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Displaying items by tag: Tokyo 2020

Irish hopes of landing one of the Olympic country spots at the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura European Continental qualifier for the Olympic single-handed dinghy men faded considerably following disappointing results on day three of the competition.

Sailed in 18 to 20 knot south-westerlies the best Irish result of the day's two races was a 14th by leading contender Finn Lynch (NYC) but he followed that up with a 23rd to drop him back to 34th overall and 8th of those countries still seeking Olympic qualification. Next best of the Irish, Ewan McMahon (HYC) is 45th (24,18), while Liam Glynn of Ballyholme is 60th following a 33rd and 43rd. Royal St George teammates Tom Higgins (45, 55) and Hugo Kennedy (59, 60) now lie in 106th and 123rd respectively.

Liam Glynn (third from right) starts a yellow fleet race at the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura European Continental qualifier for the mens Olympic single-handed dinghy in PortugalLiam Glynn (third from right) starts a yellow fleet race at the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura European Continental qualifier for the mens Olympic single-handed dinghy in Portugal Photo: Joao Costa Ferreira

With only two country places available, the Irish challenge has a mountain to climb to catch up with second-placed the Netherlands, some 37 points ahead. However, there has been some movement amongst the leading nations with Spain moving up three places to take over the top spot. Six races are scheduled over the next three days. 

See Finn Lynch in action on the event video below, scrub to 2.49 on the timeline

See Afloat's country qualification table below for the latest positions

Laser and Star legend Robert Scheidt (BRA) is still challenging strongly in third place overall, just one point behind Croatia's Filip Jurisic and Michael Beckett (GBR)

ILCA Laser Men Country Qualification Table after Day 3

Country Points Day 2 Pos after day 2 Pts Day 3 Pos after day 3
ESP 21 4 27 1
NED 16 1 39 2
SUI 27 5 44 3
BEL 18 2 56 4
ITA 18 3 56 5
MNE 40 8 63 6
POR 43 9 73 7
IRL 38 6 76 8
GRE 39 7 81 9
POL 51 10 112 10
TUR 60 11 114 11
DEN 93 12 148 12
LTU 95 13 181 13
CZE 126 16 185 14
ISR 112 14 198 15
UKR 115 15 210 16


Racing continues tomorrow. Full results here

Published in Laser
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Cancelling the Tokyo Olympics “remains an option” if the pandemic spread is not brought under control.

As the Guardian reports, those were the comments of Toshihiro Nikai, general secretary of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party, in a TV interview that was as of his morning (Saturday 17 April) yet to be aired.

Nikai’s statement is at odds with his government’s insistence that the Games will go ahead in a little over three months’ time, on 23 July.

But public sentiment is not so clear-cut, with nearly two-fifths saying the Games should be cancelled, and nearly a third supporting a further postponement — an option the International Olympic Committee has already ruled out.

While no overseas visitors will be allowed to enter to be spectators at this year’s Olympics, the event is set to being thousands of athletes — including Ireland’s qualified sailors Annalise Murphy, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove — together along with media, sponsors and officials for the two weeks of competition.

Hosting such numbers “domestic, political and economic purposes — ignoring scientific and moral imperatives — is contradictory to Japan’s commitment to global health and human security,” several medical experts have said.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

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With a personal best achieved in the Finn European Championships in 2020, the hope was that Donaghadee Sailing Club sailor Oisin McClelland would make a further improvement in Vilamoura, Portugal this week at the 2021 championships, an important milestone on his road to the Finn Gold Cup, (the final Tokyo Olympic Qualifier), next month in which he seeks to gain the last spot in Tokyo for Ireland.

But apart from a solid sixth place taken in race six, McClelland was, unfortunately, unable to improve on his 23rd spot at the Polish 2020 Euros and finished 33rd overall in a fleet of 49 yesterday.

Next month's Gold Cup is also in Portugal and as previously reported on Afloat, McClelland is determined to finish this quadrennial on a high: "My primary goal is to qualify for Tokyo, it's the goal I have built this campaign around and I set out to achieve in 2016. However, that aside, this may be the last Finn Gold Cup held as an Olympic class I would really like to achieve a great result overall. I've made good progress despite the tough year, systematically targeting weaknesses and building them into strengths. I look forward to testing this in May." He adds: "Give me the right conditions I can achieve some top-level race results, my focus going into the regatta is to combine the progress in each area of my training from the past three years and achieve the best result I can."

Zsombor Berecz successfully retained the Championship after a consistent, confident and conclusive display on the waters of Vilamoura over the past week.

The Hungarian never put a foot wrong and achieved a level of consistency unmatched by the fleet and then put the pedal to the metal when it mattered to win with a race to spare.

