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Displaying items by tag: Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove

With the almost melancholy passing of Mid-Summer’s Day, the sailing season is taking on a different look, a distinctly-changed mood and flavour. For in normal times – if anyone can remember when you could talk of such things – there is a tendency to pack events into late May and throughout June for at least two reasons.

One of these is the feeling that it’s a good idea to tick as many event boxes as possible early in the season, for fear that even odder and more awful weather than usual might turn up on the day, meaning that in the case of a weekend happening, there’s still the possibility for a complete re-scheduling before the summer is over.

Challenging weather during Wave Regatta at Howth with First 50 Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs & Dave Culllen) and Sunfast 3600 Searcher (Pete Smyth) in a dicing match. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyChallenging weather during Wave Regatta at Howth with First 50 Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs & Dave Culllen) and Sunfast 3600 Searcher (Pete Smyth) in a dicing match. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The other reason is the changing mood of the sailing community with the swing of the seasons. People are full of vim and vigour in May and June and early July. But then with August approaching, there’s a natural slowing down of the mood in what Patrick Kavanagh so effectively captured as “the tremendous silence of mid-July”.

It hasn’t got to us yet in this, the busy first weekend of July. Dromineer is a-buzz with the Lough Derg end of the Shannon One Designs’ Two-part Centenary Regatta, Dublin Bay is alive with the Frank Keane BMW RStGYC Regatta, somewhere between Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour sundry boats are re-racing an offshore race originally sailed in 1860 (repeat, 1860) in order to be on station for Volvo Cork Week in six days’ time. And throughout the land on lake, sea and river, club events are being staged in the hope that next week’s expected good weather will arrive a little earlier than anticipated.

Summertime on Lough Derg – the 1874-vintage iron-built Phoenix (John & Sandra Lefroy) off Dromineer with a selection of Water Wags (1900) and Shannon One Designs (1922).Summertime on Lough Derg – the 1874-vintage iron-built Phoenix (John & Sandra Lefroy) off Dromineer with a selection of Water Wags (1900) and Shannon One Designs (1922).

For there’s no doubt that, taken overall, June’s weather was a decidedly mixed bag. Yet although there were major happenings that saw rough days on which the smaller classes weren’t allowed to race, the fact is that skilled race officers frequently managed to get comprehensive results in a more-than-satisfactory way.

Thus within Irish sailing there were many successful crews and skippers who merited inclusion in the long list for the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” title, and when we add in achievements abroad, it’s impossible to reduce it below this short list of four top achievements.

Rob Dickson & Sean Waddilove are Sailors of the Month (Olympic) for June

The 2022 Hempel World Cup Allianz Regatta at the beginning of June in Almere on the Ijsselmeer in The Netherlands saw Ireland’s Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove racing their 49er to victory in the final medal race. But by that stage, the top Dutch crew were so well positioned that overall they took the Gold, but the Irish team secured Silver to continue their progress through a demanding selection programme aimed at the 2024 Olympics.

Rush to the top….Pat Kelly (centre) and his all-conquering crew from the J/109 Storm at RUYC in Bangor.Rush to the top….Pat Kelly (centre) and his all-conquering crew from the J/109 Storm at RUYC in Bangor.

The Kelly family of Rush are Sailors of the Month (Regatta) for June

Sailing is often promoted as a family sport for all ages. But if anyone doubts that this can be happily achieved with racing success thrown in, then they only have to consider the Kelly clan of Rush SC with their J/109 Storm. Aboard Storm, the patriarch Pat Kelly heads a multi-talented crew which includes three generations of his family, and they clearly demonstrated they’d lost none of the successful touch shown in previous years by winning overall in the four day Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough.

Mike & Richie Evans J/99 Snapshot was top Irish boat in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022, missing first overall by just five minutes. Photo: Afloat.ieMike & Richie Evans J/99 Snapshot was top Irish boat in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022, missing first overall by just five minutes. Photo: Afloat.ie

Mike & Richie Evans are Sailors of the Month (Offshore) for June

June saw the staging of a truly vintage SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. But for those who think that success in events like this 704-mile marathon is only for seasoned sailors with many comparable races logged, the fact that the top Irish boat was the J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) was an eye-opener, as this was their first offshore major. And they almost won it, pacing just five minutes behind the overall winner after out-performing many comparable boats in the final very difficult miles. 

