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Displaying items by tag: aquaculture

Prospective students interested in a marine career will be able to visit an aquaculture “remote classroom” at an Atlantic Technological University (ATU) open day this weekend.

The mobile classroom which gives a taste of aquaculture has been developed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

BIM development executive Máirtín Walsh said the State agency was “delighted to attend the open day”.

He said it provided BIM with an opportunity to “continue our partnership with ATU to promote education and careers, not just in seafood production and marine science, but also in the areas of marine focused engineering and technology”.

“The Irish aquaculture industry produces nutritious, sustainable, low carbon seafood and continues to create employment around the coast in a wide range of disciplines,”Walsh said.

Interior of the BIM Aquaculture Remote Classroom Photo: Máirtín WalshInterior of the BIM Aquaculture Remote Classroom Photo: Máirtín Walsh

“ We look forward to meeting as many young people as possible at this open day to educate them on the exciting career opportunities available in the marine sector,”he added.

The ATU opening morning is aimed at secondary school pupils, teachers, parents, guardians, and mature students.

Events will be held at its Galway city campuses at Dublin Road and Wellpark Road this Saturday, April 13th, from 10am to 1pm.

ATU student ambassadors Conor Culhane (left), second-year outdoor education, and Matthew White, fourth-year outdoor education Photo: Ugnius BrazdziunasATU student ambassadors Conor Culhane (left), second-year outdoor education, and Matthew White, fourth-year outdoor education Photo: Ugnius Brazdziunas

Courses at the ATU Galway and Mayo campuses range from aquaculture and agriculture to outdoor education, computing, creative arts and media, culinary arts, sports coaching, social care and science.

There will be talks on the CAO process, the various programmes, available supports and insights into student finance, accommodation and student life. Demonstrations, exhibitions and tours will also be conducted on both city campuses.

To register and avail of information across ATU campuses in Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and Donegal, visit here

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A geographer has been awarded €300,000 in funding to lead the Irish stage of a European project aiming to boost the transformation towards a “climate neutral” blue economy.

Dr John Morrissey, lecturer in geography at Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College, will lead the Irish research element of Aquabalance, a project under the EU’s “Blue Economy Partnership” programme.

The research, which has received €1.3 million between partner researchers in Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Italy, will run for three years.

The project funding comes at a time when the EU is trying to encourage discourse around “blue economies—coastal and marine communities—as new economic space”, Dr Morrisey explains:

“Our economic priorities in Ireland often don’t reflect that we are an island nation. There’s huge potential in the likes of off-shore wind and the rejuvenation of coastal communities and this project will look at new ways of thinking about and designing models for aquaculture in regional contexts,” he says.

“For example, how can a community have salmon farms that benefit the local area, do not harm the environment and fundamentally benefit everyone?,” he says.

“In particular, Aquabalance will focus on the sustainable development challenges of aquaculture in Europe, contributing to the goals of the EU “Farm to Fork” strategy and tackling the grand challenges of climate change and social justice,” he says.

“This project takes a multi-national and transdisciplinary approach to understanding emerging blue economies, focusing in particular on dilemmas associated with rebalancing the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of sustainability,” he says.

Prof Natalia Maehle, Aquabalance project coordinator, says this is “a cutting-edge project that will provide the aquaculture industry and stakeholders with a wide range of new knowledge and evidence-based recommendations to ensure its social legitimacy and sustainability”.

A three-year funded PhD, and a postdoctoral research contract for two years, is also included in the funding.

Published in Marine Science
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A Connemara shellfish business is using Brexit-related grant aid for a new packaging and labelling machine.

Killary Fjord Shellfish in Leenane received grant aid of over €16,000 through Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) under the Brexit Sustainable Aquaculture Growth Scheme.

The scheme is funded by the EU under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which aims to reduce the economic impact of Britain’s withdrawal.

Killary Fjord Shellfish owners Simon Kennedy and partner Kate O’Connor Kennedy say the new packaging and labelling machine is allowing them to produce more shellfish more efficiently, with the packaging material having minimal negative environmental impact.