Giles Scott’s return to Finn sailing after six months off with the INEOS Team UK America’s Cup team was also a triumph. A shaky start for the Brit was followed by a few classic Scott moments but he did just enough to fend off the massive challenge from the ever-confident young sailors knocking on his transom.

With the pressure on and the finish line in sight, Switzerland’s Nil Theuninck rose to the challenge to dominate the final race and secure the bronze, the first Finn European medal for Switzerland for over 30 years.

Spain’s Joan Cardona was largely unchallenged for the U23 European title, his third in a row, but fourth overall reinforces his ability and determination ahead of the final Olympic qualification event next month.

Berecz won his first Finn European title last year in Gdynia, Poland.

He said, “I think the trophy likes me. It was in very bad condition last year and I fixed it and now it’s in great shape again, so we like each other. It was a very tough week but consistency again paid off and I am very happy to win it again as it’s a great trophy.”

“I’m also very happy to be part of the Finn family and I think that’s the great thing in Finn sailing, not so much the boat itself, but the people who are sailing the boat.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Ireland is hoping a five-man team in Portugal can take one of two final nation places in the final men's Laser Olympic qualifier in Vilamoura starting on Monday.

Vilamoura International Regatta is the last chance for the Laser sailors to secure a place for Ireland in Tokyo and will see a fleet of 120 boats all looking for a last-minute speed edge, just 100 days out from the Olympic Regatta itself.

Vilamoura is itself a hastily rescheduled qualifier due to COVID as the earlier venue at Hyeres Regatta in France was cancelled over pandemic fears.

If the Irish can find the pace it will bring the Tokyo Olympic Sailing team up to three boats with the earlier qualification of the Irish Women's Laser Radial in 2019 and the men's 49er skiff a month ago.

Finn Lynch 

Despite some strong individual performances across his four-year campaign, inconsistency has prevented next week's main Irish hope, Finn Lynch, from taking a nation place so far.

Lynch's big chance came in 2018 when 40% of all Tokyo places went up for grabs at the World Championships in Aarhus. Despite the fact, he had three top ten results in his score sheet that week he still failed to qualify.

That miss now looks very expensive for the Rio representative as he enters the last chance saloon with up to 17 other countries also looking for elusive Tokyo tickets.

Countries still seeking nation qualification are: Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine but these can be boiled down to five or six main rivals who are capable of medal race finishes in Vilamoura.

To compound difficulties, nation spots for the Laser Men discipline have been reduced for Tokyo, 11 fewer than at the Rio Games in 2016. 

Irish Laser rivals for Tokyo

Lynch also has some strong domestic rivals to contend with in Portugal because whichever Irish sailor qualifies the country next week will get the Olympic nomination.

Liam Glynn (Ballyholme Yacht Club) and Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) and Tom Higgins and Hugo Kennedy (both of the Royal St. George Yacht Club) are all racing next week.

County Down's Liam Glynn (21) was the Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in 2018 and the Topper World Champion in 2013   County Down's Liam Glynn (21) was the Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in 2018 and the Topper World Champion in 2013 Photo: Tom Thouw

Team management is saying it's a 'tough task' but of all of them, Lynch has shown he is capable of grinding out the required result. 

Personal best is a boost

Coming off the back of the European Championships in Poland last October, Lynch showed the depth of his Olympic ambition and secured a personal best of 13th from a fleet of 126. It's a highly creditable result that will boost the 24-year-old's confidence next week.

Ewan McMahon (20) from Howth was the Silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016Ewan McMahon (20) from Howth was the Silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016

"There’s a bunch of good people who still haven’t qualified. There are five or six nations with guys who can have regattas in the top ten but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m focussing on trying to improve on the things that held me back on the last two qualification regattas. And If I can do that, there’s no reason that I cannot get a spot", Lynch told the Irish Laser Class AGM last November. See the full interview here.

Royal St. George Yacht Club youth sailors Tom Higgins (pictured above) and Hugo Kennedy are both competing at Vilamoura International RegattaRoyal St. George Yacht Club youth sailors Tom Higgins (pictured above) and Hugo Kennedy are both competing at Vilamoura International Regatta

Lynch and the rest of the team have benefitted from the exclusive services of Slovenian Vasilij Zbogar, a three-time Olympic medallist, so there is much to say that Lynch -  if not one of the five competing - can produce another sensational result, just as the Howth 49er skiff crew did in Lanzarote last month.

The competition begins on Monday 19 April and concludes on Saturday 24 April 2021. More details on the regatta website here

Published in National YC
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Tokyo Olympic solo sailor campaigner Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland is among the entries for the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship that gets underway in Vilamoura, Portugal, this morning with around 49 sailors from 29 nations competing.

Over the coming week, 10 races are scheduled up to Friday 16 April.

