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Ireland qualifies for the 2016 Rio Olympics

Press Release from the Irish Sailing Association

Irish sailors have been competing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships where 50% of the places for the 2016 Rio Olympics are being awarded.

London 2012 Olympic veteran James Espey has today (13 September) become the first sailor to qualify Ireland for the 2016 Olympics. Espey began competing yesterday at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander, Spain where 50% of the Rio Olympic places are being awarded. Only two days into the six-day regatta and he has qualified for the Gold fleet in the Laser Standard class. With 22 nations being represented in the Gold fleet but a total of 23 nation places available Espey has now guaranteed Ireland a spot in Rio.

Today was an important day for the Irish Laser sailors competing at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander, Spain. James Espey, Annalise Murphy and Finn Lynch each had two fleet races to sail before the Gold, Silver and Bronze splits were decided for the remainder of the regatta.

The men’s Laser Standard Blue fleet had a general recall in Race 3 which delayed proceedings slightly. However a successful second attempt saw the 49 boats get a clear start over the line at 14.10. James Espey finished 33rd to sit comfortably in the top third of the 150 boat fleet in 38th. Finn Lynch finished 27th moving him up to 100th overall.

Race 4 got underway at 17.15 and Espey had another solid performance. His 15th saw him climb to 40th overall and within the top 49 which qualified him for the Gold fleet and as only 22 nations will be represented in the Gold fleet Espey has now guaranteed Ireland a spot in Rio.

“James is building momentum. He’s jumped the qualification hurdle and will now be focusing on getting a personal best” enthused ISA Performance Director James O’Callaghan.

Finn Lynch finished 29th, dropped one place to 101st and will now compete within the Bronze fleet.

Race 3 got underway at 13.35 CEST for Annalise Murphy and the Laser Radial Blue fleet, in light conditions. Yesterday Murphy struggled to get off the line, but today she had a great start and was free to make good tactical decisions. Drastically improving on her previous performance, Murphy finished 9th to jump up the leader board from 86th to 58th.

The female Laser competitors then had a long and frustrating wait on the water as they watched the wind completely die off. An attempt at a second race was made at 14.55 but abandoned 15 minutes later when the wind dropped to 2 knots. At 17.15 the breeze filled in to between 7-10 knots and Race 4 finally got underway. Murphy pulled in another top 10 result, finishing 7th to leap even further up the leader board to 41st overall and guaranteeing her the all-important place in the top 60 boat Gold fleet.

James O’Callaghan, the ISA’s Performance Director commented “Annalise showed her maturity today in blocking out a bad day yesterday and focussing on what was in her control. In light, tricky conditions she did what was needed to keep in the hunt for nation qualification“.

Racing continues for both Laser classes until the medal races on the 18th of September.