News

06
6th of September 2013

Fourth place -  the so called leather medal - is always the hardest result to accept for an Olympic athlete. But for both the 2012 Olympic sailors who collected their respective Laser European titles today after a thrilling final day on the sparkling waters off Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, winning the first big championship since they finished fourth in the Laser Olympic regatta marked the first steps on the long road from 2013 Dublin Bay to Rio 2016 on Guanabara Bay, with a key title victory. 

For 23 year old Annalise Murphy from Providence Team IRL it was a fairy-tale win, her first ever major Laser title, won on the waters where she learned and trained as a youngster and the same sea to which returned to the Laser in the freezing cold of last November, her first time back in the boat since the bitter disappointment of losing an Olympic medal on the last race. Murphy had lead overall after the first two days of her first Olympic regatta, winning four races in succession and went in to the Medal Race finale as one of four girls who were only one point apart.

Just over a year ago Murphy proved to be the one who finished empty handed and disappointed in but as she triumphantly topped out the European Championship standings today, with eight wins from 12 starts, she left Holland’s 2012 silver medallist Marit Bowmeester in her wake as runner up, a conclusive 22 points behind, and Belgium’s bronze medallist Evi van Acker 31 points adrift. Britain’s Alison Young took third overall. 

Murphy was carried up the slip of the National Yacht Club shoulder high by her fellow Irish sailors still in her Laser, smiling broadly. “It was pretty tough after the Olympics. It hurt to have finished fourth, especially to have been in a medal position all the way through. It made me train pretty hard this year, I have been pretty focused these last few months and I knew I had a goal here. I was not too sure how everyone else was going to perform. I am so delighted.”  

“It is so special to win here at my home club. My mum and dad are here, my sister is here. It is awesome, it is great to see all the club members here sharing it with me. They have been such a huge support for me over the last two years. It is great. Rio is still three years away. I have a lot of training to do and a lot of racing, But this feels great to win my first big event.” 

“I have not done any more or less training here or before Weymouth. I have always done plenty. I have another year’s experience. I was extremely nervous after my first two days at the Olympics after winning the first four races. But here, after winning so many races, I did not have that same nervous feeling, because I knew what not to do. I was a bit apprehensive today but mostly I want to just prove I could go out and have another good day.” 

In the Men’s Laser Radial fleet Australia’s Tristan Brown retained the World title despite a shaky final day. Brown, from Fremantle, WA, is a regular training partner for Marit Bouwmeester who he has worked with since two years before she won the Women’s Radial World 2011 title. Poland’s three times World Champion Marcin Rudawski pipped 17 year old local ace Finn Lynch, who won silver at last year’s ISAF Youth World Championships, to win the European Men’s Radial championship.  

But Ireland’s Finn Lynch didn’t fare too badly either. The 17 year old from Bennekerry, Co. Carlow is the 2013 U21 Men’s Laser Radial World Champion. He also won Bronze in the overall World Championship and Silver in the European Championship. The ISA Academy teenager sailed consistently throughout the 12 regatta races notching up nine top 5 finishes including two race wins. 

Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic secured the Laser Men’s European title for the third time, following wins in 2010 and 2011. But it was only within the final 500 metres of the last race that he took the one place that ensured the championship and the European Trophy were both his. In the closest finish to the hardest fought Laser European Championship for many years, the sailor from Split emerged one point ahead of Brazil’s five times Olympic medallist and eight times World Champion Robert Scheidt in the European Trophy, and had just two points in hand over Holland’s Rutger van Schaardenburg. 

After a full diet of 12 races on Dublin Bay in a broad range of conditions, from 5 to 20 knots and most directions of the compass, only five points separated Stipanovic from Great Britain’s Nick Thompson who started the final day with a two points lead but finished fifth overall. On Weymouth & Portland’s notorious Medal Race arena 14 months ago Stipanovic rounded the final gate in bronze medal position but rather than cover, he tacked away from Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren who worked ahead to steal the medal. 

The doughty Croat gave himself just a month off from training and has worked tirelessly since. Murphy took time away from the Laser after the 2012 Games but retained her fitness with competitive triathlon and iron-man events. As respective rewards for their European victories Murphy was due to treat herself to a ‘99’ cone from legendary local ice-cream Teddy’s of Dun Laoghaire maker while Stipanovic was relishing to seven days at home, looking forwards to long walks with his beloved dog. 

Stipanovic, World Championships runner up last year in Boltenhagen, Germany returned to the boat park this afternoon dazed but delighted, confirming this was significantly harder than his previous European titles. “This was the hardest because when it was not going good I was pushing, pushing. No one could say I was lucky.” 

“I am sailing better than this time last year. I am fitter and stronger for the strong winds when I am feeling more comfortable.”  

“It was so hard today. I was trying to do the best I could. On the first upwind mark it was not looking good I was 31st and managed to finish eighth. So I was leading by one point. The second race we were all close but I lost the wind pressure downwind and they all passed me. Then I knew I had to push more. In the end I finished sixth. That was enough. It was so hard.” 

