Annalise Murphy crowned champion of Europe
Club-mate Finn Lynch becomes under-21 champion
Ireland’s Annalise Murphy is escorted by a flotilla of supporters on winning the Laser European Championships at Dun Laoghaire. Photograph: Eric Luke.
A day of tension ended with scenes of jubilation at the National Yacht Club (NYC) yesterday as Annalise Murphy became the new European Champion in the Laser Radial class.
A week of near perfect results for the Olympic veteran ended with victory in the 12th and final race, her eighth win of the week, that led her to dominate her 90-boat event that started racing last Sunday.
In fact it was a double celebration for the NYC as club-mate Finn Lynch was also on top of his game for the men’s event, also in the Radial-rigged Laser.
The day started earlier than normal as an extra race had to be included to make up for the race missed on Thursday due to light winds. Earlier that day, Murphy had her only shocker of the series when 27th after a poor start and then being becalmed after recovering ground.
That result meant she started yesterday watching two other sailors carefully: London 2012 silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands and Britain’s Alison Young.
The Irish sailor stayed ahead of both in the opening race of the day to finish second. And while extending her lead slightly, the tension started to mount: would the Dutch sailor attempt to sail Murphy down the fleet to force her to count her 27th place in a complex but risky tactical calculation.
In the end, the second race saw Murphy drop to 20th place but she pulled up the fleet again to place third, again ahead of the two key rivals – while Bouwmeester opted to cover Young to protect her silver medal position.
The third and final race was still crucial to Murphy though any place in the top 20 would have secured the title. In the end however, she was in superb form and cruised the course as if on a tour de force of Dublin Bay.
“The last race was pretty perfect, I really enjoyed it. I was pretty serene going round and I’m just delighted,” she said on reaching shore. “It’s really special, it’s my home club here. My mum and dad are here, my sister . . . it’s awesome.”
So after the London 2012 final in which she missed a podium place to finish in fourth, “the worst possible place, at the Olympics”, has this result finally delivered closure?
“Yes, well it’s helped anyway,” she said. “I’m off to China in two weeks’ time for the world championships so I’m looking forward to that.”
Surrounded by fellow Laser sailors who carried her atop her boat from the water in the traditional class honour for the winner, the new champion was greeted ashore by her mother Cathy MacAleavey who is herself a 1988 Olympian.
She hadn’t been able to see Murphy’s final races as she was a volunteer on the committee boat for the standard fleet. The Twitter feed stopped when she was at 20th in the second last race leading to frantic texts for updates until word came back that she had recovered her ground to second place.
Murphy will take a break from the Laser for the coming week, preferring to relax by doing some more sailing though on her Moth – a foiling-type dinghy that rides above the waves and is a possible boat for the 2020 Olympics.
Meanwhile, Murphy’s club-mate Lynch was celebrating a 3-2-1 result after his week in the men’s Laser Radial that saw him gradually rise through the leader board.
This event also counts as the world championship which was won by Australia’s Tristan Brown who topped the 90-boat class.
Second overall in the class was Poland’s Marcin Rudawski who became the European champion; third was Lynch who becomes the under-21 champion and runner-up medallist in both of the other events.
The third event in the 304 boat series was the Laser Standard rig championship that had an entry of 124 men including Robert Scheidt, the five-time Olympic medallist who made the Dún Laoghaire event his comeback after a seven-year absence while sailing Star keelboats.
He began the series in fifth overall and steadily worked upwards from there until he looked set to dominate. Britain’s Nick Thompson looked set to take the event until he had a poor final day.
That saw Scheidt place second and seventh yesterday to finish just two points shy of first place which was taken by Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic who would have become the new European champion even if the Brazilian had beaten him.