Dermot Skehan is Sailor of the Month (Regatta) for June

The Howth Wave Regatta created some sort of record for the mixture of weather it packed into its three day format, and how anyone found the energy for the legendary Saturday night party suggests superhuman stamina. With a rugged Lambay Race in its midst, Wave was for heroes, and it was the heroic Dermot Skehan - racing as ever with a crew of longtime friends and shipmates on his MG34 Toughnut - who emerged as overall winner and a worthy Sailor of the Month for June.

HYC Commodore Paddy Judge and Wave Regatta overall winner Dermot Skehan at centre of the crew of the victorious ToughnutHYC Commodore Paddy Judge and Wave Regatta overall winner Dermot Skehan at centre of the crew of the victorious Toughnut

Published in W M Nixon

Ireland's top-ranked skiff pair Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove fought off French competition to win today's 49er medal race and win a World Cup silver medal at the Allianz Regatta in the Netherlands.

Training partners with the Irish duo, the home pair of Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken grabbed gold without needing to compete in the medal race but the Howth and Skerries Combination made no mistake about silver at the end of a strong week for the Irish Tokyo 2020 reps.

As Afloat reported earlier, Dickson and Waddilove and Lucas Rual/Emile Amoros (FRA) held second and third respectively, but many teams in the 40-boat fleet were breathing down their neck and ready to knock the Irish and French off the podium.

Dickson and Waddilove put the hammer down at the start and led all the way to the finish.

The battle for bronze swung this way then another as four different crews moved into podium contention throughout the two-lap contest. However, at the finish it was Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl (AUT) who hauled their way to second across the line behind the Irish.

By a single point, the Austrians had bagged the bronze and relegated Rual and Amoros to fourth place.

The Dutch round of the World Cup saw ten Olympic classes compete in Almere in the southern part of the Ijsselmeer, east of Amsterdam.

Seán Waddilove and Robert Dickson (last two on right) on the podium in HollandSeán Waddilove and Robert Dickson (right) on the podium in Holland Photo: Sailing Energy

The medal couldn't come at a better time for the Irish pair who are aiming for a top result at next month's key European Championships in Denmark. Next up for the North Dublin pairing is June's Kiel Week Regatta in Germany

Full results here

Irish Tokyo 2020 skiff duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are in a three-way tie for second place in the 49er class of Holland's Allianz Regatta after eight races sailed at the Hempel World Cup Series at the Allianz Regatta.

The 49er World Champions have extended their lead on home waters. Bart Lambriex and Floris van der Werken (NED) won both of Thursday’s Gold Fleet races to move to a 16-point lead. Second place is held jointly with teams from France, Ireland and the Netherlands all on 30 points in the 39-boat fleet.

A windless morning picked up to a sunny and moderate breeze of 7 to 13 knots in the afternoon and more of the same is expected on Friday.

Howth's Aoife Hopkins is lying 32nd in the ILCA 6/Laser Radial fleet while Emma Plasschaert (BEL) shot up the ILCA 6 fleet rankings on day three.

Howth's Aoife Hopkins competing in the ILCA 6 in the Allianz Regatta Photo: Sailing EnergyHowth's Aoife Hopkins competing in the ILCA 6 in the Allianz Regatta Photo: Sailing Energy

Like many of the favourites in the 57-strong women’s single-hander dinghy class, the reigning World Champion from Belgium had a tough start to the regatta with two scores in the 20s, but she bounced back today with a 2nd and then a race win.

This puts Plasschaert in third overall, a point behind Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE), but still some distance behind the overall leader, France’s Louise Cervera who has read the conditions like no one else. Cervera scored 3,2 and sits on just 12 points overall, and even her current discard of 16th is superior to that of her closest rivals.

