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Displaying items by tag: Annalise Murphy

It was party time in Dun Laoghaire Harbour last Thursday night (September 23rd) to welcome home the Irish Olympic sailing team from last month's Tokyo Olympic Games.

Invited guests included Government Ministers, Olympians, local Dun Laoghaire Rathdown officials plus yacht club commodores and sponsors who were all back on the waterfront to hear Annalise Murphy's thoughts post-Tokyo as the team returned to its High-Performance HQ at the Irish Lights Depot.

Murphy's teammates, the 49er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were in attendance too along with the Tokyo backroom team.

Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers along with Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Ossian Smyth, the local Green Party TD, were invited to the outdoor function.

From Northern Ireland, 1984 and 1988, Olympian Bill O'Hara OBE was also at the get-together, as were members of the Olympic Federation of Ireland including CEO Peter Sherrard.

The Dun Laoghaire High Performance HQ was the venue for Thursday night's homecoming celebrations of the Olympic TeamThe Dun Laoghaire High Performance HQ was the venue for last Thursday night's homecoming celebrations of the Olympic Team

The Rio silver medalist signed off the evening by thanking Rory Fitzpatrick 'for being her coach' and updated the event on how she is adjusting to life as an MBA student at UCD.

Irish prospects for Paris 2024

Next on the agenda for the Irish Olympic sailing team is, of course, Paris 2024. With just three years to the first gun at Marseille, Thursday evening provided the chance to pitch Irish prospects.

The race for places has already begun with Polish duo Mikolaj Staniul / Kuba Sztorch crowned 49er European champions in Thessaloniki last week. Although no Irish crew participated at the Greek event, there are already triennial developments at home with Cork Harbour's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan announcing this month they will be making a bid for the single Irish men's skiff slot.

Finn Lynch, who was unsuccessful in his quest for a Tokyo Laser place, has already declared he will run again and it is expected Howth's Ewan McMahon will also be a contender. And in the Radial, McMahon's sister, Eve and Aoife Hopkins, both of Howth, will each seek the nomination.

Tokyo 2020 Review

A number of post-Tokyo reviews are being conducted. One is being undertaken by Irish Sailing, which, for the first time since Athens 2004, will be in the hands of "an external sports management expert", according to sailing president David O'Brien.

That's a process that will no doubt shine a light on the circumstances surrounding the controversially cut-short 2020 Radial selection procedure

The review is expected to be completed by year-end.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Sailing results from the Tokyo Olympics were "incredibly disappointing" and should lead to an independent review of the High-Performance unit within Irish Sailing, according to former Former Irish Sailing Association president Roger Bannon.

In his article for Afloat here, Bannon points out that the current High-Performance Unit has presided over Irish participation at four Olympics since 2008. "Apart from Annalise Murphy's silver medal in Rio, an exceptional result for a variety of reasons, Irish results at all these Olympics have failed to fulfil our much-heralded promise," he writes.

It is estimated that at least €15m has been spent since 2006 on High-Performance Sailing in Ireland, excluding what the participants themselves have contributed, and the Government regularly spends more supporting Irish sailing than any Olympic sport other than Athletics. Bannon notes this windfall is unlikely to continue after our poor results in Tokyo and consistent disappointments in the past.

Roger Bannon, who served as President of the association from 1994 to 1996, is credited with the 1993 'Joint Membership Scheme' (JMS). The JMS underpinned the financial viability of the association by making every member of a sailing club also a member of the ISA. An outspoken critic of former ISA policies, Bannon spearheaded a group of sailors in 2013 calling for change at the association, claiming it had 'lost touch with grassroots sailing'. He rejoined the board in 2014 as its Treasurer and resigned in 2016.Roger Bannon, who served as President of the association from 1994 to 1996, is credited with the 1993 'Joint Membership Scheme' (JMS). The JMS underpinned the financial viability of the association by making every member of a sailing club also a member of the ISA. An outspoken critic of ISA policies, Bannon spearheaded a group of sailors in 2013 calling for change at the association, claiming it had 'lost touch with grassroots sailing'. He rejoined the board in 2014 as its Treasurer and resigned in 2016.

Disappointment in the US team at its failure to win sailing medals has sparked a new appointment of Paul Cayard, a world-class Olympic and international sailor, as that country's new high-performance supremo. In addition, the UK's RYA recently appointed the renowned Olympic and international sailor Ian Walker as their high-performance supremo to direct what they hope will be the ongoing British dominance in Olympic sailing, demonstrating their willingness to review and change even an outstandingly successful high-performance structure which has delivered so many medals over the last 12 years.

