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One of the most notable aspects of the ISA Youth Pathway National Championship 2017, which has concluded this afternoon at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough with a good programme sailed, is the healthy way in which the new champions come from a wide range of clubs and sailing locations writes W M Nixon.

Admittedly, as the rising stars become more established as front runners, we find that bigger clubs at the main centres will make every effort to recruit this fresh talent onto their strength. Nevertheless with crews from as far away as Crookhaven Harbour, Dingle and Tralee Bay making their way up the long road to Ballyholme (and if you’re coming from Dingle, it is one very long road), there’s no escaping the feeling that the Annalise Effect is working. Irish junior sailing is not just undergoing a renaissance. It is putting out energetic new shoots in places where it was relatively dormant before, and the future looks rosy.

Prospects for today’s last races weren’t looking too good on some forecasts, with the lack of wind that bedevilled some of Saturday’s racing looking like persisting. But bang on cue a nice southwest to west breeze settled in on most of the sailing areas, and the fleets went at it as if they’d had no sailing at all until then, with the Optimist class particularly requesting that if at all possible they’d like three races.

ISA rory Fitzpatrick jack roy1"The bringer of sunshine”. After a championship of mostly grey weather, the sun came out when ISA star coach Rory Fitzpatrick took ISA President Jack Roy out for a spin around the three course areas.

That was a tall order with the last starting sequence required to be no later than 1300hrs. But with very efficient turn-rounds after each race, the thing was done and the series was completed with that wonderful feeling of a good regatta accomplished, which is a whole world away from the default position of “Well, we got a result....”

As for the final results, in the end there were no surprises from the overnight positions. But while some leaders may now look to have been securely in place for some time, in most classes they had to keep working at it until the very end.

In terms of sheer scale of win, the star of the show has to be Justin Lucas (13), who gives his clubs as both Royal Cork and Tralee Bay, so you can guess his career trajectory. In a fleet of 62, after thirteen races he was discarding a 12th and an 11th, leaving a scoreline of 1,1,4,5,1,2,3,5,1,1,4 and a total only 28 points against the 72 of next-in-line Conor Gorman of the National YC.

Third place kept up the pace for remote clubs, as it was won by Harry Twomey of Crookhaven Harbur, then the next two slots were filled by the leading 12-year-old juniors, Johnny Flynn and Luke Turvey, who are both members of Howth, but they also give allegiance to Royal St George and National respectively.

Top girl sailor was Emily Riordan of Royal St George, she was 8th overall on 98 points, second girl was clubmate Alana Coakley at 11th while the National’s Leah Rickard was third at 12th overall.

jack Roy ISA 2ISA President Jack Roy speaking at the awards ceremony at Ballyholme after the biggest ISA Youth Pathway Championship ever staged, with 208 registered sailors all under the age of 19 (and many very much younger) taking part.

The little ’uns in the Optimists may have served up the numbers and an overall winner with a stratospheric lead, but inevitably the glamour class was the Laser Radials which had gone into Saturday night with Silver Medallist Ewan McMahon’s lead somehow looking vulnerable as he closed with an 11th while Cork’s Johnny Durcan, after a winter spent Laser racing in Australia, was coming on by leaps and bounds.

However, any evidence of super-kangaroo abilities were in short supply for the Durcan camp today, for although McMahon still looked off the pace with a 14th in the first race, Durcan was DNF, and when that was added to a BFD in Saturdays first race, his challenge was effectively over, and in the end he was 9th overall.

So McMahon’s 9th in the final race was enough to retain his lead with a final points total of 41. But all the excitement in the Laser Radials was elsewhere, as the talk today has been of the huge rush of Rush. Aaron Rogers of Rush Sailing Club was in fact the initial overall leader, but today it was clubmate Conor Quinn (who also lists Carlingford Lough YC as his affiliation) who set the pace, with an 8th and then a first to move into second overall, while Rogers took third overall by round the series with a 7th and a 13th.

