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Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove have emerged best of the two Irish contenders to compete in the men’s skiff event at Paris 2024 this summer.

The Dublin crew — from Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively — qualified for the medal race final in eighth overall at the 49er European Championships in La Grande Motte, France on Sunday 12 May, the third and final event of the selection trials.

Their rivals for the place, Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, delivered an outstanding performance of their own over the past six days, finishing in 12th place — their personal best result as a pair — and within striking distance of taking the place.

But the Royal Cork Yacht Club pair were denied a final chance at closing the gap on Dickson and Waddilove when light winds forced their final fleet race to be cancelled on Sunday despite two attempts to go afloat hoping for breeze.

Light winds were also threatening the possibility of the medal race on Sunday afternoon, though the best that the Dublin crew can achieve is sixth overall in a fleet that comprises the best sailors in the world that will all be competing in the Olympics.

Dickson and Waddilove competed for Ireland at Tokyo 2020 for their first Olympic appearance and qualified Ireland for this year’s games at the 2023 Europeans in Portugal last November.

This selection marks the conclusion of a 45-race series which took place over three regattas.

It’s expected the nomination will be ratified by the Olympic Federation of Ireland in the coming weeks when Dickson and Waddilove join Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) and Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) in their respective one-person dinghy events for Team Ireland.

As the 49er European Sailing Championship enters its halfway stage in La Grande Motte, France, two Irish sailing teams have qualified for the Gold fleet final round that begins on Friday. Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, veterans of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, hold a slim lead over Cork rivals Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, who are proving themselves able contenders.

Up to seven races remain in the championship that will decide which of the two Irish boats will be nominated for inclusion in Team Ireland for Paris 2024. Guilfoyle and Durcan must finish five clear places ahead of Dickson and Waddilove in the final standings on Sunday next.

Currently, the Dublin crew is 16th overall, just nine points ahead of the Crosshaven crew. The 68-boat fleet is facing difficult conditions, with double-world champions Bart Lambriex with Floris van de Werken of The Netherlands dropping to 13th place, and a narrow spread of points separating most of the top 20 crews.

"We had crazy racing for the first two days with lots of crashes," said Matt McGovern, Irish Sailing's 49er coach. "We are now into light winds, so it's going to be very, very shifty and tough to predict for the rest of the event.”

"As it stands, both our boats are going alright, and full credit to Séafra and Johnny who need the best results they've ever had; they've done job one of getting into Gold fleet.”

"Rob and Sean are just keeping the head and not worrying about selection. There's way too much racing left to worry about that."

The 49er European Championship is the third and final selection trials regatta to decide Ireland's representative for the men's skiff event at the Paris 2024 Sailing regatta. Irish Sailing's other two events will be represented by Eve McMahon in the women's one-person dinghy (ILCA6 class) and Finn Lynch in the men's one-person dinghy (ILCA7), who are both already confirmed.

With a big three days remaining and the points finely spread, anything can happen. The Irish sailors aim to qualify for the Olympics and represent their country in Paris 2024.

Big breeze and massive wind shifts of day two of the 49er European Championship delivered plenty of drama in La Grande Motte, the South of France as the gap narrowed between the two Irish rivals who are using this event as the final Olympic trial for the single Irish Paris 2024 berth this July.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove from Dublin's Howth Yacht Club and Skerries continue to lead in the Euros but now only by two points on 42 in 17th overall with Crosshaven's Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan from Royal Cork Yacht Club on 44 points in 19th place after six races sailed. 

As regular Afloat readers know, to win a place with Team Ireland for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Guilfoyle and Durcan must beat the Dubliners by five places and finish within the top 20 in La Grande Motte.

Three more races in wildly shifty conditions of up to 40 degrees variation have done nothing to dislodge Great Britain from the top two spots in the men's 49er. It's just the order of those British crews has changed with new pairing of James Grummett and Rhos Hawes now moving to the top and displacing James Peters and Fynn Sterritt to second overall.

