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Displaying items by tag: Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove

It was party time in Dun Laoghaire Harbour last Thursday night (September 23rd) to welcome home the Irish Olympic sailing team from last month's Tokyo Olympic Games.

Invited guests included Government Ministers, Olympians, local Dun Laoghaire Rathdown officials plus yacht club commodores and sponsors who were all back on the waterfront to hear Annalise Murphy's thoughts post-Tokyo as the team returned to its High-Performance HQ at the Irish Lights Depot.

Murphy's teammates, the 49er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were in attendance too along with the Tokyo backroom team.

Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers along with Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Ossian Smyth, the local Green Party TD, were invited to the outdoor function.

From Northern Ireland, 1984 and 1988, Olympian Bill O'Hara OBE was also at the get-together, as were members of the Olympic Federation of Ireland including CEO Peter Sherrard.

The Dun Laoghaire High Performance HQ was the venue for Thursday night's homecoming celebrations of the Olympic TeamThe Dun Laoghaire High Performance HQ was the venue for last Thursday night's homecoming celebrations of the Olympic Team

The Rio silver medalist signed off the evening by thanking Rory Fitzpatrick 'for being her coach' and updated the event on how she is adjusting to life as an MBA student at UCD.

Irish prospects for Paris 2024

Next on the agenda for the Irish Olympic sailing team is, of course, Paris 2024. With just three years to the first gun at Marseille, Thursday evening provided the chance to pitch Irish prospects.

The race for places has already begun with Polish duo Mikolaj Staniul / Kuba Sztorch crowned 49er European champions in Thessaloniki last week. Although no Irish crew participated at the Greek event, there are already triennial developments at home with Cork Harbour's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan announcing this month they will be making a bid for the single Irish men's skiff slot.

Finn Lynch, who was unsuccessful in his quest for a Tokyo Laser place, has already declared he will run again and it is expected Howth's Ewan McMahon will also be a contender. And in the Radial, McMahon's sister, Eve and Aoife Hopkins, both of Howth, will each seek the nomination.

Tokyo 2020 Review

A number of post-Tokyo reviews are being conducted. One is being undertaken by Irish Sailing, which, for the first time since Athens 2004, will be in the hands of "an external sports management expert", according to sailing president David O'Brien.

That's a process that will no doubt shine a light on the circumstances surrounding the controversially cut-short 2020 Radial selection procedure

The review is expected to be completed by year-end.

Published in Tokyo 2020

It's almost a month since the last sailing race of the Tokyo Olympics. In most sports, the end of each Olympic Quad (in this case a Quinq) is the traditional time for reflection on the previous campaign and consideration of the one (or more) ahead. It is also, traditionally, a time of changing personnel, both ashore and afloat. 

Deep thought is given by sports National Governing Bodies to current and future resources, both human and otherwise. This time around, the changes to the Olympic Sailing programme must be taken into the mix. During the Tokyo competition itself, Irish team management was acknowledging the need for a full debrief in order to"strengthen processes" in "every aspect of its preparations".

A key factor in the consideration is that, typically, not many of the Olympic Classes, have ever developed fleets with meaningful depth in Ireland, or, for that matter, in the UK. Think, Flying Dutchman, Soling, Star, Tempest, Europe, even 470. Except for the ILCA (Laser) fleets, aspiring Olympians in Ireland have to travel to get the competitive experience necessary to advance along the Olympic pathway.

Sailing talent

This raises the question of how to identify the talent worthy of support if they are not currently sailing the boat that they might aspire to.

The (hopefully temporary) rejection of an Offshore event in Paris in favour of kites, means that only three of the ten Olympic disciplines have Irish sailors anywhere on the world ranking lists.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Ireland targeted qualification in four Olympic classes for Tokyo but despite full-on campaigns ended up qualifying in only two.

While Annalise Murphy uses well-earned downtime to contemplate the future, Ireland's pool of sailors with proven talent is perhaps limited to Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er, Aisling Keller, Aoife Hopkins and Eve McMahon in the ILCA 6, and perhaps Finn Lynch in the ILCA7. Of course, there could be, and probably are, many others out there, but which of these would make it to the start line in Marseille in under three years time?