For quite a few years, the population of Fingal aka North County Dublin was the fastest growing in Ireland, so it was only a matter of time before the new demographic began to show in the national junior sailing results. However, the smart money might have been on Skerries Sailing Club to lead the way, and for a while they did so. But now Rush Sailing Club is showing itself the pace-setter inshore at junior level as seen at Ballyholme, and offshore with the Kelly family in their all-conquering J/109 Storm.

But if you looked solely at club affiliation as an indicator of what’s going on where, the 33-strong Laser 4.7 fleet at Ballyholme would only have lead to confusion, as 2017’s overall winner Jack Fahy lists his clubs as Royal St George, Royal Cork, and Lough Derg. Presumably he has club subscriptions at the top of his preferred Christmas gift list.......

Be that as it may, his scoreline of 6,1,2,1,2,5 discarding his final 8th provides something for everyone. That said, Caoimhe Foster of Royal Cork came on very well at the end, starting with a discarded 11th but recording three straight wins on the trot in the final trio of races, to share 22 points with Clare Gorman of the National with Fahy five points ahead of them at 17, Foster edging ahead into second on the countback to make her first girl.

It came within an ace of being first girls every which way in the 420s, as Malahide’s Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher took second in the first race astern of Nicola and Fiona Ferguson of the national, but with overnight leaders Geoff Power and James McCann of Dunmore East losing places back in fourth. The final race might have changed things overall, but Power & McCann did the business by being fourth with McDowell and Gallagher in fifth. So Dunmore East had it over Malahide by two points in the end at 18 to 20, while Royal St George’s Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry were third on 21.

The competition is clearly close in the 420s, but in the Topper fleet of 32, much had been expected beforehand of northern star Jenna McCarlile of County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead, which is straight across the lough from Ballyholme.

But Jenna had a sporting quandary, as the first day’s racing clashed with her trial for the Ulster Under-16 Hockey Squad. She went for the hockey, and qualified. And then she threw herself into the sailing at Ballyholme. But even with three firsts, a 3rd and a 7th, the fact that the Toppers only had enough races for one discard made the mathematics impossible.

Nevertheless a sixth overall when short of a whole day’s racing is quite some achievement. But Heaven only knows what they’ll make of it all at Irish Topper HQ, as we read somewhere that only the first five places in the fleet at the Youth Nationals were eligible for positions in the Pathway programme......

Meanwhile among those who did the complete fixture, Rob Keale of Royal Cork continued his excellent progress with a scoreline of 1,1,4,3,2,4 with a discarded 10th to put him at 15, four points clear of Dan McCaughey of Ballyholme and Donaghadee, with Conor Horgan of Royal Cork third on 20 and Sarah Jennings of East Down fourth and also first girl. As for the Topper 4.2s, Lewis Thompson of Donagadee maintained his overnight dominance, in fact at the end he was discarding a second, but Adam Irvin of Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire came through on this final day to move into second overall with two seconds, while Hannah Dadley-Young of Ballyholme was third overall with two fourths today.

youth sailing prize crowd3This is the sort of crowd that soon overfills the marquee after the Youth Championship which beats all others. Meanwhile, all parents absent from this pic are loading up the boats for the long haul home…

Even as we post this on Afloat.ie, there are some little people with their tiny boats and long-suffering parents who still have a very long way to get home to many distant corners of Ireland after this cracker of a regatta. We wish them a safe journey. And for many of them, it’s back to school tomorrow after the Easter holidays. Gosh, what fun....

Full results are here. Optimist trials results may be found here.

Ballyholme YC adds:

Ewan McMahon won the ISA Youth Pathways despite another difficult day in a light shifting south westerly on Belfast Lough. His earlier form in the championships allowed him to discard the higher of his two results today and comfortably win overall. The two Rush sailors Conor Quinn and Aaron Rodgers had better results with a win in the last race for Conor to lift him to second overall from Aaron by one point. Royal North of Ireland's Sally Bell won 1st lady.

Geoff Power and James McCann wrapped up the 420 fleet even with the worst scores of the top four. The best results went to the Ferguson sisters - Nicola and Fiona - with two 1sts although not enough to break into the tight top three places. Only 3 net points over 9 races split the winners from Gemma McDowell in second place overall and 1st lady crew, and Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry in third.