Of his fourth place at last year’s Olympic Games, he said “The Olympics finished last year and that is it. And the door is closed. Now it is a new road to Rio. I don’t think about the Olympics, what happened. I had very little time off because I did not do my job properly, so I had to train more and not to rest. So I started working almost immediately to be better for Rio.” 

Robert Scheidt, back in the Laser after a seven years gap, proved he is close to his championship winning best. Two weighty scores in the four Finals races meant Scheidt counted a 23rd in his 46 pts final aggregate. Otherwise he never finished worse than fourth and lead overall into the final race. “Overall I am happy to finish second” Scheidt said, “I had two big scores in this regatta a 24th and a 23rd, so to end up second is a good result. But overall it was a great regatta, testing all the skills strong medium and light winds, current, very high level competitors. I am glad to have come here. And for me the main thing is my performance not necessarily the result.” 

Rutger van Schaardenburg missed the European title by two points but Holland’s Laser sailors finish runners up in both Men’s and Women’s Olympic classes. He said “I am really happy with my second in the last race and in fact my end result as well, but two points from being European champion is pretty hard to take at this moment. That is really hard, you start to think about those races which went before, maybe the odd point here and there you could have gained. But, then, that is what makes the difference between being champion and runner up. I am really pleased, but when it is that close it is hard.” 

Poland’s three times World Champion Marcin Rudawski pipped 17 year old local ace Finn Lynch, who won silver at last year’s ISAF Youth World Championships, to win the European Men’s Radial championship.  

See www.lasereuropeans2013.com for full results.

*** *** ***
5th of September 2013
Penultimate Day

Annalise Murphy goes into the final races of the Laser European and World Championships tomorrow on her native Dublin Bay with a comprehensive 17 point lead ahead of Holland’s Olympic silver medallist Marit Bowmeester. 

With the prospect of a breezy finale on the waters off Dun Laoghaire Murphy is looking to resume the same kind of form which has led to seven wins from her nine starts here and convert her big lead to her first major Laser Radial title.  A disappointing 27th in today’s light breezes is her discardable result. 

In contrast the contest for the titles and trophies in the Olympic men’s fleet is very delicately poised after two tricky races in light and unpredictable northerly winds today which made consistency very elusive. Indeed of the top ten sailors in the Men’s fleet all sailed one good result and one poor, discarded race. 

As Britain’s Nick Thompson promoted himself to the top of the standings with a second place in the second of their pair of races today to earn a two points margin ahead of Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic and three up on Holland’s Rutger Schaardenburg, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt returned to shore frustrated to have scored his second poor result in consecutive days. After winning the first race he fell into a wind hole in the second contest and struggled to a 24th.  

Scheidt, who will bid for his ninth Laser world title in Oman in November, has returned to the class after seven years in the Star keelboat. He believes that racing in amongst most of the best in the class at the moment he is close to being back to his best, but needs to polish up on his consistency. 

“I think that independent of tomorrow’s results I have the chance to win regattas the way that I am sailing.” Scheidt confirmed today, “I think that I have already proven this week that I sail well in strong winds, I can sail well in light winds. I am still not as consistent as I used to be but it shows the field is pretty open and I can still do well.” 

After taking time out from the Laser Thompson, who missed out on the British Sailing Team’s selection to the last Olympics despite twice finishing runner up at consecutive World Championships behind Australia’s Tom Slingsby, would love to mark his return with the first major title of his long and distinguished career. Since winning the 2004 ISAF Youth World title in 2004, Thompson has won world cup and international regattas but has yet to win a major class title. 

“I am pleased with the way I have sailed at the event so far” Thompson said, “I have made few mistakes. The Worlds is the main focus but this event is hugely important, but for me it is nice to feel I am sailing back on top of my game again. The competition is great with Rutger, Scheidt and Tonci all up there and so I am looking to an interesting final day.” 

Thompson’s pair of results – a 30th and a second – were characteristic of the day’s highly unpredictable conditions. In the offshore northerly breeze, choosing the best side of the first beat was key but there were big holes in the breeze which summarily halted many of the top seeds in their tracks. 

Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic, twice European champion in the past, has a slightly better discard in his locker, but Thompson has been better in the stronger breeze, scoring best of the fleet in Wednesday’s wilder winds. 

Although the men finished two races for the Olympic rigged fleets, the corresponding Women’s Radial class only managed one because the fickle breeze died away too much. Murphy was disappointed not to have the chance to atone immediately for her disappointing 27th place, while Bouwmeester was also dismayed that only one race in her preferred lighter conditions was sailed. 

The Dutch sailor said “It is a shame to only get one race. It looked like a bit of an early decision. That is a shame. It was a tricky race which reminded me a bit of Weymouth in the N’ly wind, so it was nice to race in that again. I was just in the top group at the windward mark and then got up to second on the second upwind. But we will be back hiking again tomorrow.” 

Annalise Murphy says she will change nothing for the decisive final day, concentrating on making better starts than today’s which was the start of a frustrating downwards spiral which was concluded when she ran out of breeze close to the finish line. “It was difficult” Murphy said, “ I had a bad start and struggled to get into the race in the first half, but made a good comeback on the second upwind, the last downwind and the reach to get into the top 15. But I was close to the finish line and then the wind died. I was not moving and could do nothing at all about it. I lost 15 places at the finish line and so that was disappointing. It was a shame not to get a second race in. The breeze came in but it is always hard to tell.” 

