Sailing: Hopkins continues to shine

With just two races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championships in Japan this morning, Aoife Hopkins has moved into 41st place overall in the 55-strong Gold fleet finals series.

Sailing: Hopkins continues to shine

By David Branigan

With just two races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championships in Japan this morning, Aoife Hopkins has moved into 41st place overall in the 55-strong Gold fleet finals series. The windiest day of the regatta so far saw the Howth, Co Dublin sailor start too eagerly and was disqualified before going on to score a 25th place in the next race.

Most importantly for Irish prospects for the Tokyo Olympics, Hopkins’ placing makes Ireland the fifth of 10 nations poised to take nominations for the Games. While mathematically still possible to be overtaken by the four nations set to be disappointed today, the Dublin sailor’s form has grown steadily since the series started last Friday.

Winds were at their freshest on Tuesday, gusting to 20 knots and delivering surfing conditions on Miho Bay for the already fatigued fleet. Those same fresh winds proved to be an obstacle for Lough Derg’s Aisling Keller who slipped from 40th overall to 49th after a challenging day afloat.

The Nenagh sailor managed good starts and upwind legs but the fast, downwind stages of both races exposed an area that is certain to be addressed in training in the coming months.

In spite of the slippage, Keller’s placing with two races remaining equates to the 10th nation place and there remains the prospect that both Irish contenders can achieve the qualifying standard.

The forecast for Wednesday is for more testing conditions, a marked contrast to the qualification round last weekend that was beset by light winds. However, the programme does look set to achieve the remaining two races that would see the event programme completed less one race dropped from the opening days.

In the unlikely event that both Irish sailors crash out of the final day and miss qualification entirely at this opportunity, two further European places will be decided at next April’s World Cup of Sailing event in Genoa.

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