Busy calendar and new World Cup series puts pressure on key regattas

Campaign momentum is building to a summer peak for all the Irish hopefuls across the classes in contention for Rio 2016

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern: finished just outside the medal race in the Netherlands last weekend.

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern: finished just outside the medal race in the Netherlands last weekend.

Fri, May 30, 2014, 01:00

After last weekend’s Eurosaf Olympic disciplines event in the Netherlands, campaign momentum is building to a summer peak for all the Irish hopefuls across the classes in contention for Rio 2016.

But a busy calendar, and a new World Cup of sailing series being finalised, has seen several key regattas under pressure for attendance.

The new 49er FX women’s skiff event was dropped from the Delta Lloyd regatta last week and questions have been raised about whether there will be a Laser event at the British ‘Sail for Gold’ regatta in Weymouth in July.

Of the Providence Team Ireland line-up, the Dutch event brought challenging conditions for those that were able to take part. Irish 49er Olympic veterans Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern have been sailing well recently but their light airs performance left them outside the medal race final at the weekend.

The pair had won a creditable silver medal at the French Hyeres week in April and almost followed it with another top-three finish but for a protest result involving another sailor that saw them pushed off the podium.

Nevertheless, their silver medal was a major boost, especially as it involved beating Australian Nathan Outridge, the 2012 Gold medallist and America’s Cup helmsman, with crew Iain Jensen.

The congestion that saw the women’s skiff event dropped last weekend has meant that Irish newcomers Andrew Brewster and Saskia Tidey have to rejig their programme to get competition time in.

Great result

The pair placed 16th in Hyeres, a result that the ISA management consider a great result thanks to good mark roundings but still with boat-handling errors to deal with hence the need for time afloat.

With the Laser Europeans coming up next month in Croatia for the Standard and Radial rigs, Annalise Murphy opted out of the Dutch regatta to concentrate on her title defence and an indicator of form.

Nevertheless, ISA performance manager James O’Callaghan cautions that it won’t be a ‘peak’ event for Murphy as this occasion falls later in the year. Additionally, local sailor Tina Mihelic, a former European champion will start the June regatta as favourite, not unlike Murphy in Dún Laoghaire last year that led to overall victory.

Murphy’s key rivals from London 2012, Evi Van Acker from the Netherlands and Belgium’s Marit Boumeester, were both on form finishing on the podium at Medemblik while younger sailors from Denmark and France are also coming through the ranks to place the veteran-class leaders under pressure.

Murphy’s counterpart in the men’s Laser Standard rig is James Espey, who has made big progress since the games with his best result ever though continues to struggle delivering consistent form. According to O’Callaghan, the Europeans are a big focus for him to turn things around.

Peak event

Renewed emphasis by Paralympics Ireland on results and medals will make the Sonar World Championships in Nova Scotia a peak event for veteran John Twomey, with Ian Costello and Austin O’Carroll from Kinsale Yacht Club.

Not only will it be a major indicator of form, it will be the first opportunity to qualify Ireland for the Paralympic Worlds. The other Olympic classes have their first qualification event in Santander in September.

But as far as sorting out the scheduling problems, the coming months should see firm decisions from the International Sailing Federation and what the new World Cup format will be.

“It’s fair to say that the international circuit is in a state of flux with rumours abounding of the new World Cup series,” according to O’Callaghan.

“Palma and Hyeres have become the must-do events while the Eurosaf events are favouring Lake Garda and Kiel.”

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