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Displaying items by tag: Annalise Murphy

A top-five result for Annalise Murphy and Katie Tingle in their first ever international 49erFx event scored yesterday in race two raises some great prospects for the Irish Olympic Sailing Team at the World Cup in Genoa this week. There was another first-day highlight for Ireland in the men's skiff when Howth Yacht Club's U23 World Champions –  and Afloat Sailors of the Year – Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove took a second place.

Lights winds meant only two from three races were completed on the Charlie and Delta courses but, as always, it will be consistency that will be the key to success by Friday. The sole Irish 49erfx crew also counted mid-fleet opening results to leave the girls 26th from 49. In a disappointing first day for double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, the Belfast-Cork pairing are 40th with Dickson and Waddilove 27th from 65. Full results are here.

The long-awaited return of the silver medalist to the Olympic circuit plus the added attraction of on-form Finn Lynch today in the Laser is heightening the possibilities of  World Cup medal(s) for the Irish sailing team by the end of this week's important World Sailing event, the third round of the season.

"Nine boats, four disciplines, 13 sailors"

In making her International debut, Murphy completes the team having missed last year's important World Championship Qualifier in Denmark. Murphy, like the rest of her teammates, still needs to make the nation qualification standard later this year making for a challenging 2019 season.

The jury is still out on whether or not it is ideal preparation but what we do know is that with little over a year to the Olympic games it is the first time in the Tokyo cycle that all the Irish team will compete at the same event; nine boats, four disciplines, 13 sailors.

The qualifying series in the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 continues today at 11:00. The Men's and Women's 470, Laser, Laser Radial and the Finn will also start their opening series.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Annalise Murphy has received a major boost to her 49erFX campaign for Tokyo 2020 as Mercedes-Benz has extended its support to the Olympic silver medallist.

The National Yacht Club hero recently resumed training without direct funding support from Sport Ireland, as her absence from competition due to Volvo Ocean Race commitments ruled her out of the €40,000-per-annum programme.

But now the 29-year-old Rathfarnham sailing star has renewed her ‘Tier One’ partnership arrangement with Mercedes-Benz, availing of a new X-Class pickup to transport her and team-mate Katie Tingle to events here in Ireland and abroad.

“Having the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a major boost to my training regime and my ambitions for Tokyo,” she says. “I am really looking forward to giving my preparation the X-tra power that the stylish new X-Class delivers.”

Soon to be a regular sight at 49erFX events, the 190hp X-Class is finished in the Kabara black, silver and grey livery similar to that on her previous Mercedes-Benz Vito Mixto van.

Equipped to tow her and Katie’s 49erFX, its features include 4MATIC 4x4 automatic transmission, chrome style bar, bed liner and bed cover in body-matching colour, reversing camera, cruise control power, rear sliding window and a style pack that includes roof rails and side steps.

Wishing Annalise every success on her road to Tokyo, Fergus Conheady, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, said: “We are proud to continue our support for Annalise, one of Ireland’s most admired Olympians.”

The renewed support for Annalise Murphy could not come at a better time, as she and Katie prepare for their first big test of their qualifying campaign at the World Cup event in Genoa, Italy next week.

Published in National YC

Two of Ireland’s most promising sailors in Aoife Hopkins and Katie Tingle have been the subject of separate profiles in recent days.

Katie Tingle has been making her big comeback after a broken arm put her and Annalise Murphy’s 49erFX training regimen on pause last autumn.

But it’s also been part of a longer return for the Cork sailor, who swapped competitive racing for coaching after success in the Optimist class as a junior last decade.

A reconnection with former junior peer Annalise on the Wednesday night scene in Dublin led to a fateful phone call a year ago, from the Olympic silver medallist to the primary school teacher: did Katie want to join her 49erFX Olympic campaign?

“I don’t think she’d have asked me if she didn’t think I could do it and I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t think deep down that I could do it either,” Katie tells The42.ie.