In Ireland, writes Bannon, "we have basically not changed our approach for the last 4 or 5 Olympic cycles and the core methodology is obviously not working and needs to be totally reappraised, probably with new blood and revised structures.

Among the changes suggested by Bannon are:

  • Professionalising our coaching support techniques to improve performance at each Olympics.
  • Peer reviews ourselves other more successful nations of similar size, such as New Zealand.
  • High-performance sailors should not be isolated from mainstream domestic sailing activities.
  • Improved PR and visibility for the High-Performance sailors and improved relations with young athletes' families
  • New protocols to assist in improving communication and consultation with families that support young athletes attempting to gain traction at international level.
  • Changes to the composition of the High-Performance Olympic Committee.

In its response to the article, Irish Sailing said: "As is normal after each Olympic cycle, Irish sailing is undertaking a comprehensive review of our support to and performance of our sailing athletes. To this end, we are engaging an external sports management expert to undertake the review.

"Sport Ireland has also commissioned their own independent review which we look forward to receiving in due course. The Irish Sailing Board welcomes views from all those with Olympic sailing experience and in this regard is delighted to receive the views of our esteemed Past President, Roger Bannon.

"We expect to conclude our review by the year-end."

Published in Tokyo 2020

Fans and supporters of Annalise Murphy have paid tribute to the Irish sailing star after she suggested that her Olympic career was now at a close after failing to make her Tokyo 2020 final.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Murphy finished the week on Friday (30 July) in 18th overall, placing her outside the top 10 who qualified for this morning’s (Sunday 1 August) Laser Radial medal race in which Denmark’s Anne-Marine Rindom took gold after a misunderstanding of race rules cost her a big points lead.

Speaking after her own last race at Enoshima, Murphy — who won Olympic silver in the Laser Radial in Rio five years ago — said she was “really proud of how I managed to come back this week”.

That was in reference to her preferred stronger wind conditions which prevailed in her one-two finish in Thursday’s racing.

She told RTÉ Sport: “I was hoping we were going to get more conditions like [Thursday], I knew that I would excel in those kind of conditions and I'm really glad we managed to get one day of it to show I can still be the best when the day comes around.”

As for what the future holds, Murphy said she is “looking forward to a normal life” and that she “can't see myself going for another Olympics” — adding that she wants to help out fellow Irish Laser Radial sailors Aoife Hopkins and Eve McMahon with their campaigns.

“I hope I can give them some of my knowledge and maybe they can surpass all of my achievements. That would the dream, that I have left some legacy behind,” she added.

Following Murphy’s comments, fans on social media expressed their admiration for her Olympic achievements and as a sportswoman in general.

Twitter user suz kavanagh said: “Such ability, dedication and strong attitude, a true Olympian.. it’s been an honour to follow your journey. Be proud!”

Stuart Masterson said Murphy has “raised the profile of sailing in Ireland. The fact that you are talking up the next generation of sailors speaks volumes about how great of a person you are, not just a great sports person.”

Meanwhile on Facebook, Karin Duffy said Murphy is “an amazing ambassador for Irish sailing and inspiring role model for all the young aspiring athletes”, and Katy Moore Ratcliffe thanked her “for representing the Irish with class”.

Published in Annalise Murphy

A much softer breeze was not kind to Annalise Murphy’s last-ditch hopes of Enoshima medal race participation in the Laser Radial this morning, the biggest sailing class of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The National Yacht Club sailor, who thrilled Irish fans when she jumped back to the top of the fleet in strong winds yesterday with one, two finishes, was confounded this morning by a southwest wind of 6-8 knots and a slight sea state.

Murphy posted a 30th, moving up from 38th at the first mark in race nine, dropping her back from 14th to 16th overall on the leaderboard.

Winds dropped to six knots for the second race, and unfortunately, things disproved further in race ten for the Irish heavy airs expert when she posted her worst result of the week, a 40th, just four places from the back of the 44-boat fleet.

Overall, it means the defending Rio silver medalist counted 35, 12, 24, 37, 9, 10, 1, 2, 30 and (40) to finish 18th, some 63 points off the top ten, ruling out any consolation of a medal race place tomorrow.

Rindom Does Not Finish Race Ten

In a shock for the fleet, overall leader Ann Marie Rindom of Denmark bombed out of the final day’s racing with a very uncharacteristic 26 scored in race nine. Things got worse for her in race ten when the Rio bronze medalist did not start the race. More on this here.

Overall, the Dane had put together a seemingly unstoppable 21 point advantage this week, so still leads going into the medal race, but with her margin whittled down to just 7 points from the reigning Olympic Champion Marit Boumeester of Holland.