Results in all classes are here

A medal race finish is a possibility for Irish 49er duo Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove if they sail three good final races on Friday at Semaine Olympique Francaise (French Olympic Classes Week) in Hyères.

The regatta has added significance as it's the first of the quadrennial to take place down the coast from the Paris 2024 Olympic waters of Marseille. 

Beautiful conditions graced the fleets. A light and shifty morning gave way to an afternoon of fine if choppy conditions in 12-15 knot easterlies. It made for a full day of competitive sailing across the 10 classes.

Thursday was the fourth day of racing and the first day of the final series. Medal races begin on Saturday.

Dubliner's Dickson and Waddilove have moved up the 49er fleet into 16th place (from 19th on Thursday) after scoring a 6, 7 and 20 in the three races of the day.

49er rivals for Paris Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork YC remain in 30th place overall, scoring 29, 28 and 27 in Thursday’s races.

ILCA 7/Laser

Both Finn Lynch and Ewan McMahon have moved up the rankings of their 128-boat fleet. The National YC's Finn Lynch, who is struggling with an arm injury, now lies in 22nd up eight places and Ewan McMahon (Howth YC) moves up to 27th overall after a 9 and 22 in today’s two races.

49erFX

The Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey of Dun Laoghaire who is competing for Team GB is lying 21 with new partner Freya Black in a fleet of 38.

Full results here

In the 49er skiff, Ireland's Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson (HYC) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) missed out on a top ten medal race appearance on Saturday in the Princesa Sofia Regatta after a tiller-extension broke leading to a capsize in the first race of the day

The pair went on to score two seventh places leaving them 13th overall, unchanged from their overnight position and just seven points shy of the top ten.

"I feel disappointed that we didn't sail our best and under-performed a bit with too many small errors, particularly at the starts but that's something we can work on," said Dickson after racing. "It’s about strategy and risk management."

"There were lots of good things we can take away from this regatta and also things that we can work on," said Waddilove. "One of our goals before the regatta was how we get back (into) the fleet and catching back up and that's something that we showed we're well capable of."

Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork YC also ended in 13th place for their Silver fleet in the 49er class, finishing the regatta as they started with a ninth place.

France have a strong chance of securing medals in the 49er where Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin lead into the medal race.

Saskia Tidey

In the 49er FX women's class, there will be no medal race finish for Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey sailing with Freya Black who ended up 11th overall.

Full results here

Dublin 49er skiff duo Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove are within striking distance of the top ten – and an important medal race place –  at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma, Mallorca.

Lying in 13th place (but on the same 72 points as 12th placed Poles Lukasz Przybytek and Jacek Piasecki), the Howth and Skerries pair are just two points out of the top ten after a four-race day off S'Arenal east of Palma after day four of the week-long event.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Tokyo Olympians found themselves disqualified from a race on Wednesday in the 76-boat fleet when they were amongst a group of three boats (which included both Irish 49ers) that infringed an Italian entry on the starting line. Read the findings of the protest committee below.

The ruling meant they had to use their discard to drop that penalty maximum score.

Thursday's racing saw the pair place 22nd then 15th before delivering two sixth places in the high-speed conditions. They now lie 12th overall and tantalizingly close to the medal race cut off point.

Overall, the 49er class looks set to go to the wire with the top five teams going into the final day of gold fleet racing with only four points between them. Leaders are Poland’s European Champions Mikolai Staniul and Jakub Sztorch.

Spain’s Diego Botin, poised in fourth said, “We did not burn our discard yet and today we just focused on consistency. The third race we made mistakes and it was not so good. The new rig is quite different. I think it is stiffer and that makes it harder to sail. The old rigs probably have a small edge in these conditions but it is nice to have the change in the class.”

In one of their first European regattas together, the Royal Cork's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan lie in 38th place.

Irish interest in the women's 49erFX class centres on sixth-placed Saskia Tidey of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who is in a new Team GB campaign with Freya Black.

Racing in all ten events continues on Friday to complete the fleet series with the top ten crews in each class going forward to Saturday's medal race finals.