The 29-year-old was already deep into training and conditioning when Annalise returned from her stint in the Volvo Ocean Race, and the two started getting to grips with their new boat on Dublin Bay — the Olympian learning from Katie who had previous experience in two-handed dinghies.

However, a freak incident just weeks into training left Katie with a broken arm — and out of the water for four crucial months.

As needs must, Annalise shortly after resumed training over the winter in the warmer climes of Portugal, with Adam Hyland in Katie’s stead — while Katie hit the gym as soon as doctors allowed get back on the road to sailing fitness.

Earlier this year Annalise and Katie, how fully healed up, reunited and got back in their groove with the challenging 49erFX as their first big test — and first Tokyo 2020 qualifier — looms in Genoa just two weeks from now.

“AoifeAoife Hopkins weight training | Photo: Irish Sailing

Another young sailor who faces a big test in Genoa is Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins.

The Laser Radial ace not only steps into the significant gap left by Annalise Murphy, whose Rio 2016 silver medal was in the class — she’s also in competition with teammate Aisling Keller for the single slot available to Ireland.

Aoife tells The Irish Times how she juggles the training regimen of her Tokyo 2020 campaign with the demands of her maths degree at Trinity College, not to mention the various expenses associated with performance sailing at the highest level.

In a boost to their aspirations, Aoife and her fellow performance sailors now benefit from Irish Sailing's new Performance Headquarters in Dun Laoghaire, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Olympic

Irish Sailing unveiled its new €300k 'Performance Headquarters', funded entirely by the Irish Sailing Foundation and located on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, at Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning.

Rio Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy lead the Irish Olympic Sailing team into today's celebrations.

With under 500 days to Tokyo 2020, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, a local Dun Laoghaire TD, was on hand to launch the ‘new home and training centre’ for the team that has yet to qualify for the Olympic Regatta.

Thirteen sailors from throughout Ireland will be based there, including the 2016 Olympic Games silver medallist, her new sailing partner, Katie Tingle, from Cork, and six other world championship medallists.

As well as Murphy and Tingle in attendance today were team members Liam Glynn, Finn Lynch, Aoife Hopkins, Rob Dickson & Sean Waddilove, Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle; and training partners Aisling Keller, Ewan McMahon, Tadgh and Sean Donnelly.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, the Performance HQ is entirely mobile and consists of three converted shipping containers which have space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area. The athlete briefing room can then be shipped directly to international competitions such as the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 and provide a base for our athletes overseas. Outside there is a boat park and a pontoon for launching boats

Speaking at the launch, Annalise Murphy said: “Having this new base is fantastic. For the first time we have a home, somewhere we know we can train, share experiences and focus as a group on how we can make our sailing performances better. It will be a huge support to our campaigns at international events this year as we look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We’ve got a saying, ‘Leave home stronger’, which is there to remind us that we’ve got a home to come back to where we can recover, gain strength and prepare for the next campaign. That’s what the new HQ gives us – it means we don’t need to rely on the nomadic overseas campaigns of the past.”

performancerformanceThe new Irish Sailing Performance Centre at the Irish Lights Depot

The new HQ will improve both training and educational opportunities for the sailors. It has been instituted with the specific aim of maximising Ireland’s medal potential in international competitions and qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing Performance Head Coach, said that it represents a massive step forward on the journey to medal-winning success for Irish Sailing.

He said: “We will finally have a place we can call ‘home’ and for that reason alone the impact of the new Irish Sailing Performance HQ cannot be underestimated. The environment created will allow for consistent coaching, a base for equipment and our own direct access to the water, which all adds up to giving our athletes the best opportunities to reach their maximum medal-winning potential in the long-term.

This is a major milestone for Irish performance sailing. The new HQ clearly demonstrates the positive impact philanthropy can have on a sport like sailing. We are delighted that private individuals believe in our vision of delivering consistent medal success for Ireland on the world stage”.

