herald

Thursday 12 December 2019

German sailors get Audis ... ours get Mr Tayto signs

IN Germany, the sailors get Audi TTs, in Ireland they get Mr Tayto signs.

While Olympian Annalise Murphy (22) might have the country gripped with her efforts in London, it's fair from plain sailing for our medal hopefuls.

It is now hoped that her success will bring more sponsors on board.

Second generation Olympian Annalise faces into a tough day today along with her fellow Irish sailors in the Laser, 49ers, the 470 and Star classes.

And the high-profile status of the sport at London 2012 will put some extra wind in their sails.

The expensive sport has traditionally attracted minimal interest in terms of corporate sponsorship in Ireland.

Annalise previously has joked that while the German sailors get an Audi TT each, she gets to carry around a Mr Tayto sign in return for a very welcome €5,000.

But this year Irish oil giant Providence tacked on generous support for the sailing association, in addition to some individual sponsors.



Vital

And the winds could be changing even more following an impressive performance in Weymouth.

Performance director of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) James O'Callaghan said that the grants from the Irish Sports Council have been vital for the success of the sport -- but headline sponsors would be most welcome.

"Most Olympic sports are under the shadow of the big games like rugby, football and GAA. We have our moment in the sun once every four years," he told the Herald.

"There is focus on the boxers because they delivered the medals.

"The results that Annalise has had so far show how our teams are able to compete on an international level.

"I think it's a good package for any sponsor. They are a really young team with Annalise, the 49ers and then we got a medal in the Youth Worlds in July for the first time in 16 years.

"Providence came on board earlier this year and Annalise has her own personal sponsor, but that is not a team sponsor. We've been very lucky - we've been well supported by the Irish Sports Council so we can build on that platform, that foundation and push on from that."

Mr O'Callaghan said that the sailors are in an exciting position going into the remaining races - which will go on until August 9.

But he urged caution in terms of piling the pressure of expectation on Annalise and the other sailors to perform.

"This is only the half-way point," he said.

"There is a long way to go. It looks like it will be good, but you don't want to jinx it. We will be fighting right to the end."

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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