“I am disappointed with today. I would much preferred to have a 15th rather than a 27th or whatever it is. I will just have to get out there and have good races on the last day. I just need to get better starts than today’s and try and not make any mistakes.” 

While Bouwmeester rose to second overall she is now just three points up on Britain’s Ali Young. 

In the Men’s Laser Radial World Championship Australia’s defending champion Tristan Brown won again to build his lead to 18 points. Ireland’s Finn Lynch, the home club’s ISAF Youth World Championships silver medallist leads the European Championship by two points ahead of Poland’s three times world champion Marcin Rudawski. 

Lynch, who sails from the National YC said “The conditions were very shifty and challenging conditions today. I had a good start and was in 10th at the first mark and then climbed to first but then dropped to third at the line. Tomorrow I am hoping for two solid races and to hold on to a podium position tomorrow.”

*** *** ***
4th of September 2013
Race Day 4 Evening Report

Strong winds and big waves meant tired bodies and minds at the first day of racing for the Final Series at the Laser European and World Championships on Dublin Bay. Experience gained over years in the Laser proved as valuable as physical strength and stamina as Brazil’s five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt climbed into the overall lead of the Laser European Trophy regatta. 

Local favourite Annalise Murphy continues to delight her army of supporters, sailing on her own home waters, as she reeled off another two race wins to lead the women’s Olympic Laser Radial class by a comprehensive 15 points. Murphy may have been very much revelling in the tough conditions in which she has always excelled but she admits she still found it hard going. “It was really windy, the windiest I have been out in for a while.” Murphy recalled, “ The downwinds were a bit scary and I was in safety mode at times”. 

Murphy maintained her perfect score line, now counting seven wins from the eight starts so far and discards a second place. British Sailing Team’s Alison Young, who finished in fifth at the 2012 Olympic regatta – one place behind the Dublin helm – is now up to second place, whilst the Netherlands Olympic silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester lies third. 

“Annalise is having a storming regatta. Fair play to her. She is going well and we need to figure out how to catch her. We need to hike harder!” smiled Young. 

“I had a bad start in the first race” Murphy reported, “I was just slow to get off the start line and took a bit of a risk but it came good and got round the windward mark first and so was a bit lucky but I was pleased with that race. The second race I rounded the top mark second and was first on the first downwind. The other girls overlayed the first lay line on the second upwind and so they sailed a bit more distance, so I did pull out a good bit”. 

“Every day has been going well so far. It felt much the same today. I am just trying to focus on sailing well and not making too many mistakes. I had a bit of luck in the first race getting that wind shift and I am not complaining about that too much. That is the way in sailing, sometimes it just goes your way and you are grateful for it.” 

Although Scheidt leads the overall European Trophy regatta now by ten points after a 23rd (discarded) and a third place today, it is the Netherlands Ruttger van Schaardeburg who leads the European Championship. But the Laser legend Scheidt admitted that even with five Olympic medals, races in which everything seems to stack against him come along. 

“I did struggle a bit in the first race. I had a bad first beat, over stood the layline. Then I had a bad first run. The second beat I went right, the wind shifted left, and so I did everything wrong” Scheidt recalled, 
“I regrouped, made a good start, rounded the top mark second finished third and so that was a good race. Everything is mixed now in the finals. It was really windy, demanding because there were so many waves. The problem is we have sailed in strong winds but not so many waves. It took me a while to get used to these conditions again. You can see that some guys are really ready for these conditions, the Swedish, Estonian and Russian. My goal is not so much strong winds, it is more for medium winds. I think I am sailing well in medium winds but when it is blowing 25kts I still have to improve.” 

In the European Championship Van Schaardenburg leads only on countback, sharing the same 27 points tally as Britain’s Nick Thompson and Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic. Thompson, twice runner up in the Laser World Championships, was the most consistent, lowest scoring sailor in the Laser standards today with his third and second. 

Thompson said “It was hard but the thing I always remember is that everyone else is finding it hard. I did find a second wind for the second race which I put down to doing a lot of physical training though last winter and I think that pays off now. I was ill at the start of the season and the first few events were a real challenge but it pays off now.  I think the experience in the boat pays a bit today because you are able to focus on the tactics when you are in a lot of pain. Key today was starting and nailing the first shift. I made a reasonable job of it. Now I feel like I am only about half way through the event.” 

Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim had lead overall after the first Finals race today but capsized twice in the following race, finishing 13th. 

And in the Laser Men’s Radial World and European Championships Australia’s Tristan Brown also holds on to his superlative form, extending his overall lead in the world title chase, although Ireland’s Finn Lynch – who won silver on these waters at the ISAF Youth World Championships last year – now leads the Europeans.  

All results are provisional.




*** *** ***
3rd of September 2013
Race Day 3 Evening Report

In conditions more akin to the Mediterranean than Dublin Bay; bright sunshine, warm temperatures and even an unusual sea breeze, Ireland’s local favourite Annalise Murphy remains the only sailor at the Laser European & World Championships to complete the six-race Qualifying Series counting a score line of five race wins. 

