Following controversy earlier this year when little more than a week was provided for potential skippers for this year’s Women’s Match Racing World Championships, trials held at Howth Yacht Club last weekend have resulted in two nominations for the event at Royal Cork YC in the first week of June.
Just one entry had been received until the board of the Irish Sailing Association directed a trials series be held after a longer notice period.
Three crews emerged to compete for the place though the original skipper leading a West Cork entry pulled out because of a job opportunity in Britain.
In a further twist, an overseas team pulled out of the main event leading to organisers offering a second place to the host nation.
With three teams contesting two places, last weekend's event off Ireland's Eye became an elimination series to decide Ireland's representation. Two round robins were sailed, with local skippers Mary O'Loughlin, Laura Dillon and Diana Kissane competing on ISA Sailfleet J80s with race management support from Dublin Bay Sailing Club.
While Dillon won the series, O’Loughlin won two of the three final matches against Dillon though both skippers had secured their places subject to ratification.
O'Loughlin's crew comprised Karena Knaggs, Lynn Reilly and Niamh McDonald, while Dillon sailed with Maria Coleman, Carol O'Kelly and Breffni Jones.
Meanwhile, Howth will again be the venue for a much larger competition next week when the Fingal club hosts the annual youth national championships, officially know as the “Youth Pathway Championship” as it forms a critical stage of development for future Olympians.
A handful of double-handed 420 sailors will be competing in an otherwise single-handed affair in Topper, Laser 4.7 and Radial as well as younger Optimist sailors.
Almost 150 boats are entered so far .
Former competitor Finn Lynch won't be taking part. The Carlow-born 17 year old, who now competes for the National YC, qualified to sail in the Laser Standard rig at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander in September when he placed 10th at the Split Olympic week last weekend.
Lynch will be competing in the same fleet as London 2012 Olympian James Espey on the road to qualification for Rio 2016. His performance trajectory resembles that of Annalise Murphy, who is looking to next week's Hyeres Olympic Week in France to kick-start her season after a disappointing showing in Palma last month when she failed to qualify for the Gold fleet.
Lynch won’t be at Hyeres either. His focus has switched to the Leaving Cert before dedicating his training for the world championships.
Following a comment in this column recently that many former Olympians drop out of the sport, an analysis by coach Rory Fitzpatrick has shown that at least 96 per cent of 45 academy members since 2007 have remained involved in sailing in some form.
According to the study, 16 per cent of former academy sailors are either sailing or coaching on a full-time basis while a further third are involved in coaching in Ireland.
In terms of classes now sailed, team-racing is the most popular (25 per cent), while Laser classes (22 per cent) indicate continuity from Olympic level, foiling Moths and keelboats (16 per cent) and RS400 (12 per cent) are also popular.
Programme manager James O’Callaghan admits the retention of sailors after elite campaigns actually occurs in spite of there being no structured route back to the mainstream sport.