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More Olympic berths claimed

18th April 1996
More Olympic berths claimed By DAVID O'BRIEN DOUBLE win for women's 470 dinghy pairing Denise Lyttle and Louise Cole yesterday at the qualification regatta in Murcia, Spain, signalled what will be the biggest ever Irish Olympic sailing team as the ISA look set to seek places for six and possibly seven boats at Savannah. "Their performance was brilliant they are the talk of the dinghy park" said 1984 and 1988 Olympican Bill O'Hara who witnessed the Dun Laoghaire women in the 30 knot breezes. Lyttle and Cole struggled to a 13th placing in race seven in their 17 boat fleet but bounced back yesterday, revelling in the heavy air to produce two wins and secure qualification for the Olympics in 11th place overall.
Aisling Bowman, too, has come through successfully in the Europe class. She was experiencing a nightmare regatta but was also aided by the gale force winds, finishing in 16th place overall. Although disappointed by her low placing she scored fourth overall in the 1994 world championships she is nevertheless relieved to have qualified in the 26 boat fleet. Bowman, of the National YC, pointed to slow boat speed for her low position and to her credit she was using the Vanessa Olympic hull while most of her competitors reverted to their familiar Winner boats for the series. John Driscoll, in the Finn class, completed the hat trick of Irish qualifications at Murcia. After a shaky start that included a last place in the third race, he recovered to take a second yesterday and finish 15th overall in the 24 strong fleet. Mark Mansfield and David Burrows claimed their place in Savannah in impressive style in the Star keelboat class on Lake Garda last week, which included winning a race, as did the three man Soling team of Marshall King, Dan O'Grady and Garrett Connolly in San Remo. Singlehander Mark Lyttle whose selection was ratified by the OCI in February, was the only sailor not forced to have to sail an IYRU qualification series. A seventh Olympic place still remains available for Ireland in the qualification regatta at Hyeres, France, this weekend. Fireball world champion John Lavery and Ben O'Donoghue will test their mettle against the might of the world's toughest fleet in the 470 dinghy after only two weeks on the circuit.
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