Results here

In the first regatta towards Paris 2024 in just two years' time, Ireland's Tokyo 2020 competitors Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove of Dublin are placed eighth overall after the opening rounds of the 49er skiff competition at the Princesa Sofia Regatta, scoring second, ninth and sixth on the Bay of Palma.

High winds threatened to disrupt the course area where the women's 49erFX event was also scheduled so the men sailed ashore after two races then returned for their third race of the day in the late afternoon.

"The first race was close to survival (conditions) but after that, it was proper racing even if a bit shifty and gusty," said Dickson.  "Right now, we're just focussing on qualifications and see what happens after that."

Royal Cork Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan scored a ninth and a tenth in the same flight as their Dublin rivals for Paris 2024 and lie 38th overall out of 71 entries.

"We did well in the first two races this morning though capsized in the second race but managed to recover to top 15 so we're pretty happy," said Durcan.  "We're just taking the second day [of qualification on Wednesday] as another learning day and really enjoying it."

The 49er fleet have new masts, which have almost the same spec as the old mast so not too obvious outside of the fleet. However, the skiffs also have new sails, very similar in size to the old ones but being jet black in colour marking a dramatic change to the look of the class as depicted above. With the goal of increased consistency and durability, North Sails 3Di process won a competitive bid to build the 49er and FX sails for the quadrennial. So far about two-thirds of the fleet has been supplied with the new sails so the fleets are racing in Palma in any configuration of new and old sails they may wish to over the European spring season before the summer championships require the new sails. Photo: Sailing Energy

Fischer & Pequin on Top in 49er

Having missed out on selection for Tokyo in favour of Emile Amoros and Lucas Rual the French 49er duo Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin are doubly determined to represent their nation in just over two years time in Marseille. They are hoping that the fact the national flag for their new, black 3Di sails did not arrive and they are sailing on their well used, older sails, proves to be a good omen for this time. They made a strong statement of intent today with two solid wins in breezy conditions which, again, put a premium on avoiding capsizes.

Fischer and Pequin dropped their rig in momentarily in the first race but a quick recovery allowed the duo who have been sailing together since 2018 to stay in the hunt. “We had 20-25kts which we like. It was pretty hard to keep the boat upright. We capsized at the bear away in the first race but recovered quickly. It was really choppy and shifty. We made good manoeuvres all the way through.”

“We wanted to use the new sails but we had an issue with our national flag. It did not arrive. And so we sailed with the old sails which we know well. In these conditions it is not about speed it is about surviving and good manoeuvres and gybing safely.”

Fourteenth here in 2019 they have just finished third in the Mallorca Sailing Centre training regatta after a winter training in Vilamoura, Portugal.

“Our selection race for Tokyo was very strong and very close and in the end we did not go. For sure this regatta feels like the start of our passage to Marseille and I hope today is a good omen.” Smiled Fischer.

49er FX

In the 49er FX, the Netherlands new combination of 2021 World champion, Odile Van Aanholt sailing with Tokyo bronze medallist Annette Duetz is off to a powerful start sharing the overall lead after three racess with Brazil’s double gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze.

Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey

Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey is placed fifth overall in a fleet of 49 with new partner Freya Black in a TeamGB campaign for ParisDun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey is placed fifth overall in a fleet of 49 with new partner Freya Black in a TeamGB campaign for Paris

Also off to a solid start, in the 49erFx women's skiff, Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey is placed fifth overall in a fleet of 49 with new partner Freya Black in a TeamGB campaign for Paris.

Racing continues on Wednesday for all fleets and the welcome prospect of milder conditions for the second half of the regatta continues until Saturday when the medal race finals for all classes will be sailed.

After recent warm-weather training, there should be no 'rustiness' from Irish Olympic campaigners keen to get on the right tack for Paris 2024 in Palma, Mallorca on Friday morning.

The Princess Sofia Regatta is the first major international event since the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

A team of seven Irish will join a fleet of 1,000 sailors, 800 boats and boards, representing 62 nations.

And with only 850 days to Paris, there is no shortage of competition with the regatta now exceeding organisers targets. But not all teams are in Palma, however, as Russian and Belarussian crews are excluded under an IOC directive.

