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#OLYMPIC – Now that Ireland's Star, 49er and Laser Radial places are secure for the Olympics, attention now turns to delivering at the event itself. We're only 200 days or so out from the first race of the Olympic sailing regatta so it's no surprise squad members are already back on the water.

This weekend the Star pair Peter O'Leary and David Burrows and Laser Radial helmswoman Annalise Murphy are training in Miami, getting ready for Monday's first race of US Sailing's Miami Olympic classes regatta, an event that is an important indicator in the build up to Weymouth.

If the celebrations from Perth are anything to go by many at home are now expecting big things from our sailors in July.  Expectations are such that a sailing medal has become a realistic proposition. In the pressure cooker atemosphere of the Olympic Games that's an awful lot for a small team to shoulder especially when some performances at the ISAF worlds in Perth showed no improvement since the Summer.

As has already been pointed out in a December Irish Times Sailing Column there is some inconsistency in Irish performances that must be ironed out first if there is to be any bigger celebrations in Olympic year.

Beyond the glowing reports beamed back from Perth there is a need for a critical appraisal of the Olympic sailing performance (with a positive bias) so any problems can be addressed.

There should be no grumbling about such coverage, no-one can argue with the facts.

Criticism about inconsistency is needed. And our more senior Olympians need public criticism if they are to improve.

Ireland's only sailing medal came at the 1980 Moscow Olympics when 62 countries decided to boycott the games. It's not popular to mention that or that since then Ireland has not had a top eight finish.

This time it will be different say the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) who have already pointed to the podium in Weymouth.

There is no doubting the very high standard of results already coming from the Olympic team. Two medal race performances and one just outside at the ISAF worlds this month in Perth are great achievements just months from the Olympic regatta itself. Many nations would pay good money just to be in Ireland's position right now. But behind the celebrations there is concern over season long inconsistencies that followed the team to Perth.

Except for two race blips in both the Star and the Laser Radial where Irish boats counted two bad races apiece, Ireland would have been in the medals in Perth, a first for Irish sailing at an ISAF world championships.

In an overall regatta context this means it's not only about having brilliant races, it's also about not having bad ones.

Take Murphy's season as an example. In her last two world cup regattas she has finished fifteen times in the top ten and has won ten races. Her win rate at the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta on the Olympic course itself in July was matched only by Britain's Ben Ainslie. Inconsistency prevented her from taking first place in both events.

More recently in Perth, Murphy won four races, more than any other sailor in her fleet. Her average position excluding discard was seventh. If she had scored seventh in her two worst races, she would have won the regatta by five points. Instead a couple of bad results kept her sixth overall. Sixth in a fleet of such world class competitors is nevertheless a top result for Murphy and a personal best to boot.


Annalise's performance graph set against the top three overall in the Perth Laser Radial class

It was the same for the Irish Star sailors. Having to count a 33 and a 24 in Perth was a killer blow for O'Leary and Burrows. In the 41 boat Star fleet only one of the top three overall won an individual race but the top three rarelynever fell out of the top ten.

Local celebrations and favourable press coverage aside O'Leary and Burrows and Murphy will not be satisfied with results as they stand.


Peter O'Leary and David Burrow's peformance against the top three in Perth

Olympic qualification is in the bag so the question now is what can be done to turn them from world class sailors, which undoubtedly they are, into medal winners?

There are under 200 days to go. There must be a plan to eliminate current inconsistencies. It starts next Monday in Miami.

Whether it is starting technique, tactical decision-making or boat speed issues it is time to put all possible resources into a team that has got the greatest chance of moving Irish sailing on from Moscow.

Published in Water Rat
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#WORRAL THOMPSON – Mischievous spoofers have taken to YouTube to poke fun at Anthony Worrall Thompson who appears at Malahide Rugby Club this Saturday on Olympic sailing fundraising duty for Irish pair Scott Flanigan and Ger Owens. The Ready Steady Cook star shamed for his Tesco shoplifting this week is judging a celebrity Chef night in aid of the Olympic 470 trialists at the North Dublin venue.

The TV star has apologised for his "stupid and irresponsible actions" on Monday after he was caught shoplifting cheese and wine from a Tesco store.

The Irish Olympic duo have organised two teams for the Cook in. One team with sports personalities and the second team with entertainment and political personalities. Worrall Thompson will be presiding as judge of the Malahide competition.

He was arrested at the supermarket in Henley on Thames, London after failing to pay for items at the self-service checkouts five times in 16 days.