In the Laser 4.7 fleet on Course 2, Caoimhe Foster won both races on the final day to lift her to second overall and first lady. Jack Fahy had seen victory stolen from him before last summer at the Topper Worlds when he had been outgunned on the final windy day by the English squad sailors. This time his lead was large enough to maintain first place overall while Clare Gorman was third.

In the Topper fleet Rob Keal scored consistently to wrap up the championship. Local sailor from Ballyholme and Donaghadee - Dan McCaughey - won the final race to jump up to second overall while Conor Horgan was third. Sarah Jennings was first lady.

Another Ballyholme/Donaghadee sailor Lewis Thompson won the final two races and was the overall winner in the Topper 4.2 fleet with a net score of just 6 points from 7 races. Adam Irvin rose above Hannah Dadley Young for second place with Hannah first lady and third overall

The Optimist fleet on Course 3 managed to complete three races today with Race Officer Harry Gallagher determined to complete the full schedule. Justin Lucas continued his grip on the fleet with another 2 wins to add to his 3 earlier in the championship. Not only did he win overall but his net points were almost 50 points better than Conor Gorman in second and Harry Twomey in third. Emily Riordan was first girl.

ISA President Jack Roy thanked Ballyholme Yacht Club for successfully hosting the championships for the first time with the strong hint that it would return to the North again in future years.

Ballyholme Commodore Mark Mackey thanked all of the competitors and their families for travelling up to Bangor and making the event such a success - the largest entry ever. Thanks were also given to the Mayor Deborah Girvan and Ards & North Down Borough Council and Quay Marinas who supported the event, and CH Marine and McCready Sailboats who helped sponsor the prizes.

Thanks were also given by Jack and Mark to all of the Race Management team - the Principal Race Officer Robin Gray supported by Angela Gilmour, Harry Gallagher and Ruan O'Tiarnaigh, the Jury under Chris Lindsay and Gordon Davies, the 100 plus volunteers on the water and ashore helping at the event along with Eurosaf visitors and Andy Millington from the RYA marklaying team, and finally the event organiser Richard Glynn - more famous as the travelling father and sponsor of previous Topper World Champion Liam Glynn who is now campaigning in the Laser and just back from training in Croatia. Special thanks also went to the volunteers from local clubs in Belfast Lough and across Northern Ireland who took time off work this week and without who's help it would have been impossible to run three courses so successfully.

After the Prize Giving the teams for the various Irish Optimist squads travelling to the World Championships, Europeans, the ICT Poland and ICT France squads were read out - with particular special significance for Leah Rickard from the National Yacht Club who was born in Thailand and has qualified to travel to the World Championships which will be held there later this summer.

Published in Youth Sailing

Day Two of the ISA Youth Sailing Pathway National Championships and Optimist Trials saw all of the fleets afloat for the first time with over 200 sailors visiting Ballyholme Yacht Club

With a stronger breeze than yesterday averaging 12-14 knots but peaking just over 20 knots, fitness and stamina were important especially in the Laser Radial fleet where Ewan McMahon and Johnny Durcan showed the form expected with Ewan winning the first 2 races and Johnny the latter. The Radial fleet were a bit excitable in the first race of the day with 3 general recalls and Johnny earned himself a BFD dropping him to third overall. Henry Higgins splits the two of them overall. Sally Bell continues to lead the ladies although she copied Johnny's BFD in the first.

There was lots of tight racing in the 420 class with little separating the first few at the finishes. Wexford Harbour's duo of Geoff Power and James McCann however managed to escape at the end of each race with three bullets for the day, and now leads overall.

420 Geoff Power James McCann IMG 2469420 leaders Geoff Power James McCann from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Optimist fleet had four races today which tested all of the youngsters especially with a squall at the start of the last race with all but only a few getting too tired in the testing conditions to finish the last race.