This last Radial twist has added some extra spice to Sunday’s doubles points medal race, a repeat scenario of the Rio podium except, of course, for the absence of the Dun Laoghaire ace.

After racing, the Irish squad marked the end of Annalise Murphy's third Olympic Games with a gathering in the Enoshima dinghy park to honour the NYC sailor, Ireland's most successful Olympic sailor.

Results and overall standings are here

Published in Annalise Murphy

On the Fujisawa course today (Thursday 29 July), the increased breeze proved to be to Annalise Murphy's liking, as Ireland’s Laser Radial contender led race 7 from wire to wire.

The race saw her increasing her advantage from 31 seconds at mark 1 to 43 seconds at the finish over regatta leader Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN).

Placings were reversed in race 8, with Rindom consolidating her overall lead in the Tokyo 2020 Laser Radial event.

Like the 49er duo of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, who leapt a number of places in the standings after today’s race, Murphy will be pleased with her improvement after a shaky start to the week, especially during her second race today from sixth at mark 1 to second at the finish.

Now in 14th place overall, 14 points away from the all-important 10th position, she will be hoping for similar conditions in tomorrow’s (Friday 30 July) two final qualifying races on the Enoshima course to advance to the medal race.

Speaking afterwards, Murphy said: “I guess I’m just delighted that I finally managed to put together a good day. You start to doubt if you’re actually good enough to be doing this, or maybe you’ve just forgotten how to sail! So to be able to go out and win a race, and then to be second in the second race – yes I was really happy.

“It was really fun having wind and waves. It wasn’t as windy as we thought it was going to be, but still nice wind, and really nice waves. We’ve had offshore, the wind coming off the land, so quite flat water, so today was the wind coming from the sea so really big waves which made it a lot of fun, particularly on the down winds.

“I think I realised that I put so much pressure on myself to try and do well here. When I realised that I had kind of messed it up, I just had to go out and actually enjoy the sailing and enjoy the racing and take it one race at a time; try and do the simple stuff right and hopefully then, I would get some good races.”

Looking ahead to the big races tomorrow she added: “I just have to go out tomorrow and enjoy the racing and sail well. I can’t really do anything fancy - I just have to keep on chipping away, and hopefully I can pull out two more good results.”

Overall leader Rindom was more excited at the performance of her good friend Annalise who rediscovered her mojo in today’s full-hiking, wavy conditions.

In Rio, Rindom took Olympic bronze behind the Irish sailor’s silver and today they each came off the water with a first and a second place, Murphy taking the first race and Rindom the next."I'm so happy for her because we have been training together now for the last eight years," grinned Rindom. "And I remember in Rio, we were jumping in the water together finishing second and third. She just needs those days like today. She's such a brilliant sailor. I am so happy for her."

The gold medallist from Rio, Marit Bouwmeester (NED), has mounted a courageous comeback all week after a shaky start to the regatta. The Dutch double Olympic medallist has sailed with her back against the wall, but blew any realistic chances of the gold after a black flag disqualification for starting too soon in race 7. Now back in seventh, she has an outside chance of getting back to silver or bronze."Well, at least I don’t have to look at the scoreboard anymore," said Bouwmeester, struggling to face up to her disappointment. "I guess my back's against the wall but I have to make the most of tomorrow."

Rindom needs to sail sensibly to preserve a whopping 21 point advantage over Tuula Tenkanen, the Finnish sailor who leads a bunch of rivals on very similar points.

Find the full race results and standing HERE.

 

Published in Tokyo 2020

Annalise Murphy took her first top-ten finishes of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games today, as she secured a ninth-place position in the fifth race of the Laser Radial and took tenth in race six.

Tuesday's 16-knot northerly wind proved to be the refresher that Annalise Murphy needed to boost her chances of sailing in Sunday's medal race. Placings of 9th and 10th have improved her overall ranking to 20th, 33 points behind the 10th place that qualifies for the last medal race spot.

In the first race of the day, Murphy improved from 17th at mark 1 to finish in 9th in a race that was won by Sweden's Josefin Olsson. In race 2 her improvement was more marked - from 22nd at mark 1 to 10th at the finish. This race was won by Switzerland's Maud Jayet.

Overall, Rio Bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindonm (DEN) has proved to be the most consistent, counting 5 top ten results to lead by 12 points from Olsson with Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) a point further back making it an all Scandinavian top three.