In one comical clip that appears on youtube, a shopkeeper pokes fun at the troubled presenter in a tongue-in-cheek foul-mouthed rant.

Another spoof video superimposes Worrall Thompson's head onto footage of another shoplifter being apprehended instore.

For Saturday night, the Olympic duo have organised two teams for the Cook in. One team with sports personalities and the second team with entertainment and political personalities.

There will be four on each team and they will have a choice of preparing dishes with either beef or salmon.

'We hope that Anthony will be the judge and sample the finished dishes giving marks out of ten' say the Olypmic pair.

The event will be filmed live from the kitchen and streamed onto the big screen in the function room for guests to view.

Following his arrest, the 60-year-old released a statement claiming he intends to "seek the treatment that is clearly needed".

He added: "I am not the first, and I certainly won't be the last person to do something without rhyme or reason - what went through my head, only time will tell.

"Of course, I must also apologise sincerely to Tesco, with whom I'm had a long and genuine working relationship, and to all the staff at the Henley branch, many of whom I've got to know over the years.

"Once again, I am so sorry and hopefully in the future I can make amends."

Tickets for Saturday night's event are €100 or €1000 for a table of ten. There is Live music on the night and an auction with Denis Drum including the following items: Signed Munster Rugby Jersey, Signed Leinster Rugby Jersey, Signed Irish Rugby Jersey, Grand Slam Rugby tie donated by Ollie Campbell, Signed Irish Soccer Jersey, Four ball with Philip Walton, A painting by Alan Kenny. Contact 01 8453459 for bookings. Cheques made payable to Ger Owens.

Published in Olympics 2012

#OLYMPIC – Dublin Race officer Jack Roy has been congratulated by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) this morning on his prestitgious appointment as a race officer for the London Olympics. He had been shortlisted last November but confirmation of one of the top jobs in the sport of sailing has only been received today.

The National Yacht Club and Royal Irish Yacht Club member was one of only 25 rated for one of the most important roles in a race official's career. As reported in April last season Roy had been part of a panel of 25, from which 16 were chosen this week to run the London regatta.

jack Roy

Dun Laoghaire Race Officer Jack Roy who will officiate at the 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta in London

Roy has already run the 2011 sailboard and Laser races at the Olympic test event as part of a 180–strong race management team.

Roy is based in Dun Laoghaire and is a former Flying fifteen champion sailor. A member of the National Yacht Club, he has acted as Race Officer for many World and European championships run on Dublin Bay in recent years including Flying Fifteen Worlds, Laser 4.7 Europeans, 2007 Etchell European Championships, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Cork Week, and SB3 Worlds 2008.

The International Sailing Federation confirmed Roy's apponitment this morning as a member of the race management team at the 2012 London Olympic Games Sailing Competition which will take place in Weymouth (GBR) from 27 July through to 12 August.

His specific role on the race management team will be advised by ISAF shortly.

Published in Olympics 2012

Irish sailing officials are celegrating 'a strong start to the London Olympic campaign' for the Irish team at the end of the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Perth today. Three campaigns finished in the top 12 overall of the two week competition in Western Australia.


Annalise in action - Photo: Richard Langdon

The top result was Annalise Murphy's in the Laser Radial where the Dun Laoghaire girl finished sixth. She scored four firsts in her event, more than any other sailor.

Belfast's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er in 10th and Peter O'Leary and David Burrows in the Star in 12th.

olearyburrowsstar 2

The Irish Star leads a race in Perth - Photo: Richard Langdon

These campaigns resume in January, the Star class will be based in Miami until March and the 49er and Laser will be based in Europe. Other campaigns such as the Ger Owens and Scott Flannigan in the 470, Ross Hamilton in the Finn and James Espey still have a chance to qualify at class events in the first half of next year.

Photos from the closing stages of today's races by Christophe Favreau below

Olympic sailing updates here

Published in Olympics 2012
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#PERTH2011–  Today's Star medal race gave an invaluable glimpse at the make up of next Summers Olympic fleet. It's a point that won't be lost on Irish pairing Peter O'Leary and David Burrows who, although they didn't make the medal race cut, are qualified for the London Olympics and tipped by the Irish Sailing Association as medal prospects.

Brazilians Scheidt and Prada maintained their points lead on the final day of the Star event to secure their second World Championship title. It was a world class performance that sent out many messages to any would be rivals, not least O'Leary and Burrows, and demonstrated just how difficult it will be to take Olympic Gold next Summer.


Sheidt and Prada retained their Star title at the ISAF Worlds today in Perth. Photo: Richard Langdon 

The Brazilian's also won at the last ISAF Worlds in Cascais in 2007.

