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Irish Sailing Team in the Performance Quarterly - Summer 2020

Irish Sailing Team in the Performance Quarterly - Summer 2020


Update on the Irish Sailing Team in the Performance Quarterly, 30 July 2020

Welcome to the third edition of the Irish Sailing Performance Quarterly. Since our last quarterly the Covid-19 global pandemic hit Ireland. Work didn’t stop during the lockdown however, and with the start of Phase 1 of the Government’s Roadmap to Recovery in May, the Irish Sailing Team were back on the water. We’re now at the end of July and the team are getting excited about the green shoots appearing on the autumn competition schedule.

Training in lockdown

Before lockdown began, we recalled all the teams back to Ireland and were quick off the mark to ensure that the athletes were prepared with the right equipment and home set up. The team continued to train remotely throughout the lockdown by daily video catch ups, teaching sessions and support from the “backroom” team made up of doctors, sports psychologists and nutritionists. The coaches used the time to squeeze in many classroom-based sessions that often aren’t possible when athletes are competing or travelling overseas.  For example, each week the coaches prepared online videos on a particular aspect of the sport and drilled down into the detail. The sailors then had the opportunity to discuss the topic and learn from both the coaches and questions raised by their teammates.

Turbo Trainers, Tactics, and Tricep bands

A large portion of a sailor’s aerobic capacity is developed on bikes. During lockdown the team put their bikes onto turbo trainers, met online and completed prescribed workouts. Power output, distance, calories burnt were all recorded and logged. Each athlete created their own mini gyms in gardens, sheds and garages so that they could follow coach led gym sessions on Zoom. And they also played World Sailing’s Virtual Regatta video games that test sailing tactics against each other and the Danish Sailing Team.

Isolation bonding

Funnily enough, the isolation during lockdown has forged new connections for the team and with the young Irish Sailing Academy sailors that were brought into many of the training sessions and seminars.

Annalise Murphy nominated for selection at Tokyo Olympics

In June Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy was nominated in the Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Her nomination will now be put forward to the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ratification. She secured the Laser Radial nomination after the conclusion of the trials in which her three teammates Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon also competed. The three event trials were cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was very tough on the athletes not nominated. With a substantial lead after the World Championships in February however, the gap between Annalise and the other athletes was always going to be tough one to close. The group will now work together to secure another medal for Ireland and in the process, become better sailors. Both Aoife and Eve are still very young by international standards which augurs well for 2024 and 2028.  Aisling informed the team of her retirement in March and will now focus on completing her physiotherapy studies.

Return to the Water

The Team returned to training on the water in May as per Phase 1 of the Government Roadmap using the Irish Sailing Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire as their base. The PHQ containers however remain closed for all use except launching of boats from the pontoon. The athletes have all undergone hygiene protocol training but will not use the PHQ all at the same time to minimise risk (with staggered launch times for example) and will adhere to the 2 metre social distancing guidelines at all times. They also have their temperatures checked on entering the PHQ.

The Irish team are now one of a handful of countries with sailing teams back on the water, including the UK, Italy and Denmark.

After two months in Dublin, the Laser Team are now decamping to Schull for a change of scenery, with the Irish Sailing Academy following close behind. 49ers Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove have been on a mini training tour of East Coast Clubs, and teammates Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle are back to training in Dublin this week. Laser Coach Vasilij Zbogar who spent lockdown in Slovenia, has now completed his quarantine and is back coaching the team from the PHQ. 

Looking ahead

There a number of events around Europe scheduled for late summer and autumn including:

  • Kiel Week, Germany, 5-13 September (this is event has restricted entry so the teams are still waiting for confirmation of their participation)
  • Laser Senior European Championships, Alimos Marina in Athens (Greece), 9-16 October
  • Laser Radial Youth European Championships, Hyeres (France), 21-27 October
  • 49er European Championships, 28 Sept – 4 October, Lake Attersee, Austria.

Still to be confirmed are the Tokyo Olympic selection events for the Laser Standard (Men) and the 49ers, where we’ll have our next chance of securing a place for the nation.