Dickson Waddilove secure qualification for Ireland at Paris 2024
After six days battling light winds off Portugal's Algarve coast, Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove have won the single nation place for the Paris 2024 Olympics at this year's 49er European Championship.
The place in the Men's Skiff event secured today is the second discipline along with the Men's single-handed event won by Finn Lynch (National YC) at the combined Sailing world championships at The Hague in August.
Dickson (Howth YC) and Waddilove (Skerries SC) were initially expecting to compete in a single fleet race in which they needed to stay ahead of Italians Simone Ferrarse and Leonardo Chiste. Both boats were placed eighth and ninth with the top ten expected to go into the Medal race final that was also scheduled for the last day.
However, the wind had other ideas and the regatta programme was gradually reduced while waiting on hoped-for breeze to fill in to replace the dead calm conditions.
With the final whistle sounded, France's Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros celebrated Gold as European Champions while elation swept over the Irish team as Dickson and Waddilove celebrated with their coach Matt McGovern.
Winning the place for Ireland at the Paris 2024 Sailing regatta in Marseilles means the Irish crew can concentrate on bedding down their recent improvements and work towards selection for Team Ireland.
"It's a really big relief to finally get the Olympic spot since we narrowly missed out on it at the worlds," Dickson said after racing. "it's definitely going to free us up so that we can focus on Olympics and not have to worry about qualifying the nation.
"The worlds was unfortunate that we narrowly missed out on the spot but we're happy now that we've done it."
Since The Hague three months ago, the Dublin crew have worked intensively on their light wind and starting strategies, both of which proved critical over the past six days.
"Is it a pressure release? Absolutely it is - it's fantastic to get the lads back on track at such an early stage," said James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Performance Director. "Effectively it’s almost like we qualified in The Hague because the winter programme will revert to what it would have been had we qualified there: there's a lot to be smiling about in the Irish 49er programme right now."
The programme focus now shifts to Marseilles and also a trials series that will involve Ireland's second boat in the championship who were unlucky not to get further races as their schedule was already foreshortened over the weekend due to lack of wind.
Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) closed out their series with a second and first places in the Silver fleet to move up to 30th place overall and within touching distance of winning their Silver fleet division.