The change from the offshore, shifty westerly breezes of the first two days might have been welcomed, but in their place was a difficult, at times frustrating, thermal sea breeze which was often riddled with holes and peppered with puffs which still brought significant changes in wind direction. But the change did not seem to worry Murphy, Providence Team IRL, who built a significant lead in both of her races for another two winning guns. But as the Final Series now starts - the business end of the championships - she will face much stiffer competition. 

“I’m feeling pretty good. Now it’s gold fleet and it will be very different, much harder with twice as many good people in the fleet. I feel good after these last few days but there are three days to go. I am taking nothing for granted. I am just looking to keep sailing well, to get good starts and hopefully it will work out. I don’t worry about what the weather forecast might bring, they have been wrong the last three days and so there is no point in speculating” Murphy, who is sailing on her home waters, reported. 

She goes forward with a lead of seven points over Belgium’s Evi Van Acker, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist who finished second twice today, whilst the British Sailing Team’s Ali Young and Denmark’s Sarah Gunni are three points further back on 17 points. 

In the Laser Radial Men’s fleet Ireland’s Fionn Lyden dropped to second after a 20th in the second race today but remains only one point behind Australian leader Tristan Brown. “I got everything wrong” Lyden said later, “I had a reasonable start and thought the wind was going to shift left but it didn’t. I was in the bottom 15 at the first mark but gained about 15 places on the run. I thought it was going to shift left again on the second beat but it didn't. I then gained a few more places on the reach but finished 20th. It was a weird race”.

Last year’s European Championships runner-up, Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim, goes into the Final Series of the Men’s Olympic class with a lead of two points over Brazil’s Robert Scheidt who he kept behind him twice today as he sailed to a first and a second, with the five times Olympic medallist taking second and third. 

Scheidt confirmed again today that he is racing the Laser not through any sense of obligation but because he loves it, and it is his best option at the moment for him to win a sixth medal. “I think this is my only option in terms of an Olympic class. It is a boat I know, I have the experience, easy to start a campaign. The most important thing is I still enjoy sailing the boat. I would not be doing this if I did not enjoy sailing this boat” he smiled in the Dun Laoghaire sunshine this afternoon. 

Of his races today he reported “In the first race I rounded the top mark in 25th and so I was pleased to come back from that. It was pretty difficult with a lot of holes in the breeze. It was very fluky wind, getting up to 16 - 17 knots but then dropping very quickly to four knots. That made the racing very difficult. Also downwind sometimes you were going but sometimes you were stopped. I am happy to have made two results in the top three today. But tomorrow it is like the start of a new regatta. We all start again in the one fleet”. 

Although Swede Jesper Stalheim sailed to first and second place finishes, he maintained he had found the conditions confounding at times. “It was a game of luck at times and my luck again seemed to work out” said Stalheim, “There were such big pressure differences. You would go from full hiking to no wind in a matter of seconds and just stop. And people would still be going around you. It feels really good to be sailing well though”. 

“The conditions were weird at the last Europeans where I was second. I must be OK at it. But the standard there was not so high (as many sailors were in Weymouth preparing for the Olympics). I feel I am sailing well. I will have to be good from here.” 

With a first and a third today Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic is up to third overall. Twice Laser European Champion – in 2010 and 2011 – Stipanovic shares the same raw motivation as Annalise Murphy. He too missed out painfully on an Olympic medal in the Medal Race at Weymouth and Portland just over a year ago. 

“It will be difficult as of now. You have to sail well on the first day of the finals, the pressure really is on then. If you don’t it becomes complicated. It is not necessary to win races, just get good results”  said Stipanovic. 

All results are provisional.

Laser Radial Women’s European Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6

Total

Nett

1st

Ireland

199417

Murphy, Annalise

1

1

(2)

1

1

1

7

5

2nd

Belgium

202970

Van Acker, Evi

3

(6)

1

4

2

2

18

12

3rd

Denmark

204750

Gunni, Sarah

2

(6)

5

1

1

6

21

15

4th

UK

202411

Young, Alison

3

3

(7)

3

5

1

22

15

5th

Holland

204276

Bouwmeester, Marit

4

3

(13)

2

3

5

30

17

 

Laser Radial Men's World Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

U21

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6

Total

Nett

1st

Australia

202854

Brown, Tristan

1

2

(12 DPI+8)

4

1

1

21

9

2nd

Ireland

191304

Lyden, Fionn

U21

2

1

4

2

1

(20)

30

10

3rd

Spain

196937

Cabrera Gonzalez, Juan Kevin

U21

3

(6)

1

3

3

3

19

13

4th

Switzerland

199430

Schneiter, Sébastien

U21

6

(14)

5

2

2

2

31

17

5th

Ireland

203714

Lynch, Finn

U21

5

1

3

9

(10)

1

29

19

 

Laser Standard Men’s European Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6

Total

Nett

1st

Sweden

204666

Stålheim, Jesper

1

1

4

(11)

2

1

20

9

2nd

Brazil

176622

Scheidt, Robert

(4)

3

2

1

3

2

15

11

3rd

Croatia

204731

Stipanovic, Tonci

3

4

1

(8)

3

1

20

12

4th

Holland

204567

Schaardenburg , Rutger

1

1

4

5

2

(6)

19

13

5th

France

203800

Bernaz, Jean-Baptiste

4

5

1

(10)

1

4

25

15

 

See www.lasereuropeans2013.com for full results.