The new HQ was officially opened today by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for Higher Education. Ms Mitchell O’Connor commented: “I have no doubt that with this terrific new facility, Irish sailors will be stronger as a squad and be better positioned than ever before to mount successful campaigns at international events in 2019 and beyond, including at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. I would like to wish the senior squad the best of luck and look forward to them building on the incredible international success they have experienced up to now. “

The CEO of Irish Sailing, Harry Hermon, added: “The creation of the Performance HQ is great news – there is no doubt that we’re at the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Irish Sailing, delivering on the medal-winning potential that the facility will help shape and focus. Clearly, however, this new home for the Performance team would not have been possible without the generosity and far-sightedness of those who, through the Irish Sailing Foundation, funded the project.

Competitive sailing requires incredible dedication and sacrifice from the athletes, their families and supporters, and Irish Sailing and its chances of success on a global stage rely on the vision and philanthropy of a group of individuals to whom we are extremely grateful.”

Sailors currently at the Performance HQ
49erFX – Women’s double-hander
Annalise Murphy & Katie Tingle
49er skiff – Men’s double-hander
Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle
Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
Sean & Tadgh Donnelly (training partners)
Laser Radial – single-hander
Aoife Hopkins
Aisling Keller (training partner)
Laser Standard – single-hander
Liam Glynn
Finn Lynch
Ewan McMahon (training partner)

Read tomorrow on Afloat.ie: Annalise brings stardust to Sutton and the Dickson-Waddilove Tokyo 2020 campaign

Published in ISA

Annalise Murphy’s role in raising sailing’s profile in Ireland was brought home to us last weekend when The Irish Times ran a St Patrick’s Eve Quiz. Set by Eoin Butler, it aimed to test how truly Irish we who like to think we’re Irish really are writes W M Nixon

It was presented as something mildly entertaining at a highly appropriate time. But as with all questionnaires, much more profound truths could be discerned from the very nature of the questions, all of which probed a little more deeply than at first seemed the case.

So there we were, ploughing through a hundred seemingly innocuous Irish-flavoured queries in glowing stoveside comfort on a March night when winter still clung on outside. And of those questions, just ten were about sport.

Tempting as it was to get into a word-war about whether sport in Ireland merits a mere ten percent of our national interest, we let it go for the very good reason that, of the ten sporting questions, one was about details of the winning by Annalise – she has reached that special celebrity status of not needing a surname any more – of her Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

Annalise murphy 2It happens at last – Annalise still getting used to the idea she has just won the Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics, August 2016

Sailing in times past had the image of being very much a minority sport, and then some. So getting ten per cent of the sporting questions was actually pretty good going. But there was further encouragement in the way the question was framed. It asked not what medal she won - for that’s too widely known - but rather what kind of boat was she racing – was it (a) the RS-X, (b) the Laser Radial, (c) the 470 or (d) the 49erFX?

Now, of course, that question could be answered in seconds with the use of Google. But the very fact that the question was asked on the assumption that proper participants should be able to answer straight off the tops of their heads is an indicator of how far we have come.

cathy annalise con3Parents Cathy & Con (left and right) with Annalise and her medal. You raise a child, and then she becomes such a celebrated sports star that she doesn’t need either of your surnames…

The notion that there are many people all over Ireland who now have some knowledge of Olympic sailing classes is heart-warming. And it’s thanks to the Annalise breakthrough. We were reminded of it yet again on Tuesday night, when she was the star attraction as enthusiasts filled the Brent Suite in the Marine Hotel in Sutton for a fund-raiser for the Rob Dickson-Sean Waddilove 49er campaign which, after their Gold Medal in the Under 23 Worlds at Marseille last September, has seen a re-gearing of their plans, with their programme towards the 2024 Olympics in France being fore-shortened into a duel for a place in Tokyo 2020.

Either way, these things need substantial resources, and while a neighbourhood fund-raiser is only going to make a minor immediate dent in the money-pile required, the hope is that the power-focus of strong local goodwill may well lead on to more lucrative connections.