Consistent sailing from Dane Anne Marie Rindom gives her a consistent score of 6, 5, 3, 4, 4 to lead at th half way point of the regattaConsistent sailing from Dane Anne Marie Rindom gives her a consistent score of 6, 5, 3, 4, 4 to lead at th halfway point of the regatta

Analysis of the statistics suggests that Murphy will need to improve her start and first beat performance. In today's two races (race 5 and race 6) the winners led wire to wire and most of the top ten finishers were in the top ten at the first weather mark.

In race six today, Annalise Murphy went from 22nd at mark 1 to 10th by the finishIn race six today, Annalise Murphy went from 22nd at mark 1 to 10th by the finish

Wednesday is a day off for the radials, before returning Thursday and Friday to complete the qualifying stages. At this stage, it appears that the light winds will return.

Full results are here 

Published in Tokyo 2020

The first of Monday's two Olympic Laser Radial races off Enoshima Harbour near Tokyo got underway in a 13/14 knot easterly, suggesting that there may have been some effect from the now down-graded typhoon that was forecast to pass north east of Tokyo during Monday evening. Annalise Murphy normally strong in these conditions, could not seem to put her height advantage into play consistently during the race. Still in touch after the first three legs, a poor third windward leg saw her drop 7 places to 26th, recovering a bit to finish 24th.

On seven points with scores of 3,1, 3 Flem Hoest Line of Norway is the overall leader of the 44-boat Tokyo Radial fleet On seven points with scores of 3,1,3  Line Flem Hoest of Norway is the overall leader of the 44-boat Tokyo Radial fleet

In the second race of the day, the wind dropped to below 10 knots and was shifting through 20 degrees, emphasising the importance of getting the shift phases in the correct sequence. With the left side turning out to be favoured at top of the first beat, those on the right, including Murphy, struggled to stay in contact and the gap to the leaders was over a minute. The right side of the second beat proved costly as well, as Murphy dropped to 41st place, once again recovering somewhat on the final couple of legs to finish 37th.

Annalise Murphy in the thick of it during the second day of racing for the Women's Radial ClassAnnalise Murphy in the thick of it during the second day of racing for the Women's Radial Class

Now lying 32nd overall, the Rio silver medallist has her work cut out to make the medal race.

Speaking after today’s two races, Murphy said: “Having such a bad day makes it really hard for me to get a result that I want from this regatta with only six races left. I’m upset for Rory (coach), for my family and everyone who supported me because I really wanted to do them proud. I actually thought it was going to be a good day for me today - I love those conditions - small things just didn’t go the way I wanted them to.”

How much the typhoon impacts on Tuesday's two races will determine the trajectory from here.

After a shaky start to her regatta yesterday, Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is back up into fifth placeAfter a shaky start to her regatta yesterday, Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is back up into fifth place

Norway, Greece and Denmark are the current overall top three, with Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in fifth place.

Vasileia Karachaliou of Greece celebrates her race win in race four Vasileia Karachaliou of Greece celebrates her race win in race four to put her second overall after four races sailed

Line Flem Høst (NOR) is the surprise package of the Olympic Sailing Competition so far, the Norwegian sailing an unbelievably consistent regatta in such unpredictable conditions. "I was actually feeling kind of shaky, a bit nauseous, not quite ready," admitted Høst. "So it was really great to have such a good day and really feel like I was in the zone."

Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) rose up the rankings too, on the back of 6,1 scores and sits two points off the lead. "It’s nice to win a race, but it’s just another regatta, even if it’s the Olympics. My most important goal is to try to keep all my scores in the top 10, and then see what happens at the end."

Until the fourth race this afternoon, Anne-Marie Rindom had been the only athlete to keep all her results inside the top 10, but then the Dane proved that even she is fallible in the vagaries of Enoshima as she finished 13th late this afternoon.

Anne-Marie Rindom of DenmarkAnne-Marie Rindom of Denmark

However, the bronze medallist from Rio is still in bronze medal position in Tokyo. "I’m a little bit disappointed about that last race. But all in all, I think I managed to keep to my goal, which is to be present in the moment, to look out of the boat and not be affected by my emotions, which is not that easy because there are a lot of emotions at an Olympic Games."

Following a hard first day on the water, defending Olympic Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) really needed to up her game and she came away from the day with a 7,2, lifting her to fifth place overall, two points behind Italy’s Silvia Zennaro. Bouwmeester had been leading the fourth race before being passed by Karachaliou, but at least the Dutch two-time Olympic medallist is in striking distance, 16 points off the overall lead. Two years ago when she won gold at the Hempel World Cup Enoshima, she celebrated with singing ‘Barbie Girl’ at a karaoke bar. Bouwmeester admitted the gold medal looks like a big challenge, but promised, "If I win, I will sing Alphaville." Alphaville’s best known song from the 80s being ‘Big in Japan’.