Thursday is indeed forecast for a lighter breeze as the regatta reaches the final day of qualifying before the 49er men get regrouped for the gold fleet finals and Ireland produces its final member of its Paris Olympic sailing team.

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Irish Olympic sailing fans have their eyes fixed on the 49er European Championships that kicked off in La Grande Motte in the South of France this morning. This event is the final trial for Paris 2024 selection, and the international fleet looks to make the most of the final major test before this summer’s Olympic Games.

The selection trials are finely balanced between two boats, with Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove from Dublin's Howth Yacht Club and Skerries holding a tiny five-point advantage over Crosshaven's Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan from Royal Cork Yacht Club. To win a place with Team Ireland for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Guilfoyle and Durcan must beat them by five places and finish within the top 20 at the Europeans.

The event features a fleet of 71 two-person 49er class skiffs, including all the major nations expected for Paris 2024. With the final composition of the sailing squad to be nominated for Team Ireland known this week, both boats will concentrate on delivering their best regatta performance rather than competing solely for the selection trials.

According to James O'Callaghan, Performance Director with Irish Sailing, "The outcome of our selection trials is finely balanced between the two boats. This series will likely be determined by whichever crew can open up the championship with some strong early results."

After a lacklustre performance in Hyeres, where no Irish boat qualified for the medal race at French Olympic week, Dickson and Waddilove retain their favourite tag due to their past performances, including at Tokyo 2020; Guilfoyle and Durcan have demonstrated considerable resilience and steadily improving form since losing their place in the squad last year.

The competition begins on Tuesday (May 7th) with the 71 boats split into two qualifying groups, each competing in three races daily to decide a Gold fleet that sails a final round on Friday, Saturday and Sunday comprising a total of seven further races. Both Irish boats must at least qualify for the Gold fleet for the selection trials to continue to the end of the event.

In the overall European championship, the top ten boats on Sunday morning will compete in a single-medal race final to determine the podium.

The Nacra 17 World Championship along with the 49er and 49erFX European Championships are attracting 148 teams to La Grande Motte in the south of France for six days of racing from next Tuesday 7 to Sunday 12 May.

Of those crews registered, 39 will represent their country in less than three months in Marseille, location of the 2024 Olympics sailing events.

La Grande Motte effectively serves as the final dress rehearsal for the Olympic sailors, a final opportunity to line up on big start lines and experience the hurly-burly of high-traffic mark roundings and tight boat-on-boat tactics.

For some, this event is even important as the regatta is serving as the final part of their national qualification trials.

As previously reported on, the 49er Europeans is the third and final event in the Irish men’s skiff trials series.

Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove (Howth YC/Skerries SC) hold a tiny five-point advantage over Crosshaven's Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, meaning the Royal Cork crew must beat the Dublin duo by five places and finish within the top 20 to win a place with Team Ireland for Paris 2024.

It will be far from an easy task. La Grande Motte’s organisers have remarked on how interesting it’s been to see how some of the teams that missed out on Olympic selection have been performing at such a high level in recent weeks.

“Perhaps with the pressure off, they’ve been able to sail with more freedom,” they say. “We can expect to see some of those ‘non-Olympic’ crews to be challenging hard for the podium. Because, after all, this is not just a warm-up for Marseille but a big deal in its own right.”

La Grande Motte International Regatta 2024 programme:

  • 4-6 May: Boat inspection and registration confirmation
  • 6 May: Official training regattas and opening ceremony
  • 7-11 May: Qualifying regattas: 3 races per day and per series (weather permitting); daily race numbers for the top three provisional finishers in the three series
  • 12 May: Medal Races — 10-boat finals, followed by medal ceremony

The National Yacht Club hosted the first combined 29er and 49er events, and it proved to be a great success. There was a palpable buzz on the club platform before and after sailing and great racing.

As it was reported by Afloat earlier, Locals William Walsh and Eoin Byrne prevailed in the end, taking their first major win in the 29er class. But there was more to it, with great fast racing at all levels, close, entertaining, confirming the success of such an approach.

