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Displaying items by tag: Finn Lynch

Ireland is hoping a five-man team in Portugal can take one of two final nation places in the final men's Laser Olympic qualifier in Vilamoura starting on Monday.

Vilamoura International Regatta is the last chance for the Laser sailors to secure a place for Ireland in Tokyo and will see a fleet of 120 boats all looking for a last-minute speed edge, just 100 days out from the Olympic Regatta itself.

Vilamoura is itself a hastily rescheduled qualifier due to COVID as the earlier venue at Hyeres Regatta in France was cancelled over pandemic fears.

If the Irish can find the pace it will bring the Tokyo Olympic Sailing team up to three boats with the earlier qualification of the Irish Women's Laser Radial in 2019 and the men's 49er skiff a month ago.

Finn Lynch 

Despite some strong individual performances across his four-year campaign, inconsistency has prevented next week's main Irish hope, Finn Lynch, from taking a nation place so far.

Lynch's big chance came in 2018 when 40% of all Tokyo places went up for grabs at the World Championships in Aarhus. Despite the fact, he had three top ten results in his score sheet that week he still failed to qualify.

That miss now looks very expensive for the Rio representative as he enters the last chance saloon with up to 17 other countries also looking for elusive Tokyo tickets.

Countries still seeking nation qualification are: Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine but these can be boiled down to five or six main rivals who are capable of medal race finishes in Vilamoura.

To compound difficulties, nation spots for the Laser Men discipline have been reduced for Tokyo, 11 fewer than at the Rio Games in 2016. 

Irish Laser rivals for Tokyo

Lynch also has some strong domestic rivals to contend with in Portugal because whichever Irish sailor qualifies the country next week will get the Olympic nomination.

Liam Glynn (Ballyholme Yacht Club) and Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) and Tom Higgins and Hugo Kennedy (both of the Royal St. George Yacht Club) are all racing next week.

County Down's Liam Glynn (21) was the Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in 2018 and the Topper World Champion in 2013   County Down's Liam Glynn (21) was the Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in 2018 and the Topper World Champion in 2013 Photo: Tom Thouw

Team management is saying it's a 'tough task' but of all of them, Lynch has shown he is capable of grinding out the required result. 

Personal best is a boost

Coming off the back of the European Championships in Poland last October, Lynch showed the depth of his Olympic ambition and secured a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126. It's a highly creditable result that will boost the 24-year-old's confidence next week.

Ewan McMahon (20) from Howth was the Silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016Ewan McMahon (20) from Howth was the Silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016

"There’s a bunch of good people who still haven’t qualified. There are five or six nations with guys who can have regattas in the top ten but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m focussing on trying to improve on the things that held me back on the last two qualification regattas. And If I can do that, there’s no reason that I cannot get a spot", Lynch told the Irish Laser Class AGM last November. See the full interview here.

Royal St. George Yacht Club youth sailors Tom Higgins (pictured above) and Hugo Kennedy are both competing at Vilamoura International RegattaRoyal St. George Yacht Club youth sailors Tom Higgins (pictured above) and Hugo Kennedy are both competing at Vilamoura International Regatta

Lynch and the rest of the team have benefitted from the exclusive services of Slovenian Vasilij Zbogar, a three-time Olympic medallist, so there is much to say that Lynch -  if not one of the five competing - can produce another sensational result, just as the Howth 49er skiff crew did in Lanzarote last month.

The competition begins on Monday 19 April and concludes on Saturday 24 April 2021. More details on the regatta website here

Published in National YC
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After so much doubt over its final Olympic qualifying event, the men's Laser class has been confirmed for the 17-24th April in Vilamoura, Portugal.

As Afloat previously reported, this is the last chance for the Irish Laser Men to qualify with two nation places up for grabs.

Representing Ireland will be Rio rep Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club, Liam Glynn of Ballyholme in Northern Ireland and Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club.

For Ireland to qualify, an Irish sailor has to finish in the top two of those European countries that have yet to qualify.