Recent Irish training camp activity, some of it on the Mallorcan race track itself, means Ireland is in the hunt for some early Olympic class results.

Competing in the week-long regatta (Monday 4 to Saturday 9 April) is the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch and Howth brothers Ewan and Jamie McMahon in the ILCA 7 (Laser).

Lynch finished in fourth place in the 2019 regatta but as regular Afloat readers know the Dun Laoghaire ace took second in the Worlds in Barcelona last November, so is highly regarded as Ireland's top hope for a podium place next Friday.

The Carlow native did, however, lack form at a recent training regatta at the venue just a fortnight ago, an event in which rival Ewan McMahon took tenth overall as Afloat reported here

Racing for the Lasers starts on Monday 4 April.

There will be no Irish interest in the Radial (ILCA 6) class, as the recently crowned Irish Sailor of the Year Eve McMahon focuses on her Leaving Certificate studies and clubmate Aoife Hopkins is recovering from COVID.

Starting a day later than the Lasers in Mallorca are Howth and Skerries 49er Olympians Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove, and Royal Cork rivals Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan in their first major competition following the 49er Worlds in Oman last November where both Irish boats made the gold fleet. 

Royal Cork 49er duo Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny DurcanRoyal Cork 49er duo Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan

The 49ers have been based in Lanzarote for a winter training camp and training hard as Prof O'Connell of North Sails Ireland discovered here.

This event is the first time that the 49er class can use new regulation equipment for Paris 2024 which includes the use of North's 3Di technology sails with their characteristic black colour.

Also racing from Dun Laoghaire is Saskia Tidey who has launched a new TeamGB 49erFX campaign.

Mallorca line up

  • Monday 4 April - First day of racing for ILCAs, 470, iQFoils
  • Tuesday 5 April - First day of racing for 49er, 49erFX, Nacra and Formula Kites

With the Paris 2024 Games less than two and a half years away, there is a sense of urgency and enthusiasm among competitors to be sailing in world-class competition once again. Following a two-year hiatus caused by the global pandemic, there is a renewed sense of optimism in the spring air of Palma, as many sailors get to see, and race against, each other once again.

Organised jointly by Club Nàutic S’Arenal, Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa and Real Club Náutico de Palma, the Trofeo Princesa Sofía has long been the regatta to mark the start of the European racing season for the Olympic fleets. However this year is the first time since 2014 that the event has been part of the Hempel World Cup, the annual circuit for the Olympic elite. It’s a vital event for competitors to see how their training has been going over the past months and years, and an opportunity to make a statement of intent on the world stage at the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic cycle.

This year’s regatta in Palma also marks the first time the new high-speed events in Olympic sailing line up at a world-class regatta alongside the more established classes. Here’s a rundown of the 10 events set to take place at this and other regattas in the 2022 Hempel World Cup Series:

FORMULA KITE

Formula Kite is a high performance hydrofoiling class using regulated series registered production equipment to limit campaign costs. Capable of speeds up to 40 knots, the foiling kiteboarders will become the fastest athletes in the 122-year history of Olympic sailing. Capable of achieving more than four-times wind speed in as little as 6 knots of breeze, the kitefoilers will be racing closest to the shore in Palma. To find out more, read here.

FORMULA KITE MEN

The French have been setting the pace in the early years of this new sport. Reigning world champion Theo de Ramecourt will be vying for French supremacy against the likes of Nico Parlier (son of Vendée Globe legend Yves) and Benoit Gomez. There are some seriously fast teenagers in this fleet too, notably Riccardo Pianosi from Italy who took third in the Worlds last season at the age of 16. Strong contingents from Spain and Denmark are entered, including four members from two generations of the Danish family, the Becketts.