*** *** ***
2nd of September 2013
Race Day 2 Evening Report

With four qualifying races sailed at the Laser European & World Championships on Dublin Bay, local favourite Annalise Murphy from Providence Team IRL remains on impressive form on her home waters as she leads the Women’s Laser Radial European Championship by five clear points. She counts three race wins, discarding a second place from the first race today. 

Murphy has both of the 2012 Olympic medallists behind her. Neither Holland’s silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester nor Belgium’s bronze winner Evi Van Acker have been able to maintain anything close to Murphy’s consistency, both scoring one relatively weighty score apiece today. Bouwmeester, the 2011 World Champion, claims to be just getting used to the testing offshore westerly winds which produce big shifts in wind direction and pressure. “At the moment it seems best to follow Annalise” Bouwmeester joked as she returned ashore to Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club. 

In the other Olympic class, the Men’s Laser Standard Rig, Australian Ashley Brunning tops the overall table counting two firsts and a second to lead Holland’s Rutger Van Scahaardenburg, Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim and the ominous presence of Brazil’s five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt who matched Brunning’s first and second place qualifying race finishes today. 

Brunning leads a strong Australian presence with four of their squad in the top 25 in these early qualifying races when points are tight and evenly spread. His preparation in Europe is paying an early dividend, while Schaardenburg – who leads the European Championship – could not quite maintain his Day 1 speed edge in the choppier conditions of the offshore course where the Men were racing today. “One and two is solid, I sailed really consistently and did not make too many mistakes and that is a sailboat race” affirmed Brunning, “ I have been living in Europe for the last six or seven months, training with some other teams and of course my own Australian team I have been in Sweden a lot, and so these are quite similar to the conditions around Gothenburg and so that helps”. 

“I think our team works so well because we all live close together in Sydney. We all train together. We work hard together and share everything together. We are very open and in terms of fitness and sailing we work hard together. Obviously having a mentor like Tom Slingsby and Michael Blackburn are good people to learn from. The squad here are doing really well. We were all charging together today and I think we are all in the top 15 so we are going well” Brunning continued. 

Scheidt appears to be raising his game progressively “I was happy that the breeze was not as strong as expected. It was not extremely windy and the race course which we sailed on was much better than the one we sailed on yesterday. The breeze was a bit more steady and a bit more predictable than the other course. A second and a first was good enough for me for the day. The first race I was second at the top mark. The second race I rounded second and passed the Estonian guy and there are three of us who had a big lead on the group. I have some solid results so I am pretty happy. I am really looking to get a good range of wind conditions so it tests everybody’s skills. That would be the best for everyone”.

Annalise Murphy remains cool and confident in the Women’s Laser Radials but cautions that it is still very early in the regatta, and lighter winds are expected Tuesday. “It is nice to have all low scores at this point when some of the others had some higher scores today. But then again that can all change in a few races.” 

“First and second was pretty good overall for the day. It was very difficult on the different course, the wind pressure was up and down much more, sometimes there was five knots in some places and then 20 knots in others, and very changeable in direction too.”

“The wind was moving through 60 degrees or something like that. But I really enjoyed it. The first race I sailed pretty perfectly on the upwind, but I was sitting in no wind on the downwind with the fleet coming down at me but there was nothing I could do. That was a bit frustrating because I already had a big lead. The second race I got a good start, was first at the first mark and just held on.”  

For the 2012 Olympic medal winners in the fleet some of whom took time out after the Games coming back into the white heat of competition is about playing catch up again quickly.  Cypriot Pavlos Kontides, who won his island nation’s first ever Olympic medal when he took silver, may be a national hero now but he has been back to Southampton to complete his BSc degree in Ship Studies. He got back to the Laser in June while Belgium’s bronze medal winning Evi Van Acker is just six weeks back in the boat after a 13 month layoff.  She won the first race in her fleet today and paired it with a fourth after capsizing on the final beat. 

Van Acker commented “I had two mega-comebacks. Twice I was very bad at the first mark, but the first race I won and the second race I was bad off the start but got up to second and then capsized on the final upwind and dropped to fourth. So for someone who has not really sailed in 13 months then a 1 and a 4 is not so bad. I started again six weeks ago. I have finished my studies now and so only have my thesis to go (on sports drinks). I am back into it, full time from here. There have been so many changes since the Games, I bought an apartment, renovated it, moved in with my boyfriend, so a lot of changes. I tried to stay fit. It is good it was shifty because you are not having to hike for too long”. 

While the charismatic Kontides is now fully focused on his programme for the future, scoring a 13th and fourth today “It could be better, it could be worse. It was a medium, conservative day for me really. It is strange conditions because if you get it wrong off the start then you immediately lose a lot of metres, and then it’s hard to get back into the race”.