It's the penultimate regatta in McClelland's long road to qualifying Ireland in the Finn, a heavy weight men's class that McClelland has been campaigning since 2015. 

McClelland of Donaghadee has secured several results with the top 32 Worlds, 23 in the 2020 Europeans and a credible 8th in Kieler Week.

Portugal will host the Finn Gold Cup early this May and McClelland, which will be a big event for McClelland. It will not only determine the 2021 Finn world champion but also the final two places at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

There are two places left to decide, one European place and one African place to complete the fleet taking part in the Games.

This week though, it's all about preparation for that do or die May event with sailors from around the globe now rigged up and ready to race in Portugal.

The furthest travelled for this event and taking part in his first major Finn event since 2019, is Jake Lilley, from Australia.

“It’s really nice to re-connect after an extended period away. It was great action when we were all together for the Gold Cup in Melbourne, so I’m really looking forward to more racing at the Euros and Gold Cup in Portugal this year.”

While he has not been racing in world quality fleets as usual, he has been able to train in large fleets in Australia

“Training in Australia has always presented its blessing in the Finn. We have beautiful conditions year round and the fleet is really thriving Down Under. My home club (RQYS) has 40 boats alone. It was amazing to be racing weekends with 30+ guys when the rest of the world was in lockdown. So it’s a bit of a disconnected feeling to what everyone else has had to go through.”

“I’m also super lucky with coach Rafa [Trujillo] and Finn legend, Anthony Nossiter, throwing their righting moment around for the long upwind slogs in domestic training. I think having the old school smarts and the help from two heroes is a beautiful thing and puts us in really good stead with speed and preparation. So it’s just up to me to put it all together on the racetrack now.”

Two of the British sailors have come almost direct from the America’s Cup in New Zealand. While Giles Scott, is preparing to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo in August, INEOS Team UK grinder, Ben Cornish, is also back in a Finn for a while, though he says it’s not a comeback.

“Giles asked if I could come and do some training with him, in his compact build-up the Olympics this summer. Of course I couldn’t say no.”

“It’s certainly not a comeback for me, but it’s a rare opportunity to compete in the Finn for pure enjoyment. Having been on the grinding wheel with the America’s Cup at INEOS Team UK for the past three years it’s refreshing to be thinking about ‘conventional’ racing and decision making, and of course with so many people I enjoyed racing over the past years.”

Cornish, who dropped out of his Olympic campaign and joined INEOS Team UK after the decision to drop the Finn from 2024 is expecting a very high standard of competition. “It’s clear to see that people have spent a lot of time training this winter and beyond through lockdowns. As we know people are looking to find form in Olympic year so I expect to see some strong results within the fleet.”

“I hope the venue delivers some good racing conditions and everyone can have an enjoyable week out on the race course.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Northern Ireland Olympic sailor Ryan Seaton of Carrickfergus Sailing Club is set to miss the birth of his first child in his bid to reach the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

As Afloat previously reported, Seaton and team-mate Seafra Guilfoyle along with a Dublin team have one final chance to qualify Ireland for the Games at the Lanzarote International Regatta starting today.

Seaton's wife Jena, an Olympic medallist with Denmark in 2016, is due to give birth while he is qualifying in the 49er class in Lanzarote.

"I'm so fortunate that Jena is so understanding," the 33-year-old told BBC News.

"She is an Olympic medallist from Rio so she understands the commitment and the time required in the build-up to an event like this better than anyone," the father-to-be says.

Seaton and Guilfoyle have been in Lanzarote for three weeks as they prepare for their one shot at reaching the rescheduled Olympics this summer. Having finished 14th in London and tenth in Rio, Seaton now has Irish competition for the Tokyo place in the shape of up and coming Howth pair Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove. Both Irish teams are in a four-way tie for the single available place.

Seaton managed to visit Jena in Greenisland in County Antrim last week before jetting back out to the Canary Islands for qualification.

"I managed to get home for a few days to see Jena last week. It's nice to have the balance of life and sport. It makes me appreciate that I go can sailing and do what I love," he said.

Read the full interview on BBC here.

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Two Irish 49er teams have their date with Olympic destiny in just a week's time when the final Tokyo qualifier takes place next week on the Spanish Island of Lanzarote.

One way or another, Sunday week (March 21st) will mark the culmination of five-year campaigns for two Irish 49er teams, bringing the curtain down on an eventful cycle for the Olympic skiff in Ireland.

The hope is that Ireland can be top of the unqualified European nations and win the one remaining slot. The key contenders are Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Estonia and Russia.

The ad hoc 'Lanzarote International Regatta' event was announced a month ago after the Princess Sofia Regatta was postponed. It gave the teams a month to arrive and prepare for the event, removing some of the uncertainty in Olympic circles caused by COVID-19.