Full results are here 

Racing continues for Murphy tomorrow with Races 5 and 6, while fellow sailors, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will begin their Olympic campaign tomorrow as the 49er class gets underway.

Additional reporting by Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020

Annalise Murphy's defence of her 2016 podium result got off to a slow start in race one of the 2020 Olympic Games.

Her 35th place of the 44 sailors that started the race in an Easterly wind that never rose above 9 knots will hopefully be discarded later in the qualifying series.

Without the need for full hiking skills, the light winds were always going to prove problematic.

Spain, Greece and Malayasia took the top three spots in a race that saw many pre-regatta favourites struggle.

Murphy said: “I’m relieved to get the first day out of the way, disappointed it didn’t go as I wanted it to. I did exactly what I didn’t want to in the first race, had a bad race, went the wrong way, didn’t stick with my plan, got caught up in a bit of an incident with another boat. I dealt badly with that by freaking out and doing the wrong thing".

Attention to detail - Annalise Murphy's sail reveals a tiny self adhesive lucky shamrock on her tell talesAttention to detail - Annalise Murphy's sail reveals a tiny self-adhesive lucky shamrock on her tell tales

The 'incident with the other boat' happened just before the start of the first race which saw Murphy come together with the Fijian Sophie Francis Morgan, whose mainsheet became entangled around Murphy's boom impeding her start plans.

Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) was 21st, while Rio Bronze Medallist Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) finished 6th. Alison Young (GBR) and Paige Railey (USA) finished 24th and 40th respectively.

There's just a glimpse of Annalise Murphy's second-row start to leeward of Peru (13 boats from right) in the first race of the Laser Radials in the Tokyo Olympic competition. The Irish Rio silver medalist started mid line and recorded a 35th in the first race of her 44-boat fleet, the biggest fleet of the Olympic regatta. Photo: Sailing EnergyThere's just a glimpse of Annalise Murphy's second-row start to leeward of Peru (13 boats from right) in day one of the Laser Radials in the Tokyo Olympic competition. The Irish Rio silver medalist started mid line and recorded a 35th in the first race of her 44-boat fleet, the biggest fleet of the Olympic regatta.  Photo: Sailing Energy

Second race in stronger breeze

The second race was in a slightly stronger breeze from the south and Annalise made big gains on the second beat which she maintained to finish in 12th place to lie 23rd overall.

Gemany leads, with Rio Bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom second and Croatia in third. Rio Gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) improved to lie 18th overall.

"I had a slightly better second race, I was gaining around the race course rather than trying to do damage control which was good. I’m glad the first day is done and I’m looking forward to moving up from here – no more mistakes.”, Murphy said.

With major rival Ann Marie Rindom of Denmark leading this group at the gybe mark, Annalise Murphy rounds just ahead of reigning gold medalist Marit Boumeester of the NetherlandsWith major rival Ann Marie Rindom of Denmark leading this group at the gybe mark, Annalise Murphy rounds just ahead of reigning gold medalist Marit Boumeester of the Netherlands

Few would have predicted that Germany’s Svenja Weger would emerge from the melée in first overall, following a solid fifth place in her opening race with a runaway victory in the next. Asked for the secret to her consistency, Weger said, "My coach gave me some really, really good information. I chose to go to the left side which was favoured a lot and which helped me have a good race. And then the second race, I don't know... I just started in the middle and played it from there."

The German couldn’t hide her excitement. "It's amazing. It's amazing. I don't know what to say about it. Like, I was almost crying when I was crossing the finish line, but it's a great feeling. I couldn't have imagined that the regatta would start like this for me."

Much more expected is that Anne-Marie Rindom sits in second overall after finishing sixth and fifth, and the Dane must be counting her lucky stars that she didn’t suffer the fate of other medal favourites. "I’m happy about my performance. It was a solid day. I made a great comeback in the second one, which I'm very proud of. It's not easy at the Games. There’s a lot of nerves."

Rindom was the bronze medallist from Rio 2016. Marit Bouwmeester, the reigning Olympic Champion from the Netherlands, opened her day with scores of 21,14, which leaves her in 18th overall. Five places further back in the standings is Murphy.

While some of the established names struggled with the unpredictable conditions, others seized the opportunity. Two points behind Rindom in third overall is Elena Vorobeva (CRO) who was vying for the front of the first race before being given a penalty for too much kinetics downwind. She came 11th in that heat and then followed with second place in the next.

Cristina Pujol (ESP) had the most thrilling of starts to her first Olympic Games. "I scored a first in my first race at the Olympic Games! I couldn't believe it! I'm very, very happy!"

