Plain sailing for Annalise

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy made a dream start to her first Olympic regatta when she delivered a confident pair of race wins in the Laser Radial class, sailing in the brisk wind conditions which she prefers.

Murphy showed no sign of stage fright on the biggest day of her sailing career, instead simply rolled out the kind of performance she has shown herself capable of many times on these waters.

“You can’t get much better than that, can you?’’ smiled Murphy. “But, of course, it’s only the first day, there’s a lot of racing left.’’

Replicating the same kind of opening day she did last December when she established the early lead at the World Championships in Perth, Murphy stuck with a simple game-plan and executed it perfectly. Twice she made clean starts off the left, pin end of the line and was progressively able to use her great upwind power to lead.

Wind conditions for the next two days are expected to continue to be strong, increasing tomorrow which should continue to allow Murphy to play to her strengths, but says she has not looked at the forecast.

“We have a forecast guy who tells us each morning and I take it from there. I just take whatever I get and don’t worry about it. I just have to sail the best I can.”

The occasion did not appear to get to Murphy in any way, taking her first morning pre-race routine as calmly as she was objective when she returned to shore.

“I actually was really calm. I was thinking that I should be nervous but I was actually very calm. I think it is because I have competed so much that it is my second home. Indeed I have sailed more here than I have at home.”

Murphy kept behind her current and past world champions such as Holland’s 2011 world champion Marit Bouwmeester and 2010 title winner Finland’s Sari Multala, who are among the most potent sailors in the stronger conditions like the 15-19kts which prevailed through the first two races. The Dutch sailor was ahead of her in the second race but was penalised, required to make a 720 degree turn.

“I just tried to keep it simple I could really not do much wrong today on a day like that,” explained Murphy, who went to pay tribute to her training partners Phillip Doran and Finn Lynch, the young Dublin sailor who took silver in the Radial class at the youth world championships in Dublin.

“It is good for me. I have go brilliant upwind speed. The last three years I have done so much strength and fitness work and more recently I have been training with a couple of guys which has really helped a lot.”

Star pairing Peter O’Leary and David Burrows slid from second overall to fifth after a difficult second race which saw them finish 14th. The Star class racing was extremely close and hard fought, world champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada also dropping correspondingly from first to fourth.

“It was more difficult today and I suppose we come ashore just happy that we managed to pull back a bit in the second race. The first race we were on the wrong side of everything and that is the way it goes sometimes. We are happy to keep the same approach. It all very close, said Burrows

Adding to the satisfaction of Murphy’s opening day, so too the 49er duo Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern came back to the dock pleased with a really solid opening on the difficult, inshore Nothe course, the ‘show court’ in front of the large, partisan crowds which line the grassy mound on the east side of the compact arena.

With a fourth and eighth from two heats sailed in the puffy, shifty winds which are typical of this course area, the Irish pair lie sixth overall.

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