With Annalise generously giving of her time to provide the major draw for the new boys on the 2020 Olympic block, the spirit of Sutton enterprise and Fingal sailing was able to put on a special show of top stars. It was very much a shared enterprise between clubs, for although Howth Yacht Club may be far and away the biggest club in Fingal, Sutton Dinghy Club makes an enormous contribution to small boat sailing, while Sean Waddilove came to sailing at the age of seven through the Taste of Sailing Programme at Skerries Sailing Club.

waddilove annalise mayor dickson4Sean Waddilove, Annalise, Mayor of Fingal Councillor Anthony Lavin, and Rob Dickson. Photo: Brian Turvey

sutton audience5Rob and Sean make their pitch in the Marine Hotel’s Brent Suite, so named because in winter Brent geese frequent the nearby Sutton Creek, where Rob had some of his earliest experiences afloat. Photo: Brian Turvey

With Annalise along to tell her story of the ups and downs of Olympic life as the star attraction, the Guest of Honour was the Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Anthony Lavin, while Senator Catherine Noone was there for the Government, and Commodores Stephen Boyle of Sutton Dinghy Club and Ian Byrne of HYC represented the many facets of sailing on a peninsula which has produced more than its fair share of sailing stars over the years.

Yet as is often the case, it was people who do good work under the radar who pulled it all together, as this possibly unique event was co-ordinated by Hugh Gill of Sutton DC and Sailing School, working with Robert Dickson’s mother Susan and former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey. Behind the scenes, they calculated it out so neatly that when enough seats had been put out for what they reckoned would be the optimal number for such a show, just seven extra chairs had to be added at the end. And as we milled towards our places with a crowd of enchanted adults and starstruck kids, it was with the growing realisation that the organisers had hit the jackpot.

annalise dickson waddilove6Athletes relaxing. Yet every day Annalise, Rob and Sean put in a minimum of training, and when their fitness regime is at full power, the schedule is mind-boggling. Photo: Brian Turvey

For how else would you get a crowd so well representative of a busy sailing region which not only included national champions, but there were European champions as well, while to top it all we’d four Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Year”.

There was the National YC’s Annalise from 2016, seemingly the girl next door yet she won an Olympic Silver in style. Then from just up the hill there was HYC’s Conor Fogerty, top awardee in 2017 for his victory in the OSTAR and bubbling over with enthusiasm for the imminent arrival of his new foiling Figaro 3 which he will be racing in the international programme under IRC with the Fastnet Race and the Autumn’s RORC Transatlantic in prospect.

annalise enigmatic7What’s said in the Marine Hotel stays in the Marine Hotel…..an enigmatic look from Annalise as she reveals some secrets from the Olympic circuit. Photo: Brian Turvey

And then there were the stars of today, Rob and Sean who struck gold in every sense in Marseille on Saturday, September 1st 2018, and soared along into the “Sailors of the Year 2018” title at the RDS on Friday 8th February this year.

The general goodwill was palpable, considerably boosted by the Marine Hotel generously donating the use of the spacious Brent Suite and providing free tea, coffee and biscuits, while 14 businesses provided an impressive array of raffle prizes. At the peak of it all there was Annalise, whose generosity and enthusiasm remains as strong as ever after nine years on the Olympic treadmill. And we also had the supportive presence of former European Under 21 Laser Radial Champion Aoife Hopkins from just up the hill, looking radiant after successfully overcoming illness last year.

fogerty hopkins8Faces in the crowd of sailing folks who live on the Hill of Howth – Conor Fogerty, Aoife Hopkins, and Aoife’s mother Niamh. Photo: Brian Turvey
Then we had the boys themselves, Rob and Sean, perfectly matched to race a sailing machine which could quite reasonably be described as the Devil-Boat. For the 49er is an unforgiving beast which will give you the sail of your life when everything in a complex matrix of factors is just right, but will dump you in a flash if just one element is out of sync.

So there we were, mostly club sailors who bask in the reflected glory of such international success, yet left almost be-numbed by the sheer level of dedication and the unbelievably rigorous training routine which is required of those keen enough to begin to start on the ladder towards true international and Olympic success.