Annalise Murphy – well-earned downtime to contemplate the future Photo: Sailing EnergyAnnalise Murphy – well-earned downtime to contemplate the future Photo: Sailing Energy

Parsi prospects  - Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er Photo: Sailing EnergyParis prospects - Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er Photo: Sailing Energy

Another uncertainty is the investment Sport Ireland are prepared to put into Irish High-Performance Sailing over the next three years.

No medal race finish

On average, just over €750,000 was granted to Irish Sailing every year since 2017. Will Sport Ireland be prepared to cough up the same, given the fairly meagre return of two classes qualified with results in the mid-teens and no medal race result?

Paris 2024

And how are we preparing for beyond Paris? Observers of this month's Laser 4.7 Youth Worlds on Dublin Bay pointed in frustration to the nationally supported squads of European sailors, where the Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Greek fleets seemed particularly well-organised and featured many sailors in the gold fleet. By contrast, the largest country by fleet numbers, Ireland, could only manage to get four out of 35 boys into the gold fleet and two of the 35 girls. If this is a pointer to future Olympic results, then Ireland will struggle to qualify.

Bold decisions

Irish Sailing should and probably will use the post-Olympic period to study clinically the quad just passed, apply the lessons learned to the next cycle, but perhaps most of all, consider a longer-term approach to developing talent considering ways to balance the investment in current and future talent. It may be time for bold decisions that may favour a bigger input of resources into youth sailing that may not pay off until Los Angeles 2028 or Brisbane 2032.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove would have done their best to heed the advice of their former coach Tytus Konarzewski  (who brought them to the Under-23 World Championship title success in 2018) and forget about yesterday’s two disqualifications as quickly as possible.

The Howth and Skerries pair made the best of the change in conditions and took two top ten results from this morning's light air proceedings. 

They finished in 8th, 18th and 9th position in Race 7, 8 and 9 respectively this morning, with the final three races to take place tomorrow.

Going into today's rounds and counting the unfortunate DSQs, the duo were in 13th on 57 points and 13 points off the top ten but despite the solid reset, however, the pair are now back one place to 14th overall after nine races and 22 points off the top ten for a coveted medal race place.

Saturday's three final fleet races are therefore crucial to Irish prospects of achieving a place in Monday's medal race which would be a major achievement for Dickson and Waddilove on their first Olympic outing.

Results and overall standings are here

Published in Tokyo 2020

In a 10-knot southerly breeze, sailing on the Zushi course, Ireland’s Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove finished second in race 5 behind Denmark, and followed that with a sixth in race 6 as the wind picked up today (Thursday 29 July).

These results move the Dublin 49er pair up from 11th place after four races to seventh position overall in the Tokyo 2020 49er standings, 14 points behind joint leaders Great Britain (1st on count back) and Spain.

Brazil’s Marco Grael, sailing with Gabriel Borges, was the winner in race 6, the second race of the day for the 49ers. Marco is a son of five-time Olympic medallist Torben and sister to Martine, current Olympic 49erFX champion and lying fifth overall in her class.

Dickson and Waddilove will be particularly pleased that, in both races, they improved position after mark 1. In the first race of the day, they came from 25 seconds behind Germany at the final weather mark to beat them by 2 seconds at the finish.

Their recovery was more dramatic in the day’s second race, improving from 12th at mark 1 to eighth across the finishing line. They were promoted to sixth place due to starting infringements by the Portuguese and Swiss boats.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Waddilove said afterwards. “We had a pretty average day yesterday, but we learned from our mistakes and we were really nicely set up today so that made our life a lot easier.

“At the halfway point, we’re still ready to go. One race at a time — and still keep picking off the places. We had quite steady conditions, maybe medium winds and not too wavy.

“First race was just about going fast and keeping yourself clear out of other boats, not making too many mistakes and that was really it – just keep it simple around the racecourse. Really nice conditions here — I don’t think you can get much better.”

Find the full race results HERE.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Day two of the 49er event at the 2020 Olympic Games regatta proved a bit less successful for the Irish pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove after taking the first race in what was a dream debut.

Sailed in a 14 knot southerly, in bright sunny conditions, the Irish boat was consistently mid-fleet from 13th at mark 1 to 12th at the finish. Spain, Netherlands and New Zealand took the top three places.