The main contenders for these slots are Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch recovered to a strong sixth from his ninth overall position going into the final day of racing in the ILCA 7 (men's Laser) fleet of 31 boats at the Lanzarote Winter Series Regatta today.

After ten races plus today's light air medal race, the Rio Olympian ended the training regatta some 17 points off fifth overall but ahead of Dutch sailor Duko Bos, and Switzerland's Eliot Merceron both main rivals for one of the final Tokyo qualification berths.

Race win for Tom Higgins

The regatta saw a return to the water for Royal St. George's Tom Higgins after an absence of two days and a what a return he made, winning race ten of the series to beat among others Brazilian legend Robert Scheidt. Scheidt, the holder of two gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze from five Olympic Games, finished second overall to France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz.

Howth Yacht Club's Ewan McMahon who lost a day due to injury finished 26th.

The regatta takes the Irish men's Laser team a step closer to Hyeres Regatta in April where there are two final Olympic spots available at the planned European Sailing Cup. Up to six countries are in the running – Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium and Ireland with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the latest World Championships but, significantly, top of those competing this week in Lanzarote. 

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Annalise Murphy has dropped to fourth overall in the ILCA 6 class after a penultimate day of lighter wind conditions at the Olympic classes Lanzarote Winter Series in the Canary Islands.

The 2016 Irish Olympic silver medalist had overhauled regatta leader Anne Marie Rindom of Denmark by a single point after race eight today and moved briefly into the overall lead but after a 17 scored in race nine this afternoon, the National Yacht Club solo sailor was back in fourth overall with a scoresheet so far of  3,2,2,2,1,6,4,33 and 17.

Conditions were much lighter today than the first two days of rig busting weather in the Canaries competition with easterly winds from six to 13-knots.

Howth Yacht Club's Eve McMahon is lying in 25th place in the 40-boat fleet.

Finn Lynch drops back to ninth

The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch has dropped back from sixth to ninth overall in the ILCA 7 fleet of 31 boats.

A win for Lynch in race eight provided his best result of the series so far but otherwise, a 21 and 22 scored in today's other two races put the Rio Olympian back three places overall with 76 points overall and a scoreline to date of 14, 2, 6, 7, 22, 3, 21, 1 and 22.

Ewan McMahon returned to the fleet today after an eye injury sustained on Tuesday kept him out of three races. The Howth sailor is lying 23rd overall. Tom Higgins of the Royal St. George Yacht Club did not compete.

The final races of the series including a medal race will be held on Thursday.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch, Ireland's top hope for an ILCA 7 berth in Tokyo this July, stays sixth overall after six races sailed in a breezy second day of the Lanzarote Winter Series but neither of his Irish teammates competed in today's three tough races in 20-knots and big waves. 

Howth Yacht Club's Ewan McMahon was forced to retire from racing following an eye injury in race four this morning. Exact details are not known but it appears the UCD third-year engineering student was struck by a boom end at a gybe mark in the first race. The injury was bad enough to rule him out of racing for the day but it is understood McMahon is 'ok' and should be able to race tomorrow.

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins also counted three 'DNCs'.

Winds are forecast to be lighter for today's racing.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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As Ireland tries to boost its Olympic sailing team from currently one dinghy (Annalise Murphy in the Radial) with two more (a men's Laser and a 49er), the final Olympic qualifier for the men's Laser class has been confirmed for France in April 2021 (French Olympic Week, April 17-24 in Hyeres).

There are still two nation places up for grabs and three Irish men are chasing a final berth. Ireland is up against Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands so it is likely to go right down to the wire before we know who ultimately claims the place. 

Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are all looking for the single berth and whoever finishes on top in the Cote D'Azur will be deemed to have been selected.

Since late summer performance sailing has been back in regatta mode with the team competing across Europe in Poland and Italy. 