FORMULA KITE WOMEN

The USA’s sole entry in the women’s division is also the stand-out talent in this fast-developing fleet. Daniela Moroz has been setting the pace in women’s kitefoiling for the past couple of seasons, including winning the Worlds last October. As with the men, the French are the strongest squad headed by the fast-improving Poema Newland. Ellie Aldridge is best of the British contingent, but the dark horse is Israel’s Gal Zukerman who, aged 15, notched up 18 straight race wins last December in Oman to win the 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships presented by Hempel. There’s plenty of local support for Gisela Pulido, a 10-time world champion in Freestyle, who also holds the record for youngest athlete to win a world championship in kitesurfing.

iQFOiL - WINDSURFING ON FOILS

iQFoil is a foiling windsurfing class selected by World Sailing to replace the traditional planing board used for the past four Olympic cycles, the RS:X. For many of the RS:X sailors from the Tokyo cycle, the switch to the iQFoil couldn’t come soon enough. Now they have a piece of equipment capable of generating 30 knots of speed in as little as 5 knots true wind. Not only that, but many of the Tokyo athletes have gone from limiting their food intake to keep the weight down, to piling on the pounds as much as possible to cope with the power in the iQFOiL rig. The men use a 9.0 m2 sail, and the women an 8.0 m2 sail. It’s estimated that the optimum racing weight for the men could be as high as 100kg.

iQFOiL MEN

There’s a huge local entry of 26 Spanish competitors, with Angel Granda Roque among the best of the home-grown talent. A big squad from the Netherlands too, not least the RS:X Olympic Champion from Tokyo 2020, Kiran Badloe, who has bulked up by more than 15kg since the Tokyo Games. Other high-performers from the RS:X era now competing on the foiling board include Mattia Camboni (ITA), Louis Giard (FRA) and Tom Squires (GBR).

iQFOiL WOMEN

As with the men, there’s been a switch from the RS:X board to the iQFOiL in the women’s windsurfing division. Bronze medallist from Tokyo, Emma Wilson heads up the British squad, while Pilar Lamadrid is one to watch in the Spanish squad, currently ranked 2nd in the World Ranking.. Brazil’s Giovanna Prada follows in the Olympic footsteps of her father Bruno who took silver and bronze in the Star keelboat at the Beijing and London Games alongside helmsman Robert Scheidt.

iQFoil is a foiling windsurfing class selected by World Sailing to replace the traditional planing board used for the past four Olympic cycles, the RS:X. For many of the RS:X sailors from the Tokyo cycle, the switch to the iQFoil couldn’t come soon enough. Now they have a piece of equipment capable of generating 30 knots of speed in as little as 5 knots true wind. Not only that, but many of the Tokyo athletes have gone from limiting their food intake to keep the weight down, to piling on the pounds as much as possible to cope with the power in the iQFOiL rig. The men use a 9.0 m2 sail, and the women an 8.0 m2 sail. It’s estimated that the optimum racing weight for the men could be as high as 100kg.

iQFOiL MEN

There’s a huge local entry of 26 Spanish competitors, with Angel Granda Roque among the best of the home-grown talent. A big squad from the Netherlands too, not least the RS:X Olympic Champion from Tokyo 2020, Kiran Badloe, who has bulked up by more than 15kg since the Tokyo Games. Other high-performers from the RS:X era now competing on the foiling board include Mattia Camboni (ITA), Louis Giard (FRA) and Tom Squires (GBR).

iQFOiL WOMEN

As with the men, there’s been a switch from the RS:X board to the iQFOiL in the women’s windsurfing division. Bronze medallist from Tokyo, Emma Wilson heads up the British squad, while Pilar Lamadrid is one to watch in the Spanish squad, currently ranked 2nd in the World Ranking.. Brazil’s Giovanna Prada follows in the Olympic footsteps of her father Bruno who took silver and bronze in the Star keelboat at the Beijing and London Games alongside helmsman Robert Scheidt.

All three Olympic medallists from Tokyo 2020 are among the line-up in the Nacra 17 foiling catamaran. Respectively the gold, silver and bronze medallists will be hard to beat: Ruggero Tita/Caterina Banti (ITA); John Gimson/Anna Burnet (GBR); Paul Kohlhoff/Alica Stuhlemmer (GER). Then again, there are leading lights from the Rio 2016 Games here too, including the 60-year-old Olympic gold medallist Santi Lange (ARG), recently teamed up with Victoria Travascio, and the Rio silver medallists Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin (AUS). Waterhouse has just arrived in Palma straight off the back of winning Season 2 of SailGP as flight controller aboard the Australian boat in San Francisco last weekend. The four-time World Champion Billy Besson dominated the early years of the Nacra 17 class and the Frenchman is back with new crew Noa Ancian to see if he can rekindle the glory years.