That Annalise was able for it, and was then enthusiastic enough to go on to the challenge of the Volvo World Race on which she also gave an insightful run-down, speaks volumes for the very special character of “the girl next door”.

49er rob sean9The 49er can be a devil-boat – Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove showing how it’s done on their way to the Gold at Marseille
It’s a special character which Rob and Sean also show every sign of manifesting. Their dedicated and methodical yet visionary approach to their campaign is an inspiration. They’re operating on a different level of sailing to the rest of us. Yet on Tuesday the Olympians came back to their roots, they were among people who knew them and wished them well, and in all it was a night of heightened yet positive emotions.

Next up on the agenda for all the Olympic hopefuls is the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma at the end of March. That is when the results obtained will start to become seriously significant. Meanwhile yesterday (Friday), key members of our Olympic squad were present in Dun Laoghaire for the official opening of Irish Sailing’s new waterfront Performance HQ.

While Tuesday’s gathering in Sutton was very sociable and supportive, the fact is that within Ireland, much Olympic sailing training has been a relatively solitary business undertaken from the athletes’ home club, with few people about during off-season weekdays to provide an encouraging atmosphere. But a proper Performance Centre should provide a mutually supportive environment.

Meanwhile, we remain buoyed up by special warm memories of a remarkable outpouring of community goodwill in Sutton on Tuesday night. A true sense of community is not provided by some static ideal. On the contrary, it is provided by shared feelings with a sense of purpose, and that was something very much in evidence in the Brent Suite on Tuesday night.

dickson waddilove programme10The Challenge – ever since they won the Gold at Marseille on September 1st, the Dickson-Waddilove campaign has taken on a new urgency

Published in Howth YC

On Tuesday 19th March Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy will be doing a very special talk about her Olympic success when she headlines a fundraising event for Olympic campaigners and 49er sailing hopefuls Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove.

The fundraiser takes place just ten days before the pair go into action at the Princess Sofia Palma Regatta in Spain from 30th March.

The Northside sailors recently won the Afloat.ie Irish ‘Sailors of the Year’ title and are sailing full-time as part of their training and event regime in an effort to secure a qualification place for Tokyo in 2020.

The event will be hosted by the Marine Hotel in Sutton and sees Howth Yacht Club and Sutton Dinghy Club combining to promote the fundraiser for the local sailors.

All are welcome to attend and tickets (€10 for adults, €5 for students) will be available at the door and the event begins at 8 pm.

The 2019/20 racing calendar for the Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove campaign is a packed one: 

Princess Sofia Palma Spain 30th March - 6th April 2019
Sailing World Series Genoa Italy 22nd April - 28th April 2019
Europeans Weymouth UK 13th May - 19th May 2019
Kiel Week Kiel Germany 26th - 30th June 2019
Junior Worlds Risor Norway 4th - 7th July 2019
Sailing World Series Enoshima Japan 25th August-1st September 2019
Worlds Auckland New Zealand 29th November-8th December 2019
Sail Melbourne Melbourne Australia 17th-21st January 2020
Sailing World Series Miami USA 26th January - 2nd February 2020
Oceania Championship Geelong Australia 30th January - 3rd February 2020
Worlds Geelong Australia 9th-15th February 2020
Princess Sofia Palma Spain 28th March-4th April 2020
Sailing World Series Genoa Italy 19th-26th April 2020
Hyeres France 25th April-2nd May 2020
Medemblik Netherlands 26th-30th May 2020
Kiel Week Kiel Germany 22nd-28th June 2020, Kiel
Enoshima Japan Olympic Venue Opens 14th July 2020
Tokyo Olympics Japan 26th July - 6th August 2020
Junior Worlds Lake Como Italy 18th - 24th August 2020

Published in Howth YC

The Irish Times reported earlier this month that Irish Olympic medallist Annalise Murphy no longer has her direct funding support from Sport Ireland.

