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Slow Start for Annalise Murphy in Tokyo Defence of Radial Olympic Silver Medal

25th July 2021
Ireland's Annalise Murphy competing in the first races of the Tokyo Sailing Competition in the Laser Radial class
Annalise Murphy competing in the first races of the Tokyo Sailing Competition in the Laser Radial class Credit: Sailing Energy

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

Afloat.ie Team

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Annalise Murphy, Olympic Silver Medalist

The National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy (born 1 February 1990) is a Dublin Bay sailor who won a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is a native of Rathfarnham, a suburb of Dublin.

Murphy competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Women's Laser Radial class. She won her first four days of sailing at the London Olympics and, on the fifth day, came in 8th and 19th position.

They were results that catapulted her on to the international stage but those within the tiny sport of Irish sailing already knew her of world-class capability in a breeze and were not surprised.

On the sixth day of the competition, she came 2nd and 10th and slipped down to second, just one point behind the Belgian world number one.

Annalise was a strong contender for the gold medal but in the medal race, she was overtaken on the final leg by her competitors and finished in 4th, her personal best at a world-class regatta and Ireland's best Olympic class result in 30 years.

Radial European Gold

Murphy won her first major medal at an international event the following year on home waters when she won gold at the 2013 European Sailing Championships on Dublin Bay.

Typically, her track record continues to show that she performs best in strong breezes that suit her large stature (height: 1.86 m Weight: 72 kg).

She had many international successes on her road to Rio 2016 but also some serious setbacks including a silver fleet finish in flukey winds at the world championships in the April of Olympic year itself.

Olympic Silver Medal

On 16 August 2016, Murphy won the silver medal in the Laser Radial at the 2016 Summer Olympics defying many who said her weight and size would go against her in Rio's light winds.

As Irish Times Sailing Correspondent David O'Brien pointed out: " [The medal] was made all the more significant because her string of consistent results was achieved in a variety of conditions, the hallmark of a great sailor. The medal race itself was a sailing master class by the Dubliner in some decidedly fickle conditions under Sugarloaf mountain".

It was true that her eight-year voyage ended with a silver lining but even then Murphy was plotting to go one better in Tokyo four years later.

Sportswoman of the Year

In December 2016, she was honoured as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland 2016 Sportswoman of the Year.

In March, 2017, Annalise Murphy was chosen as the grand marshal of the Dublin St Patrick's day parade in recognition of her achievement at the Rio Olympics.

She became the Female World Champion at the Moth Worlds in July 2017 in Italy but it came at a high price for the Olympic Silver medallist. A violent capsize in the last race caused her to sustain a knee injury which subsequent scans revealed to be serious. 

Volvo Ocean Race

The injury was a blow for her return to the Olympic Laser Radial discipline and she withdrew from the 2017 World Championships. But, later that August, to the surprise of many, Murphy put her Tokyo 2020 ambitions on hold for a Volvo Ocean Race crew spot and joined Dee Caffari’s new Turn the Tide On Plastic team that would ultimately finish sixth from seventh overall in a global circumnavigation odyssey.

Quits Radial for 49erFX

There were further raised eyebrows nine months later when, during a break in Volvo Ocean Race proceedings, in May 2018 Murphy announced she was quitting the Laser Radial dinghy and was launching a 49er FX campaign for Tokyo 2020. Critics said she had left too little time to get up to speed for Tokyo in a new double-handed class.

After a 'hugely challenging' fourteen months for Murphy and her crew Katie Tingle, it was decided after the 2019 summer season that their 'Olympic medal goal' was no longer realistic, and the campaign came to an end. Murphy saying in interviews “I guess the World Cup in Japan was a bit of a wakeup call for me, I was unable to see a medal in less than twelve months and that was always the goal".

The pair raced in just six major regattas in a six-month timeframe. 

Return to Radial

In September 2019, Murphy returned to the Laser Radial dinghy and lead a four-way trial for the Tokyo 2020 Irish Olympic spot after the first of three trials when she finished 12th at the Melbourne World Championships in February 2020.

Selection for Tokyo 2021

On June 11, Irish Sailing announced Annalise Murphy had been nominated in the Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Murphy secured the Laser Radial nomination after the conclusion of a cut short trials in which rivals Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon also competed.

