Murphy whips up another storm


Sailing: Annalise Murphy remains untouchable in the women’s Laser Radial class at Weymouth, the Irish sailor winning her latest two races of the regatta to maintain her 100 per cent record in her debut Olympic Games. Remarkably, Murphy has led all but one of her four races from start to finish, completely dominating her rivals.

With a freshening breeze in excess of 16 knots, Murphy again showed she relishes the tough conditions with the rest of the fleet simply unable to live with her amazing boat speed. The starts were again key to her success as she built up a healthy advantage by the first mark in both today’s races that she was never going to relinquish.

Her performances at Weymouth, where she has based herself in preparation for these Games, mark her out as the sailor to beat across all classes, with no other competitor dominating to the extent the Dubliner has.

“I definitely enjoy it when it is windy,” Murphy, who holds an eight point lead over the Belgian boat, told RTE afterwards. “It’s a condition I love, I guess, but I’m kind of prepared for whatever I get. Yeah, I’ve enjoyed the last two days racing.

Murphy is remaining cautious, despite her form, and insists “all it takes is one race to change” the standings dramatically.

“I’m just going to take it one race at a time. I’ve six fleet races left and a medal race, so anything can happen, but I’m just trying to keep my head out of the sky and stay focused.”

In today’s third race, of the 41-strong fleet only Britain’s Alison Young was able to exert a slight hint of pressure but by that stage the result was already beyond doubt. Young did manage to trim Murphy’s lead but the Dubliner still won by eight seconds.

And it was a similar situation after a short break in the fourth race of the series, Murphy again taking advantage of the clear seas and clean air to stretch the field with Young consigned to second place, 30 seconds behind Murphy.

In terms of the overall standings, Murphy now holds a commanding lead of 12 points over Evi Van Ecker.

Ahead lie six more races before the top ten boats in her 41-strong event qualify for the medal race next Monday. That decider will be short and because it counts for double-points, nasty for some. The aim before then will be to maximise points, something she is doing to devastating effect at the moment.

Each race will follow a familiar routine – process ­ position well for the start, not over the line early but not caught out in a bunch of boats that means risking getting dirty or disturbed airflow that will slow the boat.

The start and the first “beat”, zig-zagging against the wind and up the course to mark one is critical: win this and get some control over the pursuing boats. Delivering this means watching the course carefully to spot any wind-shifts that affect positions.

After turning past the mark, defending the lead still needs attention to the breeze as well as the other boats. Balancing the tactical demands of each one-hour race while also controlling the boat and sails is the challenge but easily within her grasp, especially when the wind is up. And the weather-forecast for the coming days? More of the same, it seems.

In the men’s 49er, meanwhile, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGoverncould only manage 15th place in their third race but improved to second in the fourth, a result that leaves them in sixth place overall. Peter O’Leary and David Burrowsare in sixth place overall after five races while James Espeyremains down near the bottom of the field in the men’s Star.

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