Aoife Hopkins to challenge Annalise Murphy for Rio Olympics spot

Howth youngster’s late declaration ensures an ISA trial series in Laser Radial category

Annalise Murphy, who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics, is facing a challenge for a place in Rio from 16–year–old Aoife Hopkins (above).

The Howth youngster’s late declaration means an Irish Sailing Association (ISA) trial series will go ahead in the Laser Radial category.

Any other qualifying sailor who declares by the November 5th deadline can also take part.

A fortnight ago it was unclear if any one of several likely teenage sailors intended to stump up the significant outlay required for the chance to compete against Murphy (26). It is the second such trial now under way. Four sailors will compete in a similar fashion for the Irish men’s Laser berth.


The first women’s trial starts this December at Copa Brasil de Vela in Rio and continues with the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami in January and the 2016 World Championships in Mexico next April. But it comes with a hefty estimated price tag of €20,000 and no financial support possible through the ISA.

Murphy earned the single Olympic berth for Ireland at the ISAF qualifier in Santander a year ago and last month the ISA ratified a globetrotting trials series that involves three transatlantic flights within four months leaving would-be rivals to weigh up participation.

Nailbiting finishes

After 600 miles and just over three days and 12 hours of intense sailing, Carrickfergus navigator

Ian Moore

and the crew of Mascalzone Latino were this week involved in one of the most nailbiting finishes ever seen in 36 editions of the Middle Sea Race. Moore, a former race winner, lost out on overall victory by seven seconds. In other offshore news, in the race to Cape Town of the Clipper Round the world race a Northern Ireland-sponsored yacht similarly lost out in the closing stages of its leg two. Derry–Londonderry–Doire fell victim to fickle winds and finished second to Great Britain.

UCD have placed third in this year’s Student Yachting World Cup in France. Ryan Glynn (skipper), Ronan Jones, Colin O’Mahoney, Cliodhna Connolly, Cian Cahill and Emma Reidy beat such noble institutions as Cambridge and Oxford to bronze behind the University of Southampton and the winners from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

It was UCD’s fourth participation in the week-long racing event where they previously lifted the cup in 2012. A Trinity College Dublin team – also previous cup winners in 2006 – were also competing but failed to make the top ten.

Lough Derg Yacht Club’s 54-boat freshwater regatta completed the 2015 one design keelboat season for the SB20s, Flying Fifteens and Dragons last weekend. The Squib class, with the biggest turnout of 25 boats, also counted the inland waters event as a Midland Championships. It was won by Kinsale duo Jeff Condell and Jeff Cochrane. David Mulvin and Ronan Beirne were Flying Fifteen winners and Richard Goodbody and Rick and Rob Johnson took Dragons honours. On top of the 14–boat SB20 sportsboats was Royal St. George’s Aidan O’Connell and Johnny Hogg.

On Lough Owel, Ger Owens & Melanie Morris spoiled a clean sweep of the GP14 season for Shane MacCarthy and Damien Bracken when they won the Hot Toddy Championship at Mullingar Sailing Club. MacCarthy and Bracken were second overall in a 29–boat fleet.

In Clontarf, Royal St George pair Barry McCartin and Kinsella closed out the Fireball season. Their lead was such that they y did n’t have to compete in the last race .

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics