‘Tougher competition than the Olympics’ was Ben Ainslie’s summary of Skandia Sail for Gold 2011. It was medal race day and the tension could be felt throughout the boat park as the elite of each Olympic discipline prepared to be tested. There was so much on the line – possible Olympic selection, ISAF World Cup points, the regatta result and of course a hefty dose of pride.
Talking of pride, all Irish sports fans should be very proud of young
21 years old U.C.D student, Annalise Murphy who sails out of the
National Yacht Club, for in gaining a bronze medal in today’s medal
race she truly ‘came of age’ in this field of the world’s top stars in
the Laser Radials. From a ‘hopeless’ looking 33rd on day one, Annalise
made a dramatic recovery ending up with a well deserved bronze medal
today. In achieving this she also managed to win five races during the
week – a tremedous achievement – and more especially as she also had
an even more disastrous 37th placing on Thursday. Yet she never gave
up and was duly rewarded for her efforts.
The Laser Radials were keen to get going, and a general recall brought
the black flag out for the second attempt – a sure sign that race
officials were anxious to keep things moving to the schedule. Marit
Bouwmeester was never out of the top three throughout the race and
never looked challenged for gold. She made absolutely certain of it
with a strong final leg to win both the race and the gold medal.
Behind Bouwmeester, Evi van Acker was making it hard to hold onto her
silver medal, after rounding the first mark last. But the Belgian
stormed back through the fleet to finish third and secure silver.
Annalise finished sixth in that medal race but it was enough to retain
the bronze and stave off the strong challenge of Great Britain’s
Charlotte Dobson and French champion Sophie Deturckheim. Still a long
way to go before the 2012 Games at the same Weymouth and Portland
venue but this was a fine performance from the young Dubliner and she
is improving all the time.
LASER Radial After Medal Race
1. NED 200444- BOUWMEESTER Marit (40pts)
2. BEL 197514 VAN ACKER Evi (50pts)
3. IRL 199417- MURPHY Annalise (69pts)
No one was expecting the Finn medal race – the last of the day – to be
an anti-climax. And no one was disappointed. Only one man, Giles Scott
(GBR) could take the gold medal from triple Olympic Champion, Ben
Ainslie – who also happens to be the reigning World Match Racing
Champion. There was always going to be fireworks and they started
early, with the pair battling way behind the line as the others
jostled to start. Ainslie came out in front and kept his foot on his
younger rival’s throat all the way up the first leg, the pair still
trailing the fleet, which was all that Ainslie really required with a
16 point overall lead. But then the unexpected happened… Scott
blasted past Ainslie on the run.
The Olympic legend reversed the tables on the next windward leg to
lead again at the final turning mark, only for Scott to do the same
thing on the final run – despite some aggressive defending from
Ainslie. But that one place was vital to Scott, who needed ninth to
secure his silver medal from Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) by a single
point. A tremendous physical display of no-limits pumping saw Scott
safely home for silver, with Kljakovic Gaspic taking bronze from medal
race winner, and reigning World Champion, Ed Wright (GBR).
A great week, in difficult weather conditions – a superbly organised
event, and from an Irish perspective a well deserved bronze from
Annalise Murphy. Little wonder that ‘Irish eyes were smiling’ at
Weymouth on Saturday night.