London Olympics 2012 - Dramatic action for Irish sailors

by ISA 
Annalise Murphy (IRL), Laser Radial - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition today was medal race qualification day for Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial class. She reclaimed the overall lead after a third place in Race 9. The lead was brief as a seventh place in Race 10 means she is now third overall.

Incredibly only one point separates the top four sailors in what will undoubtedly be a nail biting medal race on Monday. James Espey has finished his Olympic competition finishing 36th overall in the 49 boat Laser class. Ger Owens and Scott Flanigan continued racing in the third day of the 470 class finishing 36th overall before their rest day tomorrow.

Annalise Murphy briefly regained her position at the top of the Laser Radial fleet in what was a dramatic Race 9. Two general recalls saw her opponent Alison Young (GBR) disqualified along with the sailors from BLR, NZL, GER, TUR and IOA. Murphy got off to a great start at the top of the fleet in fifth. By the third mark she had taken 40 seconds off the Chinese leader to lie in second place. She continued to fight hard within the top three against Xu (CHN) and Cebrian (ESP) to finished in third place, reclaiming her spot as first overall. Her closest competitors Bouwmeester (NED) finished sixth while Van Acker (BEL) finished in eighth which gave Murphy a four point lead on second place overall Van Acker and third place Xu who both had 31 points to Murphy’s 27.

Race 10 certainly proved to be a nerve racking way to finish the fleet racing. The first five boats to round the first and second marks were the top five medal contenders; Murphy (IRL), Van Acker (BEL), Xu (CHN), Bouwmeester (NED) and Young (GBR). Murphy then separated from the rest of the fleet taking the right hand gate while the others went left. It was a risky move but her gutsy tactics kept her in the top five. She then had a tough reach to the fourth mark and slipped back to seventh and stayed there, costing her the overall lead.

Murphy finishes the fleet racing in third overall with just an incredible one point separating the top four sailors. As the medal race is worth double points everything will hinge on Monday’s race. Leader Xu (CHN) is on 33 points, in second is Bouwmeester (NED) also on 33 points, in third is Murphy (IRL) on 34 points and in fourth is Van Acker (BEL) also on 34 points.

ISA Performance Director, James O’Callaghan remarked 'Everything now depends on the medal race. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how close it would be at the top, it’s unbelievable. Annalise has a lay day tomorrow to gather her composure and come out fighting on Monday. She’s proved she has what it takes so now all we can do is support her and let her do what she’s spent the last four years preparing for'.

On the Laser course, James Espey had his final day of racing at the Games. Espey got off to a brilliant start in Race 9. He worked hard amongst the leaders of the fleet, holding his position within the top 10 and even reaching seventh as he rounded the third mark. Only at the final mark did he slip back to finish a disappointing 25th but still his best result so far. Espey’s tenth and final race saw him finish 35th leaving him to finish 36th overall in the Laser class at the 2012 London Olympics.

'James sailed brilliantly at many points during the Games. This was his Olympic debut and no doubt he’ll have learned so much from the experience which he can take home and put in to practice for his 2016 campaign. Time now for him to relax, enjoy the atmosphere and cheer on the rest of his teammates' remarked O’Callaghan.

The 470 duo, Ger Owens and Scott Flanigan had a further two races today. The pair rounded the first mark of Race 5 in 23rd position but pulled it back, climbing eight places, to finish in 15th. They finished in their second race of the day in 22nd leaving them 25th overall. The 470 class have a rest day tomorrow before resuming racing on Monday.

Today was a rest day for Peter O’Leary and David Burrows in the Star class. They have successfully qualified for the medal race which will take place tomorrow. Unfortunately their position and points on the leader board means that they will not be in contention for a medal.

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are also on a rest day. They currently lie in 11th place in the 49er class. They will have four final fleet races before the top 10 progress to Wednesday’s medal race.

The 49er class will be the only class with fleet racing tomorrow. All other classes will be on a rest day except for the Star class who will sail their medal race. 49er sailing action starts at 12 noon in Weymouth. The Star medal race will be at 13.00.

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