After training from the Irish Sailing Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire all summer, once restrictions lifted the Lasers and Laser Radials headed to Lake Garda in Italy for training, and then on to the Italian National Championships – the first time the team had competed since Covid restrictions began. Murphy won this competition overall and from there the team headed to the European Championships in Gdansk, Poland.

As Afloat reported previously, Finn Lynch had a great regatta finishing in 13th position in Gdansk, a personal best for the Dun Laoghaire ace but there was a disappointment overall for Tokyo qualified Murphy. There was another personal best for Lynch's rival Glynn too, who finished 43 from 126.

Howth's Eve McMahon at only 16-years-old had her first senior European championships, qualifying for the Gold Fleet and finishing in 45th - a great marker of future potential.

More on Finn Lynch's plans here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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2016 Irish Rio representative Finn Lynch believes that he can take one of the final two qualification spots for Tokyo 2021 in the Men's Laser class if he focuses on improving areas that prevented him from doing so at the last two qualification regattas. 

"There’s a bunch of good people who still haven’t qualified. There are five or six nations with guys who can have regattas in the top ten but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m focussing on trying to improve on the things that held me back on the last two qualification regattas. And If I can do that, there’s no reason that I cannot get a spot", he told the Irish Laer Class AGM last week.

Lynch gave his online interview coming off the back of the European Championships in Poland last month where he showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions and secured a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126. It's a highly creditable result that will boost the 24-year-old's confidence in his race for one of the final Olympic berths.

Finn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser EuropeansFinn Lynch took a 13th overall - and a personal best - at the 2020 Laser Europeans

Presumably, Lynch's training will focus on some uneven performances where the Irish ace has shown himself well able to win world championship races but, unfortunately,  just not managed to string together a consistent series to seize one of the prized Olympic berths.

As Afloat reported previously, the World Sailing Championships at Aarhus, Denmark, in August 2018 was the first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo, but Irish crews in three events did not pass the test then. Despite winning Race 7 in the Gold fleet, Lynch missed qualification by about 20 points as he carried two mid-forties results after he was disqualified from Race 8 for a premature start. Yet, in all this, his score sheet showed three top ten results, an otherwise very positive result. At the next qualification opportunity, the 2019 World Championships in Japan, Lynch ended the championship in 40th overall in the 148-boat fleet, 11th unqualified country and some 56-points off the tally required.

Prior to that, in the early part of 2019, the dedicated Olympic solo sailor had overall placings within the top ten at three major international events, and at Genoa 2019 he was an overall leader at one stage, and a slight turn of fortune would have seen him in the medals. His solid Laser performance moved him up to 15th in the world rankings in April 2019, so Lynch really does have the turn of speed required.

Fast forward to today and the scenario is that Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland are in the running for the final places with Ireland finishing behind all of these at the 2019 World Championships, so the race is well and truly on to take one of these final European places. 

Portuguese winter training camp

During the special AGM interview section, Lynch also gave details by Zoom of his planned extended training camp in Portugal under coach three-time Olympic medallist Vasilij Žbogar.

Lynch says he is 'really excited' about the plan for this winter. The National Yacht Club sailor will be training with the Norwegian team and aims to stay in warmer climes until the final Tokyo qualification regatta, the venue for which is as yet unconfirmed due to COVID-19.

"It's just a rumour but it could now be Hyeres Regatta next April or it could be Palma or Hyeres or maybe a different World Cup," he told Jim McMahon, Secretary of the Irish Laser Class during the online Q & A.

Also looking to secure Ireland's place in the forthcoming regatta are trialists Bangor's Liam Glynn and Howth's Ewan McMahon and whoever can secure the place at next Spring's Regatta automatically becomes the Irish nominee for Tokyo.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Finn Lynch showed the depth of his Olympic ambitions when he continued up the scoresheet in Poland today to finish with a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126 at the Laser European Championships.

It's a remarkable comeback from the National Yacht Club sailor who sailed a strong final series to close out the six-day championships in his highest position of the week.