"To be Star world champion I think is the biggest achievement that a sailor can have," Prada said. "To win two times is to be a part of the story of Star class, it means a lot. The Star class is very special. It's the class of all the biggest names.''

The Brazilian duo were also presented with the 100-year-old International Star Championship Trophy, described as one of the most prestigious in world sailing, and the Mary Etchell's Bowl for world championship Star crew.

The silver medal went to Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen (GER), while Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (USA) won bronze after an exciting and close Medal race fought out on Centre course.

Scheidt and Prada (BRA) started the day with a 20-point lead over the USA crew, who faced a tough battle for the silver medal against teams from Germany and Sweden.

Poland led the fleet in a 13-knot sea breeze for most of the race and crossed the finish line first, followed by Norway and the two German crews.

Fifth across the line in Bather's Bay, the Brazilian team had gained just 10 points which kept them within the margin needed to secure gold at the end of the Medal Race.

The duo, who won a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, raised their country's flag after crossing the finish line to the cheers of delight and applause from fans in the grandstand.

After making its debut at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the Star has a long history in Olympic sailing but will bow out after the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"It's a big achievement because all my life when I was sailing Laser I was dreaming about sailing the Star and winning the World Championship one time, so managing to do it twice is a really big thing for me," Scheidt said.

"This year we have improved a lot in our sailing and our main goal was always to do well here in Perth, so coming through this year and managing to peak at this moment is very special.

"It means that we are on the right track for the 2012 Olympics."

German skipper Robert Stanjek said he was pleased with his silver medal after coming up against the Brazilian team.

"Yesterday we qualified for the Olympics and that was the aim of coming here. Now we are even happier. The silver medal is just a little extra on top."

"To sail against Scheidt is amazing because he is a legend in sailing," crew member Frithjof Kleen added.

Commenting on his bronze medal, American skipper Mark Mendelblatt said he had faced "tough competition" in Scheidt.

"I have been sailing against Robert Scheidt for 20 years," he said.

"The thing about him is he is very difficult to beat when he is at his best. Everyone has great regattas and not so great regattas. All we can do is improve our level."

Published in Olympics 2012
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#PERTH2011 – A black flag result for Ireland's Laser sailor James Espey ruled out any chance of Olympic qualification in Perth today even though the Belfast single-hander was on the cusp of qualifying going in to today's final rounds.

He finished 38th nation with only the top 35 nations going through to London 2012.  He has a further chance at the Laser World Championships in Germany but that is not until May.

Published in Olympics 2012

#PERTH2011 – A 'personal best' performance, eighth overall in the world championships and a chance to shine in tomorrow's medal race plus the all important ticket to the London Olympic regatta. Is it any wonder Belfast's 49er dinghy duo Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern are celebrating at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Perth today?

The Irish pair started the day in 12th place and after the first two races where they finished 15th and 10th in the 67 boat fleet, they were in 10th position.

In sea breeze conditions they earned a sixth in the final race of the day to put them eighth overall and confirmed their place in tomorrow's medal race.

World number one pair Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) are one step closer to winning the gold medal in the 49er skiff competition after finishing Saturday's three Gold fleet races with an impressive 17 point overall lead.

As the rest of the fleet battled for a position in Sunday's top 10 Medal Race, Outteridge and Jensen placed fifth, seventh and 10th to bring their points tally to 85.

World number two Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) also had a great day on the water, making a stunning come-back from 22nd place to make it into the top 10 thanks to three wins in the last two days.

The Austrian pair had two firsts and an eighth on Saturday, putting them seventh overall with 123 points.

Despite holding first place throughout the week, John Pink and Rick Peacock (GBR) had a disappointing day, placing 24th in race 13 and 23rd in race 15.

This result means the British have dropped from the lead to third with 106 points, bumping Emil and Simon Toft Nielsen (DEN) into second place with 102 points.

Stand outs for Saturday's racing also included Yann Rocherieux and Mathieu Frei (FRA), who battled closely with their fellow French team, Noe Delpech and Julien d'Ortoli, to cross the line second in race 13 and first in race 14.

Outteridge and Jensen are guaranteed a medal in Sunday's final but must beat the Toft Nielsen brothers in order to secure the World Championship.

Medal Race Competitors: (subject to protest): 1. Outteridge and Jensen (AUS); 2. Toft Nielsen and Toft Nielsen (DEN); 3. Pink and Peacock (GBR); 4. Burling and Tuke (NZL); 5. Warrer and Hansen (DEN); 6. Storck and Moore (USA); 7. Delle Karth and Resch (AUT); 8. Seaton and McGovern (IRL); 9. Evans and Powys (GBR); 10. Noerregaard and Lang (DEN).

