#annalisemurphy – No sooner had she returned to Dublin from last week's Moth Worlds in Australia than Laser Radial ace Annalise Murphy was on her way to Florida yesterday for the second regatta of the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup series this Saturday. In a pre–Olympic year, the stakes are high for Rio as the Olympic circuit moves up a gear.
Ireland is sending a very full squad to Florida if Miami registrations are anything to go by. 13 Irish sailors are signed up across five key Olympic sailing classes, including four in the mens Laser, two in the women's radial, a mens 49er, a women's 49erfx plus a paralympic Sonar keelboat. Expectations are running high for Olympic places but although Ireland secured three Olympic berths for Rio in Santander last September, the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has yet to publish its own selection criteria on how Irish sailors might contest these slots.
It had been suggested the criteria would be published last October but there is still no official publication of same. Last September, David O'Brien wrote in the Irish Times that sailing places for Rio could come down to 'gut feeling', saying selectors must have as primary guiding factor the maximisation of Irish medal performances in 2016 and subsequent games. It prompted Afloat's Water Rat to draw up a Different Approach to Olympic Sailing Nominations: No Trials, Just Pure Selection?
Meanwhile, as sailors continue to train, this week Biscayne Bay will come alive with the sails of 651 boats, featuring 848 sailors from 63 nations and Ireland is taking its place on five start lines.
In the mens Laser there will be Chris Russell from Belfast, Finn Lynch from Blessington, James Espey from Bangor and Darragh O'Sullivan from Cork Harbour. Annalise is joined by Erica Ruigrok of Skerries in the Radial. Also slated is Belfast pair Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er skiff, Dublin's Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49erfx and Kinsale's John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O'Carroll in the Sonar.
The 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami marks the second anniversary of competition for the Nacra 17.
Beijing 2008 Tornado Olympic gold medallist Fernando Echavarri (ESP) will take to Nacra 17 racing for the first time in Miami. Echavarri has paired up with 2011 470 World Champion Tara Pacheco who formerly sailed with Iker Martinez. Pacheco and Martinez, who were coached by Echavarri, split up towards the end of 2014 with Martinez teaming up with Marina Lopez.
Echavarri joins a list of highly experienced competitors in the Miami Nacra 17 fleet. Two time Nacra 17 World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA), Sofia Bekatorou and Konstantinos Trigonis (GRE), Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) and Puerto Rico's Enrique Figueroa, sailing with Franchesca Valdes Ortega, all have vast experience that they'll put into practice in Miami.
Great Britain's Giles Scott will spearhead the Finn fleet, aiming to defend his title and continue his unbeaten run of six ranked regattas and the Aquece Rio - International Sailing Regatta 2014 (Olympic Test Event).
The racing will be available to watch in 2D and 3D via the live tracking. HERE.