Race officer Con Murphy opted to start all 15 boats together, allowing the running of an overall PY set of results, delivering an overall weekend champion. With his team, he delivered a full series of 8 races in various conditions ranging from five to 18 knots.

We had a few apprehensive faces launching on Saturday morning with a 12-18 kts North Easterly breeze. The locals knew it meant big waves and challenging conditions. The 49ers and the 29er rookies (first event in the class) were immediately challenged as soon as out of the harbour and had mixed feelings between the fast downwind adrenaline rush and their ability to keep their boats upright... The safety fleet certainly had a busy day ensuring all was going to plan for everyone. A class coach was appointed by the club to help the new comers to enjoy their first event: Nicola Ferguson was certainly put to contribution on the day.

The first race started with a small delay. The Academy 29ers were fast off the blocks, as expected, whilst the 49ers were a little more cautious. If the faster 49ers eventually took the lead afloat (at least the ones that stayed upright), it was a 29er 1-2-3 after the times were corrected with William Walsh and crew Eoin Byrne taking the race win ahead of Cork Oisin Pierse and Fionn Daly. The Bateman brothers (Olin and Chris) were top 49ers in 4th, just about edging Irish Sailing squad Elysia O'Leary and Sophie Kilmartin.

The Bateman brothers (Olin and Chris) competing at the 49erFX East Coast Championships held at the National Yacht ClubThe Bateman brothers (Olin and Chris) competing at the 49erFX East Coast Championships held at the National Yacht Club

On race two the remaining 49ers started to get the hang of it, yet it was once more a mano a mano between the academy 29ers boys. This time Oisin/Fionn took the gun ahead of William/Oisin with Olin/Chris taking 3rd and top 49er spot yet again.

Race 3 saw the return of Ben O'Shaugnessy with an alternative crew. Ethan Spain had replaced Alex Hopkins (who sustained a small injury on a finger). And the boys were fast, very fast... They led the 49ers 1-2-3.

Ben and Ethan did not slow down in race 4, and Charlie Keating/Alex Tricket's lead at the first mark was very short-lived. They took the race on the water and on PY. William and Eoin were solid enough to take second after recalculation, just a few seconds ahead of Olin and Chris. It was the most competitive race of the day, with five boats within the same minute between 2nd and 5th after PY recalculated times.

On day 2, the sailors were welcomed by a sunny, lighter breeze. The breeze had gone west, displaying shifty up-and-down (5-12 kts) winds. It was a challenge for our race officer and his mark layers, but they managed four more races, suiting the whole range of abilities, especially the 29er rookies.

Race 5 was a long one with the breeze dropping after the first beat and keeping the sailors scouting for the best lanes upwind and downwind. Separation was always risky and bigger rigs were surely useful. So it was the 49ers making the most of the conditions with Ben and Alex (back to his crewing duties) who took the race ahead of The Batemans, who had to fend off the catching-up Masters Thomas Chaix and Katie Tingle. The 29ers were a bit further back, and the highlight of the race was rookies Louise Hanley and Hannah Walsh, who only started sailing the 29er this winter, pushing the Academy boys to finish 2nd in the class (6th in the PY).

Race 6's big shift (left) and the very biased course allowed the 29ers to return to business, with William/Eoin edging yet again Academy mates Oisin/Fionn. Olin and Chris were to the 49ers in third.

Thomas Chaix and Katie Tingle were third overall at the 49erFX East Coast Championships held at the National Yacht ClubThomas Chaix and Katie Tingle were third overall at the 49erFX East Coast Championships held at the National Yacht Club

The course was reset for race 7 and the 29ers confirmed their return to business with another 1-2-3. William and Eoin won it putting a firm grip towards the title. Oisin and Fionn were securing second in the 29ers but remained under the pressure of the 49ers for the overalls. The ever-consistent Hugh Meagher and Oisin Alexander had their position pretty secured, too. The rookie's top price was, however, still in contention, with 3 boats still able to collect.

