my sailing boots and trapeze harness and say goodbye to the Olympic world. It’s been an amazing period of time, and now I’m going on to work out what the next thing is.

“It was a pretty easy decision to be honest. I genuinely felt in the couple of years before Tokyo that Saskia [Tidey] and I had given ourselves the best chance of winning a medal in Tokyo. We’d worked with some incredible coaches and support staff, and had some amazing sailors in our training groups. When you’re proud of the campaign you put together you have to accept the result at the end.

“We gave it a really good crack but it wasn’t enough at the end. I think you have to know when it’s time to say that we did our best but it wasn’t really good enough.”

Asked for her fondest memories of the Games, Dobson says: “It’s probably more of feeling than a memory. Regardless of the result not turning out the way we wanted, I wholeheartedly feel hugely proud to be part of that Tokyo team.

“We were surrounded by excellent people doing pretty incredible things. The atmosphere was one of elevating yourself. It was a huge honour to see some of the sailing greats that we had do their thing, and try to emulate that.”

As for her future plans? “I’m dipping my toes into the real world slowly, and I’m hopefully going to find a job in banking,” she says. “I’m definitely not going very far from Portland, I love it here. Sailing has brought me all the way from the west coast of Scotland to this little island and I love it. I won’t be completely disappearing.”

Dobson also had the following advice for sailing’s next generation: “I’d say just stay in love with our sport. It’s the most incredible sport, and so wide-ranging. You can sail fast boats, slow boats, complicated boats, simple boats, with people, on your own… Never lose the love for the sport.

“Do as much sailing across a variety of boats. And if you decide you want to go to the Olympics it’s totally possible. Anything is possible when you set a goal, put your mind to it and crack on.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) have won gold in the 49erFX Women with Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke (GER) taking silver and Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) bronze.

The remaining Irish interest in the Tokyo sailing regatta focussed on one-time regatta leader Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who sailed with Charlotte Dobson into sixth overall after finishing seventh in the medal race.

Brazil was struggling for a lane out of the start but found a gap at the committee boat in the last 10 seconds and tacked out to the right on a lonely path while the other nine boats carried on towards the left.

First around the first mark was Argentina, Norway in second with Brazil in third and the Netherlands in fifth - advantage Brazil.

On the first downwind leg, the Netherlands were fighting with Germany and Spain for the silver and bronze but Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) got stuck on the outside of a slow mark rounding at the leeward gate, held up the French team. The Dutch were now at the back, in 10th and out of the medals.

However, up the final windward leg, the Dutch pulled back two critical places, enough to get them ahead of Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo (ESP) for the bronze medal.

Victoria Travasco and Maria Sol (ARG) won the Medal Race by a long distance from Norway. But a third across the finish was sufficient for Brazil to win the gold medal. Grael and Kunze have successfully defended the Olympic title they won in Rio 2016.

Results here

Charlotte Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said:

“That was some morning I think I’ve had. The end of our campaign and our medal hopes, but amazing to watch Dylan and Stu win their gold medal.

“They’ve been amazing supporters of ours the whole way through this cycle and this morning optimises to me the ying and yang of sport - with amazing results someone has to lose. That’s kind of what we know when you get into this world. You risk feeling terrible for the moment to be able to feel how Dylan and Stu feel right now.

“I’m sure this gold medal [Dylan Fletcher’s] is going to follow me around. It will be on our dining table I’m sure for the foreseeable future, but I’m just really, really, really proud of him and the team that has been around both Dylan and Stu, and Sas and I. The support we’ve got, the help we’ve had from the National Lottery to even be here, is just second to none.

“Sometimes this campaign when it got difficult, certainly with covid, you look around at the support around you, you think if you can’t do it with these guys around you, you probably don’t deserve to. And I mean the support we’ve had has been incredible.

“We had another light wind and choppy medal race. Just as the breeze was starting to pick up, we were on first. We didn’t have the best start and lane hold, and then we got a bit dictated to by that time, so really the race was kind of out of hands in that light wind stuff and it’s really important to be in control of your race.