“I did not do so much sailing in the early part of the year because I had to finish my studies, so now I have a BSc in Ship Science. I came back in June so obviously a lot of the other guys have done way more racing than me, but I think it is coming back nicely in the next few days.” 

“It has been really nice since winning the medal, nothing has changed in my life, people recognise me, it is a nice incentive to know you are a national hero and that is a great incentive going on, but what really has changed now is that I have finished my studies and I can focus on my sailing because that is what gives me the most pleasure in my life.” 

All results are provisional.

Laser Radial Women’s European Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

Nett

1st

Ireland

199417

Murphy, Annalise

1

1

(2)

1

5

3

2nd

Finland

202669

Tenkanen, Heidi

1

1

(10)

2

14

4

3rd

Denmark

204750

Gunni, Sarah

2

(6)

5

1

14

8

4th

Belgium

202970

Van Acker, Evi

3

(6)

1

4

14

8

5th

Finland

202670

Tenkane , Tuula

2

2

4

(13)

21

8

 

Laser Radial Men's World Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

U21

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

Nett

1st

Ireland

191304

Lyden, Fionn

U21

2

1

(4)

2

9

5

2nd

Australia

202854

Brown, Tristan

 

1

2

(12)

4

19

7

3rd

Spain

196937

Cabrera Gonzalez, Juan Kevin

U21

3

(5)

1

3

12

7

4th

Belgium

202990

de Smet, William

U21

2

(11)

6

1

20

9

5th

Ireland

203714

Lynch, Finn

U21

5

1

3

(9)

18

9

 

Laser Standard Men’s European Championship

Position

Country

Sail No

Name

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

Nett

1st

Australia

199014

Brunning, Ashley

(3)

1

1

2

7

4

2nd

Holland

204567

Schaardenburg , Rutger

1

1

4

(5)

11

6

3rd

Sweden

204666

Stålheim, Jesper

1

1

4

(11)

17

6

4th

Brazil

176622

Scheidt, Robert

(4)

3

2

1

10

6

5th

Croatia

204731

Stipanovic, Tonci

3

4

1

(8)

16

8

 

See www.lasereuropeans2013.com for full results.

*** *** ***
1st of September 2013
Race Day 1 Evening Report

Annalise Murphy was one of three sailors to have made the perfect start to their title challenge at the 2013 Laser European & World Championships on Dublin Bay today.

Each of the three championship fleets sailed two races in offshore westerly winds which varied from 11 to 18 knots, the gusts carrying big changes in wind direction and pressure. Making early errors – reading the first shifts wrong, getting off the start lines poorly or choosing the wrong side of the first upwinds – proved most costly. Often the shape of the races were shaped by the first windward mark. 

However Murphy cruised to two decisive wins in her Women’s Laser Radial qualifying fleet and she was at home in every sense of the word, delivering a pair of results which – among other things – brought smiles to the army of 200 or so volunteers from her home clubs who have given their time to produce a memorable championships.

Murphy stepped clear of her fleet early on both of the first upwind legs and was able to extend a little in the first race. But in the second heat a knot in her mainsheet on the final run compromised her, being challenged by Belarus’ World No. 1 Tatiana Drozkovskaya, but the Dublin sailor was able to sort herself out to hold on and win. 

“It was pretty windy out there, windier than I expected, but also fun because the wind was flicking back and forwards and so if you got into phase. I like these conditions like today because it is something I grew up sailing with here and so it was fun, shifting offshore winds” Murphy reported, adding the same first caveat as her male counterparts.

“It is only the first day and I am happy not to have used up a discard or anything like that. It was a good day and I really have nothing to complain about. I was sailing well on the upwinds and I was sailing a lot of the shifts really well and that was the most important bit. That was important to get ahead. On the last downwind I got a big knot in my mainsheet and ended up going along pretty slowly and Tatiana caught up a lot with me, but I just managed to get here again at the finish line and won it” Murphy continued.

Annalise’s coach Rory Fitzpatrick weighed up the pros and cons of racing a ‘major’ at home “It is nice for her to race on home waters because you do know the strategies which will pay off. It is nice to get the support with so many people we know around the place, but so too there is a bit of pressure and expectation with attention from the press and so on, but then that comes along with the Olympics and so on, so that is good practice. There are pros and cons to being at home, but most of all sleeping in our own beds outweighs everything. Annalise got good starts and was able to get off the start line and sail in phase with the winds, and just wait to cross the fleet, and she managed that both times”.

Ireland’s young ISAF Youth World’s silver medallist Finn Lynch, also racing from his home club, started well with a first and a fifth in his Men’s Laser Radial qualifier. 

Holland’s Rutger van Schaardenburg, considers that there was some Irish luck inspiring him as he posted two wins in very challenging, changeable breezes but the Dutch sailor who finished 14th at last year’s Olympic regatta arrived ashore at the National YC in Dun Laoghaire admitted he has made better starts to big events but knows how little first day wins count for.

“To be honest it is the first day and you don’t take too much from that. I had three wins in a row at the start in Tallinn before and finished 25th but I am happy with the way I sailed” smiled van Schaardneburg. 