Performance in competition is a prerequisite for the €40,000-per-annum support under the international carding scheme, also known as the ‘podium’ grand.

However, 29-year-old Annalise moved on from the Laser Radial class after her silver medal win in Rio in 2016.

She spent a number of months in 2017 and 2018 sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race before taking up the 49erFX with a view to qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

Annalise recently resumed winter trials with her new boat in Portugal, joined by sailing partner Katie Tingle now recovered from an arm injury sustained last year.

Their first competition as a duo is expected be the Sailing World Cup series regatta in Genoa, Italy this April.

And both will continue to be supported by Irish Sailing, with high performance director James O’Callaghan saying: “The important thing is that [Annalise is] full on campaigning for Tokyo, and we’re delighted to have her back.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in ISA

The sailing community’s notable diversity is dependent on how you’re trying to analyse it writes W M Nixon. For many, it’s the community aspect, the shared love of boats and sailing and interacting with sea or lake, which is the sport’s greatest appeal. But for others, the greatest attraction is because it’s a competitive vehicle sport.

In fact, it could be argued that a useful indicator of where you fit into the complex sailing world is your place along the boats-to-people continuum. At one extreme, there are those for whom the boat and her equipment is everything. And at the other end of this boats-to-people line, there are those for whom the successful interaction of the crew, the people management side, is paramount – organising the boat and dealing with her technical problems is something for specialized members of the team.

Not so long ago, while cruising the Hebrides, we met up with one of the purest boat nuts I’ve ever encountered, even if he did offset this tendency by using his superbly-maintained boat for very interesting projects.

We liked the look of his 34ft cutter, and as we were in a sublimely beautiful anchorage where no-one was in a hurry to move on in the morning, we inveigled an invitation aboard and were bowled over by the quality of everything on his boat, the maintenance, and the careful way it had been thought through to make his cruising as comfortable and practical as possible.

ainmara sula2 1“ Sailing” as its cruising participants like it – an idyllic summer morning in the Hebrides for the veteran Ainmara (left) and the superbly organised Victoria 34 cutter Sula. Photo: W M Nixon

For instance, he’d re-wired the boat completely by himself, and had done it in such a way that although everything seemed invisible and skilfully done, the simple opening of accessible locker doors in key areas revealed all the parts that needed to be easily reached.

It was a pure case of single-minded perfection, so much so that we were thinking of ways to entice him to Ireland some time to give our own boats the same treatment. But in his case, “single-minded” was the essence of it all. He’d once sailed alone in a Wayfarer from Scotland across the North Sea to Norway, but few knew of it because he did it for his own satisfaction – publicity wasn’t of interest to him.

And now, after we’d had coffee together, he was off across to Skye to climb in the Cuillins. On his own, of course, and using that perfect solo-sailed boat as a handy base camp. This was indeed a man who marched to the beat of a different drum. For our part, we were nipping across to Plockton on Loch Carron, a notably convivial place, to continue a cruise of sociable celebrations.

As far as we were concerned, this was cruising as it should be, and cruising lends itself to accommodating every level of direct or indirect boat technical involvement. However, cruising is a world in itself. But in racing, the fact of sailing being a vehicle sport immediately puts a wall between it and most other sports, particularly those stadium sports of greatest public interest.

americas 2013 cup3Is this sailing’s Formula 1? The America’s Cup boats of 2013 were foiling multihulls

next americas cup4The America’s Cup rings the changes – and whatever they are, they’re always expensive. The next series in New Zealand will be raced in 75ft foiling mono-hulls

So in trying to increase sailing’s public awareness, we quickly find people referencing Formula 1 car racing, and claiming that sailing will only find universal appeal if its major events are staged in the most spectacular boats available.

Certainly, this has long been the way of the America’s Cup. But that’s quite obviously a sailing spectacular for people to stare at in wonderment, rather than expect any sense or possibility of personal involvement.