Simon Kennedy and his wife Kate O'Connor Kennedy, the team behind Killary Fjord Shellfish, pictured with their new packaging and labelling machineSimon Kennedy and his wife Kate O'Connor Kennedy, the team behind Killary Fjord Shellfish, pictured with their new packaging and labelling machine

The business, which has been operating for 35 years, has always had a huge emphasis on sustainability, using recyclable and reusable materials to avoid single use plastics as much as possible, O’Connor Kennedy says.

“In so far as we can we source materials that are local and sustainable, reducing our carbon footprint. For example, we use wooden boxes for our oysters packaging. And we use recyclable hairy rope in our growing techniques that are stripped down and reused annually,”she says.

Killary Fjord Shellfish also sources hard plastic food grade crates locally which are then collected and reused for next delivery, significantly increasing life cycle of the packaging, something the couple are very proud of.

Their business story dates back over three decades to when Simon was reading a copy of the Marine Times while lying on his bunk during down time from his job as a commercial fisherman in Alaska.

Shellfish produced at Killary Fjord ShellfishShellfish produced at Killary Fjord Shellfish

“I had been thinking of coming back to Ireland and I saw a ‘for sale’ ad for a mussel farm in Killary Fjord while I was reading the paper. And the rest is history,” he says.

That was in 1988, and over the last three decades the couple have developed Killary Fjord Shellfish into one of the foremost shellfish farms and suppliers in Ireland.

Simon Kennedy pictured with Rope Mussel in Killary FjordSimon Kennedy pictured with Rope Mussel in Killary Fjord

The business is part of Taste the Atlantic – a collaboration between BIM and Fáilte Ireland to promote seafood producers and their products along the Wild Atlantic Way.

As well as farming shellfish Killary Fjord Shellfish offers a “Day in the life” tour, bringing visitors out on a boat to see mussels hauled aboard, harvested, graded, and cleaned.

Once back on dry land, there is a lesson in oyster shucking, and and a “delicious shellfish lunch”.

Published in Aquaculture
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A south Connemara abalone aquaculture farm is one of over 100 ocean farming and marine businesses across Europe participating in an international study on the “challenges and benefits of a nature-positive economy”.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) and Trinity Business School are collaborating on the “GoNaturePositive!” research project, which was launched by Minister of State for Nature and Heritage Malcolm Noonan.

The Horizon Europe-funded initiative led by Trinity Business School involves 20 partners across 14 countries.

Cindy O’Brien, marine biologist and owner of Abalone Chonamara Teoranta, is one of the Irish “nature-positive” aquaculture businesses participating in the Irish pilot.

“We are delighted to participate in this research. While there is much scientific evidence about the benefits of abalone, seaweed and other forms of mariculture for storing carbon, much less research is looking at new opportunities for growth and scaling,” she said.

“ There is huge potential for seaweed to be integrated into biodegradable materials for the bioeconomy for example, as well as for food and bio-pharmaceutical ingredients,”O’Brien said.

“ We need to start cultivating these raw materials and we urgently need more research and financing to support the growth of these types of climate-resilient, nature-positive businesses,”she added.

The research aims to provide “more clarity” on “the concept of a nature-positive economy”, and “provide guidance for businesses and policy makers on the priorities for transformation”.

Noonan said that the outcomes from the research “will help to inform government policy and provide guidance on the delivery of our new Irish National Biodiversity Action Plan”.

“The Irish government recognises that we need to radically change the way in which we value nature. The ring-fencing of €3,15 billion for climate and nature spending between 2026 and 2030 demonstrates our commitment to a nature-positive transition,” he said.

WDC chief executive Allan Mulrooney said that the blue economy is a key priority for the western region of Ireland, “reflecting our dedication to exploring sustainable development within this sector”.

“We are keen to engage with businesses of varying sizes to navigate this evolving landscape together,” he said.

“ Recent research highlights the potential benefits of directing more investment towards environmentally conscious initiatives, like ocean farming,” he added.

