Dún Laoghaire duo vie for Olympic place in Argentina

Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey make gold fleet cut at 49erfx World Championships

Boats depart Wicklow at the start of the 2014 Round Ireland race. The 2016 race will set sail on June 18th next year. Photograph: David O’Brien.

Boats depart Wicklow at the start of the 2014 Round Ireland race. The 2016 race will set sail on June 18th next year. Photograph: David O’Brien.

 

Dún Laoghaire’s Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey’s made the gold fleet cut at the 49erfx World Championships in Argentina on Wednesday, heightening expectations that Ireland can secure its fourth boat for next year’s Olympic Regatta by Saturday final races.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) pair are seeking one of three Rio slots available in Buenos Aires, one of the last opportunities to qualify.

Hopes were boosted early this week when the Irish debutantes got off to a great start with five top-10 results in their 44-boat fleet but a retiral in race eight following a protest on Wednesday evening proved to be setbacks.

Big ask

Without it though, Ireland can still qualify for Rio but with so many contenders the permutations are endless. Very much in the hunt, Brewster and Tidey were lying as the fourth country in 19th place on Thursday morning with Singapore’s Griselda Khng and Sara Tan six points ahead in 16th, crucially occupying the third Rio position.

But at such a light wind venue and with eight races left to sail the only certainty by Friday is change and lots of it. For example, the best performing non-qualified nation this season is Argentinian duo Victoria Travascio and María Sol Branz but they have yet to shine on home waters.

In 21st place, the locals are still expected to make a late charge up the leaderboard.

Likewise, this week’s Singaporean result is a personal best at the halfway stage that could yet see an upset.

Certainly Brewster and Tidey want to get Rio qualification out of the way. At this stage they cannot afford to rely on a single and final Olympic place battle in Palma next March or indeed pin any hopes to the much talked about prospect of a fourth Rio place materialising this week.

Volvo is to sponsor June’s Round Ireland Yacht Race, adding to its growing number of Irish sailing sponsorships. The car brand adds the offshore race to its other Grand Prix sailing events: the biennial Dun Laoghaire Regatta and Cork Week.

It’s a major boost to Wicklow’s race that has introduced a new multihull category for the first time in 2016.

Theo Phelan

Fastest sailing craft

Maxi Rambler

In other offshore news, J109 skipper Liam Shanahan, (who lost his overall lead in the last few miles of the 2014 Round Ireland) retained his 15-race ISORA series title this season and was presented with offshore’s sailing’s top award, the Wolf’s Head Trophy, at last weekend’s packed agm for the Irish Sea body at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire.

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