On the other hand, spare a thought for Paige Railey of the USA who has been campaigning hard in the Laser Radial since 2005. Now at her third Olympic Games and widely considered a serious contender for the podium, she crossed the finish line of race one in 40th, and was disqualified in the next for starting too early. "It’s a rough day for me," said the 34-year-old. "Now I just need to take one race at a time and just do as good as I can."

Typhoon arrival 

As Afloat reported previously, a weakening approaching typhoon should bring stronger winds on Monday afternoon and Tuesday - meteorologists are predicting up to 25 knots for Tuesday.

Next races

Two more races are scheduled each day before a break on Wednesday.

The Radial fleet returns to racing on Thursday with the final qualifying race on Friday and the medal race scheduled for Sunday. 

The top ten boats from the series go through to the medal race.

Overall results are here

Published in Annalise Murphy

It’s the eve of competition for sailing at Tokyo 2020 and the boat park has been a place of focus and precision in the final 24 hours before battle commences in the Laser, Laser Radial and Men’s and Women’s RS:X.

There’s a broad array of names who could be challenging for the Laser Radial Women’s One Person Dinghy podium, notably Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) and Emma Plasschaert (BEL). Could Annalise Murphy’s late run yield another medal for Ireland, following on from her incredible silver medal performance in Brazil five years ago? Possibly Japan’s own Manami Doi (JPN) could make the most of local knowledge to cause an upset. But Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is a woman on a mission. With a silver from London 2012 and gold from Rio 2016, the defending Olympic Champion looks as strong as anyone for the title in Tokyo. Read more on this epic fight for Radial Gold here.

While other fleets are still training and putting their boats through the measurement process, the sailors in the four fleets that are due to begin racing on Sunday 25 July have either taken time out off-site to relax and unwind, if it’s possible to do so on the eve of the biggest regatta of your life, or crammed in some last-minute time on the water.

Then again, windsurfers pride themselves on their laid-back approach to life, and it’s hard to detect any nerves from the outside. What’s going on inside their heads though? Who’s going to rise to the occasion, and who will crumble under the pressure, under the weight of national expectation?

Someone who has been waiting four, no, five years for redemption after finishing in the ‘leather medal’ position of fourth place at Rio 2016 is Lilian de Geus. The Dutch windsurfer is seen as the favourite for gold in the Women’s RS:X fleet. A three-time world champion and reigning European champion, de Geus would probably trade all that international success for an Olympic gold.

"The Olympic Games is definitely the most important event," commented de Geus. "There is only one entrant per country per event, unlike at the Worlds, and that makes it a special event. It's a big event that you work towards for four years, or this time five years."

Enoshima with Mount Fuji watching over the field of play Photo: Sailing EnergyEnoshima with Mount Fuji watching over the field of play Photo: Sailing Energy

The waiting game is the hardest thing, and de Geus is not alone in wanting to get on with it, especially after the long, long delay caused by the pandemic. "I'm really looking forward to the start. It's been a long time with the one-year postponement."

Psychologically, the 27-year-old struggled to stay on track with her campaign. "For the first half-year we had no races, no competitions, and that was quite tough for me because you don't have any goals. I was World and European champion at the time, but I didn't have any motivation. I had struggles with my motivation until we got some competitions in and I got it back, and I went to Lanzarote to train. And then we had the Worlds in Cadiz and the European Championships, so we had a pretty good programme. I feel like I have a higher level now than I did last year."

Enoshima Olympic dinghy park (Above and below) Scenes from the Enoshima Olympic dinghy park

While the breeze during the build-up period has been mostly light to medium in Enoshima, the forecast points towards the effects of a strong weather system making itself known a couple of days from now. That doesn’t faze de Geus. In fact, she relishes the prospect of variety as it will help deal with the specialists in the fleet, the ‘one-breeze wonders’. "We had a lot of light winds, but you can't do anything about the forecast. It looks like we'll get some variation, some strong wind days. It would be nice to have some variation during the Olympics. It's more challenging."

Enoshima Olympic dinghy park

One of the benefits of being part of a bigger sailing team with participation across multiple events is the ability to share knowledge, particularly vital, race-winning intel on wind, wave and tidal conditions. Sailors starting later in the regatta will be watching the windsurfers and Lasers intently on day one of the competition. For the sailors - and for any fans wanting to dig into the detail - they can use the GPS tracking data to help work out which side of the course is paying.

While in the windsurfing there is the strong prospect of a Double Dutch performance, with de Geus looking strong in the women’s division and Kiran Badloe even more of a nailed-on favourite in the Men’s RS:X, the Laser Men’s One Person Dinghy fleet is wide open.