Optimist Justin Lucas IMG 1142Optimist sailor Justin Lucas. Photo: Simon McIlwaine  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Laser 4.7 fleet started their racing today with Sally Bell's younger brother Harry from Royal North Ireland winning the first race. Jack Fahy won the second race and Clare Gorman the last but the most consistent and now leads overall with a 4,2,1

Laser 4 7 Clare Gorman IMG 7102Clare Gorman of the National Yacht Club leads the Laser 4.7s  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Another family affair, Jack Fahy's sister Kate showed great form in the Topper fleet which was also racing for their first day lying second overall from East Down's Sarah Jennings. Rob Keal won the first two races however and leads overall with 1,1,4. The Topper 4.2 fleet saw a local fight between Lewis Thompson, Hannah Dadley-Young and Josh McGregor with Lewis also getting 3 bullets for the day.

Top 5 3 Rob Keal IMG 1580Rob Keal of Royal Cork is the Topper leader  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Full results are here. Optimist trials results may be found here.

In the evening, Rio Olympic Silver medallist Annalise Murphy gave the young audience some great reflections of her journey from the Optimist Trials through the various Pathway Championships in her Laser Radial and what it took to medal in Rio after the disappointments of London. There were lots of tidbits for the competitors to remember and Annalise revealed the level of commitment required with some of the extracts from her training diary started at the age of 13.

Day 3 of the racing starts tomorrow at 11:00 for all classes. The Championships finish on Sunday.

Published in Youth Sailing

Over 130 boats took to the water today at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough on Day 1 of the ISA Youth Pathway National Championships and Optimist Trials. The event is supported by Ards & North Down Borough Council. Only 2 courses were sailed today with the Topper and Laser 4.7 fleets starting tomorrow instead.

On the Optimist course, 3 races were completed in a light steady westerly breeze- the first two races saw all of the competitors behaving themselves on the start line but the eager youngsters couldn't help themselves on the final start with a single general recall under Race Officer Harry Gallagher.

The sailors from Royal Cork Yacht Club showed the strongest form with 13 year old Justin Lucas winning the first two races and Cillian Forster the last. First Junior overall after Day 1 is Luke Turvey from Howth YC in 7th whilst first lady is Emily Riordan from Royal St George in Dun Laoghaire. Four races are scheduled for thw Optimists tomorrow.

On Course 1, Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher lead overall in the double-handed 420 class with 1,2,2 from Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry (3,4,1)

Laser RADIALLaser Radials reach the weather mark in the first race of the ISA Youth Championships. Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Laser Radial fleet is the glamour fleet this weekend with ISA Performance squad members Howth's Ewan McMahon and Cork's Johnny Durcan battling it out with future ISAF Youth Worlds selection in view later this year - however Aaron Rogers from Rush leads overall with 1,2,1. Royal North's Sally Bell leads the ladies.

Racing continues until Sunday with 4 races scheduled for the Optimists and 3 for the other classes starting at 11:00 tomorrow. Tomorrow night Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy will be present to give a welcome and a talk to all the youth sailors on how to campaign for future international success.

Published in Youth Sailing

Annalise Murphy is just one of four evening talks taking place at the ISA Youth Sailing National Championships, being held at Ballyholme Yacht Club, 19-23 April. As Afloat.ie reported previouslty, it is the first time the event has been sailed in Northern Ireland.

The evening talks as well as the races are open to all young sailors who sail in the five ISA Youth Pathway Classes (Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, 420, Topper, Optimist). This is Ireland’ largest Youth regatta and the ISA’s primary talent spotting event of the year for the Academy and Junior classes. The ISA squad programmes will resume this summer in the Laser 4.7 and Topper classes, and these classes will have a squad trial to identify future ISA Pathway sailors. In addition, ISA spotters are out to assess sailors for Academy trials for the Laser Radials and 420s. (The Optimists will have separate Class-organised talent spotters).

Eight places on the ISA Topper Squad
In the Topper class up to eight sailors will be selected to join the ISA Topper Squad. The Squad coach and programme will be announced following the event. The programme aimed at developing young Topper sailors will provide training and also support at the 2017 Topper World Championship to be held in Brittany, France in July. Entry to the World championship is independent of ISA squad selection and through the International Topper Class Association.

