Displaying items by tag: Laser Radial
Today is the day athletes from around the world would have been celebrating the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the opening ceremony, writes Gail McAllister.
In many ways it marks the culmination of lifelong dreams, for 2020 the dream is postponed for a year.
So let’s reflect and rewind the clock to this day in 2008, when Olympic Laser Radial sailor Ciara Peelo from Malahide stepped out into the Bird’s Nest, Beijing’s National Stadium, as the flag bearer for the entire Irish Olympic team.
470 sailors Ger Owens and Phil Lawton walked alongside Star sailors Peter O’Leary and Steve Milne, giving Ciara encouragement to “keep on waving that flag” as the thousands of spectators and millions of viewers across the world roared their support.
Today is the day to reminisce with Ciara on her memories of the day.
“Sheer total happiness,” Ciara said. “There was such a happy and enthusiastic atmosphere in the team as we walked into the stadium and the noise was brilliant as we entered the arena of 91,000 spectators, and athletes of all shapes and sizes from the four corners of the world.”
Just look at the smile on Ciara's face; it sums up pride, achievement and happiness…
How did it feel to be chosen to carry the flag?
I got called to a meeting at the Olympic Federation offices in Howth and I thought I was meeting the performance director, James O’Callaghan. They asked if I was willing to take the flag at the opening ceremony. It was a huge honour and surprise to be asked, so of course, the answer was yes.
Sonia O’Sullivan carried the flag and she was my idol growing up, so to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my sporting hero was incredible.
Do you reflect back on the Beijing Olympics?
Yes and no. I went to the Olympics to perform in sailing and I came home feeling like I had not achieved my personal goals. The opportunity only comes around once in every four years and if you don’t achieve in that one event you will naturally be disappointed and are left with a feeling of unfinished business.
I now look back and reflect more positively on the experience. I remember the incredible journey up to and during the event and the milestones along the way.
Have you learnt anything from that emotion?
Yes. Acceptance. I approach and do things very differently now. The journey is as important as the final event. It is hard to see this when you are in the thick of competition. I learnt it was important for me to be happy with what I am doing in life as a whole and I make decisions based on happiness and contentment.
You now work as a teacher. Do you share your outlook and learnings?
I work on teaching the person and teaching the subject becomes part of that. Making sure that the person is learning what they need to learn in a way that works for them is important.
As you know, there is now a High Performance Centre in Dun Laoghaire. Do you look at the facilities that are available now for Olympic campaigners and compare to what you had available?
Everything has progressed and improved on a continuous basis. Post-Beijing a coach was brought in for the Radials and the squad was set up. There has been so much progression across the whole programme from where we were 12 years ago. As you would expect.
James, as performance director, is always looking to do the next thing to be successful. He knew Irish sailing needed squads, coaches and the right set up working with the team and he made it happen. We can all see that the performance speaks for itself.
What additional professional support did you have in 2008?
We had Sports Med Ireland, sports psychology and a nutritionist in the 2008 cycle. These were important and they are now integrated in the programme from Academy level. The athletes get more face time now with support team professionals which is a great step forward but clearly places a demand on resource.
Any advice for young athletes out there?
Choose your goal, your passion. If you want it, then go out and do it. You will feel a better person.
In conversation with Gail McAllister
Aoife Hopkins will not appeal last week’s decision to cut-short the Radial Olympic trial for Tokyo 2021 as Howth Yacht Club, expressed its disappointment for both the former U21 European Champion and clubmate Eve McMahon, both contestants in the Irish trials.
Hopkins (21), who was Murphy's (30) nearest rival for the single Tokyo berth, was left 'devastated' last week when the trials were stopped.
"I really can’t understand the decision not to continue with the trials. I am utterly and completely devastated", she told Afloat after the decision.
Speaking at the weekend, Howth Yacht Club Commodore Ian Byrne told Afloat 'Our club is naturally disappointed for Aoife and Eve and that they didn’t get the chance to follow through with their campaigns'.
Under the selection process, if one or more of the trial regattas are cancelled, then the person with the best performance in the completed trial regattas secures the nomination.
Murphy finished the ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in 12th place, Hopkins finished in 40th, Aisling Keller 63rd, and Academy sailor McMahon 78th.
The manner in which the decision was made and conveyed to Hopkins took her and supporters aback last Monday, (including some sponsors), given that the Olympics is still a year away, adding heft to her argument there was plenty of time to complete the trials series among the four Irish contestants.