There was a slight increase in wind speed for race 2 and once again the Irish pair sailed consistently to finish 11th. The race was remarkably close, with the first 13 boats crossing the finish line in just over 1 minute. Australia, Spain and Netherlands were the first three in this race, with the British a place behind in 4th.

Today's final race was completed in 16 knots and was won by Great Britain with New Zealand 2nd and Denmark 3rd. Ireland was less consistent in this race, dropping from 6th at Mark 1 to 13th at the finish.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are lying 11th after four races sailed Photo: Sailing EnergyRobert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are lying 11th after four races sailed Photo: Sailing Energy

After the four completed races, the Irish boat is 11th overall.

GBR, ESP and AUS are currently occupying the top three places. There are two races scheduled for Thursday to make up for the two lost on Tuesday.

Speaking afterwards, Dickson said: “It was a lot windier and wavier, pretty nice conditions and pretty enjoyable!” with Waddilove agreeing before adding; “We’re not coming in confused or deflated.  We know what we need to change for the next day which are some simple things.”

Results are here

Annalise Murphy Back in competition on Thursday

Ireland's Annalise Murphy returns to the water on Thursday as well, with winds forecast to build during the day.

The regatta is using six race areas. To date the Radials have sailed on the more inshore Enoshima and Kamakura courses, tomorrow they will sail on the Fujisama course.

The 49ers sailed on Enoshima on day 1, Sagami today and will be on Zushi tomorrow. The inshore courses are reported to suffer from backwash in these onshore breezes. There should be a cleaner wave regime in the outer courses.

The Tokyo Olympic Regatta race areasThe Tokyo Olympic Regatta race areas

Published in Tokyo 2020

Since winning Olympic gold in the Men’s Skiff – 49er at Rio 2016 five years ago, Pete Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) have packed a whole lifetime of sailing achievements into their busy careers.

In 2017 Burling steered Emirates Team New Zealand’s foiling catamaran to victory at the America’s Cup in Bermuda, with Tuke further forward running the flight control for his best mate. A year later they were pitched against each other on rival boats in their first round-the-world adventure. Coming into the finish of the final leg of that year-long marathon called the Volvo Ocean Race, Burling or Tuke looked set to emerge as first-time winners of the race, before being pipped by the other boat, the Chinese, in a three-way, last-gasp battle for victory.

Earlier this year Burling and Tuke were again right at the core of New Zealand’s successful defence of the America’s Cup. This was meant to have happened after the Tokyo 2020 Games, but with the year’s postponement, the Kiwis had to hop straight off their multimillion-dollar foiling AC75 spaceship and reacquaint themselves with the somewhat more affordable, simpler pleasures of 49er racing.

New Zealand's Burling and Tuke start as 49er favourites in TokyoNew Zealand's Burling and Tuke start as 49er favourites in Tokyo

Despite the distractions of the Volvo Ocean Race, two America’s Cup campaigns, and more recently the SailGP circuit, the six-time World Champions still start as favourites for 49er gold in Tokyo.

Among the Tokyo line-up is Ireland’s debutantes Sean Waddilove and Rob Dickson who probably wouldn’t have made it to Tokyo if it had taken place in 2020, but this young team made the most of winter training in southern Europe to really show that they mean business. The young Irish crew earned the final spot for Tokyo competing at the Lanzarote International Regatta in March, winning their first-ever Medal Race at the event and seizing a bronze medal ahead of a world-class fleet. 

Among the challengers to the Kiwi crown are the bronze medallists from Rio 2016, Erik Heil and Tommy Ploessel (GER) who always turn it on for the big occasion. Despite taking time out from their campaign, they scored second at the 2019 Worlds and third at the 2020 Worlds. Now in their early 30s, Heil and Ploessel feel ready for another life-defining performance in Tokyo.

"We want to win a medal again," said Heil, "preferably in an even more beautiful colour than last time."

Medical student Heil and mechanical engineering graduate Ploessel ran the Kiwis close for the 2019 world title in Auckland. "We have come closer to them, closer than ever before," Heil remarked at the time.