Five places on the ISA Laser 4.7 Squad
Up to five sailors will be chosen at the ISA Youth Pathway Nationals to join the ISA 4.7 Squad. A further two sailors may be chosen at the 2017 Laser 4.7 Ulster Championship. The ISA 4.7 squad will provide training to help young sailors transition in the Laser 4.7 class. It will also aim to prepare and support the squad for the Laser 4.7 World Championship to be held in Nieuwpoort, Belgium in July. The squad coach and programme will be announced following event. Entry to the 4.7 Worlds is independent of ISA squad selection through the International Laser Class Association.

A line–up of big name evening speakers – including Annalise Murphy – open to all:

At 5.30pm each evening there will be a talk and Q&A session at the Ballyholme Yacht Club with speakers who have a deep knowledge of racing. The talks are open to all sailors and parents.

Full list of Evening Speakers:

Wednesday 19th April, BILL O'HARA will discuss “What to consider when preparing for an event - Rules Strategy for racing”. Bill is the current Principal Race Officer for the Volvo Ocean Race, International Umpire and Rules adviser to the Irish Olympic Team.

Thursday 20th April, Annalise Murphy (Olympic Silver medalist) will share her insights in a talk entitled “Beat the Best: Preparing for Competitive Gains at the Olympics”.

Friday 21st April, Matt McGovern (Double Olympian 49er Class) will talk on “Team Work in Sailing – Preparing a Professional Approach”

Saturday 22nd April, Ross Killian & Russell McGovern (ISA Performance Coaches) will give video analysis and coaching tips from the day’s racing.

Published in ISA

The Andalusian Olympic Sailing Week venue at Cadiz might have been a favourite with some of Europe's top Laser Radial sailing talent this week but it has not proved such a big hit in the wind stakes so far.

300 sailors and 50 coaches from 23 countries, among them Olympic medalists, and world champions have been sailing in Andalusia including eight Irish Radial sailors and ten Irish 49er sailors but its been a poor show for the wind with only two races completed after 'a long, long, long, long day' waiting for breeze on Sunday, according to one of the Irish entrants, Howth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins.

Aoife Hopkins sailingHowth's Aoife Hopkins (205770) chases Evi Van Acker of Belgium (210473) the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, in Cadiz this week

It has been weak on the water for the Radials but it has proved equally frustrating ashore for other Olympic classes where organisers cancelled racing in the 49er, 49er fx, 470 m / w and 420 due to lack of entries.

49er Winter Training Camp

Since last December, Ireland's five 49er teams have been treating Cadiz as a Winter training base and continue to train there til Wednesday. The ten sailors will get their first taste of international battle in Spanish waters early next month when they relocate to the the much–hyped Palma de Mallorca regatta.

'It never gets easier, you just get better' declare Dun Laoghaire's Donnelly brothers, Tadhg and Sean, having completed an intense Winter period perfecting boat handling manoeuvres in the high speed skiff. Their last session in Cadiz was an intense 11–day affair. They're heading home now to the National Yacht Club for a well–earned week off before traveling out to Mallorca for their first regatta of their 2020 campaign.

The crews are under the watchful eye of Tytus Konarzewsk who is one of Europe’s most respected 49er sailing coaches.

Next stop Palma de Mallorca will be an important Irish 49er marker because the Donnelly's will be up against Irish rivals Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, Matt McGovern and Robbie Gilmore, Mark Hassett and Oisin O’Driscoll as well as Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove who will – hopefully – all be in action at the first mens skiff test towards Tokyo 2020.

But before Howth Yacht Club's Dickson and Waddilove hit the water again, they also face a race back to fitness after a calf injury sustained in Cadiz by crew Waddilove who found out just how tough Olympic sailing can be, 49er style.

The accident happened last Wednesday, the first day back training at the February Training Camp. Waddilove explains:  'It was quite windy that day, up to 25 knots at times and I think we must have decided to bear away at one of these times. We almost had the boat flat downwind, almost ready to run in and hoist when a gust hit and we were flung back upwind and capsized to leeward. First protocol when this happens is to jump clear of the boat or climb down onto the dagger board if you can. However the force was so strong Rob ended up going through the main sail and I went to jump off the wing to windward but the force made it hard to jump far enough away from the boat so I ended up hitting my leg off the dagger board on the way down'.

