Murphy aims for a final wind in her sails
SAILING LASER RADIAL:IT ALL boils down to plain old maths. Annalise Murphy’s medal hopes have, in theory, a 75 per cent probability of success in today’s Laser Radial class medal race final.
Three podium places, four sailors capable of delivering the required performance; four into three doesn’t go: one of the four is going to be hugely disappointed this afternoon.
The situation comes after 41 sailors sailed a 10-race series since last Monday with the top 10 boats going forward into the final.
The fleet series saw Murphy win the opening four races that wowed the entire Olympic sailing family in Weymouth. She loves the windy conditions went the theory, though Irish team management scoffed at this, as it hasn’t been especially breezy.
Her form slipped a bit last Wednesday but after a rest day, she dropped from the overall lead by one point as Belgian world number one Evi Van Acker took over first place on Friday afternoon.
But the Irish sailor bounced back again on Saturday’s penultimate fleet race, scoring second to China’s Lijia Xu. Murphy was back in the overall lead again until the end of race 10, in which Xu placed second and the National Yacht Club’s star finished seventh.
On actual points, Xu was tied for the lead with the Netherlands’ Marit Boumeester, the current world champion, who won the final race. One point behind this pair, Murphy and Van Acker are tied, with Murphy listed third after the tie-break.
But tie-breaks are about to become inconsequential as the medal race counts for double-points – a win gets two points so, in straight-forward terms, whichever of the four comes first will win the gold.
And whoever is last of the four loses a medal. The silver and bronze also depend on the finishing order of the other two sailors.
The importance of the finishing-order leads to another quirk of the sailing final in that actually winning the race doesn’t matter. Of course, all four leaders plus the other six will be aiming to do exactly that which should result in a very clean final, a straight battle for the lead rather than a match-race between two boats.
The other six boats will also be aiming for a race win to finish off their campaign on a high-note but such is the points spread, the podium is only open to the top four.
That’s not to suggest the Olympic spirit has been absent from this regatta. Minutes before the start sequence began for Saturday’s end, two of the smaller nations’ sailors were busy congratulating one another on realising their shared dream of competing in the Olympic Games while just a few boat-lengths away, the leaders were quietly starting their pre-race focus techniques.