The result easily trumps his 27th scored at the May 2019 Euros in Porto and also the 55th overall scored at the 2018 La Rochelle Euros.

As Afloat reported this week, Lynch went from 37th on day one before moving up to 25th after two races sailed in the opening qualifiers. He then dropped to 42nd overall after four races sailed but by Saturday, the Rio 2016 rep was back up into the thirties and yesterday he had recovered to 18th. It was clear he was on a comeback, sealing his best ever Euro result today just three tantalizing places outside the coveted top ten.

The result, of course, shows the real potential of the County Carlow native if he can iron out some troubling inconsistencies. However, the overall scoresheet also provides a snapshot of the size of the challenge Lynch faces if he is to secure one of the final berths for Tokyo 2021. Rivals for the last Euro Olympic berth, Spain and Italy, finished just ahead of him and Belgium and Greece just behind, so the battle ahead is clear. 

Confidence boost

While there is no doubt just how tight the margins are for the last Olympic qualification event next year, this Polish result at least will give Lynch the confidence to continue pushing forward for what amounts to his last chance at becoming a double Olympian in this quadrennial.

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom TouwBelfast Lough's Liam Glynn Photo: Thom Touw

Belfast Lough's Liam Glynn’s result (43rd place) and qualification for the gold fleet sets him up well for the coming season. Ewan McMahon (43rd in the silver fleet) will be disappointed given the fact that he qualified for the gold fleet at the 2019 World Championships but at only 20 years of age, McMahon is gaining valuable experience at this level.

British podium lock-out

The British squad confirmed they wanted the whole podium for them on the Laser Men’s championship, but with a little surprise in the end, with their next Olympic representative Elliot Hanson GBR (11-5) overcoming Michael Beckett GBR (17-14) in this last two races and conquering the Gold medal. Silver for Mickey and Bronze for the 2019 European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR (10-19).

"I wouldn’t have cared which one of us won today. To lockout, the podium with 2 of your best mates since I was 11 years old is something special in the laser fleet and something I’ll hold on to for a long time" – Elliot Hanson GBR

“Very very happy! With only 6 days sailing pre-event, I definitely wasn’t expecting this result! A big thanks to Nick Thompson who kept me on the right track! I enjoyed every moment of this event. Over the moon to come away with a medal alongside the Brit Lads”, emphasized Lorenzo.

Almost there on the podium was Croatian Filip Jurisic CRO (16-3), finally fourth with same points than third.

A good championship for Russian Sergey Komissarov RUS (2-8), wrapping the event with nice results and climbing to the fifth place overall.

A second discard today allowed the 2020 World champion Philipp Buhl GER (1-7) to drop his two Black flags from the score and jump to the Top 10 for the first time in the event, conquering the 6th European place.

Joel Rodriguez ESP, Tonci Stipanovic CRO, Jonatan Vadnai HUN and Jean Baptiste Bernaz FRA completed the European Top 10.

Charlie Buckingham USA (7-54) finished 6th overall in the Open European Trophy.

Tom Higgins sixth in Radial

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins finished in sixth position in the Men’s Laser Radial, just missed out on a U21 podium finish.

Results here

Published in Laser
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Finn Lynch continued his climb back up the scoresheet in the penultimate (and coldest) day of the 2020 Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy in Poland.

The second discard hasn’t kicked in on the final series yet, which means it’s all still to play for tomorrow in the final two races of the Men’s Laser Standard division. It could see Ireland’s 2016 Rio rep climb higher than his18th place (up ten places overnight) a big comeback for the National Yacht Club sailor after being as low as 42nd after four races sailed.

Liam Glynn in 40th. Ewan McMahon is 18th in the silver fleet.

Organisers are expecting the final day tomorrow to be the windiest yet.

The British squad conquered the Laser Men’s podium in full today, with Michael Beckett GBR (24-22) retaining the leadership with 59 points but now closely followed by Elliot Hanson GBR (6-19) just 2.3 points behind. Third place is now for Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR (18-3) with 73.