“ While this presents an exciting opportunity, it also allows us to consider how such strategies could foster economic vitality and environmental well-being across our region, benefiting a broad spectrum of stakeholders,” Mulrooney said.

Six pilot studies of nature-based enterprises form the main focus of the research. These range from ocean farming and marine businesses in Ireland to bee-farming in Colombia and regenerative farming in Belgium.

Carbon-neutral forestry and nature-positive tourism in Italy and green building enterprises throughout Europe are also involved in the research.

For more information about the project and to get involved, visit here.

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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue T.D launched the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development 2030 at the IFA Annual Aquaculture Conference today. The strategic plan outlines a vision for the Irish aquaculture industry in 2030.

During his keynote address, the Minister emphasised the importance of the European Maritime Fisheries & Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) and how the funding schemes provided by EMFAF can benefit the sector. He also highlighted the positive impact that a sustainable, profitable, competitive, and market-focused aquaculture sector can have on Ireland's coastal communities and the country as a whole.

The NSPSA is the result of extensive consultation with stakeholders, including the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). The Minister thanked the IFA and other stakeholders for their input in the development of the plan.

The launch of the NSPSA was met with enthusiasm by the aquaculture industry, as it sets a clear path for the sector to become a global standard in sustainability and quality. The Minister believes that the implementation of the plan will enable the industry to build and maintain its competitive edge in the future

The NSPSA is up forward as a significant step in the continued development of a sustainable, profitable, and competitive aquaculture sector in Ireland. With its implementation, the sector hopes to optimise environmental performance and support the natural capital upon which it depends while making a long-term economic and social contribution to the country's coastal communities and Ireland as a whole.

The National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture (NSPSA) is available here

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Offshore renewable energy and its impact on Irish aquaculture and the implications of the Nature Restoration Law are among themes for this year’s annual Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) aquaculture conference next month.

An update from Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine officials on aquaculture policy and licensing is also on the agenda, along with an update on funding programmes and upcoming European Maritime and Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) schemes.

Keynote speakers will be announced shortly, according to IFA Aquaculture, which has opened registration for the conference and annual general meeting (AGM).

The conference and AGM will take place in the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel, Limerick, on Thursday, February 22nd, on the eve of the Skipper Expo at the University of Limerick sports arena on Friday, February 23rd and Saturday, February 24th.

As Afloat has reported, the third national seafarers’ conference on the theme of offshore wind also takes place on Thursday February 22nd, in the Castletroy Hotel, Limerick.

The IFA Aquaculture conference and AGM fee is 20 euro, and the conference, AGM and dinner fee is 60 euro.

Registration details are here

Published in Aquaculture

Kelly Oysters, a multi-award-winning seafood business based in Galway, is set to expand its sales of mussels for the domestic market following a recent investment.

The €172,000 investment has been supported by BIM, with €74,844 coming from the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme.

This significant investment will enable Kelly Oysters to "mussel" in on the growing seafood market and meet the increasing demand for high-quality seafood in Ireland. The expansion is expected to create new jobs and help drive growth in the local economy. The investment is a testament to the quality of Kelly Oysters' products and the company's commitment to sustainability and innovation in the seafood industry.

The scheme, which will deliver up to €45 million in funding to the Irish seafood processing sector, is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. It was recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D.

Diarmuid and Michael Kelly of Kelly's Oysters in Galway Bay. As well as supplying the Oyster Festivals, Kelly Oysters supplies oysters throughout Ireland and around the world. Last season, these much sought-after delicacies were exported to 14 different countries. Photo: Andrew DownesDiarmuid and Michael Kelly of Kelly's Oysters in Galway Bay. As well as supplying the Oyster Festivals, Kelly Oysters supplies oysters throughout Ireland and around the world. Last season, these much sought-after delicacies were exported to 14 different countries. Photo: Andrew Downes

Diarmuid Kelly, one of two brothers who runs the business, said the investment has seen the introduction of a new production system which will package small-sized bags of mussels suitable for home preparations. He sees this as opening the doors for new sales channels at home and abroad.

