Olympic heroics give Murphy award of sailor of the year

Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 00:00

SAILING:It was Ireland’s best Olympic sailing result in any class for more than 30 years, and it more than earned Annalise Murphy the honour of being named Afloat magazine’s Sailor of the Year for 2012 today.

Her stirring performance at the London Olympics, securing fourth place in the Laser Radial at Weymouth, capped off what was a remarkable year for the young sailor, who topped a shortlist that featured fellow Olympic challengers Peter O’Leary and David Burrows, and such promising talents as Sophie Browne, Finn Lynch and Fionn Lyden.

She was heartbroken at narrowly missing out on Olympic bronze. The then 22-year-old, who sails for the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, last August battled to be top of the women’s Laser Radial class.

At 6ft 1in, the woman they call “The Irish Lever” was the tallest in her 41-boat fleet in London, and some British yachting pundits put her early regatta wins down to her frame.

But Murphy – who headed to the Olympics with confidence after a podium finish at the Skandia Sail, and a medal at Weymouth the previous year – proved her success was no fluke, holding the gold medal position for almost half the regatta and entering the last race in third place overall. Facing unbelievable pressure in the final stages, in tricky conditions that would spread wide the times of most club racers, it’s to Murphy’s estimable credit she kept so tight with the front-runners. It was only in the last few seconds she was knocked out of the bronze position.

The NYC sailor and UCD student starts on her Road to Rio this year aiming to clinch a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.

In spite of losing out on a podium finish at the ISAF World Cup in Miami earlier this month, the fact she came so close proves she can stand proudly with the elite in her class. She’ll have another chance to prove herself in the next round of the ISAF World Cup in Palma de Mallorca.

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