Van Schaardenberg and Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim – European Championship runner up last year – may both have looked to be comfortably at home in the conditions when they were en route to their two wins apiece in their respective qualifying fleets, as Ireland’s Annalise Murphy cruised to two decisive wins in her Women’s Laser Radial qualifying fleet. She was at home in every sense of the word, delivering a pair of results which – among other things – brought smiles to the army of 200 or so volunteers from her home club who have given their time to produce a memorable championship. 

While Stalheim felt his performance in the Men’s Olympic class was comfortable enough, everything falling his way to the point it almost felt easy, Schaardenburg said he was thinking of Ireland’s lucky shamrock. “For sure it was tricky conditions. You needed to have a bit of luck too and I was thinking about the Irish shamrock and of good luck a lot and it seemed to be on my side, but I have had good preparation too, but then it still needs to go the way you expect it to go. And it did” he said after racing.

“The first race started not so well but I got into the big shift to the left and was second at the top mark, got ahead on the downwind and it was all done. The second race I got a good start to the right and got to the right as I expected it and luckily enough it happened and from there I just extended.  For me it is very nice way to start” he continued. 

Swede Stalheim, ranked three in the world at the moment, believes his speed was the key today “My speed was good and a lot of the time it was just speed into the next shift. I started to windward and tacked away early for a speed race to the first shift and then I could cross the fleet. And in the second race it was speed race to the sift again and I was good”. 
 
“I started to windward and the wind was left and I just sailed to it until the right hander came and crossed the whole fleet. It felt quite easy though the Croatian guy Tonci was second about ten metres behind. But the rest of the fleet was quite far behind. There were big gaps.” 

“In the second race it was speed again, I got to the left and was into the shift and crossed over the whole fleet. It felt all quite easy.” 

Of those older, experienced sailors returning to the fray of top level racing after a break, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt was disappointed to receive a penalty on the first reach of the first race, but sailed to a solid 4, 3 opening to share the same seven points tally as fourth to eighth placed sailors. The five times Olympic medallist from Brazil said “I did not sail really, really well on the first beats but I am happy. I got a penalty on the first reach so that was an unforced error and I am unhappy about that. A solid first day for me is OK.” 

Martin Evans is the best placed British sailor in the Men’s Standard fleet, while 2010 and 2011’s World Championships runner up Nick Thompson is enjoying his return to the class with his eyes firmly focused on Rio 2016. He found himself with a little to do early in both races, but was pleased with how he climbed through the fleets to open with a 5, 4 loving the chance to spar with Scheidt and Portuguese veteran Gustavo Lima again. He lies 11th overall. 

“It was a pretty challenging day” Thompson affirmed, “But a fifth and fourth for me from my windward mark positions was good. It could have been a lot worse. I managed to dig in, to fight for every place and got a few good wind shifts which made a difference and pulled myself back in there”.

“I have been doing a lot of training in Weymouth with the British team which has been really good, getting back into the boat and trying to getting up to speed again. I started back in Palma and so it has been good. I really am enjoying it to be racing against the new guys coming through, but also the old guys like Robert Scheidt and  Gustavo Lima.”

“I had a good battle with Robert, he was third, just ahead of me, and we were duking it out all the way around. Overall I am happy with the first day.” 

“The first race was about two big shifts which dictated your position and the second race there was big shift off the start and that set up the race too, and so I was fighting back from that, from poor windward mark roundings. I think it is coming back nicely. It is great here. The racing will be interesting if it remains offshore.” 

All results are provisional.

See www.lasereuropeans2013.com for full results.

*** *** ***
1st of September 2013
Race Day 1 Morning Report

The 2013 Laser European and World Championships are due to get under way today at midday on Dublin Bay with light to moderate, gusty offshore breezes expected. 

It’s a slightly grey and overcast morning to start the championships but the air of anticipation around the venues is obvious. This significant event brings to an end a notable summertime hiatus on the international racing calendar. As well the obvious value attached to the important titles, the high level racing is seen my most as important as the two Olympic singlehander classes prepare for their respective world championships, the Laser Radial World Championships are in Rizhao, China starting on 28th September and the Laser Standard World Championships are in Oman and begin on 14th November. 

Winds for the opening pairs of races should be average between 9 and 12kts but with puffs to 15kts or 17kts and so it will be a demanding first day for sure. 

Feeling at home at the venue, well used to the puffy, shifty winds of his native waters in Sweden is last year’s runner up Jesper Stâlheim. “I am planning on doing well here. I would like to do even better than last time.  It is important for me to do well here and at the worlds back to back. My training has been really good. I am just back from Rio for some of the summer where it was light and shifty and not the best sailing. But it is good to be here, it feels the same as Sweden, shifty and offshore. I feel quite at home. It is a really good fleet here, we are missing one or two people” says Stalheim, winner at the ISAF World Cup in Miami this year, ranked three in the world. 

