Ireland’s hopes of delivering medals at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo have received a boost with the official opening of the Irish Sailing High Performance Headquarters in Dún Laoghaire.
The first-ever base for the senior Irish sailing team is based on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.
The facility was constructed at a cost of €300,000 (£256,000/$339,000) and funded entirely by the Irish Sailing Foundation.
A group of 13 sailors from throughout Ireland will be based there, including Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, her new 49erFX sailing partner, Katie Tingle, from Cork, and six other World Championship medallists.
The Performance Headquarters are entirely mobile, consisting of three converted shipping units with space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area.
The athlete briefing room can be shipped directly to international competitions, including Tokyo 2020, and will provide a base for Ireland’s sailing athletes overseas.
Outside, there will be a boat park and a pontoon for launching the boats.
"Having this new base is fantastic," Murphy said.
"For the first time we have a home, somewhere we know we can train, share experiences and focus as a group on how we can make our sailing performances better.
"It will be a huge support to our campaigns at international events this year as we look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
"We’ve got a saying, 'leave home stronger', which is there to remind us that we’ve got a home to come back to where we can recover, gain strength and prepare for the next campaign.
"That’s what the new HQ gives us - it means we don’t need to rely on the nomadic overseas campaigns of the past."
It is claimed the Performance Headquarters will improve both training and educational opportunities for the sailors.
They have been instituted with the specific aim of maximising Ireland’s medal potential in international competitions and qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s performance head coach, believes that it represents a massive step forward on the journey to medal-winning success.
"We will finally have a place we can call 'home' and for that reason alone the impact of the new Irish Sailing Performance HQ cannot be underestimated," he said.
"The environment created will allow for consistent coaching, a base for equipment and our own direct access to the water, which all adds up to giving our athletes the best opportunities to reach their maximum medal-winning potential in the long-term.
"This is a major milestone for Irish performance sailing.
"The new HQ clearly demonstrates the positive impact philanthropy can have on a sport like sailing.
"We are delighted that private individuals believe in our vision of delivering consistent medal success for Ireland on the world stage."
The Performance Headquarters were officially opened by Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Ireland's Minister of State for Higher Education.
"I have no doubt that with this terrific new facility, Irish sailors will be stronger as a squad and be better positioned than ever before to mount successful campaigns at international events in 2019 and beyond, including at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games," she said.
"I would like to wish the senior squad the best of luck and look forward to them building on the incredible international success they have experienced up to now."
Irish Sailing chief executive Harry Hermon added: "The creation of the Performance HQ is great news - there is no doubt that we’re at the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Irish Sailing, delivering on the medal-winning potential that the facility will help shape and focus.
"Clearly, however, this new home for the performance team would not have been possible without the generosity and far-sightedness of those who, through the Irish Sailing Foundation, funded the project.
"Competitive sailing requires incredible dedication and sacrifice from the athletes, their families and supporters, and Irish Sailing and its chances of success on a global stage rely on the vision and philanthropy of a group of individuals to whom we are extremely grateful."
Joining Murphy and Tingle in being based at the Performance Headquarters will be the 49er skiff pairings of Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, and training partners Sean and Tadgh Donnelly.
Laser radial will be represented by Aoife Hopkins and training partner Aisling Keller, while the laser standard trio will be Liam Glynn, Finn Lynch and training partner Ewan McMahon.