Annalise Murphy struggles in Santander

Royal Ulster’s Espey (30) on target for early qualification for Rio

James Espey of Ireland lies 26th on the Bay of Biscay.  Photograph: Getty Images

James Espey of Ireland lies 26th on the Bay of Biscay. Photograph: Getty Images

 

In a tale of two halves the Irish Olympic sailing team got off to both a good and bad start on the Basque coast yesterday with Belfast’s James Espey posting a top result in demanding light airs that left Dubliner Annalise Murphy counting the cost of two poor opening rounds at the ISAF World Cup in Santander, Spain.

Thoughts of early Rio qualification for Ireland’s best sailing medal hope were being hastily revised last night as Murphy – who finished fourth at the London Olympics – fared poorly in her opening races in little more than five knots of breeze.

Royal Ulster’s Espey (30), however, remains on course having scored sixth in his opening round on the Bay of Biscay.

The Laser dinghy kick started yesterday’s massive event with Ireland represented in both the women’s (radial) and men’s discipline.

With half of the country berths for Rio 2016 set to be awarded at the conclusion of the 2014 ISAF Worlds next week, eight Irish crews in five disciplines are attempting to qualify in a combined fleet of over 1,250 sailors from 84 nations.

Murphy, the National Yacht Club (NYC) helmswoman (23), who finished sixth overall at the last ISAF World championships in 2011, was last night counting the cost of being relegated to 86th from 126 starters after posting a 37 and 44.

In the men’s division, current Irish Laser Champion Espey lies a strong 26th in a fleet of 147, after counting a top-10 result in the opening race and a 16 in race two.

It places the Ulster man on target for a Rio slot and considerably higher ranked than Finn Lynch of Carlow who lies 109th after two races sailed.

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