In with a shout of a medal at the end of Rio 2016 was Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher who, crewed by Alain Sign, ended up sixth overall. Fletcher has since teamed up with Stu Bithell, Olympic silver medallist in the 470 at London 2012. Fletcher is focused, sometimes spiky, while Bithell appears to be the entertainer but is far more than that. From being rivals they have become good mates and have strung together some good results over the past four years, including victory at the 2017 World and European Championships.

However, in 2017 Burling and Tuke were absent from the 49er as they raced their way around the Volvo Ocean Race world. Fletcher and Bithell haven’t beaten the Kiwis at a World Championship, so do they have the self-belief to take away the Olympic crown from their feted rivals?

Bithell admits the duo are "super tough competition".

"We’re up against perhaps the most successful sailing team in the world – they are formidable together," he expressed. "I like to put a positive spin on things and say it creates an opportunity for us to go out and beat the best team in the world."

Spain’s Diego Botin and Iago Marra have spent the last few years chipping away at the front of the 49er fleet, gradually improving their scores season by season. The Spanish team were fourth at the 2019 Worlds and runners-up in 2020 to their regular training partners Burling and Tuke, who they know probably better than anyone in the Olympic fleet.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion Jonas Warrer is back representing Denmark, crewed by Jakob Precht Jensen. In 2008, even Warrer would admit he used more than his fair share of fortune to clinch gold in the most extraordinary and controversial of circumstances. Contrary to predictions of a windless Beijing, the 49er Medal Race that year proved extremely breezy and enormously wavy, and everyone was unprepared and underweight for those heinous conditions.

"I was sailing before the start with my crew Martin Kirketerp," Warrer recalls. "We broke the mast half a minute after hoisting the spinnaker. We thought our regatta was over but we rushed ashore and the Croatians lent us their boat for the race." There’s much more to that incredible story, but the story now is can the 42-year-old repeat gold, 13 years on?

Warrer knows what it’s like to finish first, and he knows how it feels to finish fourth, his position at Rio 2016. "I had a break from sailing after Rio, but I think my idea was to do another Olympics. I know what it’s like to be in the medals and to be out of the medals. Winning a medal is more fun."

Warrer’s crew Jensen is hoping the spirit of 2008 returns to carry them to victory.

"Leading the regatta, breaking a mast and winning a medal, let’s do that again," jokes Jensen about his helmsman’s streak of Beijing luck. "Of course we want to come away from Tokyo with a medal and if it’s made of gold, even better."

Sime Fantela became the first sailor to win a sailing gold medal for Croatia in the 470 class five years ago in Rio. Teaming up with his brother Mihovil, Sime made a rapid and successful switch to the 49er. The brothers won the 2018 World Championship after just 18 months in this demanding class. They’re probably an outside bet for the 49er podium, but Sime is a wily competitor who’s unlikely to be intimidated by the occasion.

Another couple of brothers to watch out for, particularly if the breeze and the big waves kick in, are first-time Olympians Will and Sam Phillips racing for Australia. Following in the wake of the London 2012 gold medallists and Rio 2016 silver medallists, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, the Aussie siblings have big footloops to fill, but a recent big wave training session on the Queensland coast with Burling and Tuke should stand them in good stead for the Pacific swell of Enoshima.

Others to watch include Austria’s Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl, who have a very good record on Olympic waters with the high point being a silver medal at the Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima two years ago. They were bronze medallists at the 2017 Worlds, with sixth in 2019 and fourth in 2020, very consistent scores that make the Austrians a real threat for the podium.

The fast-improving Dutch team of Bart Lambriex and Pim van Vugt are starting to look like the real deal, regularly finishing in the top six of major events.

The 49er fleet features 19-world class teams. They will sail an Opening Series of 12 races, with the first three races scheduled for Tuesday 27 July on the Enoshima course, starting at 1445 JST. Their Medal Race on Monday 2 August will bring their competition to a close.

A full list of competitors is available here.

-Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020

Team Ireland has officially selected a team of three sailors to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy is set to compete in her third Olympic Games in the Laser Radial Women, and her teammates Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove will compete in the 49er Men.

The sailing events in Tokyo will run from 25 July – 2 August 2021 at Enoshima Yacht Harbour.