470 MIXED

Previously men and women competed in separate doublehanded 470 dinghy events. For Paris 2024, the men and women sail together in 470 Mixed, and it’s caused quite a lot of musical chairs within national squads. As with the Nacra 17 catamaran, the technical question of whether to sail with male helm/female crew or vice versa is always on the teams’ minds. Spain’s bronze medallist from Tokyo 2020 and only just back from skippering the Spanish F50 catamaran in the SailGP event in San Francisco last weekend, Jordi Xammar, is now teamed up with Nora Brugman on the trapeze. Among France’s strong line-up is former men’s world champion Kevin Peponnet who now sails with Aloise Retornaz, bronze medal crew from Tokyo 2020. The Women’s Olympic Champion from Tokyo, Eilidh McIntyre, is back in the boat, now with fellow Briton Martin Wrigley on the helm.

49er

All-new black sails and a new mast give an updated look to the 49er skiff, and there’s a changing of the guard too now that the all-time greats Pete Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) have moved on from Olympic competition. The Briton that beat the Kiwi legends to Olympic gold last year, Dylan Fletcher (GBR), has teamed up with new crew Rhos Hawes to see if he can establish himself as the dominant force in the Paris cycle. Now in his 40s, the 2008 Olympic Champion from Denmark, Jonas Warrer, is back with a new crew Marcus Langagergaard. Diego Botin (ESP) narrowly missed out on the Olympic podium last year but is back with Nacra 17 Olympic representative Florian Trittel pulling the ropes on the Spanish skiff.

49erFX

The 49erFX fleet is also sporting black sails for the first time. Clear favourites are the double Olympic Champions Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA). The 2016 silver medallist Alex Maloney (NZL) is sailing with new crew Olivia Hobbs. After a few years’ break from Olympic campaigning, Sarah Steyeart is back on the 49er with RS:X windsurfing Olympic gold medallist Charline Picon switching to crewing at the front of the skiff. GBR Olympic crew and runner-up at the 2020 Worlds, Saskia Tidey is now crewing for Freya Black. Perhaps the strongest of the new pairings are the Dutch crew, with recently crowned World Champion Odile van Aanholt teaming up with former rival, the double world champion and Tokyo bronze medallist Annette Duetz. To find out more about the skiff fleets, read here.

ILCA 7

Technically the only major change in the singlehanded dinghies is the change of name. The Laser Standard is now the ILCA 7, but it’s the same faces who are likely to dominate. The Olympic Champion from Tokyo, Matt Wearn (AUS), remains the man to beat, although there are plenty who believe they can do so. These include the Olympic silver medallist at the last two Games, Tonci Stipanovic (CRO), and his training partner Pavlos Kontides (CYP), double world champion and silver medallist from London 2012. The reigning world champion Tom Saunders (NZL) is coming on strong, and the 2021 Worlds runner-up Finn Lynch (IRL) will also be in contention.

ILCA 6

Formerly known as the Laser Radial, the women’s singlehanded dinghy is now the ILCA 6. While the Olympic medallists from Tokyo 2020 are absent, all three medallists from the 2021 World Championship are in Palma: Emma Plasschaert (BEL), Agata Barwinska (POL) and Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU). Mara Stransky (AUS) and Vasileia Karachaliou (POR) are also likely contenders for the front of the fleet.

It was game on immediately for two Irish rivals at the Olympic 49er skiff class world championships in Mussanah, Oman on Tuesday. A new Royal Cork combination took a race win in their opening round while their Dublin rivals for the single Paris 2024 place won the last race of the day.

Cork dinghy ace Johnny Durcan with Tokyo campaigner Séafra Guilfoyle won their championship opening race in their flight. A ninth and an 18th followed, leaving the debutantes in the 18th, a mid-fleet overall standing at this early stage.

