Wednesday 20 September 2017

Time to plan for Rio as London medal quest comes up dry

WM Nixon

The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

Most of us would probably have thought this was an item of pseudo philosophy which has never to nearer the sands of the desert than the beach at Tramore.

But it will do for now to get the feeling of picking up the pieces and trying to focus on other things as we accept that the 2012 Sailing Olympics will not provide any sort of medal for Ireland.

It's harsh for the competitors, and agonising for their fans. The dynamic between athletes and supporters has never been stronger, and with the event being held a stone's throw away in Weymouth, all involved could give it their best shot.

Naturally we are now looking towards Rio. But the reality is that this year was the golden opportunity in which resources could be maximised instead of being drained by the costs of campaigning on the other side of the world.

Those who would put the brightest spin on the results will tell us that the four years to Rio can be usefully employed in building on what were, by many standards, a solid set of results. Certainly there are countries much better resourced than Ireland who have had nowhere near the same placings this year.

But how long can we hope to be building on good placings, instead of celebrating a medal or two?

At the personal level, four years is a very long time for the dedication required of Olympic hopefuls.

Four long years, and out of a global population of billions, only three in each class get a medal at the end of it. You'd wonder about it. But then the athletes themselves reassert the Olympic spirit and the show goes on.

In the throes of the Olympics, the naming of the new Irish Independent/ 'Sailor of the Month' took a back seat at the end of July, but to no-one's surprise, it's 16-year-old Finn Lynch, who took the Silver Medal in the Youth Worlds in Dublin Bay.

He's from Bennekerry in north County Carlow.

It's not exactly known as a sailing venue, but he started racing Toppers at the age of eight at Blessington just up the road, where his brothers Ben and Rory learned their sailing before him, while their father Aidan -- a Dub who got the sailing bug in Australia -- stood his watch as Honorary Treasurer of the hospitable Blessington Sailing Club.

Young Finn was into Laser sailing by his teens and his skills were further sharpened by shifting sailing focus to the National YC in Dun Laoghaire. Now, with a clear three years of international youth sailing eligibility ahead of him, he has the time to build on a formidable talent.

And there's no escaping the fact that at the end of his junior years, the countdown to Rio will be getting up a head of steam.

Far, indeed, from the frenetic Olympics is the stately progress of the Tall Ships and their arrival in Dublin in 12 days time will lift the mood of the sailing community.

The traditional craft of the Old Gaffers Association will signal the start of the festival with a weekend gathering of ancient boats at Poolbeg Y&BC on the weekend of August 18.

Meanwhile, the renowned Ringsend boat designer and builder John B Kearney is being celebrated this week in Skerries with Mermaid Week -- Skipper Kearney designed the popular 17-foot Mermaids 80 years ago.

Irish Independent

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