Annalise Murphy defies odds to hit the front

In a similar yet different story to the London 2012 Olympic Sailing regatta, Ireland’s Annalise Murphy took over the lead in the Women’s single-handed event yesterday that now has four races remaining in the qualification round.

Strong winds across the new course area off Copacabana Beach in open ocean as opposed to the sheltered waters of the opening two days saw large swells and physically exhausting conditions for both women and mens’ single-handed events.

In spite of the sea state, Murphy scored a fifth and a second place yesterday in both 50-minute races to push Chinese Gold medallist Lijia Xu from first place.

But in contrast to London four years ago when the Irish sailor took an early overall lead, her performance this week hasn’t been a series of runaway first places that earned her the nickname of “the lever” and a reputation as a heavy airs performer.

Losing weight to compete more effectively with the smaller and lighter medallist from London has seen her return a series of uninspiring pre-Olympics results.

However, her sights have been exclusively fixed on Rio including 10 training and competitive events here to learn the race areas’ anomalies.

“I’ve been training for a light wind event here so to get a day like that was a bit of a shock — it’s definitely harder being a bit lighter,” said Murphy.

“I probably shouldn’t have capsized a couple of times but overall I’m happy.”

However, her standing is far from assured with the leading boats in their 36-strong class all within one or two points of each other and lighter, more unpredictable weather forecast for the coming days.

“It’s not so easy to win races over the last few years as everyone is faster now and I don’t have the speed advantage anymore,” she admitted.

Meanwhile, Carlow’s Finn Lynch had another mixed day and was pleased to finish in 24th place overall.

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