But it’s also been part of a longer return for the Cork sailor, who swapped competitive racing for coaching after success in the Optimist class as a junior last decade.
A reconnection with former junior peer Annalise on the Wednesday night scene in Dublin led to a fateful phone call a year ago, from the Olympic silver medallist to the primary school teacher: did Katie want to join her 49erFX Olympic campaign?
“I don’t think she’d have asked me if she didn’t think I could do it and I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t think deep down that I could do it either,” Katie tells The42.ie.
The 29-year-old was already deep into training and conditioning when Annalise returned from her stint in the Volvo Ocean Race, and the two started getting to grips with their new boat on Dublin Bay — the Olympian learning from Katie who had previous experience in two-handed dinghies.
However, a freak incident just weeks into training left Katie with a broken arm — and out of the water for four crucial months.
As needs must, Annalise shortly after resumed training over the winter in the warmer climes of Portugal, with Adam Hyland in Katie’s stead — while Katie hit the gym as soon as doctors allowed get back on the road to sailing fitness.
Earlier this year Annalise and Katie, how fully healed up, reunited and got back in their groove with the challenging 49erFX as their first big test — and first Tokyo 2020 qualifier — looms in Genoa just two weeks from now.
Another young sailor who faces a big test in Genoa is Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins.
The Laser Radial ace not only steps into the significant gap left by Annalise Murphy, whose Rio 2016 silver medal was in the class — she’s also in competition with teammate Aisling Keller for the single slot available to Ireland.
Aoife tells The Irish Times how she juggles the training regimen of her Tokyo 2020 campaign with the demands of her maths degree at Trinity College, not to mention the various expenses associated with performance sailing at the highest level.