RStGYC's Elysia O'Leary and Sophie Kilmartin of the Irish sailing squad were fourth in the 49er East Coast Championships at the National Yacht Club RStGYC's Elysia O'Leary and Sophie Kilmartin of the Irish sailing squad were fourth in the 49er East Coast Championships at the National Yacht Club 

The final race saw a close battle between Olin and Chris and the "Masters" who seemed to have found better speed through the day despite aching muscles. It was close and eventually Thomas Katie managed to squeeze ahead of the boys at the second windward holding them until the finish. Yet it was again a few seconds short after PY was calculated giving William and Eoin their final win of the event.

Overall, the 29er Academy boys prevailed taking the first combined 9ers event of the year. But the 49er weekend warriors did not disapoint with some fast sailing and a great display of skills.

29er and 49er event East Coast Championship prizewinners

Overall champions: William Walsh and Eoin Byrne are presented with the 29er 2024 East Coast Championship trophies by NYC Vice Commodore Rosemary Cadogan Overall champions: William Walsh and Eoin Byrne are presented with the 29er 2024 East Coast Championship trophies by NYC Vice Commodore Rosemary Cadogan 

Overall champions: William Walsh and Eoin Byrne, NYC
29er champions: William Walsh and Eoin Byrne, NYC
49er champions: Olin and Chris Bateman, MBSC
29er 1st ladies: Louise Hanley and Hannah Walsh, NYC
29er 1st rookies: Theo Madigan and Daniel McDaid, NYC

29er results below and 49er results here

Published in 29er
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Giving the host nation a huge boost just months before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin of France emerged victorious in the 49er World Championships held in Lanzarote on Sunday (10 March).

Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands won the women's 49erFX title.

After a disappointing week for both Irish crews in Lanzarote a final-race second place on Sunday for Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove was a welcome early season morale boost as Afloat reports here

On the final day of the championship, the sailors faced lighter breezes that were still sufficient for twin trapezing up and down the two-lap race course. In the Gold Fleet race, van Aanholt and Duetz had a chance to claim the world title for the Netherlands, but they could only manage 17th place, their worst result of the championship. This left the door open for the Swedes to potentially take gold for the second year in a row.

Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands won the women's 49erFX title in LanzaroteOdile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands won the women's 49erFX title in Lanzarote

However, Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin had no such problems in the men's 49er. They finished in first place in the Gold Fleet race and high-fived and hugged as they crossed the finish line. They had already won the regatta with a race to spare, becoming the first ever French team to win the 49er World Championship.

The final day brought many ups and downs for the sailors, and it was a thrilling event overall. The French and Dutch teams proved to be the strongest, showcasing their skills and determination to come out on top.

Final podium. 49er Worlds. Lanzarote 2024

  1. Erwan Fischer/Clément Pequin (FRA), 11+1+7+3+1+3+1+2+3+(18)+2+3+3+2+3+1+12=58
  2. Bart Lambriex/Floris van de Werken (NED), 5+4+1+7+4+1+1+1+(20)+16+3+20+4+1+7+17+4=96
  3. Diego Botín/Florian Trittel (ESP), 13+18+3+3+2+3+15+1+6+7+1+1+9+5+(20)+11+8=106

Final podium. 49erFX Worlds. Lanzarote 2024

  1. Odile van Aanholt/Annette Duetz (NED), 1+3+1+3+6+9+8+1+1+13+5+3+2+1+(17)+6=63
  2. Vilma Bobeck/Rebecca Netzler (SWE), 14+2+3+2+1+5+6+1+8+14+11+1+1+(22)+3+8=80
  3. Jana Germani/Giorgia Bertuzzi (ITA), 3+2+5+16+12+2+4+2+6+6+22+6+(25)+3+1+14=90
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Day 5 of the 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Lanzarote featured challenging conditions with stronger winds and waves. French sailors Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequinsecured consistent finishes, keeping a big lead between them and the Dutch in second place.

With the breeze gusting between 15 and 19 knots from the north-west, today would be the toughest physical challenge yet. The Gold Fleet departed Marina Rubicon for three hard races on the huge Atlantic swell.

Irish gold fleet contestants Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, who say they are struggling in the unpredictable conditions, remain 25th overall after scores of 13.0,17.0 and 12.0, while Cork silver fleet sailors at these championships, Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, are ranked 30th overall. See results below.

In a consistently surprising performance, British sailors Grummett and Hawes entered the Gold Fleet for the first time as a team and secured a race win which puts them in 4th overall.


Fischer and Pequin favoured a port-tack approach to the starts, passing behind the bulk of the fleet starting on starboard. It proved to be a winning strategy as the French launched into clear air on the right-hand side of the course nearer to Marina Rubicon on the Lanzarote shore. They sailed to finishes of 3,2,3, a level of consistency that none of their rivals could match.

Sebastien Schneiter and Arno de Planta (SUI) won the first race of the session, next it was the reigning World Champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken (NED), and last winners of the afternoon were the surprise package of this week from Great Britain.

GBR 12 - James Grummett/Rhos Hawes Photo: Sailing EnergyGBR 12 - James Grummett/Rhos Hawes Photo: Sailing Energy


James Grummett had never competed in the Gold Fleet of a major 49er regatta before, but having teamed up with Rhos Hawes just three months ago this new partnership have clicked straight away. Their race win puts them in 4th overall, just 0.2 points off the Spanish in 3rd.

Meanwhile there’s a close battle developing between two Polish teams both vying for Olympic selection. Currently Mikolaj Staniul and Jakub Sztorch sit in 5th but just 5 points ahead of Łukasz Przybytek and Jacek Piasecki in 6th.

France's Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin might be the first French sailors in 25 years to become 49er World Champions Photo: Sailing EnergyFrance's Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin might be the first French sailors in 25 years to become 49er World Champions Photo: Sailing Energy


With one more Gold Fleet race in the morning followed by the Medal Race on Sunday afternoon, the French team go into the final day with a 30 point advantage over the Dutch, and 12 points further back are the Spanish favourites Diego Botin and Florian Trittel.

In more than a quarter of a century of 49er World Championships, France has never won the world title. On the strength of today’s performance, Erwan Fischer and Clement Pequin could be on the brink of making 49er history.

Top 3. 49er Worlds. Lanzarote. Day 5

1. Erwan Fischer / Clément Pequin (FRA), 11+1+7+3+1+3+1+2+3+(10)+2+3+3+2+3=45
2. Bart Lambriex / Floris van de Werken (NED), 5+4+1+7+4+1+1+1+(20)+16+3+20+4+1+7=75
3. Diego Botín / Florian Trittel (ESP), 13+18+3+3+2+3+15+1+6+7+1+1+9+5+(20)=87

Dublin sailors Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove made a strong start on the second day of racing at the 49er World Championship in Lanzarote, Spain on Wednesday.

Despite challenging conditions, including an unstable northerly wind, the duo managed to score two top-ten results in their fleet. However, a 15th-place finish weighed down their overall standing, putting them in 18th place overall. With just ten points separating them from the top ten, the Dublin pair will be keen to improve their position in Thursday's races in order to qualify for the Gold fleet final round.

Meanwhile, Crosshaven's Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan from the Royal Cork Yacht Club also had a strong showing, with a top result and two 20th place finishes. Although the latter result was discarded as their worst score, the Cork duo will need to find their form on Thursday in order to improve their position and secure a spot in the Gold fleet.

As Afloat previously reported, the 49er World Championship is the first of three selection trials for the single Irish berth at the Paris 2024 Olympics in the Men's single-handed event. With all eyes on the prize, the Irish sailors are giving it their all and leaving nothing to chance.