Sunday 18 December is the final day of racing in Perth. The only Irish sailors competing tomorrow are Seaton and McGovern.

Published in Olympics 2012

#Perth2011– Star keelboat sailors Peter O'Leary and David Burrows have qualified for the 2012 Olympics and finished 12th overall after a thrilling fight for the last qualification slot between the Irish, Italian, Swiss and Spanish boats. Given the string of top results the pair have achieved this season though there will be some disappointment in the Irish camp that they miss out on tomorrow's medal race final. A simple post on the team facebook pages today says: "12th overall at #Perth2011 and qualified for #London2012".

Going into the final day of Star fleet racing Ireland's Peter O'Leary and David Burrows occupied the final qualification spot but were tied on 97 points with Spain's Fernando Echavarri and Fernando Rodriguez. With qualification in their hands the Irish put in one of their best performances of the regatta with a seventh in Race 9 followed up with a 13th place finish in Race 10 whilst the Spanish crumbled with a 24-22.

They rounded the first mark of the second race in the mid 20's and then had an incident with the Spaniards during the rounding. Rather than risk disqualification O'Leary opted to take penalty turns leaving them at the back of the fleet but a  comeback to finish the race in 13th was an impressive recovery. It's a result that gives them 12th overall and ninth nation, thus securing Ireland its third boat at the London Olympic Games.

Eleven nations in the Star class have qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition after ten races at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and the USA have all guaranteed themselves a Star spot at London 2012 following an action packed week of sailing.

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) had to withdraw earlier on in the week but their place at London 2012 is assured after they were selected to take the British quota spot. Four more places are available at the Star World Championship in Hyeres, France from 2-12 May 2012.

Brazil's Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada have been the stand out performers in the Star class and head into tomorrow's Medal Race with an 18 point advantage and guaranteed of a medal. It's then very tight between Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (USA), Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen (GER) and Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen (SWE). Five points separate second to fourth so each team will look to finish with a strong performance.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#PERTH 2011 – Ireland's newest Olympic team pairing Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast were 19th in today's single 49er race in Perth today. They stay in tenth overall and discard today's placing in the 49er Gold fleet. They are scheduled for three races tomorrow, the results from which will determine Ireland's place in the medal race or not.

John Pink and Rick Peacock of Great Britain have retained their overall lead after Thursday's only race for the 49ers at the ISAF Worlds, with the competition now split into Gold, Silver, and Bronze fleets.

Emil Toft Nielsen and Simon Toft Nielsen (DEN) continue to hold second place, one point ahead of Australian pair Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. The Australians share their position on points with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL).

Pink and Peacock finished in second place in the Gold fleet race on Thursday, but managed to make up some ground to challenge the race winners, the Toft Nielsen brothers, on the final leg.

After the race, Pink said: "We were just trying to stick to our strategy and from the start they got a little bit ahead. We caught back up at the last top mark but they kept it together and obviously did the right things. We did exactly the same almost down the last run but they just stayed ahead, but it was close."

The Toft Nielsen brothers took out the race by only seven seconds.

Emil Toft Nielsen said: "We won a bit on the British at the start, and at the top mark we were almost even. Then we decided to focus on the wind instead of the other boats. When we got closer to the end, we found it possible to just cover the Brits and make it to the finish."

Thursday's Silver fleet race was won by Austria's Thomas Zajac and Thomas Czajka, while Andre Otoo da Fonseca and Marco Soffiatti Grael (BRA) took out the Bronze fleet race.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#PERTH 2011 – Missed opportunities on a crucial day afloat in the Star keelboat means Olympic qualification for Ireland's Peter O'Leary and David Burrows now goes 'to the wire'.  Disappointingly, the pair scored a 16th and a 24th today in a fleet of 41 and slip to 15th overall. It follows a black flag result on Tuesday. The top 11 nations will qualify for the Olympics in Perth and although O'Leary/Burrows are in the qualification zone, they will be well aware they occupy the last nation slot. The Cork-Dublin duo have been leapfrogged by the Swiss and now share the same overall score as Spain's Fernando Echavarri and Fernando Rodriquez on 97 points each with only one day of racing left before the medal race on Saturday.

star racing

Tight racing in the penulitmate rounds of the Star champs in Perth. Photo: Richard Langdon

The Star class have a rest day tomorrow with their final day of fleet racing taking place on Friday.

Published in Olympics 2012
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