Anthony O’Leary faces stiff competition in bid to reclaim title
Formidable task on the Solent for Royal Cork sailor as he defends British crown
Anthony O’Leary’s Antix from Royal Cork Yacht Club begins the defence of the British IRC title in Cowes on Friday morning. Photograph: Paul Wyeth.
Royal Cork’s Anthony O’Leary defends his British IRC title in Cowes on Friday morning and in Denmark the National Yacht Club’s Annalise Murphy seeks to reclaim a European Laser Radial title she first won in 2013.
Both weekend fixtures hold out the exciting prospect of more headline success for Irish sailing but neither campaign is without significant opposition.
The Munster reigning IRC One champion returns to the Solent with a formidable task. For one, the defence of his Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) title is mounted in a new boat and although O’Leary’s Ker 40 (the former Commodore’s Cup winning Catapult) is a proven race winner it is only rated as the eighth quickest entered in the regatta. It gives a perspective of the strong competition drawn to the Solent that includes Holland’s Piet Vroon in a new Ker 51, Tonnerre IV.
Another new measure for O’Leary will also undoubtedly be Keith Mills’s brand new Ker 40 Invictus.The celebrated Volvo Ocean Race ace Rob Greenhalgh is calling tactics on the just launched vessel that insiders have already dubbed a “Ker 40- Mark II”. O’Leary’s boat has had some of these updates carried out too, such as a lighter bulb (which makes her similar upwind to the standard Ker 40 but much quicker downwind) so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
The weekend forecast is for moderate conditions, starting with strong winds, conditions that Tonnerre in particular should relish.
In Aarhus, Denmark, the latest event in a busy summer for Irish Olympic campaigners gets underway with the first race of the Laser Radial Europeans scheduled for Sunday morning.
Coming off the back of Weymouth’s June staging of the ISAF World Cup, Annalise Murphy, who finished fifth on the Dorset coast, knows she can expect red-hot competition – but excluding world number one Marit Boumeester of Holland who took World Cup gold in Weymouth and who is training in Rio instead – if she is to win back the Euro title won on her home waters of Dublin Bay in September 2013.
It would be a shot in the arm for the Olympic sailors still seeking a top result from a busy summer programme.
With the nation already qualified for the Olympics, the focus for London 2012’s Espey was perhaps a top-20 finish which did not materialise.
The 49er and 49erfx European Championships in Porto, Portugal, produced a 11th overall for Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern who recovered from a poor start in tricky conditions.
The Belfast pair, who are also London 2012 veterans and qualified for Rio, needed a top-three finish to win increased Sports Council funding at this event. Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey who still seek Rio qualification, finished third in the silver fleet.