Tokyo 2020: Annalise Murphy puts nightmare opening race start behind her

Rio silver medallist hampered on the start-line in race one of the Laser Radial

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy  in action during day one of the women’s Laser Radial at  Enoshima Yacht Harbour in  Tokyo. Photograph: Dave Branigan/Inpho/Oceansport

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy in action during day one of the women’s Laser Radial at Enoshima Yacht Harbour in Tokyo. Photograph: Dave Branigan/Inpho/Oceansport

 

It was setting up nicely to be a near perfect start, her third Olympic regatta and a reputation for winning races when it matters most.

Annalise Murphy elected to take the committee boat end of the starting-line that appeared less busy and crucially would deliver clear air – no other boats ahead that would cause turbulence that reduces speed.

Just as the starting sequence was in its final moments, a passing competitor managed to hook the Rio silver medallist’s main sheet, the line that controls the single sail on a Laser Radial around Murphy’s boom.

The seconds it took to disentangle the pair proved crucial.

In the very light wind conditions, the Irish sailor was forced to stay over on the right-hand side of the course while the left was more favourable both for wind and tide.

With no passing opportunities in the 50-minute race, Murphy ended up a whopping 35th overall, a stark contrast to her her record of winning opening races at her previous two Olympic regattas.

Conditions gradually improved during the second race that was incident-free for the Rathfarnham sailor after a clear start.

From mid-fleet in the 44-strong line-up, she steadily moved from 24th place up to 12th and ended the day in 23rd overall.

But she wasn’t the only highly-fancied contender to have a mixed day. Rio 2016 gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, as current world champion arguably the favourite to take a podium place next weekend, also had a mixed bag including finishing behind Murphy in race two.

But Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom, the Rio bronze medallist showed her mettle in the tricky opening day conditions with consistent fifth and sixth places for the day to lie second overall behind Germany’s Svenja Weger.

“I’m glad the first day is done and I’m looking forward to moving up from here – no more mistakes,” she said after coming ashore at Enoshima Island.

All is far from lost – eight races remain with competition daily until Saturday except for a rest day on Wednesday.

Speculation about the impact of a developing typhoon in the region had suggested strong condition at the start of the week. So far, the disagreement between the forecast models has resulted in marginal impact on the schedule, although Sunday’s breeze was said by locals to be quite unusual.

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