"Today was more of what we expected from Lanzarote," commented Matt McGovern, Irish Sailing's skiff coach. "After a light start for the first race, it got a little easier for the fleet as they just had to take the left track, so it was about getting off the start well."

Despite the challenging conditions, McGovern remained optimistic, saying, "Overall, it was a good day to survive." Gold fleet racing for the final round commences on Friday, followed by Sunday's medal race for the top ten overall to decide the podium.

On each side of the Yellow and Blue Qualifying Groups in the 49er, two different French teams put in some world-beating performances.

In Yellow Group, Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpech enjoyed an almost perfect day with scores of 2,1,1 to move up to 5th overall in the standings.

Meanwhile, in Blue Group, Erwan Fischer and Clement Pequin put the hammer down to score 3,1,3 and move to the top of the leaderboard. The French share equal points with reigning world champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken who hold second place with an 8 point gap on the Polish team, Mikolaj Staniul and Jakub Sztorch, in third.

49er World Championship in Lanzarote: results day two49er World Championship in Lanzarote: results day two

On the first day of the Irish Olympic 49er trial, Royal Cork Yacht Club's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan had a better day than rivals Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) for the Paris 2024 berth later this summer.

Thanks to a second place in the opening race followed up with two 14th places, at one stage the Cork Harbour pair were on course for a top three finish in the third race except the duo had a capsize from which they quickly recovered to be 17th overall.

Racing for the second flight of boats in this initial qualification round was delayed for almost two hours as the race course was shifted to find better wind conditions. This group included Ireland's second pairing of Dickson and Waddilove who had a fifth as their best result of the day along with a tenth and a 21st. to lie 21st overall.

Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) competing in Lanzarote Photo: 49er classRobert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) competing in Lanzarote Photo: 49er class

The Dublin pair are part of Irish Sailing's Senior Squad and qualified for Ireland in November for the men's skiff event for the Paris 2024 Olympics. They are now competing in a selection trials series against the Cork crew, which is competing independently until they regain a place in the squad.

Three events comprised of these world championships plus the French Olympic Week next month and then the 49er European Championships in early May will decide which of the two crews will take the sole Irish place for Marseille in July.

"It was good to get started after a long winter and we've worked bloody hard," commented Johnny Durcan. "We've a new boat and gear and we're going really fast which was an area that we struggled with at the Europeans in October so it paid dividends today."

Conditions saw a northerly wind affected by the large mountains close by leading to very shifty wind direction though Durcan pointed out that this is one of Guilfoyle's strengths.

"We enjoyed the challenge of the shifty stuff but it was really, really tricky," he said. "We've a long way to go but the forecast looks good so we're filled with confidence."

It was a similar story for the second Irish crew who had a later finish due to the course problems.

"We had good starts so we were pretty happy overall with how we sailed," commented Robert Dickson. "We were very happy with our result at the Europeans but its too early to tell yet as the conditions here are very different and will probably show different strengths that we've been working on (over the winter training period."

The early days theme was reflected in Irish Sailing coach Matt McGovern's assessment of the day watching the Howth and Skerries duo. "Rob and Sean had fantastic starts in the first two races and were early leaders but the shifts seemed to go against them," he said. "In the third race they dug back well to get a fifth so it's all to play for as its early days."

The American duo Andrew Mollerus and Ian McDiarmid claimed the lead, which was closely pursued by defending champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken from the Netherlands. 

Racing continues with three races scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday to decide the Gold fleet split before the final round commences and Sunday's medal race for the top ten overall.

There a number of other standout performances today, notably the British team of James Grummett and Rhos Hawes who have missed Olympic selection but are another team pushing for LA 2028. They sit in 4th overall ahead of Mikolaj Staniul and Jakub Sztorch in 5th, a useful start for this Polish team in a tough selection trials for Paris 2024.

It’s a similar forecast of northerly offshore breeze for day two, so we can expect some big changes on the leaderboard as the 126 teams strive to achieve the almost impossible task of staying consistent.

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