“We kind of did come back into it right at the end, so that was really nice to do that last little bit with the kite up past the rest of our team. To be honest a large part of the damage was done in the last two days in the lighter winds.

“At this level you can’t expect to win medals with holes in your performance and unfortunately we kind of got found out this week in these lighter winds, which is frustrating because in the past we’ve dealt with that weakness. But yeah, really disappointing.

“We fought for every place we could around the medal race, the spirit was really good all the way up to the end so we have that to be proud of.

“It’s been amazing [to watch Dylan win gold]. Very, very stressful, I feel really bad for what we have done to our parents and friends and family over the last couple of weeks, but really, really proud. This morning he just seemed so on it and so ready. When I saw the split from the kiwis, I was really proud of him, like he was backing himself and he was really confident. And he and Stu are such an incredible team together, they bring the best out in each other. I can’t really be more happy for him to be honest.

“[The wedding is planned for] 26th August, so not too long to even out the tan lines! No [the preparations aren’t done] in the slightest, but time and pressure will make us organised. I’m sure we’ll just be decisive. The wedding is in Portland which is where we live.

“Quite often it does happen like that [a close finish], but not usually for gold and silver, that will probably be one of the moments of the sailing games I would have thought. It’s just amazing for that to be broadcast to our friends and family at home and all the people who have really put us here, buying lottery tickets, supporting sports, so thank you National Lottery we hope we gave you a good show this summer.”

Saskia Tidey, 28, from Sandycove on Dublin Bay, said:

“It was a week of two halves. We started off with some pretty glamour conditions here in Japan, a lot more what of what we were expecting, real skiff conditions and we started off on the right foot. And the second half of the week we lost wind which is pretty challenging in our boats. But you know we fought through it and we pushed hard and tried to fight for every inch and it hasn’t gone our way.

“But in saying all that, we’ve put together a campaign over five years and it’s been an honour to sail with Charlotte and to be part of this team. Now it’s about cheering on everyone else and being part of the rest of the experience.”

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Royal Irish Yacht Club skiff crew Saskia Tidey from Dun Laoghaire Harbour faces another 24-hour wait for her medal race at Tokyo 2020

The 49er and 49erFX medal races are each postponed until tomorrow. They will be added to the programme that includes the Nacra 17 Medal race.

As Afloat previously reported, Tidey sailing with Charlotte Dobson for Team GB are eight points off the 49erFX Podium and 11 points off the lead. 

One time fleet leaders, the Scottish-Irish duo excelled in this week's stronger conditions but had a torrid couple of days in Enoshima's light stuff.  The pair are silver medal winners from the 2017 World Sailing Cup

Going into the 49erFX Women Medal Race two high-class teams share the top spot on equal points – the double World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) who will wear the yellow bibs, and Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) looking to defend their Olympic title from five years ago.

Only three points off the lead are Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke (GER) who are promising to race aggressively for the gold, while just back from them are the reigning World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Unstoppable and steadier through high-speed manoeuvres in the stronger winds, Charlotte Dobson and her Dun Laoghaire Harbour crew Saskia Tidey have ruled the waves of Sagami Bay this week for Team GB but light winds on Friday dropped the pair back to fourth overall after counting (16), 14 and 15 in their 21-boat fleet.

Others in the fleet took the softer breeze as an opportunity to attack for the lead in the Women’s Skiff fleet on the Kamakura Course.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Tidey, who represented Ireland at Rio and switched to Team GB because of lack of opportunity at home, remains an odds on favourite for medal success come Saturday though and is currently just seven points off the overall lead and one point off third place.

Results and overall standings are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson consolidated their top position in the 49er FX with three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in Tokyo.

There was sun, plenty of breeze and waves with 14 knots of northerly building to 19kts through the day.

Dobson and Tidey (GBR) may not have won a race in the big waves today, but 4,2,5 scores keeps the British in the lead by five points from the Dutch, who had the best results from the outing.