Hopkins club has expressed its disappointment at the decision despite the fact that the Rio silver medalist may have set a tough target for the others after a top placing at February's World Championships.
Hopkins is arguably the most affected by the decision, given the length of her campaign and also that she might have expected to be in Tokyo, before Annalise’s return to the class after she gave up on the 49er FX last September.
Hopkins also had a club rival in young Academy sailor Eve McMahon who had been given the chance to contest the trial as a 16-year-old, so the Radial trial was of significant interest at Ireland's biggest yacht club.
McMahon is playing a ‘long game’, with a clear focus on future campaigns. A talented racer, she already has what it takes to compete at the highest level and was crowned U17 champion at the Worlds in February.
Hopkins says she is taking time out to reassess her situation.
'Aoife is a talented and hard-working competitor and once she’s had the time to reflect on her situation, she will emerge stronger than ever, Howth's Brian Turvey told Afloat. 'it’s easy to forget that Eve is still only 16 years of age and she has a terrific future ahead of her'.
'We have followed their progress and supported their campaigns since their first aspirations in competition and we are gutted for them after what must feel like a lifetime of commitment', Commodore Byrne added.
We wish Annalise well and hope that Irish Sailing’s interjection in this process produces the right result, the HYC Commodore said.
As Afloat previously reported, Irish Sailing's James O'Callaghan said "Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials. By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials”.
He went on to say: “for sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo”.
O'Callaghan said at the weekend that no appeals against the decision had been received. Murphy's nomination will be put forward to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ratification.
“In my head I was going, ‘If I give up here, they’re going to be saying that Annalise The Olympian has just quit’. So I couldn’t quit.”
That’s how Annalise Murphy explains her motivation to keep up her fitness and focus for the next Olympics in the time of coronavirus, in an interview with Malachy Clerkin in The Irish Times this weekend.
Within a matter of weeks, the event she and thousands of other athletes had been working towards for months, if not years, was suddenly another year away.
And what’s more, movement restrictions prevented her from even taking to the water for training — and it’s still not entirely clear when that will resume. “I do really miss sailing right now,” she says.
In the meantime, the Irish hero of Rio 2016 has had to refocus her energies, training as much as she can at home.
But the situation, in giving her more time to think about her quest for Ireland’s reserved Laser Radial spot in Tokyo, has also had the side effect of expanding her ambitions.
“Initially, I was very much thinking I was going to retire after the Olympics,” she explains. “But after the Worlds [in February] I was going, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can retire now – I need to go and try to win a Worlds before I retire.’
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.
Four Irish women will be on the start line of the first race of 2020 Laser Radial World Championships this Sunday.
As Afloat previously reported, this is the first of three Irish trial regattas for the Olympic place and each sailor will be seeking to carry the minimum number of points into the next round at Palma in March. The final event is in Hyeres, France in April. The selection regattas were changed late last year by mutual agreement, dropping the World Cup in Genoa in favour of the World Championship in Melbourne.
In part of the buid up to Sunday's first races, the girls were joined at their Melbourne training camp by local resident and Irish athletics great Sonia O’Sullivan who reported on the trials in her weekly Irish Times column.
Highest ranked (39th) is Aoife Hopkins (21) of Howth Yacht Club who has campaigned consistently over the last two years, and will be targeting a second successive World Championship gold fleet result to maintain her selection hopes. Hopkins finished 25th in last month’s Sail Melbourne against quality opposition.
Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller (23), ranked 63rd, finished 3 places behind Hopkins in Melbourne, but two places ahead at last year’s Worlds, qualifying the country in the process. These pair were locked in a battle for the Olympic berth, but the return of Annalise Murphy to the fray has created a new challenge where they will need to look beyond their own private battle.
2016 Rio silver medallist Murphy (30), has a lowly ranking of 136th due to her late return to the class. The National Yacht Club sailor has directed her talent elsewhere since her medal performance, crewing in the Volvo Ocean Race and attempting to develop a 49erfx challenge. She took up where she left off, in battle with Rio Gold Medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) for honours in Sail Melbourne, once again taking the runner-up spot.
Eve McMahon (15), Howth Yacht Club, is the current under 17 Laser Class World Champion. Ranked 144th in the world, she has displayed her considerable potential by finishing 46th in Sail Melbourne and poses an interesting question as to whether her upward trajectory can put her in the mix for selection.
The weather will play a significant part in determining the outcome of this first trial. Sail Melbourne, with the exception of the final race, was a windy regatta, playing to Murphy’s strength. The forecast for the first three days of the World Championship, predicts mixed strengths, but perhaps closer to 10 knots than 15 knots.
