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Ireland's Olympic Offshore Keelboaters Prepare as New Discipline Celebrates Rapid Growth in its First Month: 1600 Members from 66 Countries

23rd November 2020
Tom Dolan - one of a number of Irish campaigns for Paris 2024 in the new mixed offshore keelboat Tom Dolan - one of a number of Irish campaigns for Paris 2024 in the new mixed offshore keelboat

The new Offshore Doubles organisation that aims to represent the growing interests of two-handed offshore sailing, the newest Olympic sailing discipline for Paris 2024, has announced that at the end of its first month of operation has 1,600 members from 66 countries with all six continents well-represented.

In a recent update. the new group say the Olympic Event of Mixed Offshore Doubles is a pinnacle event of the sailing discipline and it was proposed and ratified as the Olympic slate by World Sailing at the Annual Conference in Sarasota in 2018 and sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2019.

As Afloat previously reported, over the next month, the IOC is expected to make their final decisions on the slates proposed by all sports.

Four Irish Mixed Keelboat Campaigns?

As far as Ireland is concerned, there is significant interest with currently up to three (or maybe four) possible contenders for the single berth including top solo offshore skipper Tom Dolan (pictured above) who, quite significantly, finished fifth overall at this year's La Solitaire du Figaro, Ireland's best-ever result. Dolan claimed in March that he intends to recruit a female co-skipper for an Olympic bid but there is so far no word from the Dolan camp of a sailing partner.

The Dun Laoghaire and Greystones partnership of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee has also thrown their hat in the ring for Paris 2024 and last month Lee set a Round Ireland doubles speed record with Cat Hunt in the Figaro 3 boat. 

Kenny Rumball and Pamela LeeKenny Rumball and Pamela Lee

Howth's Conor Fogerty, a former Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year, has teamed up with Susan Glenny and this year the duo competed in the Eurosaf Mixed Keelboat European championships in Italy, a race that Fogerty described as challenging here

Susan Glenny and Conor FogertySusan Glenny and Conor Fogerty

The cost of staging the Olympic Event of Mixed Offshore Doubles 

There have been some reported questions about security and cost of the Paris 2024 Olympic event. The security question has been solved by the French Navy's assurance that they will provide security on the course. The operating costs of the event have been reviewed by the World Sailing and will be significantly lower than other sailing events because the Offshore Mixed Doubles Event is one race with a single start and finish. Other than the final short leg, all protests will be heard electronically using the 24/7 media and tracking during the event. Penalties will be assessed and taken before the last short leg to the finish and first boat across the finish line first wins.

In discussion with many of the teams, even from many smaller countries, the cost of the boat is not the big issue some claim. The boats in the event will be supplied without additional cost to competitors and the boats used for training can be any boat of appropriate size and configuration.

More on this from the offshore doubles organisation here.

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Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat

For the first time in sailing's Olympic history, a Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event will be on the slate at the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat will join kiteboarding, windsurfing, multihulls, singlehanded and doublehanded dinghies and skiffs, promoting the diversity of the sport. This, in turn, will support World Sailing's desire to promote and grow universality in all disciplines and increase female participation with gender-equal medals and athletes.

Offshore sailing is the ultimate test of endurance, skill, discipline, navigation and critical decision making.

Embracing a major part of sailing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will enable new stars of the sport to come to the forefront.

Qualification

Offshore sailing is a universal discipline that every World Sailing Member National Authority (MNA) can participate in.

Up to 20 nations will be on the start line at Paris 2024 and sailors from every continent will be represented. To qualify for the Olympic Games, continental qualification events will be held and competition for a spot will be hotly contested.

Equipment

For qualification events, World Sailing will approve a list of one-design boats that are already regionally available and can be accessed as a charter boat. Boats will be equalised to ensure fair competition.

For Paris 2024, World Sailing's Council will select a list of different Equipment it considers to meet the key criteria by 31 December 2020 and then make a decision on the Equipment, selecting from the list, no later than 31 December 2023.

MNAs, Class Associations and Manufacturers have all been invited to propose Equipment for the list and a World Sailing Working Party will evaluate each proposal. A recommended list will be presented to Council for approval in November 2020.

This recommended Equipment list will ensure that event organisers, MNAs and the sailors have opportunities to train and compete in Equipment that is readily available and affordable within their continent and country. It will also ensure each MNA has a fair opportunity to prepare for qualification events and eventually, Paris 2024.

Format

Starting and finishing in Marseille, the Mixed Offshore event is expected to last for either three days and two nights or four days and three nights off the French coastline and whoever crosses the finish line first will be declared Olympic champion.

The race course and length will be announced in the lead up to the start so the competition can take advantage of the latest weather forecast. Current options proposed include long and short courses heading towards the West and East of France.

Safety and Security

The French Navy and Mediterranean forces have extensive experience of supporting major oceanic sailing races. They will provide safety and security at Paris 2024.

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