49er European Championships conclude as Irish U23 Medallists make their mark in the senior fleet
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove finished in a very credible 18th place at the 49er European Championships which concluded in Austria at the weekend. Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle also qualified for the Gold Fleet (top 30 sailors) and finished 26th overall. Meanwhile Sean Donnelly and Marcus O’Leary both from Dun Laoghaire finished 48th.
European Championships events are always a significant benchmark and despite Covid restrictions off the water, there were 67 teams competing from 24 countries on Lake Attersee for the week-long competition. The event had a week of very light shifty and difficult conditions typical of lake sailing, which saw Germans Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf seize the title.
Dickson and Waddilove are a young team (22 and 23 respectively), who have come a long way since claiming the gold medal at the 2018 U23 49er World Championships in the 2024 Olympic venue, Marseilles (France). Since then they’ve moved up into the senior circuit, competing regularly against Olympic medallists and multiple campaign veterans. Their highlights over the last 18 months have included racing in the Gold fleet at the European Championships, and 18th overall is their best performance to date. This achievement sits proudly alongside their 22nd place finish in the 2019 49er World Championships in New Zealand (December 2019). With six top-ten race results in the 12-race series, the team are tracking in the right direction.
James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing’s Performance Director struck an optimistic chord in his summary: “It has been great to have a six week period of training and competition in a season that has been very disrupted. Both our 49er teams know the challenge ahead in terms of qualifying for the Olympics but the performances in Austria this week only serve to motivate us to work even harder to capitalise on the team’s potential”.
The 49er teams have the opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2021 at the Princesa Sofia Regatta in Mallorca next spring.
Performance sailing action resumes with the start of the Laser European Championships on Thursday 8 October in Gdansk, Poland. Representing Ireland will be Annalise Murphy, Aoife Hopkins and Eve McMahon who compete against 109 other sailors, from 36 countries in the Laser Radial fleet. In the Laser Standards, Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are racing in a field of 133 sailors from 39 countries. Racing concludes on Tuesday 13 October. Link to the results page here: https://eurilca.eu/event/event.php?id=172
Photograph: Tobias Stoerkle Photography - sailing-photography.com