Murphy keeping pace with big guns in Mallorca
Annalise Murphy began the Olympic Classes Regatta in Mallorca with a tremendous flourish in heavy-weather sailing.
The 21-year-old National YC sailor opened her scoring with a second place in the 78-boat fleet of Laser Radials. In the next contest she went one better, clocking up a first.
But the winds were all over the place for the next two races -- and so were Murphy's placings, as she logged a 24th and a 14th. Things have looked up since, with an eighth and a seventh getting her back into the top 10; she now sits at ninth.
The pace is ferocious in one of the keenest classes of all, with American Laser Radial superstar Paige Railey out in front, but Murphy is undoubtedly in the frame.
Railey sails from the St Francis YC in San Francisco, but it's another club in her home port which has been hitting the headlines this week, with the Golden Gate YC -- hosts for the 2013 America's Cup -- receiving the news that 13 international teams have been definitely validated for the series, with a further two undergoing the final validation process.
And though entries officially closed a week ago, the well-resourced America's Cup Race Management organisation -- headed by Iain Murray -- is favourably inclined towards another couple of possible challengers.
But, even at 15 squads, this is high-powered stuff which gives a vivid picture of the changing global sailing and economic scene. For the first time ever, there's a Korean team, Canada is returning after many years' absence, and the strongest European challenges are from France and Sweden.
It won't be the America's Cup as we've known it. The final in 2013 is preceded by a two-year World Series using the 42ft catamarans which have recently been trialled in New Zealand, and will make their first truly competitive appearance at Cascais in Portugal this summer from August 6 to 14, before going on to Plymouth for a second series in September 10 to 18.
Next year will see racing in the AC 42s becoming more intense.
In 2013 the focus shifts to San Francisco and the 72ft catamarans, and the racing for the cup itself.
The main item of interest on the home front lies in events which take account of today's economic realities.
The Irish Cruiser Racing Association -- current holders of the Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent Sailing Club of the Year title -- are pulling out all the stops to ensure that their national championship from June 17 to 19 at Crosshaven will hit all the buttons in terms of value for money.
Certainly with the biennial Sovereigns Cup four-day series neatly placed in Kinsale three days later, the logistics of getting boats to the south coast seem well worthwhile.
A highlight of both events will be the strong international turnout of vintage Quarter Tonners, 25-footers which were all the rage internationally back in the 1980s.
Many have now been lovingly restored, yet are raced at a pace which has scant regard for their age.
Then the fleet will head towards Cork, with at least 15 boats nominated to go, and they'll have representation among the Corby 25s.