Remaining Irish berth for Rio to be decided in in Mexico

Trio go head to head on Banderas Bay in men’s dinghy to determine who goes to Olympics

The first ISORA coastal race of 2016 was won by J/109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan). Photograph: David O’Brien.

The first ISORA coastal race of 2016 was won by J/109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan). Photograph: David O’Brien.

 

The only Irish berth undecided for Rio will be finalised next week at the Laser World Championships while at youth level Ireland continue to perform on the international Laser stage with another top result this week at the Europa Cup in the Netherlands.

As the Irish Sailing Foundation (ISF) puts all future Olympic campaign funding on the agenda in Dublin this afternoon, three Irish sailors are preparing to settle the fight for Ireland’s single Olympic berth in the men’s dinghy in Mexico.

After two trials sailed since December, Northern Ireland’s James Espey from Ballyholme Yacht Club holds a narrow six-point lead over Finn Lynch from the National YC.

Fionn Lyden from Baltimore is 20 points behind. The three compete from Tuesday in a 115-boat World Championship fleet on Banderas Bay on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

If current form is anything to go by, it will not have escaped the Belfast man’s attention that a fortnight ago, in a 24-boat domestic fleet, Lynch had the edge in Co Antrim when he won the Ulster Laser title, beating the London 2012 Olympic Games veteran in his home waters in five of six races.

The trials winner will join Annalise Murphy (Laser Radial), 49er sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern and 49erFX sailors Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey who await formal ratification of their places for Brazil.

Aoife Hopkins, a member of a 30-boat Irish Under-18 team for July’s KBC Laser Radial Youth Worlds at the Royal St George Yacht Club has scored an impressive Europacup victory in Hoorn, the Netherlands.

Hopkins, who was beaten by Murphy for the women’s Rio berth last month, was overall winner of the women’s fleet at the weekend and best under-19.

It wasn’t the only Dutch performance from the Irish youths either.

Ballyholme’s Liam Glynn was third in the under-19 boys fleet and Royal Cork YC’s Johnny Durcan had the same points. They are results that augur well for the Dublin Bay event.

There is still no news of Ireland’s team to defend the Commodore’s Cup in three months time. Ireland won the biennial cup in dramatic style in Cowes under Captain Anthony O’Leary in 2014. The Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) has said previously it hoped to send two teams to the Solent in late July but a team announcement has yet to be made.

After winds blew out much of first races of the 2016 Sherry Fitzgerald Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) programme last week, the new season on the capital’s waters reveals a shift to faster, lighter fleets. The recent incorporation of Royal Alfred has given DBSC some extra heft and its 132nd season will now have room for three keelboat fleets over previous years’ two. This follows the committee’s decision to support a new Mixed Sportsboat class that joins the Dragons, Flying 15s, Squibs, SB20s (who previously raced on Sundays) and Mermaids in a new ‘green fleet’.

Also on Dublin Bay, a buoyant offshore fleet that attracted 20 boats for the first ISORA race to Wicklow ended with a familiar winner but only after a protest for redress (due to issues with the Wicklow finish line). Defending overall champion J109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan) from the National Yacht Club was declared IRC winner after a tricky 30-miler. The second ISORA race is next week’s 60-mile day race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead.

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