Day 0, Saturday 24 July 2021: Ireland’s Olympic sailors ready for action at Enoshima
The first competition for Ireland’s Olympic sailors begins at Enoshima Island, south of Tokyo on Sunday 25th July from 0400 (Irish time) with Annalise Murphy marking her third games appearance in the women’s single-handed event.
Having narrowly missed the podium at London 2012 and then taking Silver at Rio 2016, the National Yacht Club sailor has once again set her sights firmly on medalling for Ireland in 2021.
Racing in the Laser Radial (now known as the ILCA 6), a ten race series begins on Sunday to decide the top ten places for a medal race finale on Sunday 1st August.
Ireland’s second boat features the Olympic debut for Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove from Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively in the Men’s skiff event. Their series is scheduled to begin on Tuesday 27th July) with a medal race on Monday 2nd August.
The pair qualified Ireland earlier this year at the Lanzarote Spring Championship where they also won bronze. They previously won the Under 23 world championship in 2018 had been considered prospects for the Paris 2024 Olympics before the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the current Games.
“The facilities and arrangements in place are set to make this an outstanding Olympic Sailing venue,” commented James O’Callaghan, Performance Director with Irish Sailing. “Apart from the necessary Covid-19 restrictions, we couldn’t be happier and our only regret is not being able to mix with the Japanese people who have been super-welcoming, even at a distance.”
The three Irish sailors and support staff have been on-site for two weeks and are fully acclimatised to the extreme heat and humidity. Training on the water has continued daily and a good routine has been established though limited to the Sailing Athletes village and the venue itself based on Enoshima Island.
Ireland is also benefitting from having part of the Performance HQ at Dun Laoghaire on site in Enoshima with their 40-foot shipping container converted to provide coaching support facilities, rest area, physio space and shaded area for exercise bike cool-down after competition. “This facility has exceeded our expectations,” said O’Callaghan. “We are very grateful to the Irish Sailing Foundation as this is truly a home from home and a very familiar space for the athletes.”
As always with Enoshima, a careful weather-eye is watching the forecast with interest as various prediction models suggest Typhoon No.8 could transit the region and possibly affect the early days of racing. “We can only take each day’s weather as it happens and with safety in mind,” said O’Callaghan.