Double World Champions Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) notched up two races wins and a sixth, looking very comfortable in the difficult conditions. Two points behind them are the reigning World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo.

Bekkering admitted sailing the skiff in those waves is constant stress, "You can’t push the boat to 100%, otherwise you capsize, so it’s quite stressful concentrating so hard, but the stress is enjoyable too. It’s part of what makes sailing these boats so fun."

After racing Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said: “These boats are just epic to sail in those big waves and when you delete from your brain the fact that it’s the Olympics and these are big waves and capsizes are expensive, they’re just the most phenomenal boats to sail. I think what we did quite well today was just focussing on doing all of our little processes.

“We call Sas the air hostess as we’re going down the massive waves because she’s in charge of the kite control. So it was quite a good day on Tidey Airlines today.

Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson - three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in TokyoDun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey (right) and Scotland's Charlotte Dobson - three top-five finishes in today's racing at the Olympic Regatta in Tokyo

“There were times where it was definitely not boring, but I think we managed to keep doing our basics pretty well. And on a day like that with the big sea state, having three good counters is a really good day so we’re pretty happy.

“We’re feeling good. I think what’s really played out over the last couple of days for us is we’ve put so much work in the previous years to this of being really pernickety with the processes. Sometimes at the time they felt a bit over the top and a bit noisy, but what we’re feeling now is that we are ourselves on the water. We’re sailing the same boat that we’ve sailed for the last four years, we’re the same team, the same processes so it does feel really comfy. We’re leaning and playing on that a little bit at the moment.

“Looking forward to a rest tomorrow and then we’ll be back at it the next day.”

Saskia Tidey, 28, from Sandycove in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay and a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, said: “Today was a big day for everyone on the racecourse. It feels really really long and the conditions here are really challenging, so every race you have to regroup, start from scratch and figure out what you’re about to get into. So it’s a good day, but right now we’re pretty knackered so we’ll need a few hours to settle into relaxing.”

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020

Tokyo 2021 Olympic Sailing

Olympic Sailing features a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. The programme at Tokyo 2020 will include two events for both men and women, three for men only, two for women only and one for mixed crews:

Event Programme

RS:X - Windsurfer (Men/Women)
Laser - One Person Dinghy (Men)
Laser Radial - One Person Dinghy (Women)
Finn - One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) (Men)
470 - Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women)
49er - Skiff (Men)
49er FX - Skiff (Women)
Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull

The mixed Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull and women-only 49er FX - Skiff, events were first staged at Rio 2016.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race, the individual or crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner.

During races, boats navigate a course shaped like an enormous triangle, heading for the finish line after they contend with the wind from all three directions. They must pass marker buoys a certain number of times and in a predetermined order.

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venues: Enoshima Yacht Harbor

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dates

Following a one year postponement, sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 23 July 2021 and run until the 8 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venue: Enoshima Yacht Harbour

No. of events: 10

Dates: 23 July – 8 August 2021

Tokyo 2020 Irish Olympic Sailing Team

ANNALISE MURPHY, Laser Radial

Age 31. From Rathfarnham, Dublin.

Club: National Yacht Club

Full-time sailor

Silver medallist at the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio (Laser Radial class). Competed in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/2018. Represented Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics. Laser Radial European Champion in 2013.

ROBERT DICKSON, 49er (sails with Seán Waddilove)

Winner, U23 49er World Championships, September 2018, and 2018 Volvo/Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year

DOB: 6 March 1998, from Sutton, Co. Dublin. Age 23

Club: Howth Yacht Club

Currently studying: Sports Science and Health in DCU with a Sports Scholarship.

SEÁN WADDILOVE, 49er (sails with Robert Dickson)

Winner, U23 49er World Championships, September 2018, and recently awarded 2018 Volvo Afloat/Irish Sailor of the Year

DOB: 19 June 1997. From Skerries, Dublin

Age 24

Club: Skerries Sailing Club and Howth Yacht Club

Currently studying International Business and Languages and awarded sports scholarship at TU (Technology University)

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