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Resilient Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove Miss 49er Medal Race But End Tokyo 2020 on a Race Win High

31st July 2021
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove signed off their Olympic regatta debut in style
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove signed off their Olympic regatta debut in style. A final Race 12 saw them take the win – perfectly bookending their Tokyo journey with a win at the start and a win at the end Credit: Sailing Energy

Ireland's 49er team, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove signed off their Olympic regatta in style, winning the final race of the qualifying series, but missing out on medal race qualification by 8 points.

Their day started well with a 3rd place in race 1, but came unstuck in the second race when a 17th place put paid to their chances of medal race qualification. As this resilient pair have shown, the way to combat disappointment is by working harder, sailing faster and sailing smarter, which they did to great effect, winning in a 10-knot southerly breeze by the relatively comfortable (in 49er terms) margin of 24 seconds.

NZL, GBR and ESP occupy the podium slots going into Monday's medal race. With only four points separating the top three, the stage is set for an epic contest.

The Irish had their disqualification case (from two races due to an overweight harness) reopened overnight but 'the decision of the original hearing stands'. The findings are downloadable below as a pdf file.

What might have been? The numbers suggest that if the Irish boat had not been disqualified in two races, they would have entered the medal race in 8th position. This would have been too far back to medal, some 26 points behind 3rd place, with a maximum gain of 18 points available.

Dickson and Waddilove will now be installed as one of the favourites for the 2024 Olympics, to be sailed in Marseille in just three years time. The lessons learnt here will stand to them, as will their speed and tactical nous.

Speaking afterwards, Dickson said: "I'm pretty proud of the way we sailed, it's really good to finish on a high with the last race, and pretty amazing that we got two race wins. We've learned a lot from these games and we're going to bring that forward to (Paris) 2024."

Waddilove added: "Overall, it was a very positive experience and we've learnt plenty from this Olympic experience that we can bring forward. My biggest takeaway from this week is that we were very much capable of competing against these guys that have done multiple Olympics and have medals and medals under their belts and there's no reason why we can't get to 2024 and be medal contenders."

Results and overall standings are here

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Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove, Tokyo Olympic 49er Sailors 

Dublin dinghy sailors Robert Dickson of Howth Yacht Club and Sean Waddilove of Skerries Sailing Club achieved their goal of representing Ireland in the 49er class, almost six years to the day after first setting foot in a 49er skiff at their home club of Howth Yacht Club in County Dublin in 2015.

The voyage was a magnificent one becoming U23 World champions in 2018 before out sailing rivals double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in some style for selection in Lanzarote in March 2021 to win the last European Olympic place for Tokyo.

Follow their progress here.

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