Wednesday 21 February 2018

Sailing: Five-star Murphy defies extremes to scoop award

WM Nixon

It's not often that Irish sailors are at a loss for words, but the outcome of the huge Delta Lloyd Olympic Classes regatta in the Netherlands on Sunday had our top performer's scoreline being described as everything from startling, through extraordinary, to just plain weird.

Be that as it may, Annalise Murphy of the National YC is the clear winner of the Irish Independent/ Sailor of the Month award for May after recording an outstanding five race wins in the 63-strong Women's Laser Radial class at Medemblik, an event which was blasted by the most severe weather of May.

On this summery weekend, that weather is now but a vague memory. But the 21-year-old Murphy's performance becomes even more remarkable the more we look at it. Twice she led overall, twice she lost it to regain the lead, yet, at the end, despite those five great wins, she failed to get into the medals.

It was a regatta of extremes, and the tougher the weather, the better the Irish sailor's showing.

On Day 3, conditions deteriorated so rapidly that all fleets except the Laser Radials were ordered back to port before racing could be completed -- the Laser Radials, with Murphy in the lead, had powered through their race to such good effect that they were finished before the winds and weather went completely crazy.

Thus Ireland's hope went into Day 4 in the points lead, but things then went completely pear-shaped.

In both that day's races, Murphy was in a group that was over the line at the start. That results in disqualification. In a series like this, you can carry maybe one 'DSQ', but not two. Yet she showed her mettle with more wins before the series finished on Sunday, even if that wasn't enough to offset the two losses.

In all, an astonishing, extraordinary, startling, mind-blowing performance; stellar stuff, and worthy of the mad May award. But there's barely time to digest it, as Ireland's Olympic hopefuls are now squaring up for next week's Sail for Gold regatta at the 2012 Olympic venue off England's Dorset coast -- racing is from June 6 to June 11, and the stakes are high.

The current Sailor of the Year, Anthony O'Leary of Cork, and the previous holder, designer Mark Mills of Wicklow, were in competition of sorts at the Scottish Series, which concluded at Tarbert on Monday. We say 'of sorts' because, while O'Leary was sailing his Commodore's Cup-winning Ker 39 Antix, Mills was represented by the King 40 Tokoloshe with Michael Bartholomew of Capetown.

They've raced against each other before, and this time around it was the Mills design's turn to win their class.

However, there was hope for Ireland's sailing future, as the McInnes Trophy for the best crew under 25 in the entire series went to Ross McDonald's Irish team on the X332 Equinox -- the crew on the Howth boat came from all parts of Ireland. They were Geoff Tait, Paddy Good, Rob O'Leary and Jamie Carlton.

Meanwhile, down in the Irish Sea, Matt Davis and his crew on the Skerries-based Sigma 400 Raging Bull started the new offshore season as they finished last year. The 2010 ISORA Champions from Fingal won the weekend's cross-channel race.

Irish Independent

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