Murphy will be competing in her third Olympic Games; in London 2012 she came agonisingly close to a medal, finishing fourth. Against the odds the Dun Laoghaire based sailor finished second in Rio 2016, winning an Olympic silver medal for Team Ireland. Murphy is back competing in this Olympic category after taking a short break after Rio, when she temporarily switched her focus to the Volvo Ocean Race.

Heading into their first Olympic Games, Dickson and Waddilove are no strangers to success, in 2018 they won the 49er Under 23 Junior World title in Marseille, France making them Irish Sailors of the Year. 

Their qualification for Tokyo came courtesy of a stellar performance in the 49er Olympic Qualifying event in Lanzarote last March, the last opportunity to secure an Olympic berth. A dominant start to the event saw the crew gain enough points to win the Olympic berth in the preliminary rounds, before they competed in the medal race.

Laser Radial Women – Annalise Murphy (Dublin)Laser Radial Women – Annalise Murphy (Dublin)

On the day she collected her official kit Murphy said, “Getting your gear, that’s when it all becomes a reality. It’s all happening now! It’s when you can believe that I’m going to the Olympic Games for the third time, it’s just mad! After Rio I spent some time in the Volvo Ocean Race, and really enjoyed being part of a crew so I competed for a while with Katie Tingle in the 49er FX, but as Tokyo came closer, I switched the focus back to the Laser Radial. I think the conditions in Tokyo could suit me, and I know I work harder than anyone else out there – so I’m ready for a good competition, and we have a good team out there, with Rob and Seán as well.”

Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle said, “I’m really pleased to be announcing this sailing team today, they have pedigree and talent. On one hand, we have Annalise who is already an Olympic medallist, bringing the experience to the team heading into her third Olympics. On the other, we have Rob and Seán who are really exciting prospects. They showed their class at the qualifiers in Lanzarote earlier this year, and we are really looking forward to watching them perform in Tokyo."

TEAM IRELAND TOKYO SAILING TEAM:

Laser Radial Women – Annalise Murphy (Dublin)

49er Men – Robert Dickson (Dublin), Seán Waddilove (Dublin)

Team Ireland now consists of 50 officially selected athletes, with over 100 athletes spots confirmed across nineteen sports. The final team announcement is scheduled for the beginning of July.

The Olympic Games in Tokyo will run from the 23rd July to 8th August 2021.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club Olympic skiff duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have had a pre-Olympic boost by taking second overall at the 49er Championships in Cascais, Portugal.

It's not the only boost for Irish Skiff sailors either with the Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey taking sixth for Team GB in the 49erFX with partner Charlotte Dobson of Scotland.

As regular Afloat readers know, the Howth debutantes put the zing back into the Irish Olympic sailing scene in March when they put double Olympian Ryan Seaton to the sword to win the last available Olympic place in Tokyo this summer. 

The weekend international result from Portugal (with three race wins) represents another significant step forward to July on Enoshima Bay for the duo that previously won Under 23 World Championship Gold three years ago.

Cascais blows up some very breezy weather and as heavy airs are predicted for the Japanese Olympic venue, it gave the Portuguese Championships extra meaning.

Even with the Howth duo's immaculate boat handling it wasn't all plain sailing to the silver medal position. The strong winds on day one presented a sail tearing challenge as CN Cascais/Luis Fraguas's photographs reveal.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

On the last day of the 2021 Cascais 49er & 49erFX Championship after a stormy morning, the sun shyly appeared and filled the bay of Cascais with light. The championship could not have ended in the best way with the Cascais Bay delivering the best for the Olympic sailors, its fantastic conditions for sailing. In these fabulous conditions, the Olympic sailors had the day most similar to the sea conditions of Sagami Bay, in Tokyo, with a large and wide wave. The last day was reserved for the medal race for both fleets. This is a single race for each class, 49er and 49erFx. This regatta is special since it was double points for the overall with only the ten best competitors in each division being eligible to race.

The first Medal Race was for the male Olympic skiff class, which started at noon as scheduled. The race course at that time was in a northwest wind and 14 knots in intensity.