Tokyo 2020 Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) had a steadily improving day, building their form as the light breeze strengthened.

Tokyo 2020 Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club)Tokyo 2020 Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club)

The North Dublin pair had a 14th then tenth place before winning the third race to finish 14th overall.

Britain's Jack Hawkins and Chris Tomas, who are looking to emerge from the shadow of training partners of Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists are tied with the French pair of Kevin Fischer Guillou and Noe’ Delpech. Both are experiencing their first tastes of sitting atop a big championship.

With only the two 49er fleets needing to sail qualifiers through Thursday, the fleets are aiming for three races each day. Though the shifty warm breezes kept the scores of even the leaders mixed, the sunshine will be the only consistent factor this week.

Turning Heads

The Path to Paris will have new faces. Otto Henry with Miles Davey (AUS) and Hernan Umpierre with Fernando Diz (URU) sit third and fourth on the 49er leaderboard respectively. They represent the next generation of skiff talent who have grown up sailing fast and upskilling through a combination of video and extreme sports. Of the four, Diz is the oldest born in 1999, the rest were born in the new millennium and it doesn’t look like they’re interested in starting from the back of the fleet and moving up.

The Uruguayan pair won the Asian Championship as the warm up to this year’s worlds. They have moved to Cadiz, Spain, for their university studies, but it’s clear their passions lie in sailing. Likewise, locked out of Australia, the young pair have been in Europe all summer racing and training, before they are allowed back home eventually.

The qualification round continues for another two days to determine the Gold and Silver fleet splits for the final game that concludes the event on Sunday (21st November 2021).

The venue has experienced light airs for the past two weeks, but a sea breeze on Wednesday has been forecast.

Oman Sail is preparing to welcome a 148-strong fleet representing 29 countries when the 2021 49er, 49erFX and Nacra the World Championships gets underway in Mussanah on 16 November.

Being held in Asia for the first time in event history, the regatta is one of the first global sailing events after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and for some participants the start of the campaign to qualify for the Paris 2024 Games.

Ireland is represented by two 49er teams but alas no one in the women's 49er FX class where there is also an absence of Dun Laoghaire's Saskia Tidey who competed for Team GB in Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were 11th at this week's Asian 49er ChampionshipsTokyo Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were 11th at this week's Asian 49er Championships Photo: Sailing Energy

Representing Ireland are Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove of Howth YC and Skerries Sailing Club (2018 Afloat Sailors of the Year) and challengers for Paris, Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, both of Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Asian Championships

The Worlds is the first big event for both teams but not the first time the Irish rivals have met on the water.

They crossed swords last week at the 11-race pre-worlds or Asian Championships. It was first blood to the Tokyo Olympians as might be expected in the 30 boat fleet but not by that big a margin. Dickson and Waddilove finished 11th and the new Cork Harbour partnership finished 17th with a promising sixth scored in the penultimate race.

The 36-boat world championship will run from 16–21 November 2021 at the Barcelo Mussanah Resort, adding to Oman’s reputation as a world-class host and premier sailing nation.

The fleet includes Olympians, promising young sailors, high-performance doubles sailors and members of Oman’s national team, all looking to start their 2024 Olympic campaign in good form.

Teams are taking a breather after Tokyo 2020 and with Covid still causing travel issues, all three fleets will be heavily reduced at this regatta. That said, each class still contains some heavy hitters, so it will by no means be an easy ride to the top.

In the 49er class, none of the Olympic medalists from Tokyo are competing but that's not to say it leaves the prospect of a top result wide open with Olympians Łukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski (POL), Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl (AUT), and former world number one James Peters and Fynn Sterritt (GBR) all competing.

Ben Remocker, 49er Class Manager, said, “In this shortened cycle ahead of the Paris 2024 Games, every regatta is important. With such a strong and varied fleet, the competition should be fierce throughout the week. Oman is an ideal host venue, and a great choice for the first 49er, 49erFX and Nacra the World Championships to be held within Asia".

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