Matt Wearn carries the pressure of expectation, following in the footsteps of Tom Slingsby’s runaway gold for Australia at London 2012, then the last-gasp gold won at Rio 2016 by Tom Burton, the man Wearn beat to Aussie selection for Tokyo 2020. Can Wearn make it three in a row for Australia? Against Wearn you could equally put up Philipp Buhl (GER), Elliot Hanson (GBR), Tonci Stipanovic (CRO), Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA). Oh, and Brazil’s Robert Scheidt! Aged 48, he has competed at every Games since the Laser made its Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996. A regatta he won, by the way. Five medals already to his name, can the Brazilian magician make it number six in Tokyo?

Find out how to watch tracking in your country here.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that, by the end of day one of competition, the Netherlands could be leading in three out of four events.

The Laser Radial and the Men’s RS:X will be the first fleet to set sail at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The Men’s RS:X will sail three races on the Enoshima course area and the Laser Radial will sail two on Kamakura. The Laser fleet will follow at 14:30 on the Kamakura course area before the Women’s RS:X start the first of three races at 15:00.

- Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020

With silver and gold from the past two Olympic Games, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) looks well placed to score a hat trick of medals in the Laser Radial at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition.

However, the Dutch sailor will be hard pushed to match gold from Rio 2016, with a strong field ready to push the 31-year-old all the way. No one can question her commitment to the cause. She has won four world titles over the past 10 years, most recently in 2020.

See the Laser Radial view preview below

When she won the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima two years ago, Bouwmeester celebrated at a karaoke bar (favourite song: Barbie Girl by Aqua, since you ask). This time though, with COVID-19 rules in place, Bouwmeester is looking to make her boat sing and carry her to another gold medal.

Holland's Marit BouwmeesterHolland's Marit Bouwmeester

Perhaps the biggest threat to Dutch victory comes from Denmark and Anne-Marie Rindom who looks to improve on her bronze medal from Rio 2016. This will be her third Games and the Dane believes her best years are still ahead of her.

“In London I was young, and I was there to learn as much as possible,” commented Rindom. “For me just going there was a big thing and the result didn’t matter so much. It was a big experience just to go to the Olympics, especially when it was so close to Denmark. Rio was different. My goal was to go home with a medal and I knew that I had a real chance if everything came together. Everything became about how I could achieve this goal. I was preparing a lot. The whole experience after winning the bronze medal was amazing.”

Denmark's Anne-Marie RindomDenmark's Anne-Marie Rindom

Since Rio, Rindom has put together a stunning few years of world-beating results including world titles in 2015 and 2019, along with a silver medal at last year’s European Championships and the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima two years ago. She knows that she will have to put in a complete performance at the Games.

Rindom said, “The conditions in Tokyo are difficult, so learning how the wind reacts is very important. Besides that, I think that mental preparation is the key in winning a medal at the Olympics. At least 10 sailors have the sailing skills to win, but what puts you ahead are your mental skills. In my sailing, I try to make everything as simple as possible. And I see that as one of my strengths.”

Rindom is one of a number of female sailors who have enjoyed spending some time training on the SailGP professional circuit, on multimillion-dollar 50ft hydrofoiling catamarans capable of speed at least five times what she might expect to achieve on her humble Laser Radial. “I’ve been sailing the Laser for 12 years, and I needed a new perspective on the sport.” Joining the Danish SailGP team on the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda just a couple of months before Tokyo was a bit of a departure from a typical build-up to an Olympic Games, but no regrets from Rindom. “SailGP is a great opportunity to be a part of and learn from.”

There are bound to be difficult moments during the Games, but Rindom is ready for whatever comes her way. “I am working with a sport psychologist and adversity during big events is something that we prepare for. To be able to visualise those difficult situations and find a strategy to overcome them are crucial. Sailing is not about winning every race but about turning those difficult situations into ‘okay races.’ At the end of the regatta, that is what puts you on the podium.”

Emma Plasschaert’s big breakthrough came in 2018 with victory at the World Championships in Denmark. In 2019 the Belgian sailor first won the READY STEADY TOKYO – Sailing, Olympic test event and then also the Hempel World Cup. A double win on Olympic waters which surely bodes well for her hopes of standing on the podium. The last Belgian to reach the Radial podium was Evi van Acker who took bronze after a breathtaking Medal Race battle at London 2012, and van Acker will be head coach for the Belgian sailors in Tokyo.