Kelly Oysters recently won a prestigious Euro-Toques Food Award for its outstanding Blue Rope Mussels, and for its contribution to regenerative aquaculture in Ireland. “We were so proud to win this award. It is recognition of the work we put into producing the finest shellfish possible.” said Diarmuid Kelly.

Kelly Oysters recently won a prestigious Euro-Toques Food Award for its outstanding Blue Rope MusselsKelly Oysters recently won a prestigious Euro-Toques Food Award for its outstanding Blue Rope Mussels

At present the live mussels produced by the Kelly’s are mainly packed in 10kg to 15 kg bags for the food service and wholesale market. But they are not suitable for retail sales.

Said Diarmuid Kelly: “We noticed an increase in demand from fish wholesalers for smaller sized packaging during the Covid-19 pandemic and this trend has remained. Market research is telling us that consumers are looking for produce that is semi prepared and ready to cook. Our new smaller 1kg packaging is an opportunity to drive increased sales into retail, and direct to consumer channels.”

Traditionally, handier 1kg net bags of mussels have been produced by hand, something which was very labour intensive. But thanks to the recent investment, supported by BIM, Kelly Oysters has introduced a product line that will prepare, weigh, pack and label 1kg bags of mussels that are fully traceable from farm to fork.

The live mussels produced by the Kelly’s are mainly packed in 10kg to 15 kg bags for the food service and wholesale marketThe live mussels produced by the Kelly’s are mainly packed in 10kg to 15 kg bags for the food service and wholesale market

“Our investment will add huge value to our existing produce,” said Diarmuid Kelly. “From existing inquiries, we estimate a demand of 20 tonnes of 1kg packs of mussels per annum, growing to 50 tonnes over three years. We are very excited about the new chapter and the prospect of welcoming new generations of shellfish lovers to our product.”

For more than seven decades the Kelly family has been successfully farming delicious, top quality oysters, mussels and shellfish in the crystal-clear waters of Galway Bay. Its sustainably farmed oysters grace the tables of some of the finest restaurants and hotels in Ireland and around the world.

Kelly Oysters was first set up by Diarmuid’s father, Michael, in 1952. At that stage there was only a wild stock of oysters on the west coast, and no oyster farming. “My grandfather, who was also called Michael, was an oyster dredger and he would dredge wild oysters from the bottom of the sea from a fishing boat. It was my father Michael who formally set up the business and started selling oysters to restaurants.”

Kelly Oysters is a multi-award-winning family seafood business based in GalwayKelly Oysters is a multi-award-winning family seafood business based in Galway

The passion and love for the business was passed down to sons Diarmuid and Micheal. But pivotal also to the business are their wives Mary (married to Micheal) and Theresa (married to Diarmuid) who work full time in the business. In addition, Micheals, son Michael junior, is on the staff of ten.

Said Diarmuid: “Where we are now is very much due to the hard work and dedication that our entire team put in every day. The Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme has been a huge help to us, and was the incentive for us to introduce our new product line which will help us become more efficient and to reach new customers.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit created several challenges for the business with significant disruption to sales.

“We realised to meet the economic and future needs of this family business; a new strategy was required which included adding value to existing products, and which did not rely solely on the existing wholesale foodservice market.”

Currently Kelly Oysters sell approximately 30 per cent of its product abroad, and 70 per cent to the domestic market. It exports oysters to 14 countries around the world, including Canada and Singapore.

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The Marine Minister, Charlie McConalogue T.D, has announced the launch of the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development (NSPSA) 2030. The NSPSA aims to support a diverse consumer and market base, which aligns with the recognition of Irish aquaculture's growing status as a key provider of sustainable, low-carbon, and healthy food.

In 2021, the Aquaculture industry in Ireland was worth approximately €175 million and has grown significantly since the 1980s. The sector produces high-value finfish and shellfish worth around 40,000 tonnes and employs approximately 1,800 people, mostly in rural areas.