Ryan Seaton is teamed with Seafra Guilfoyle and are a Belfast Lough and Cork Harbour combinationAll Ireland duo - Belfast Lough double Olympian Ryan Seaton is teamed with Cork Harbour's Seafra Guilfoyle

Youth v Experience

It will be a case of youth versus experience for Ireland in the Canaries. As Afloat reported previously, double Olympian Ryan Seaton teamed with Seafra Guilfoyle battle against 2018 Under 23 49er World Champions Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, in their first Olympic campaign. Both are chasing the single elusive Olympic place and whoever grabs it will be deemed to be nominated to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for Tokyo in July.

49erFX

Ireland will have no role in the 49er FX women's class in Lanzarote as Annalise Murphy and Katie Tingle quit their skiff campaign in 2019 and Murphy went on to secure the nomination in the Radial class, so far the only Irish boat for the Tokyo regatta.

There is no entry list published for Lanzarote so far but it may see Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Saskia Tidey in action for Team GB. The Royal Irish sailor who is tipped for a medal in Tokyo opted to sail for Team GB after Rio citing 'lack of opportunities' for her at home.

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After so much doubt over its final Olympic qualifying event, the men's Laser class has been confirmed for the 17-24th April in Vilamoura, Portugal.

As Afloat previously reported, this is the last chance for the Irish Laser Men to qualify with two nation places up for grabs.

Representing Ireland will be Rio rep Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club, Liam Glynn of Ballyholme in Northern Ireland and Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club.

For Ireland to qualify, an Irish sailor has to finish in the top two of those European countries that have yet to qualify.

The main contenders for these slots are Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Following this week’s cancellation of the French Olympic Week, in Hyères, of which the Finn Open and U23 European Championships was included, the International Finn Class has accepted an offer from the Vilamoura Sailing Center to host the event over the same dates, which remain 10-16 April.

The event is a crucial competition ahead of the all-important Finn Gold Cup, three weeks later in Porto in northern Portugal, which is the final continental qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where the last places for Africa and Europe will be decided.

With many sailors training over the winter in Lanzarote or Cadiz, Vilamoura was a logical option to limit further travel around Europe in these uncertain times. Vilamoura will also provide excellent preparation for the many sailors still trying to qualify their country for Tokyo, with similar conditions and the same format.

The Finn class feels very fortunate to have had a number of high quality offers to help out and stage the championship at such short notice, including the Andalusian Sailing Federation Training Centre in Cádiz, Spain, which also held the 2018 European Championship.

Balazs Hajdu, President of the International Finn Association commented, “We are very grateful to all those who offered to host our Europeans at short notice and are very happy to accept the proposal from Vilamoura in what is a very important period for many Finn sailors as they prepare for the crucial Finn Gold Cup in nearby Porto.”

“For the team in Vilamoura to put together a championship of this importance in just a few days gives us confidence that our sailors will have a great and fair championship.”

The class is eagerly looking forward to its first visit to Vilamoura since the highly successful European Championship in 1998.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Coming a few months before the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres was to be the key event for Olympic sailing but it has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

In particular, it was the final regatta for Olympic selection in the Laser class where Ireland is seeking a Tokyo berth.

No replacement regatta for Hyeres has so far been announced as the clock ticks down to the Olympics in July leaving a question mark over what next. As Afloat has previously reported, there are a number of scenarios likely to play out here

For almost a year, the organising committee of the Semaine Olympique Francaise has designed and developed many measures to welcome the elite of Olympic sailing in the safest conditions possible. All scenarios were considered and proposed to the DIGES (France's inter-ministerial delegation for major sporting events), but unfortunately, they have not given their permission and the event will not be able to take place in April.

Several different series had been planned to make the Hyerois event the highlight of the season. The Finn class had planned to award their European title there, the RS: X their World Champion title, and the Laser the last four European quotas for the Olympic Games. This historic event, one of World Sailing's World Cup events, was initially to be held from April 17 to 24, before a new version scheduled over four weeks was proposed to meet the health constraints governing physical distancing between people.

"We made the difficult decision to cancel Hyeres's 2021 Semaine Olympique Francaise following the response from DIGES," Nicolas Henard, President of the FFVoile (France's sailing federation), said. "We studied all the ways we could guarantee an event that would respect health standards and guarantee all the athletes attending watertight health and safety. We hoped that this event, focused on sailors engaged in an Olympic programme, would obtain the necessary agreements, especially after re-planning it over four weeks. But at this point, due to the ongoing health crisis, we cannot hold this event.

The focus of the organising committee is now on the 2022 edition, and with Toulon Provence Mediterranee and World Sailing as partners, they will prepare an exceptional event from April 23 to 30. It will be an international competition even more notable for hosting the new Olympic disciplines for "Paris 2024".

Published in Tokyo 2020
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