However, the Olympics are different. Olympic sailing is arguably the kind of sailing we can do at club level but carried to the ultimate extremes of personal high performance. But is that necessarily the way that sailing should go? In a tech-obsessed era - a state we’ve arguably lived in since man chipped his first flint axe-head – there are those who would argue that the boats used in the Olympics should be at the furthest edge of technological development.

laser fleet5For club sailors, the fact that their popular Laser is an Olympic Class is seen as a bonus. But for the casual viewing public, could it possibly be that a large fleet of Lasers is not the most exciting or comprehensible sporting vista in the world?
This is their point in arguing that today’s boats are getting in the way of developing sailing’s popularity. In a sense, they argue that by using popular everyday boats for a television spectacular like the Olympics, the powers-that-be are making the images decidedly humdrum for an audience steeped in technological wizardry.

It’s an approach which came to a head a month ago when, thanks to the remarkably high Irish representation in the committees of World Sailing – a priceless inheritance from the determinedly internationalist days of Dun Laoghaire’s Ken Ryan – we were among the first to be able to report the confirmation about the inclusion of an offshore racer (to be crewed by a woman and a man) in the lineup for the 2024 Olympics at Paris, when the sailing will be at Marseille.

The boat proposed will be between 6 and 10 metres overall, and non-foiling. With the course planned to have them at sea for three days and two nights, it will be the longest event in the Olympics, and all boats will be connected for sound and vision 24/7, so the human interest levels should be very high indeed.

smurfit kappa6Tom Dolan with his Figaro 2 Smurfit-Kappa. This highly-regarded 2002 Marc Lombard design is now categorized by the builders as a “Heritage Boat”

This confirmation (at last) marked such a change to the Olympic sailing format that it provoked a considerable immediate reaction. But working on the policy that second thoughts are often best and usually less harmful, we persuaded some of our more outspoken reactors to tone it down a little with the promise that we’d keep them anonymous for the time being, and would publish after a reasonable interval.

However, now we’re in the buildup to Christmas when true sailors rely on the thought of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race to preserve their sanity in the midst of smothering seasonal cheer. So here’s something else altogether - shot from both barrels - to provide something similar:

“I am no doubtless connected with the ‘higher governance level’ of our beloved sport than yourself or others, but the ‘design’ brief of the intended boat for Paris 2024 Offshore event (quote:“…..boat which will be used, the length overall will be between 6 metres and 10 metres, definitely non-foiling, and currently talked of as sloop rig with spinnaker…”) shows, yet again, how out of touch World Sailing is with its own sport!

The IMOCA 60 Class is progressively shifting to foil (see Route du Rhum 2018) and the Mini 6.50 class rules now allow foils, wingsails and even kites, while the new America’s Cup boat won’t even have a keel but 2 foils (etc etc…there are many other examples). Thus the notion that ‘what the public wants to see in the Olympics are non-foiling monohulls of 6 to 10m LOA’ baffles me!!!

mini 650 foils7The Mini 6.50 class now permits foils, and even with three on board, the little boat lifts and flies
Paris won the 2024 Olympic Games. Sailing is one of the Olympic Sports. Olympic Sailing attracts very little spectators and/or much less TV audience than the ‘professionally organised circuits’ (Minis, Figaros, IMOCAs, big multihulls, Route du Rhum, Vendee Globe etc etc…).

The aim is to change this and for once, France as the organiser and for all sailing nations, may stand a chance to make some Olympic sailing look sexy! And as you mention, there already had been an attempt – scheduled for June 2018 – to preview a potential Olympic offshore race

Nicolas Hénard, President of the Federation Francaise de Voile, declared:

« …We are the nation of offshore sailing, we can’t afford to miss this (opportunity). This is why I am doing the forcing on this with the organisation of a showcase event in Marseilles in June (2018) in parallel with the finals of the Worlds Cup with five Figaro 3 on loan from Beneteau…”

Unfortunately, due to funding issues, this demo event was cancelled…but of course the demo support was the Figaro 3.

Staging a new Olympic discipline in 2024 on a boat that, though not yet selected, is already outdated in 2018 for the intended purpose is ludicrous.