Sean Waddilove sailorSean Waddilove injury: 'My leg feels ok at the moment so I have been back training after a few light cycles, upper body gym sessions and a lot of icing, elevating and compression bandaging' Photo ISA/Facebook

All the Irish 49er teams are claiming to have made 'really big improvements' over the past few months so there should be plenty of Irish mens skiff competition to come in March and the rest of the 2017 season.

Meanwhile, in the mens and womens Laser radial fleet, some well known names are finding the going tough in fickle Spanish breezes including 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Evi Van Acker of Belgium who is 17th on the mixed gender 114–boat scoresheet. (Downloadable results below). Ireland best results to date are Royal Cork's Johnny Durcan in 48th and Lough Derg's Aisling Keller 63rd.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Although December's youth sailing world championships did not deliver the result Johnny Durcan had hoped for, the young Crosshaven Laser Radial helmsman went on to race at the Australian National Championships in Adelaide last week. The Royal Cork and National Yacht Club sailor was competitive again and finished 19th overall despite two Yellow flags and a UFD which he says, 'really cost'. 

Making the most of his trip down under, Durcan competes tomorrow at his third Australian event, the Radial youth national championships at the same venue, before returning home to studies in Ireland. It's an event, he says, where he aims to 'keep the scorecard clean'.

Published in Youth Sailing

Ireland's Annalise Murphy, who is flying her Moth dinghy at high speed in Bermuda, is not contesting this week's Sailing World Cup final in Melbourne but apart from the Irish silver medalists absence competition in Australian waters looks as intense as Rio at the sharp end of the 19–boat Laser Radial fleet. Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is favoured to win. The Dutch champion controlled a lot of the field at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with an astute, professional display and quickly turned her attention to Tokyo 2020 immediately after winning Rio gold, heading to Japan to start familiarising herself with the next Olympic waters.

Danish Rio bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom will face off against Bouwmeester again, this time hoping to upset the Dutch party. Joining the Rio medallists in the fleet is current Laser Radial Youth World Champion and Rio Olympian Maria Erdi of Hungary who will warm up for the Youth Sailing World Championships by competing at the World Cup Final.

Great Britain's two-time Olympian Alison Young was down to race in Melbourne but sustained an ankle injury in the lead up and withdrew.

Published in Olympic

After an epic ten race series, Ireland's Annalise Murphy goes into Monday's medal race with no guarantee of a medal but the confidence in knowing she has sailed the most consistent series of her career. Where many have fallen, including the London 2012 Gold medallist Lilja Xu of China who finished in 18th position, on–form Murphy has put in a most impressive performance against everything Rio and the world's toughest female fleet had to throw at her. Now she has the chance to win Ireland's first sailing medal in 36–years (Read more about 1980's Silver medal in Tallinn).

The top five positions going in to Monday's crucial medal race are:

1 NED Marit Bouwmeester 47  
2 DEN Anne-Marie Rindom 55  
3 IRL Annalise Murphy 57  
4 BEL Evi Van Acker 66  
5 FIN Tuula Tenkanen 68.6  

 

So what are the best and worst results for Annalise to medal?

Well, no matter what, a fifth place finish will earn her at least bronze and could even win the gold if the Dutch girl finishes in 10th place and the Danish girl is not better than 6th.

If Annalise finishes 6th or worse, then she cannot afford to be more than 4 places behind the Belgian sailor.

If she finishes 7th or worse and is within 5 places of the Belgian sailor, then she cannot be more than 5 places behind Finland.

With a first place she takes at least a silver medal, and, if the Dutch competitor is more than 5 places behind, that silver become gold.

Between 1st and 5th and ahead of the Dane guarantees at least a silver.

MEDAL RACE SCENARIOS FOR ANNALISE MURPHY (IRL)

Medal possibilities for Annalise murphy

Published in Olympic

In the final race of the Laser Radial qualification series, prior to Monday's medal race, Annalise Murphy finished seventh to complete the preliminaries in the bronze medal position. It is an excellent performance in difficult conditions by the National Yacht Club sailor with a string of very consistent results of 1, 13, 4, 7, 5, 2, (17), 12, 6, 7 in the 37–boat fleet. 

