Cork Harbor Dinghy sailors announce 49er Olympic campaign for Paris 2024
Tokyo 2020 stars Robert Dickson and Sean Widdlove of Howth suddenly competed with news of a rival campaign from Cork Harbor for Paris 2024 in the men’s 49er single scull dinghy.
The two young members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and the UCC Sailing Club, and alumni of Presentation Brothers College, Séafra Guilfoyle (25) and Johnny Durcan (21) have already started a rigorous training program with the team. Ireland for the Olympic qualifiers, which begin in August 2023.
Séafra Guilfoyle, from Myrtleville, will be at the helm, at the helm of 2-place. The UCC economics student has recent experience competing for a spot at Tokyo 2020 with two-time Olympian Ryan Seaton from Belfast Lough where they missed out on qualifying. It is his dream to represent Ireland at the Olympics and Seafra says he is “determined to reach Paris 2024”.
Séafra and Johnny started sailing at the age of 7 and 8 respectively and were very successful at the youth level. Séafra represented Ireland each year from the age of 12 to 18, winning several national championships and medalists at the world championships and taking silver at the youth world championships in 2014.
Johnny represented Ireland on the international stage from the age of 11. He was ranked first in Optimist sailing at the age of 13, national laser champion at 14, European junior 29er champion at 15 and winner of the European and Irish championships. at 16 years old.
Séafra says he is proud to partner with Johnny as he is not only a fantastic athlete but an “inspiration”, following his near-death experience when his boat capsized at the 29er World Championship in Long Beach , California, in 2017. It was only the swift action of his fellow competitors that saved his life. “Johnny was as comfortable sailing as he was walking. He was one of the favorites for the Laser Radial Worlds that year. It took him a while to get back on the water after that, but not only did he get back on his feet, he excelled and came back to the top of his game and is now set to embark on an Olympic campaign.
Their rigorous training program demonstrates this commitment. Séafra and Johnny have been training together almost seven days a week since May 2021, mainly in Dublin with the Irish squad, their coach and coaches, and back at Royal Cork.
Guilfoyle Durcan Sailing, as it’s now known, will be competing in her first competitive race this winter when she heads to Oman for the world championships.
They believe their competitive edge at the Olympics will be their youth, their long-standing friendship having climbed the ranks of sailing together, their geographic proximity to each other, Johnny’s training experience with Annalize Murphy and the fact that Seafra already has four and a half years of experience leading an Olympic campaign behind him.
“The fact that we live so close to each other when we’re both at home makes it easier to train outside of the official Irish squad training schedule,” explains Johnny. “We are both young and at the top of our game, and Seafra brings a lot of experience and learning from his last campaign.”
Colin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, said: “We are incredibly proud of these two talented and ambitious athletes, who are one of the youngest Irish senior teams to compete for the 49er Olympics.