Steady as she goes for Annalise Murphy as she retains overall lead

Irishwoman takes 17-point advantage into final day of Women’s Laser Radial event

Annalise Murphy in action off Dun Laoghaire yesterday in the Laser European Championships. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Annalise Murphy in action off Dun Laoghaire yesterday in the Laser European Championships. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 01:00


Today’s final three races in the Laser Europeans will be a matter of “steady as she goes” for Annalise Murphy who retains her overall lead in the Women’s Laser Radial event.

A healthy 17-point lead suggests the day will be hers, though bitter experience dictates the strategy of one race at a time will remain in force.

For Murphy, the title would be a boost, but her stated goal is to improve on her previous best at this event, a seventh place.

Yet the intensity of a full-time campaign means more complex ambitions than the neat title of “champion”.

It’s also about how the result is delivered.

Her run of seven race wins this week in generally moderate to fresh conditions came to an abrupt end yesterday when she placed 27th in her Gold fleet of 45-boats.

Poor start
Kicking herself for a poor start, a regular item for improvement, she characteristically worked her way back up the fleet despite the failing light breeze.

By the final leg, she had clawed back 15 places and was heading for a possible 10th place finish.

Poor start, good recovery; acceptable result. Next race.

But it didn’t quite work out like that.

The dying breeze left her becalmed within sight of the finish and she was passed by 15 boats carrying new breeze, so it was back down the ranks to 27th.

With nine races sailed, she had previously used the event discard to drop her previous worst place: a second place. In one of sailing’s twists, she was then able to drop the 27th and use the second place in her overall score.

Having started the day with a healthy lead, she managed to extend it further after some of her key rivals had mixed results.

The second race of the day was then abandoned due to lack of wind and so today’s finals will begin earlier than normal, with the 10th race this morning followed by the two scheduled races 11 and 12.

A slightly improved forecast suggests more reliable breeze, so the full programme is likely.

Her chances of overall victory then become a fluid tactical affair.

Comfort margin
With 17 points comfort margin and a 10th race completed, the series then allows another discard, though the worst result to be dropped can only come from the Gold fleet finals series; that is, races seven onwards. So another cushion of sorts is available, if needed.

The first race is certain to be sailed as a standard fleet race with the main contenders seeking their best result to maximise points. After that, it starts to become a mathematician’s game as the leaders may need to cover each other.

By the final race, three scenarios are possible: a clear outright favourite, a match-race between the last two closely matched leaders, or just a plain fleet race with the top boats seeking to protect a podium place or a good overall result.

Murphy will be watching several key boats. Correction, they’ll be watching each other as the last races progress.

Her chief rival is Marit Bouwmeester, who won Silver at London 2012, currently second overall in Dún Laoghaire this week. In turn, the Dutch sailor has Britian’s Alison Young, who missed a podium result in Weymouth to place fifth behind Murphy and is just three points behind in third overall.

Belgium’s Evi Van Acker who took Bronze at Weymouth is fourth and trails Young by 10 points.