But even with such a scoresheet a medal is not yet guaranteed. All Murphy's main rivals finished ahead of her in race ten and regatta leader Marit Bouwmeester (NED), who finished the race in second place, now has an 8 point gap over second placed Annemarie Rindom (DEN) going into the medal race.

Rindom's third place in this race, allowed her to leapfrog Murphy by two points, while another big gain was made by Belgium's Evi Van Acker who narrowed the gap to Murphy to 9 points.

Starting at the pin end of race ten, Murphy was third around the first weather mark and, like Bouwmeester favoured the right hand side of the run to round the bottom mark in fourth place. However, her chosen left side was not the place to be on the next upwind leg and, despite the full hiking conditions, she fell back in to the pack, rounding the 2nd weather mark in eighth place. Up ahead the Dutch girl maintained second behind Alison Young (GBR) thus widening the gap between herself and Murphy in overall points. The downwind saw the Irish girl lose a further four places, but a hike out to the right on the last upwind prompted a small recovery to 10th, consolidated on the final run, with a further three places gained by the finish line.

Read also: Annalise's Medal Race Possibilities

Bouwmeester has moved back to the top of the leaderboard and holds a useful eight-point buffer on second placed Rindom for the Medal Race. The London 2012 silver medallist is assured of another medal and is strongly positioned to win the gold that was so nearly hers four years ago.

The Laser Radials contested one race on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) course and one on Niterói, and Bouwmeester proved very adaptable to the different conditions, scoring 5,2. Murphy also sailed superbly to score a sixth and seventh which puts her just two points behind Rindom. However best performer of the day was Evi Van Acker (BEL) whose first and fifth has brought her back into medal contention after a shaky start to the regatta, compounded by the effects of an intestinal infection. She and fifth-placed Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) will have to sail a very good Medal Race to have a chance at silver or bronze, but it's possible.

For Bouwmeester the Olympic Medal Race is familiar territory, after taking silver in the tightest of contests four years ago in London. "I think this time the difference is I have a few points on second and I'm certain of a medal, but the similarity is I still have to do a good Medal Race on Monday. We like the Medal Race course, it's challenging, but I'm quite confident there even though you never quite know what's going to happen on that course."

Evi van Acker was looking forward to another period of rest before Monday's showdown. "I still need to rest, after today. I'm pretty tired. I had my best day so far, and I'm so happy with the way I recovered after the bad three days at the beginning. For me the 36 hours of treatment and rest in the middle of the week was very important to have more energy and keep fighting. I made sure I had a lot of rest, a lot of food and a lot of smiling."

The bronze medallist from 2012 will have to fight hard and sail well to be assured of another medal in Rio. "It feels like London all over again, pretty much the same people and same situation except this this time I'm a bit behind. So I'll have to sail well in the Medal Race. But I'll be ready to go."

Meanwhile, China’s Lijia Xu was disqualified from races seven and eight for ‘right of way’ incidents. The pre-event favourite had already discarded a disqualification earlier in the series meaning she had to count two maximum scores for Friday’s races. She ends the series in 18th overall and will not be in the medal race on Monday.

Published in Olympic

An extremely well–sailed qualifying series by Annalise Murphy will conclude this evening ahead of Monday's Medal Race climax.

The Laser Radials are scheduled for one race on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) course and one on Niterói, so it will take all–round skills to make the best of this critical day.

Today's courses will again have strong tides and high mountains disrupting the winds so it is a very strategic and tactical venue. Annalise has spent over 100 days on site learning the different courses that she can possibly race on. Her focus there has been on the strategically best way to sail the race track and the fastest technique to sail the boat given the sea states on the different race courses, so she is well prepared for the notoriously difficult venue.

Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) hasn't revealed any weaknesses yet, the Dane putting in a very consistent series to hold a ten-point lead. But she is currently discarding a disqualification from race three so she can't afford any slip-ups. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) sits four points in front of Annalise with Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) not far behind.

Meanwhile, Finn Lynch concludes his first Olympics today in the mens Laser class and Ireland's two skiff teams Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern and Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49erfx have their second day, both currently in fifth place overall.

Published in Olympic
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