This is even more so for the Figaro 2 as the article suggests, a boat launched in 2002 and classified on the Beneteau website itself under the heading ‘Heritage” 

Also, my understanding is that, for an Olympic sailing event, boats have to be supplied (I guess new?!) by the organisers…hardly Figaro 2s then…

The reality is that:
• The Figaro Class and Circuit is the ‘only game in town’ worldwide for an ‘affordable’ (€210k ex. VAT including sails, electronics and safety equipment), one-design, short-handed, offshore racing class
• The Figaro Class is moving to foiling from 2019 onwards with the F3 because this is:
◦ What the competitors (read athletes for the Olympics) want!
◦ What the sport, as an offshore discipline, is at…right now, let alone in 2024
◦ What the viewing public demands

figaro three8It could be argued that the foiling Figaro 3 is no longer an extreme concept, and by 2024 it may even seem a little dated
The current ’design brief’ of the World Sailing Equipment Committee for the new proposed event in Marseilles 2024 can only be explained by either

  • A complete misunderstanding of the sport (really?) or
  • Anything BUT a Beneteau Figaro 3 attitude resulting from pressure/lobbying from other National Sailing Federations or other boat manufacturers who do not have an ‘affordable’ one-design offshore sailing boat in production or even in draft (J Composite?) in an attempt to ‘not give an unfair advantage to French Figaro sailors starting on this support from March 2019!
  • If there are doubts that a new boat like the Figaro 3 will be available in sufficient number, FYI, Beneteau is rolling out one new Figaro 3 per week as we speak! That’s further good news, So the question for World Sailing is:
  • Do we specify the boat that’s required and expected (FYI, I do not have any interest whatsoever in Beneteau ?)?
  • Do we specify another one for political reasons and launch a new discipline in 2024 on an outdated support?

As for my ‘dream team’: Tom Dolan (French offshore circuit ‘veteran’, inc. Figaro circuit) and Annalise Murphy (3 Olympic campaigns by 2020, Moth sailor, Volvo Ocean Race veteran etc, would bring this event very much alive if they were racing a Figaro 3, or perhaps even its 2024 development.”

annalise murphy9

tom dolan10Dream team – Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy and Figaro veteran Tom Dolan

Well, that’s telling it like it is – or might be. Instead of trying to minimise Olympic sailing’s vehicle sport aspect (which the 49er turns on its head anyway), World Sailing and the Paris/Marseille Olympics should go hell for leather for the most technologically-advanced yet economically-feasible boat possible.

It’s quite a challenge in itself. And if it seems a very long way from our agreeable meanderings about a perfect little cruising boat met with in the Hebrides, well, that’s the way it is – sailing is a very complex sport however you look at it.

Published in W M Nixon

Mexican Laser sailor Yanic Gentry helped Annalise Murphy christen her new boat on its first day out on the water in Cadiz for winter training yesterday (Thursday 15 November).

The Olympic silver medalist announced earlier this month that she and her 49erFX partner Katie Tingle would be on the move to “somewhere warmer” after spending recent months getting to grips with the class on Dublin Bay — a situation that paused in the autumn due to Katie's arm injury.

While Katie is still on the mend, Annalise could not have have picked anywhere better than the Andalusian coast, near the gateway to the Mediterranean, to make every day count in her campaign to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Published in Annalise Murphy

At last night's popular 'Speakers Supper' at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, the club's own Olympic Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy gave a first-hand account of her personal experience and reflections in the Volvo Ocean Race that she completed in June.

The NYC superstar is now back into Olympic sailing mode having launched her new 49erFX campaign in a busy summer for the 28–year–old Dubliner. She is currently training on Dublin Bay most days from her base at the NYC.

This week in the Budget increased funding was announced for Olympic athletes. Hopefully, it is another boost before Tokyo 2020 so Annalise can realise her ambition to go one better and win Gold for Ireland in two years time.

Published in Annalise Murphy
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