Mixed fortunes in Auckland but Olympic hopes remain alive for Irish sailors

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Ryan Seaton

In a day of mixed fortunes for the Irish boats competing at the 49er World Championships in Auckland, Olympic qualification hopes remain alive but with a major task falling on young shoulders.

Double Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme with Crosshaven sailor Séafra Guilfoyle failed to make the Gold fleet cut-off after they ended the qualifying series in a three-way tie for 25th place and lost out in the tie-break.

But Howth’s Robert Dickson with crew Sean Waddilove from Skerries had a better day, finishing in 20th overall and will now begin the finals series leading up to a medal race on Sunday.

Going into the championship, the Dublin pair had a goal of top 40 for only their third appearance in a senior level world championship so achieving a top ten final place might be too ambitious.

But four nation places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics are set to be decided this week, a prize valued by many crews of equal standing to a podium result.

With the Gold fleet decided, the final round resets the competition although not the scoreboard as the best crews from all three qualification round flights merge for what is certain to be a new level of intensity.

Dickson and Waddilove had a race win and a third place in the nine-race qualifying series but several deeper results as well so achieving consistency and closing the gap on an Olympic qualification will be major task.

For Seaton and Guilfoyle, the pair continue in the Silver fleet but given the Olympic veteran’s experience, deep disappointment will be felt that their potential from earlier in the week didn’t hold under pressure.

Although they started Thursday’s racing with a sixth place, two 18th places followed with the last race result arising from a penalty turn that saw the pair slip out of the top ten leading group.

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