Sailing: O’Leary’s Star quality to boost Irish Commodores’ Cup hopes
IRELAND’S squad at the Commodores’ Cup have an added bonus this week as Peter O’Leary joins his father Anthony on board Antix – fresh from the Sail for Gold Regatta where the London 2012 sailing event will be held – with a gold medal around his neck.
The Star class sailor held his nerve after a setback on Friday when his crewman Frithjof Kleen fell overboard yards from the finishing-line but recovered to save a place on the podium. The pair went on to compete in Saturday’s medal race in the Star, matched in the Irish squad only by Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial and match-raced double-Olympic medallist Freddie Loof for the Gold.
But Loof strayed the wrong side of the tricky course sailed off Weymouth and O’Leary and Kleen took third place, a conservative but sufficient result to deliver the top podium place. Five-time Olympic gold medallists Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt were first and second in that race respectively but had to be content with an overall top-10 finish outside the medals.
The result features strongly in the build-up to qualification for the London 2012 Games and, despite not being a global or continental championship, it was the final event in the newly formed ISAF Sailing World Cup for Olympic classes that attracted 989 boats for the week-long event.
“All the main guys were there, though at a Worlds or Europeans you’re going to have 80 or 100 boats so the gains or losses are a lot bigger and it’s not as tactical,” said O’Leary. “But Sail for Gold with the small fleet of 30 was like a warm-up for an Olympics at the venue so it was a real plus for us to perform at that venue with all or most of the good guys there.”
Meanwhile, Ireland’s hopes for a first win at the Commodores’ Cup were boosted as the single threeboat team for the event convincingly won both races off Cowes yesterday.
Five nations have fielded 10 squads for the week-long series that is dominated by the high-scoring offshore courses that begin tomorrow. Along with yesterday’s races, two inshore events will be held today with expectations of good wind that will especially suit the Irish team of Anthony O’Leary’s Antix, Dave Dwyer’s marinerscove.ie and Rob Davies Roxy 6.