Disappointment at Tokyo 2021

After her third Olympic Regatta, there was disappointment for Murphy who finished 18th overall in Tokyo. On coming ashore after the last race, she indicated her intention to return to studies and retire from Olympic sailing.  

On 6th Aguust 2020, Murphy wrote on Facebook:  "I am finally back home and it’s been a week since I finished racing, I have been lucky enough to experience the highs and the lows of the Olympics. I am really disappointed, I can’t pretend that I am not. I wasn’t good enough last week, the more mistakes I made the more I lost confidence in my decision making. Two years ago I made a plan to try and win a gold medal in the Radial, I believed that with my work ethic and attitude to learning, that everything would work out for me. It didn’t work out this time but I do believe that it’s worth dreaming of winning Olympic medals as I’m proof that it is possible, I also know how scary it is to try knowing you might not be good enough!
I am disappointed for Rory who has been my coach for 15 years, we’ve had some great times together and I wish I could have finished that on a high. I have so much respect for Olympic sailing coaches. They also have to dedicate their lives to getting to the games. I know I’ll always appreciate the impact Rory has had on my life as a person.
I am so grateful for the support I have got from my family and friends, I have definitely been selfish with my time all these years and I hope I can now make that up to you all! Thanks to Kate, Mark and Rónán for always having my back! Thank you to my sponsors for believing in me and supporting me. Thank you Tokyo for making these games happen! It means so much to the athletes to get this chance to do the Olympics.
I am not too sure what is next for me, I definitely don’t hate sailing which is a positive. I love this sport, even when it doesn’t love me 😂. Thank you everyone for all the kind words I am finally getting a chance to read!"

Annalise Murphy, Olympic Sailor FAQs

Annalise Murphy is Ireland’s best performing sailor at Olympic level, with a silver medal in the Laser Radial from Rio 2016.

Annalise Murphy is from Rathfarnham, a suburb in south Co Dublin with a population of some 17,000.

Annalise Murphy was born on 1 February 1990, which makes her 30 years old as of 2020.

Annalise Murphy’s main competition class is the Laser Radial. Annalise has also competed in the 49erFX two-handed class, and has raced foiling Moths at international level. In 2017, she raced around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race.

In May 2018, Annalise Murphy announced she was quitting the Laser Radial and launching a campaign for Tokyo 2020 in the 49erFX with friend Katie Tingle. The pairing faced a setback later that year when Tingle broke her arm during training, and they did not see their first competition until April 2019. After a disappointing series of races during the year, Murphy brought their campaign to an end in September 2019 and resumed her campaign for the Laser Radial.

Annalise Murphy is a longtime and honorary member of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Aside from her Olympic success, Annalise Murphy won gold at the 2013 European Sailing Championships on Dublin Bay.

So far Annalise Murphy has represented Ireland at two Olympic Games.

Annalise Murphy has one Olympic medal, a silver in the Women’s Laser Radial from Rio 2016.

Yes; on 11 June 2020, Irish Sailing announced Annalise Murphy had been nominated in the Women’s Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

Yes; in December 2016, Annalise Murphy was honoured as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland 2016 Sportswoman of the Year. In the same year, she was also awarded Irish Sailor of the Year.

Yes, Annalise Murphy crewed on eight legs of the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race.

Annalise Murphy was a crew member on Turn the Tide on Plastic, skippered by British offshore sailor Dee Caffari.

Annalise Murphy’s mother is Cathy McAleavy, who competed as a sailor in the 470 class at the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988.

Annalise Murphy’s father is Con Murphy, a pilot by profession who is also an Olympic sailing race official.

Annalise Murphy trains under Irish Sailing Performance head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, with whom she also prepared for her silver medal performance in Rio 2016.

Annalise Murphy trains with the rest of the team based at the Irish Sailing Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Annalise Murphy height is billed as 6 ft 1 in, or 183cm.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Annalise Murphy Significant Results

2016: Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Silver

2013: European Championships, Dublin, Ireland – Gold

2012: Summer Olympics, London, UK – 4th

2011: World Championships, Perth, Australia – 6th

2010: Skandia Sail for Gold regatta – 10th

2010: Became the first woman to win the Irish National Championships.

2009: World Championships – 8th

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