By Will Downing
A frustrating day for Annalise Murphy saw her medal race in the Laser Radial sailing delayed three hours due to lack of wind, and then just as the action was about to begin, postponed for the day due to the winds turning dangerous.
Murphy lies third overall heading into the final event of the Laser Radial, where she finished fourth at the London Olympics four years ago.
Originally, the gold medal contenders were due to start competing just after 1pm Rio time, but calm weather conditions meant racing was not possible.
A sea breeze had been up in the morning before racing was due to commence, but suddenly died, as temperatures soared up 34 degrees Celsius.
With the competitors left ashore for three hours, and with races not allowed to start after 4:30pm due to darkness falling around 6pm each evening - it being the Brazilian winter - it was looking increasingly likely that no competition would happen for the remainder of the day
A late sea breeze kicked in from the south at around 4pm local time quite unexpectedly, meaning the boats were sent out onto the water by Sugarloaf Mountain.
But before they could set sail and start battling for the medals, conditions became unsafe for sailing, and the medal race was called off for the night.
The action is due to resume again tomorrow, with Murphy in a position of strength for Ireland’s second medal in Rio.
2013 European champion Murphy holds 57 points going into the double-points round, lying 10 behind leader Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, but tantalizingly only two points down on Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom, who is in the silver-medal position.
However, the 26-year-old from Rathfarnham has a position to defend too, holding a lead of nine points over fourth-placed Evi van Acker of Belgium, with Finn Tuula Tenkanen a further 2.6 points behind.
Murphy is up against the highest quality at the sharp end – Bouwmeester is twice world champion and won silver in London.
Rindom has also been world champion, while van Acker denied Murphy the bronze medal at London 2012.
Annalise gets bronze unless she finishes five places or more behind the Belgian, who would then overtake her.
Murphy will get silver if she finishes ahead of the Denmark boat, and if she combines this with getting five places ahead of the Netherlands, then it would be Olympic gold.
An announcement was due to be made in the evening as to when the medal race will happen.
Meanwhile, both Irish men’s 49er and women’s 49er FX crews were able to complete all three races today.
The 49er men of Matt McGovern and Ryan Seaton scored finishing positions of one 7th and two 13ths across the afternoon on Copacabana Bay, leaving them in touch with the medals in seventh place overall.
The Irish crew are lying on 67 points, 13 off bronze-medal placers Australia with three races remaining.
For the women’s 49er FX pairing of Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey, a sixth-place finish was joined by 18th and 19th spots in their other two races of the day at Niterói, seeing them lose ground and fall to 12th.
Brewster and Tidey have 86 points, 51 behind the medals, with three more races to go.