The big winners of the championship in the Olympic class 49er were the North Americans Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson who led the leaderboard for a couple of days. Irish youngsters Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runner ups. In the lowest place on the podium were the North Americans Ian Barrows and Hans Henken.

On their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in CascaisOn their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in Cascais

After the Men's Medal Race, it was the ladies' turn to take the stage in Cascais. With the weaker wind that made the wind shift on the right more prominent for the 49erFx class race.

Lutz and Beucke had a conservative race having finished the final race in fourth place, this result being enough to overtake Echegoyen and Barcelo by one point and thus conquer the highest place on the podium in Cascais. While Denmark and Holland were glad to compete in the medal race regatta for the supposed third place, the team from Brazil also had a very successful regatta having finished in second place. This good result from Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze was enough to leave the northern European teams out of the podium in this championship. Grael and Kunze ended their show in Cascais in the third position of the overall.

Top ten, 49er

1. Nevin Snow / Dane Wilson, USA, 52.0
2. Robert Dickson / Sean Waooilove, IRL, 54.0
3. Ian Barrows / Hans Henken, USA, 60.0
4. Marco Soffiatti Grael / Gabriel Borges, BRA, 67.0
5. Jorge Lima / Jose Costa, POR, 84.0
6. Revil Theo / Tim Depery, FRA, 94.0
7. William Jones / Evan DePaul, CAN, 101.0
8. Hippolyte Machetti / Sidoine Dantes, FRA, 123.0
9. Robert Solune / Sipan Valentin, FRA, 128.0
10. Joshua Richner / Nilo Scherer, SUI, 141

Top ten, 49erFX

1. Tina Lutz / Susann Beucke, GER, 83.0
2. Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Barcelo, ESP, 84.0
3. Martine Soffiatti grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 86.0
4. Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz, NED, 90.0
5. Marie Baad Nielsen / Marie Thusgaard Olsen, DEN, 91.0
6. Charlotte I Dobson / Saskia Tidey, GBR, 92.0
7. Kimberly Lim / Cecilia Low, SIN, 133.0
8. Tanja Frank / Lorena Abicht, AUT, 137.0
9. Isaura Maerhaub / Anouk Geurks, BEL, 141.0
10. Helene Ness / Marie Renningen, NOR, 174.0

 Full results here

It looks like Ireland's newly qualified 49er Tokyo pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will be making a trip to Canada in 2022 if they continue their skiff campaign for Paris 2024.

Nova Scotia will host a 400-strong field of the world’s best sailors from over 35 countries when the World Championships for three Olympic classes, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17, kick off in September 2022. Taking place in Canada for the first time in its history, the competition will be held on St. Margaret’s Bay during the six-day event.

Sail Nova Scotia won the rights to host the 2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, which will run September 6-11, 2022, in partnership with Hubbards Sailing Club, St. Margaret Sailing Club and Sail Canada.

Building on Nova Scotia’s long-held affinity and connection to the sea, the province is gaining a reputation in the sailing world as an accomplished host of national and international sailing events. The event will be held on the waters of St. Margaret’s Bay, which has played host to numerous national and international sailing events over the years. These waters make an excellent venue for the championship. The venue has clean water and moderate to strong consistent winds in a spectacularly beautiful setting.

It says everything about the quality of the Dickson-Waddilove team's securing of the Tokyo Olympics 49er place, that it not only sent the spirits of the Irish sailing community soaring skywards, but in these difficult times, it helped to raise the mood of the nation generally.

The inspiration has been heightened by knowing that the path of the "Flying Fingallions" to a Tokyo place has been specially challenging. They'd a carefully planned route towards a serious challenge for a full Olympic challenge in 2024. But their unexpected yet convincing victory in the U23 Worlds in September 2018 saw a re-alignment of objectives, with a new programme towards Tokyo which was in turn upset by the Pandemic-induced year's delay in the 2020 Olympics.

It became a continuous character-testing situation in which the two seemed to find new reserves of mindset and performance which, last week in Portugal, produced a showing which went far beyond the minimum required, and was rounded out by a victorious showing in the Medal Race.

We could not ask for more worthy winners of the latest "Sailors of the Month" award.

Read more about this new Tokyo Olympic duo here

Published in Sailor of the Month
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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

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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