Murphy still well in hunt for gold

Ireland’s best remaining hope of a sailing medal, Annalise Murphy, goes into her final two Laser Radial fleet races today in second place.

Despite the difficult, shifty conditions she retained a high level of consistency — still not counting a score outside of the top 10 — after she finished second and 10th yesterday.

Even though she slipped off the top of the leaderboard, she is just one point behind Evi van Acker, the Belgian who is ranked world No 1 and still two points up on 2010 world champion Marit Bouwmeester. But the tight, smaller harbour course with its multiple rounds has not been as good for Murphy as the open sea track where the waves are bigger, the breeze stronger and more consistent.

“It is really difficult inside the harbour, the course is quite shifty and the course is short but at four laps and over that course anything can happen. It is difficult to stay consistent,” explained Murphy

“In the second race I did not have a good start, the girls at the committee boat had much better starts than me and so that made it much harder to get back. I spent the whole race trying to get by people because it was a real one-way track.

“I have given it everything over the last three years so to have these first four days’ results like they are, I feel like everything has worked out.”

Star crew Peter O’Leary and David Burrows restored a small measure of satisfaction from what visibly has been a traumatic regatta for them both when they ensured qualification for Sunday’s medal race.

They started well in both races yesterday but once again were not able to impose themselves near the top of the fleet. In the first race they were penalised for excessive kinetics, which dropped them to 11th place, but they rallied to a seventh in the second race:

“We are somewhat relieved to have qualified for the medal race. We spent the first third of the races in good shape after making two good starts.

“But it is very important to us now to go out and take the opportunity to prove we are competitive, to show what we really have got.”

Their former training partners Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, the 2008 Olympic gold medallists, hold a lead of eight points going into tomorrow.

In the 49er class, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern now lie 11th overall.

“I’m really pleased with how Ryan and Matt are doing. The 49er is a very physically demanding boat and they’ve been racing for five days. The rest [today] will allow their bodies recuperate so they can come out revitalised for Sunday and Monday,” said ISA performance director James O’Callaghan.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Ben Ainslie will become the most successful sailor in Olympic history if he secures gold from what promises to be an incredible showdown with Denmark’s Jonas Hoegh-Christensen.

Four-times Olympic medallist Ainslie needs only to beat the Dane in the medal race and have Holland’s Pieter-Jan Postma within sight to win the Finn title for the third time tomorrow.

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