Howth Yacht Club’s Robert Dickson and crew Sean Waddilove qualify Ireland for Paris 2024 Olympics
18 November 2023
Howth Yacht Club is delighted to announce that member Robert Dickson and his sailing crew Sean Waddilove (Skerries SC) have qualified Ireland’s place for the Paris 2024 Olympics in the 49er class. The duo achieved this feat by finishing fourth overall in the 49er European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal, from November 8 to 13, 2023.
Dickson and Waddilove were among the two Irish crews who competed in the event, along with Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan. The event was the last chance for the unqualified nations to secure one of the three remaining spots for the Olympics in the Men’s Skiff event.
The Irish sailors faced tough competition from 64 other teams, including the reigning Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from New Zealand, and the current world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell from Great Britain.
Robert and Sean had a promising start in their bid to clinch Olympic qualification, as they finished third in their opening race in light and tricky conditions. They continued to perform consistently throughout the week, scoring six top-ten finishes in the 15 races.
The final day of the event was a nervous affair, as the Irish pair had to fend off the challenge from the other unqualified nations, notably Italy, Belgium, and Sweden. They managed to hold their nerve and secure the fourth place overall, ahead of all the other contenders.
The final day’s Medal Race would have been a nailbiting showdown for the only available Olympic spot, with Italians Simone Ferrarese and Leonardo Chistè desperate to close the 3 point gap on their Irish rivals. Having finished day one in 46th place, the Italians got better by the day and could have posed a serious threat to Robert and Sean. When the racing was cancelled, the Irish burst into celebration and when they came ashore the welcoming party was dressed in green, including Robert’s parents Ian and Susan. “We’re just over the moon,” said Rob as he clinked champagne glasses with teammate Sean. “It’s a massive relief to win our place at the Games.”
“It’s a dream come true for us. We’ve been working hard for this for the past five years, and it’s amazing to see it pay off. We want to thank our coaches Matt McGovern and Sean Evans, our families, our friends, our sponsors, and everyone who supported us along the way. We also want to congratulate Seafra and Johnny for their great performance. They pushed us hard and made us better sailors. We’re proud to be part of the Irish sailing team, and we can’t wait to fly the flag in Paris”.
Howth Yacht Club is immensely proud of Robert and his team mate Sean, and congratulates them on their remarkable achievement. The club would also like to praise their coaches Matt McGovern and Sean Evans for their support. Thanks also to Irish Sailing, Sport Ireland, the Irish Institute of Sport, and the Irish Sailing Foundation for their funding and guidance.
We wish Robert and Sean all the best for their preparation and participation in the Paris 2024 Olympics, and hopes that they will be nominated to compete by Irish Sailing and that they might bring home a medal for Ireland. This will be their second Olympic Games and an opportunity to build on their experience and previous performance (13th) which included a race win in the final race in Tokyo 2020.