First race reports on Afloat are expected on Sunday morning, Irish time.
All three medallists from the Rio Olympics will take to the water off Sandringham Yacht Club on Sunday. They head a star-studded field of 106 competitors from 40 countries, many of whom will be trying to qualify as their country's representative at Tokyo 2020.
Leading the charge will be Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands, the 2016 gold and 2012 silver medallist at the Olympics and a six-times world champion in the event. Marit has been training in Melbourne since December and won the Australian Championship in early January. Although she has already been selected for the Olympics by the Dutch Federation, she will still have a battle on her hands during the Worlds from countrywomen Mirthe Akkerman, Maxim Jonker and Daphne van der Vaart, who all pushed her during the Australian Championship.
Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) is ranked number one in the world at present and is the defending world champion, having also won the title in 2015. She was 13th at the London Olympics and won the bronze medal in Rio.
Annalise Murphy (IRL) was part of an epic Laser Radial medal race at the London Olympics, where she missed out on the bronze by the barest of margins. She made up for that at Rio, taking silver behind Marit Bouwmeester.
Another former world champion, Alison Young of Great Britain, is currently ranked second in the world while Emma Plasschart of Belgium is ranked third.
Among those competing for a place at the Olympics are two Finn sailors, Tuula Tenkinen and Monika Mikkola. Ranked ninth and 14th respectively, they present a welcome challenge to the Finn selectors.
Even more intense will be the rivalry for Kim and Lin Pletikos of Slovenia, who are not only competing for an Olympic spot, but for bragging rights around the family dinner table.
The home crowd is also hoping to see a sailor selected for Tokyo.
There are 19 Australians in the field for the Worlds. Assuming there are no upsets, either Thomson or Stransky will need to finish in the top 10 to secure a seat on the plane to Tokyo
After frustrations in her attempt to qualify in the two-handed 49erFX class, Annalise Murphy is back in the boat with which she won silver at the 2016 Olympics — Ireland’s strongest Olympic sailing result to date.
All four have been training together in Melbourne, Australia since the start of the year, ahead of the Laser Radial World Championship (starting tomorrow, Friday 21 February) which will be the first of three chances between now and April for one of them to secure that coveted spot.
“Think about how that must be for them,” writes Sonia. “They know that only one of them will go to Tokyo so they wouldn’t be human if they didn’t have some sort of selfish instinct in them. It would be only natural for them to keep little bits and pieces that they’re learning back for themselves to give them a better chance of being the one who gets the spot on the boat.
“But they also know that the more they push each other, the better they make each other. And the better they make each other, the greater chance of a medal for Ireland and a better all round result for Irish sailing.”
Sonia also gets out on the water with Annalise to experience first-hand the speed and excitement of the Laser Radial — and the rush Annalise and her fellow challengers will be feeling when the training is done and the race is on.
Trading a few years of experience on your rivals isn’t a major problem when you’re on a run of form like George Kingston.
The Royal St George sailor gave a masterclass in race management and consistency last weekend when he strolled to the Laser Leinster title in the waters off Rush.
And the return to Dublin Bay clearly hasn’t broken his stride - finishing Day 2 of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta with three bullets out of three in the standard rig class.
Clubmate Ross O’Leary and Royal Irish’s Justin Maguire - both of whom were gearing up for a home challenge in the Master Worlds this time last year - were left swapping second and third spots.
Meanwhile in the Radial fleet, Marco Sorgassi tops a runners and riders list that he didn’t even appear on when it went to press, scoring a brace of race wins and a second place.
Rush’s Tom Fox - the only non-Royal St George-affiliated entry in the 10-strong fleet - lies second, with a comfortable five-point gap over next placed Sean Flanagan.
The first big international Laser Masters Championships since the Dublin 2019 Worlds took place in Roses, Spain between June 14th and June 20th. In afternoon sea breezes of 8-20 knots and constant sunshine, 151 Radials and 117 Full rigs competed in the European Laser Master Championships, sailing out of the Grup d’Esports Nautic Roses. Launching from a beautiful Costa Brava beach, the racing was tactically challenging, as the upwind legs were heavily left-side favoured.
Irish sailor Sean Craig (Royal St George Yacht Club) competed in the largest 54 boat Grand Master Radial division, travelling to Roses after a good podium finish at the Barcelona Masters a week previously as Afloat reported here. It wasn’t all plain sailing in Roses for Craig however, with an OCS after his best finish, a 720 penalty in another race and then a nasty incident with a French competitor.