“After a difficult year the pieces of the puzzle are slowly falling into place,” says the 27-year-old. Somehow, I was a little relieved the Games got postponed. Before it felt I still lacked some confidence in some areas, especially with tactics, race planning and starts. With the extra time we were able to figure it all out.”

As for her ambitions for Tokyo 2020, “I want to be able to look back on my race with no regrets, knowing that the sailor I showed is the best possible version of myself. Sailing is so unpredictable that sometimes you really can't control the outcome."

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy

Talking of that London 2012 Medal Race, where China took gold, the Netherlands (Marit Bouwmeester) silver, and Belgium (Evi van Acker) bronze, the one that missed out was Ireland’s Annalise Murphy.

Having led for much of the competition, the medal slipped away on that occasion. Murphy’s towering height - 1.86m - gives her a huge advantage in strong breeze but the Irish sailor worked really hard on her all-round skills and against all expectations came away from Rio 2016 with Olympic silver. She then turned her attention towards Tokyo 2020 but in a different class, the high-speed 49erFX. Murphy discovered there was too much to learn in too short a time, so she has come back to the Radial and is working hard to be race ready for Enoshima.

Ireland’s Annalise MurphyIreland’s Annalise Murphy

“I’m going to the Olympic Games for the third time, it’s just mad!” says the ever-enthusiastic Murphy. “After Rio, I spent some time in the Volvo Ocean Race, and really enjoyed being part of a crew so I competed for a while with Katie Tingle in the 49erFX. But as Tokyo came closer, I switched the focus back to the Laser Radial. I think the conditions in Tokyo could suit me, and I know I work harder than anyone else out there – so I’m ready for a good competition.”

Someone who has been working longer and harder on this quest is Paige Railey who has been part of the US National Sailing Team since 2005. Now aged 34, Railey has shifted her focus from the podium to the performance. "I just want to perform well. I want to go out there and execute the things I've been training for. If I do that, everything will fall into place."

Narrowly beaten to Olympic selection in 2008, when the woman that beat her - Anna Tunnicliffe - went on to win the gold medal for USA, Railey has suffered many other setbacks along the way. Not long after the Rio Games where she finished tenth, Railey was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that forced her to take time away from the sport. But she bounced back and remains as dedicated as ever to the task. In 2008 her older brother Zach won Olympic silver in the Finn, and Paige could make it a double.

Like Railey, Great Britain’s Alison Young is a veteran of the past two Olympic Sailing Competitions, finishing fifth in London and eighth in Rio. World Champion in 2016 and world bronze medallist in 2019, Young has always been hard to beat in a breeze and in the right conditions could contend for a medal.

Local fans will be wishing Manami Doi all the best in her bid to win a first ever women’s singlehanded medal for Japan. She is a veteran of two Olympic Games and is still only 27 years old. An eighth place at last year’s World Championship suggests the podium is within reach.

Japan's Manami DoiJapan's Manami Doi

Oldest sailor in the fleet, Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), has competed at four Games going back as far as Sydney 2000. In 2007 the Belarusian sailor won the World Championship and 14 years later, aged 42, Drozdovskaya still craves Olympic competition.

At the other end of the age spectrum is Vasileia Karachaliou who at the age of 24 represents Greece at her first Games. A fourth place at last year’s Europeans along with podium finishes at warm-up regattas in Lanzarote earlier this year suggest she could be hitting her stride in time for Tokyo.

Switzerland’s Maud Jayet says she’s ready for the biggest regatta of her life. “The goal is to fight for the medals as long as possible in the competition,” says the 25-year-old who was fifth at last year’s European Championship. “I don't want to blow my chances on the first or second day, which has happened to me in the past. This means that I will have to be consistent and avoid big mistakes. We'll see where it takes me at the end of the competition.”

In 2020 Nethra Kumanan became India's first woman to claim a World Cup medal in sailing. She clinched bronze at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami. The engineering student is breaking new ground in a country that shows little interest in sailing. “Most people don’t know sailing exists in India," she says, but adds, “I think it’s looking good because now we have more people competing in it at a higher level so I think more and more people are getting attracted to it. I am 22 and if someone younger were to come up to me, I’d tell them that this sport takes a lot of time, a lot of hours in the water but it’s all worth it. And you get to travel the world, meet people from different countries and experience them trying to do their best and you try to do better than them.”

The Laser Radial, Women’s One Person Dinghy, is the largest fleet in Tokyo with 44-boats confirmed to take to the start line. On the Kamakura racing area, their first race will commence at 1200 JST on Sunday 25 July. Ten races will follow ahead of the Medal Race on Sunday 1 August.

A full list of competitors is here

-Andy Rice

Published in Tokyo 2020
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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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