Sailing: Plain sailing for Murphy after strong opening to Worlds
Freshening winds marked the opening day of the two-week ISAF World Sailing Championships at Perth, Australia yesterday, where Annalise Murphy set the pace for the Irish squad with a win in her second race of the day.
More than 100 boats were competing in her class -- the Laser Radial single-handed -- and they were split into two flights to accommodate the large turnout.
Murphy had a poor start to the first race and placed 30th, but she came back immediately to dominate the fleet and lead world champion Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands across the finishing line.
Conditions freshened from light to around 16 knots, though the intense heat of around 36C brought separate challenges of hydration and heat exhaustion to the sailors, who spent around five hours at sea.
Conditions are expected to ease from today onwards. Murphy still has another eight races to go before the medal race final for the top 10 boats in her class next Sunday -- a place in this event would certainly deliver qualification for the London 2012 Olympics.
Meanwhile, the other Irish boats have also started competition but are split over two weeks. Murphy is joined on the water by veteran Ger Owens with Scott Flanigan, who had an 18th and seventh yesterday to place 21st overnight in the Two Person Dinghy.
Ross Hamilton in the Finn single-hander placed 60th overall after his first racing day at the Worlds.
Next week sees the Star keelboat pairing of Peter O'Leary and David Burrows take to the waters as they prepare for their qualification attempt for London 2012.
The fresh-to-strong winds will also deliver some spectacular action from the 49er skiffs, where Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are also hoping to reach the qualification standard.
details in factfile