Some better consistency in the latter stages left him 10th overall and 8th European (two Canadians were ahead of him in the Open rankings).
There was other Irish interest too, with strong performances by two UK-based Radial sailors, both sailing under GBR. In the Masters division, Niall Peelo, originally from Malahide Yacht Club and brother of 2008 Olympian Ciara, placed 12th overall of 35 competitors. Peelo’s results improved consistently as the week progressed. Also in the eight-boat Legends (over 75 division) the winner was Mike Kinnear who started his Laser career many years ago at Ballyholme Yacht Club in Co. Down. This was Kinnear’s first year as a Legend and he claimed the scalp of celebrated octogenarian Peter Seidenberg from the USA, who placed third and has dominated this category in recent years.
European Laser Master sailors will look forward to more great competition at the Worlds in Holland in September, with the 2020 edition following not long after, in Melbourne next March.
Results are downloadable below
Further trials will be conducted before a final decision is made by December 2020.
But the directors of UK-based RS Sailing — design and tech chief Alex Southon, commercial chief Jon Partridge, sales director Riki Hooker and c-founded Martin Wadhams — are already making their appeal to World Sailing and its member national associations to see the RS Aero as the future of single-handed dinghy sailing at the Olympics.
The full letter is included below:
Dear Mr President and all,
In the coming days World Sailing will make decisions that are likely to affect our sport for the next couple of decades and we feel it appropriate to share our views.
Over the last twenty‐five years we have created RS Sailing and built it into the world’s leading small sailboat brand. We have changed the face of small boat sailing in many parts of the globe, we have made friends on every continent and shared beers in many sailing clubs. We are proud of RS Sailing’s achievements, made not by a few people but by many sailors who believe our sport can be better.
We have not got everything right, but we have listened to the sailors and done our best to create boats and events that are right for the future of our sport. That is why we’re now the brand leader.
We always knew the decision regarding the Olympic single‐hander would be highly charged and the odds are stacked in favour of the incumbent. But the coming decisions are not just about the Olympians; this universal sector drives the youth pathways and the opportunity to build women’s participation as well. The sport is currently in decline in many regions and we all share the primary responsibility to reverse that trend.
The Evaluation was clear. Detractors will always find details to argue but the fact remains the people involved were unanimous in their view that the RS Aero offers clearly the best opportunity – for the youths, women and Olympians.
The boat is ultra‐light, dynamic and better suited to working with a range of rig sizes for light to heavy sailors. It uses high tech construction for competitive longevity. It is backed by the RS organisation, seen as the most capable of delivering consistent high quality to the world through our existing infrastructure and an international FRAND production network on every continent.
Look what happened to cycling when the equipment became light and sexy – the sport exploded.
Conversely, the current Equipment design is fifty years old and heavy. Whatever the rigs, the hull is heavier than many of the sailors it seeks to serve… Lift your bike, ride your bike and think about it...
The issues between the various organisations that build and manage the current Equipment are well documented and long running. They make life harder for many sailors and organisers. Recent communications make it clear that solutions have not been agreed. The issues and potential for litigation against all parties involved distract from growing our sport and threaten World Sailing’s reputation – indeed sailing’s reputation within the Olympic movement.
So, over to you World Sailing. The experts you selected have told you that the RS Aero is the best Equipment for the future of sailing and we have proved ourselves credible partners. The current Equipment was second ranked, even without factoring in ongoing commercial issues.
You can select new Equipment; you can simply ignore the information laid out by the experts and make no change; or you can take some time to consider what is best for the direction of our sport. A smooth transition is possible – perhaps starting with the women’s fleet or the youth pathway.
We offer you a chance to inspire the next generation.
We offer the RS Aero.
Alex, Jon, Riki and Martin
There were three McMahon family members from Howth racing in the Laser Radials at this year’s Irish Junior Championship at Crosshaven. But while youngest Jack had to be content with 13th overall, his cousin Eve was very much in improvement mode as the series progressed, notching three fourth places to finish at fifth overall. This made her winner of the girls’ division by five clear points, and thus well entitled to bring the McMahons a second Junior Sailor of the Month accolade for April.
Jamie McMahon (Howth Yacht Club), put in a convincing performance at the Irish Youth Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club in the final weekend of April to emerge as Laser Radial overall champion, seeing off some determined challenges from a fleet of 27 from all over the country in a championship contested in decidedly unsettled weather patterns to make him one of two Junior Sailors of the Month for April.