IRISH SAILING PERFORMANCE SPRING UPDATE
Welcome to the 2022 Spring Performance Update. It’s been an incredibly busy period transitioning from the training phase of the programme into the competition season. There have been two Olympic class World Cup regattas, the Princesa Sofia Regatta in Spain and the French Olympic Week in Hyères. The Youth sailors have also been back in action competing for places on teams for the summer events.
Onshore the Olympic Steering Group has seen a few personnel changes and are busy overseeing the implementation of the Tokyo Olympic Review recommendations.
Finn Lynch finishes 4th at Princesa Sofia regatta, Spain (2-9 April)
In a thrilling conclusion to the Olympic classes regatta, Finn Lynch sailed a faultless final race to secure fourth overall in the ILCA 7 (formerly Laser) in early April. The result matches his 2019 performance at the same event and comes on the back of his silver medal at the 2021 World Championships in Barcelona last November. This week's form is regarded as good progress towards this year's championships, scheduled to be held in Mexico in May.
The rest of the squad delivered a range of encouraging results coming from some of the newer and younger crews who are gaining experience at senior level.
In the ILCA 7, Ewan McMahon showed plenty of potential and his 32nd place overall foretells of an imminent move into the top 20 this season. His younger brother Jamie McMahon also gained valuable big-fleet experience at senior level.
In the 49er fleet, Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove missed out on a medal race place with a broken tiller-extension proving costly, and new pairing Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan rounded off their final day in the Silver fleet with a race win and a fourth place that moved them to 35th overall in the 76-boat event.
Steady performances for the Irish Sailing Team at French Olympic Classes Week (23- 30 April)
This update comes to you hot on the heels of the French Olympic Week in Hyères on the Cote D’Azur which is situated very close to the 2024 Marseille Olympic venue.
Finn Lynch finished in 13th overall in the ILCA 7 (Laser) with teammate Ewan McMahon finishing in 23rd overall. Aoife Hopkins, in her first event back after having COVID, finished in 34th in the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial). Eve McMahon did not compete due to exam commitments.
Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Sailing Laser Coach said “Finn just missed the medal race by 12 points which isn’t much. He struggled a bit with his arm at the start of the week but made a good comeback. Ewan finished in 23. Our target was top 20 but [he was] very close. It was a tough week, so now we rest and prepare for the Worlds”.
Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove finished in 15th place in the 49er class and new pairing Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) finished in 30 place overall.
Irish Sailing Youth National Championships (21-24 April)
The Youth Nationals are Ireland’s biggest youth regatta for 213 young sailors under 18 from 30 clubs all over Ireland. Hosted by Bangor club Ballyholme YC in the Easter holidays (21-24 April), the event showcases the six classes identified as the best to facilitate progression through the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway: 420, Topper, ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7), ILCA 6 (Laser Radial), Optimists and 29ers . Excitingly, this was the first time in a number of years that the Optimist class were fully integrated into the event.
"A north-easterly in Ballyholme with big winds and waves tested everyone's sailing skills but we've also had a range of conditions with dropping winds on two days so sailors had to adapt to that and improve their all-round skills," said Sean Evans, Irish Sailing Development Manager. "It allows sailors who are good in all conditions to rise to the top and perform to their maximum ability."
Both Eve McMahon and Rocco Wright have now reached the standard to be nominated to represent Ireland at Youth World Sailing Championships in The Hague in July.
Governance and the Irish Sailing 2021 Annual Report
Irish Sailing are proud to have fully adopted the Sport Ireland Governance Code for Sport. You can read this and more in the Irish Sailing Annual Report for 2021 HERE.
New chair for the Olympic Steering Group
The Olympic Steering Group which oversees the Performance Programme has welcomed in John Menton as new Chair, taking over from Patrick Coveney. John is an Olympic discus thrower and investor. He brings first-hand experience of the Olympics and elite performance to the OSG, as well as a different perspective from outside watersports. John is a former partner at the legal firm Arthur Cox and has served as a board director of several companies including Paypal and Cisco.
John commented: “ It is an exciting time to join the OSG, particularly in light of the strong squad of performance-focused athletes, coaches and management that has been assembled for the Paris 2024 Olympic campaign which creates the necessary platform for Irish Sailing to add to its Olympic participation and medal tally.”
Coaching team strengthened
One of observations of the Tokyo Olympic report commissioned by the Board of Irish Sailing was the importance of developing and maintaining a world-class coaching system. We are delighted therefore that there have been two significant developments in the performance coaching team:
Sean Evans, who has worked with Irish Sailing since 2018 as Academy coach now becomes the Development Coach, a role that oversees the development of athletes aspiring to undertake Olympic campaigns.
Milan Vujasinovic has been appointed Laser Radial Academy Coach. It is a role he is very familiar with, having held the position from 2011-2014. Alumni from that period include Finn Lynch and Seáfra Guilfoyle, who are both members of our senior squad. Now based in Valencia, Spain, Milan originally represented Croatia in both the Laser and Finn classes, and is a European Bronze medallist in the Finn (2016). Milan will help with the athletes’ personal development alongside the technical fundamentals such as boat handling, boat speed, and participation in international sailing, focusing on experience and not just results.
The 29er and 49er/49er FX pipeline
Another of the recommendations from the Tokyo Olympic report was the importance of a pipeline of development for the 49er (male team) and 49erFX (female team). To do this, we need to go back a step to the smaller and lighter 29er, which is sailed by both girls and boys, and is an obvious pool for young sailors aspiring to the 49er and 49erFX, and at the same time, widen the pool of potential 49er/FX sailors. To this end, the coaching team organised the first 29er training session in early April with coach Thomas Chaix with a second session scheduled for late May, and a 49er “camp” with 7 boats (14 sailors) in Dun Laoghaire with coach David Evans. Already plans are being made for more of these in the summer.
It was fantastic to see a strong mix of boys and girls compete in the 29er class at the recent Irish Sailing Youth Nationals, with the mixed team of Ben O’Shaughnessy and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty of Cork coming first.
Upcoming events for 2022
- Laser World Championships ... 21-28 May ... Mexico
- 49er European Championships ... 4 – 10 July ... Denmark
- Olympic Test Event ... 1- 14 Aug ... Marseille, France
- 49er World Championships ... 31 Aug – 6 Sep ... Canada
- Hague Youth World Championships ... 7 Sept – 2 Oct ... The Hague
- Laser Radial World Championships ... 10 – 17 Oct ... Qingdao, China
- Laser European Championships ... 14 – 21 Nov ... Hyeres, France
You can follow the team’s progress on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.