“I forgot my jacket today so first of all, I have to thank Chris (my coach) for letting me use his between races on what must have been the coldest days sailing for a while. It was another tricky offshore day where it was hard to remain consistent. It’s tight at the top but great to be up there with both Enzo & Micky. Tomorrow should bring something different with a windy onshore breeze, it’s been a while since we’ve been hiking so I can’t wait!”– Elliot Hanson GBR

"Hard day as always in a Laser Gold fleet. Some nip and tuck racing out there. Tomorrow last day. Enjoying the moment"  – Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR

Places fourth to tenth are pretty tight now with all 6 competitors separated by 13 points. Russian sailor Sergey Komissarov RUS (13-27) heads this pack with 90, followed by William De Smet BEL (9-29) and Filip Jurisic CRO (20-4) with 92 and 95 points respectively.

“Today was about controlling the damage. I made a big comeback in the last race. Tomorrow will be the big show down. A second discard comes in play which will mix up the results massively. The only thing I can do tomorrow is sail at my very best and bring my A-game” – William De Smet BEL

"Definitely 20&4 today recover me a bit after very bad day yesterday. I manage to find my way in this light, tricky and shifty conditions. I am keeping focus for the last two races tomorrow, because still everything is open!" – Filip Jurisic CRO

Dimitris Papadimitriou GRE –99–, Nicolo Villa ITA –100–, Joaquin Blanco ESP –102– and Giovanni Coccoluto ITA –103 pt and winner of the last race today– are wrapping the provisional European Top 10.

It was a bad day for multi-champion Pavlos Kontides CYP (40-32) dropping to the 15th place with 114 points.

Charlie Buckingham USA (3-16) continued to show a great consistent sailing today and climbed to the 4th place overall with 83 units.

Higgins Up to Fifth in Radial

In the men’s Radial division, Tom Higgins of the Royal St. George Yacht Club scored a bullet in his last race and moves to fifth place overall in the 30-boat fleet.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Tricky light breezes prevailed in the first Final series day at the 2020 Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy in Gdansk, Poland today that saw Finn Lynch move up three places overall in the 107-boat fleet to 25th place.

 Belfast lough's Liam Glynn is 45th. Ewan McMahon from Howth is in fourth position in the silver fleet.

Two new races were added to scores in the Laser Men’s Gold competition, with a nice day for the British sailor Michael Beckett GBR (4-15-4-1-2-7-4) reinforcing now leadership with 22 points, getting a nice gap to second Elliot Hanson GBR (3-8-1-7.3RDGq-17-17-2) with 38.3. Third place is still on hands of Pavlos Kontides CYP (2-21-2-9-4-37-7), although with a worst discard and counting 45 units.

Bad day for the overnight co-leader Filip Jurisic CRO (1-4-3-3-40-32-28), adding 60 points to his score and dropping to the 12th place.

Sergey Komissarov RUS and Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR are close to the podium positions in fourth and fifth, with 50 and 52 points respectively.

Ascendant William De Smet BEL is now sixth on ranking with 57 points, based on a great consistency work. Alessio Spadoni ITA is also climbing positions and ranked now seventh with 64.

Eighth place for Joaquin Blanco ESP with 66. It's the same score for Dimitris Papadimitriou GRE, entering the top 10 list for the first time in the event. Giovanni Coccoluto ITA holds the last of awarded positions on tenth with 69 points.

Charlie Buckingham USA is best of non-European sailors participating of this competition, holding the 8th place overall with 64 units.

Tom Higgins stays eighth in Radial men's fleet

Tom HigginsTom Higgins of the Royal St. George Yacht Club competing in the men's Radial Europeans. Photo: Thom Touw

In the men’s Radial division, Royal St. George’s Tom Higgins lies sixth in his 30-boat fleet.

The second day of finals racing continues tomorrow and the championships conclude on Tuesday.

Results here

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

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

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