Murphy's success inspires single-handed yachting trend


SAILING ROUND-UP:NO SURPRISE that cut-backs are inevitable in sailing next season but few envisaged crew cuts until the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire announced a new wave of helmsmen planning to go it alone in 2010.

Annalise Murphy started the solo trend in the summer by becoming an under-21 world champion in a single-handed dinghy class. It is exciting form in the opening chapter of her solo run for London 2012.

Whether it provided impetus for the separate formation of a “short-handed yachting” group within the club this month is not known but the fact the National YC garnered 85 “expressions of interest” in solo sailing shows Irish sailors are looking for a new challenge in these recessionary times.

The Dún Laoghaire initiative gives a nod to those who harbour solo offshore ambition and it’s a warning to crews that next season they may be left on the dock.

Wins in Sail Brisbane and Sail Sydney confirmed Murphy was going to be in top form in the Women’s Laser Radial division of Australia’s top regatta, Sail Melbourne earlier this month.

Her fourth place Down Under confirmed the 19-year-old’s international summer form continues. She won the Under-21 Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in Japan in August.

Her latest results will push her up significantly from her current 40th place in the next world rankings published in February and advance her Olympic campaign for London 2012 since she took the decision to go full-time.

In July, she became the first Irish sailor to win a Europa Cup Laser event in 13 years. Murphy, the longest-standing member of the ISA youth academy, topped out a 76-boat Radial fleet in the Netherlands venue of Hoorn.

In Japan last August, in her first World Championship as a senior, she lifted the under-21 world title. That event will be remembered for the domination of Finland’s Sari Multala, but apart from the Finn’s unbeatable score line of five wins, one of the most notable achievements was the Irish sailor’s top 10.

She flies to Miami, Florida, next month for the second of the ISAF World Cup series which will run from January 24th, admittedly a step up from Melbourne but she proved herself at this level in August, finishing eighth at the 87-boat World Championship fleet in Japan, Ireland’s top women’s sailing result in a decade.

This single-handed theme has been enthusiastically embraced at the National YC where 35 sailors attended an inaugural meeting on December 16th and set an agenda for short handed yacht racing in Ireland in 2010.

The meeting heard from Paul Ó Riain about his participation in the French La Solitaire du Figaro event in 2007. It was followed by a slide show presentation given by Barry Hurley about his success in the Ostar 2009 (Original Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race).

The meeting also heard from Cian McCarthy, Michael Boyd and Mick Liddy, who outlined experiences of Class Mini, Class Forty, Open 40, short-handed IRC handicap racing and record attempts.

An objective for next season will be the establishment of a series to find the Irish short-handed yacht racing champion. A new association was formed to promote this section of the sport. Olivier Prouveur, the National’s sailing manager, was voted in as president, Liddy as vice president, McCarthy South Coast contact, Hurley UK Liaison and Ó Riain as public relations officer.

Meanshile, capt Simon Coate has been appointed Dún Laoghaire Harbour Master by the Harbour Company. He succeeds Capt Jim Carter, who has retired after 34 years.