The Minister emphasized the recent environmental and economic challenges that have impacted the Irish aquaculture industry, such as the drive towards carbon net-zero, the UK's exit from the European Union, and the global effects of the war in Ukraine. He hopes that the new NSPSA will provide the necessary building blocks to continue developing a sustainable, competitive, and market-focused aquaculture sector in Ireland.

"In 2021, the Aquaculture industry in Ireland was worth approximately €175 million"

The NSPSA will be implemented throughout a ten-year period, ending in 2030, and has four main objectives: building resilience and competitiveness, participating in the green transition, ensuring social acceptance and consumer information, and increasing knowledge and innovation. It outlines 58 specific actions, including developing a user-friendly online aquaculture licensing and information system, prioritizing fish welfare, supporting innovative practices in aquaculture, and creating a human capacity plan to promote the sector as a desirable career option.

Marine Minister, Charlie McConalogue T.DMarine Minister, Charlie McConalogue T.D

The Minister believes that the NSPSA will pave the way for the Irish Aquaculture sector to become more resilient, competitive, and globally recognized for its sustainability and quality standards. He hopes that with the implementation of this plan, the aquaculture sector will be able to maintain its competitive edge in the future, significantly contributing to the coastal communities and the Irish economy as a whole.

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Researchers on technology for the rapid diagnosis of fish disease on aquaculture sites have been awarded Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding.

A team led by Dr Niall Maloney of the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) and Prof Enda McGlynn of Dublin City University (DCU) is working with Catherine McManus of Mowi Ireland on the project.

“Current methods for the diagnosis of pathogens in aquaculture are time-consuming and are carried out in laboratories that are sometimes far from farm sites,” Dr Maloney says.

“ By developing technology for use directly at the farm site, we can reduce sample to answer times and ensure more timely and appropriate disease management practices can be implemented,” he says.

The team says it will develop a test that works in a similar fashion to the COVID-19 tests that were used in homes and workplaces throughout the pandemic, but with some modifications.

Oxide nanostructures, which are thin and narrow will be grown on the paper used in these tests in Prof McGlynn’s laboratory.

“By increasing the surface to volume ratio of the test line using these structures it is hoped that assay performance can be improved by providing a larger area for the capture of pathogens,” they state.

“ A portable thermal reader will also be developed to scan the assay test lines to determine the number of infectious agents present,” they explain.

The support by SFI is drawn from the National Challenge Fund announced recently by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris.

The National Challenge Fund is a €65 million programme established under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility,

“An important part of Challenge-based funding is engagement with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries to ensure we are making informed decisions on the future direction of this project,” Dr Maloney says.

“This type of engagement will ensure that we focus our efforts on the real-world challenges faced when trying to diagnose infectious disease in aquaculture and ensure we can achieve maximum impact,” he says.

Published in Aquaculture

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s seafood development agency, is set to host a conference aimed at positioning the country as the centre of excellence for aquatech. The event, scheduled for Thursday, October 19th, will also mark the announcement of the first-ever Aquatech Business of the Year award.

The conference, held in partnership with global aquaculture accelerator Hatch and supported by the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, will bring together some of the leading experts in aquaculture, including Kristen Virega, SVP Global Shrimp efishery, Neil Sims, Founder and CEO, Ocean Era, and Jennifer Bushman, Sustainable Aquaculture Strategist and Communicator. BIM CEO, Caroline Bocquel, will also be among the key speakers.

BIM CEO Caroline Bocquel will be a key speaker at Ireland's Aquatech conference in OctoberBIM CEO Caroline Bocquel will be a key speaker at Ireland's Aquatech conference in October

Aquatech is defined as any technology enabling sustainable seafood farming. Currently, there are 62 aquatech companies operating in Ireland, employing almost 900 people and generating a combined turnover of €217 million.

The conference will provide a platform for senior policymakers, aquaculture and tech sector thought leaders, and investors to learn how Ireland can build its capabilities in this space. 'Aquatech – Ireland’s Global Opportunity' is set to take place at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, from 14:00 to 16:00 (Irish Standard Time).

This exclusive discussion and knowledge-sharing opportunity is free to attend. Those interested can register at the following link:

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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


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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