Irish Sailing Performance Autumn Update

Irish Sailing Performance Autumn Update


Welcome to the 2022 Autumn Performance Update. Summer 2022 will go down in history as one of the most successful in our Youth programme with an unstoppable Eve McMahon. In the senior programme Finn Lynch’s world ranking reflects the amazing twelve months he’s had while teammate Aoife Hopkins has decided to move on to her second career.  

Eve McMahon’s successful summer 

This summer Eve achieved a hat-trick of gold medals with: 

  • Gold at the ILCA6 (Laser Radial) Youth European Championships in Greece 
  • Gold at the World Sailing Youth World Championships in the Netherlands 

  • Gold at the ILCA6 (Laser Radial) Youth World Championships in Texas. 

In August, capping off a remarkable summer she won silver at the U21 ILCA Youth World Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal, Ireland’s best ever result. 


A Howth Double 

Eve was not the only Irish sailor in the limelight at the Youth World Championships in Texas. Rocco Wright, Eve’s fellow Howth YC member and member of the Irish Sailing Academy, was in contention for the World title all week and it all came down to a nerve wracking last race where any one of four athletes could take the gold. Rocco, with nerves of steel despite his young age, pounced and took overall honours. Winning on your Youth Worlds debut is a rarity and even more rare is a 15yr old standing in gold medal position. As a result of Eve and Rocco’s gold medals, Irish Sailing have had several enquiries from international governing bodies and federations asking what Ireland is doing to have such a successful youth programme. 


29ers deliver fourth World Title this summer 

The summer continued to deliver at a level we’ve never seen before.  29er team Lucia Cullen (Royal St George YC) and Alana Twomey (Royal Cork YC) became the U17 World Champions in Spain in August securing Ireland’s fourth Youth World title of the summer. Lucia and Alana trained  this summer with their own coach but the plan is to integrate all activity into an Academy based on the successful model we have in the ILCA 6. 


Inspirational Seniors  

Part of the success seen in the Youth Programme is most definitely down to the senior athletes delivering on the world stage. Annalise Murphy was a trailblazer in this regard and Eve had the benefit of sailing alongside her in the Tokyo Olympic training cycle. Now the next generation are starting to step up.  

Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove secured a silver in the 49er at the 2022 Hempel World Cup Regatta in the Netherlands in May.  

Finn’s superb results in the past twelve months are reflected in the newly published World Sailing rankings where he is placed third in the world. This is the highest ever ranking for a male Irish Laser sailor. The rankings are due to his silver medal at the ILCA7 World Championships in Barcelona last November 2021, his 4th place at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma in April this year, and his 6th place at the 2022 ILCA 7 Men's World Championship in Mexico in May. Finn is now looking ahead to the European Championships in Hyeres in November.  

We invited local club sailors to meet the team during the summer in Dun Laoghaire and watch them train during a specially organised medal race series. When almost 200 kids turned up on the water the athletes were blown away by the enthusiasm and support. The team’s inspirational performances and connection with the sailing community is heartwarming and important for the team to see – their actions and medals are a source of great pride and inspiration to the next generation of sailors.  


6 Academy athletes, 200 kids and 3 clubs – a welcome home roadshow 

On one of the most beautiful days of the year, the Irish Sailing Academy went on a mini tour of three North Dublin clubs to welcome home Eve McMahon and Rocco Wright and their gold medals, and the Academy Team who work together to get such great results (Oisin Hughes, Fiachra Geraghty McDonnell, Sophie Kilmartin, and Luke Turvey). 

Welcoming the athletes were junior sailors from Malahide YC, Sutton Dinghy Club and Howth YC where the team judged prizewinning cakes and answered a range of interesting and thought provoking questions – from tips to deal with a crowded start line, other sports that help with sailing, favourite sailing venues, and discussions around when racing gets easier (it does eventually !).  


Irish Sailing ILCA 4 and Topper Winter Squads 
Ongoing training throughout the year is a key component of the Performance Pathway Programme.  

So that the team is ready for international competitions early in Spring 2023, coaches are putting together the new ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) and Topper Winter Squads. The squads will be led by Development Coach Sean Evans, and will run over a series of weekends in Dublin and Cork. 


The 29er and 49er/49er FX pipeline  

A key recommendation from the Tokyo Olympic report was the importance of a pipeline of development for the 49er (male team) and 49erFX (female team) and the corresponding importance of the 29er fleet. Irish Sailing are planning to resource this space with coaching and equipment to help deliver a sustainable pathway in double handed sailing. 


Aoife Hopkins retires from Olympic campaigning  

Irish Sailing Team member and former U21 European champion Aoife Hopkins has formally announced her retirement from Olympic campaigning. The Howth Yacht Club sailor won the U21 ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) European Championships in 2017 and achieved a personal best with 17th place overall at the 2021 ILCA 6 World Championships in Oman. During the event she secured another World Championship race win, a feat first achieved at the Worlds in Denmark, 2018. 

“Aoife’s decision to call time on a great sailing career is one we fully support although it’s always sad to lose a team member. She has been a consummate professional showing ambition and courage to explore how far she could go in the sport. Not many people take the steps into the senior ranks because of the level of commitment required and she embraced this challenge.” commented James O’Callaghan, Performance Director with Irish Sailing. 


Major events still to come in 2022 

  • ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) World Championships 11 - 16 Oct Texas, USA 

  • Laser European Championships 14 – 21 Nov Hyeres, France 


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