Brazil’s five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt is looking forwards to getting back into the high intensity racing of the Laser “I think the set up here is great and we should have a great regatta. I think it will be quite challenging because the courses are set quite close to the shore. I expect it to be quite tricky out there. My sailing is going well. I am not at the very top of my form yet but I am getting there. So I am using this regatta to try and get better. I think I need a bit more rhythm of racing. I have been away from the class for a while so I am missing the high level racing. I enjoy being back in the boat, the racing is so good. I enjoy both, I enjoy sailing the boat and I love the high level of the competition there are a lot of young guys sailing really well and I am enjoying being part of it again. I lost a little bit of weight, I am down to 81 to 82 kilos now, losing about two or three kilos. I am in a good moment now, not at my peak but I am good”. 

For more information see www.lasereuropeans2013.com

*** *** ***
31st of August 2013
Practice Race Day

Of the 324 sailors from 43 different countries who are primed and ready to start the Laser European and World Championships on Sunday, very few took the opportunity to participate in today’s official practice race on Dublin Bay. 

Final boat preparations in the boat parks of Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club and the Royal St George YC and preserving energies proved to be the main priorities as the sailors count down to the first start guns for the three different championships which will run on two race areas. 

Three European titles are on offer in two Olympic singlehanded classes, for Men in the Laser Standard, and for women in the Laser Radial. Males will also compete for the Men’s World and the Men’s European titles in the Laser Radial class. Racing starts Sunday and finishes Friday at Ireland’s only major Olympic classes championships in the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Many overseas in the Men’s Olympic singlehanded fleet see this as an important build up to the Laser World Championships which are taking place in Oman in November. 

The event is set to be officially opened this evening by An Cathaoirleach (the Lord Mayor), Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and by An Tanaiste (Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Town hall. This opening ceremony is to be preceded by a parade led by Irish Army No 1 Band with local junior sailors carrying the flags of all 43 nations participating in the championship.

Commenting on the importance of the globally watched event Margaret Kneafsey, Event Chairman stated “We are delighted to welcome sailors from over 43 countries to the Laser European and World Championships.  Many of the sailors visited Dun Laoghaire earlier this year to practice at the venue and some of the teams arrived earlier in August to train. In addition these 320 or so sailors have also brought their coaches, their families, friends and supporters to Ireland which will have a great economic impact on Dun Laoghaire town”.

For Ireland’s Annalise Murphy the Laser Radial Women’s European Championship represents a great opportunity to win a major title on her own home waters, racing from her home club. Murphy finished seventh at the Laser Europeans last year before taking fourth at the Olympics. She has already won two major regattas this season before welcoming her overseas rivals and friends to her native Dublin Bay. 

The 23 year old from Rathfarnham, eight miles from the yacht club, started her sailing at the National Yacht Club as a ten year old in the Junior section of the club, confirms she is ready to race and pre regatta nerves are not an issue for her “I have been training pretty hard this summer but I have not had any big events since June, so I am just really looking forwards to getting back out and racing against everyone, nearly everyone is here and so it is going to be tough competition”. 

“I am not really nervous at all. I am just looking forward to it. I have had such good training in the last five or six weeks. I was in Rio for three weeks. It was good to be there and see what the venue is like and to see what the sailing conditions are really like. It was interesting and that will really help me out in the next few years. It puts it all into perspective and then I was down in Cork to race at the Nationals”. 

“I feel like I am sailing well and I just need to put it together in the races. It is exciting to have all overseas sailors I know and race against from all around the world and are friends with all in my home club. That is a pretty nice feeling. Hopefully you want them to be impressed. So hopefully we will get good weather all week and there won’t be too much or no wind”. 

Staying at her family home is a welcome, if unusual bonus, but she does not felt there will be any inherent local knowledge advantage on the water “I am staying at home which is nice to be going back to my own bed at night. I have the same routine as at major events except it is my own comfy bed”. 

“My form is pretty good. I have sailed well at the last three regattas I did, at Lake Garda, Holland and in Weymouth and so hopefully with the training I have done with my boat speed now I can fit that in with how I was racing a few months ago then I can do well and put together a good series. My boat speed is good, maybe not so much in windy weather but definitely in lighter weather. It is a lot better”. 

Winds on the opening day are forecast to be light to moderate from the south-west “I don’t have a preference what the wind conditions are at all. I’d like a good mix of conditions, I’d like a good bit of light weather because that is mainly what I have been training in these last weeks. I’d like to say there is a local advantage but I really don’t think there is. Probably if anything it actually confuses you more. You think you know something but maybe it is not really right”. 

*** *** ***
30th of August 2013


Dun Laoghaire on Ireland’s Dublin Bay is the venue for one of this summer’s biggest and most closely observed sailing regattas of the new Olympic quadrennial as the 2013 Laser European and World Championships muster a galaxy of sailing talent, many in the early stages of the long road to Rio and the 2016 Olympic sailing regatta. 

Over 320 sailors, from more than 40 nations including at least four Olympic medallists, will compete on Ireland’s renowned international racing waters. There are European titles at stake in two Olympic single-hander classes, for men in the Laser Standard, and for women in the Laser Radial. Men of a smaller, lighter stature will also compete for the Men’s World and the Men’s European titles in the Laser Radial class. 

Sailors from all around the world have been in Dun Laoghaire for some weeks now putting the finishing touches to their pre-championships training. Saturday 31st August will see those preparations halted as the official Practice Race is contested, a final chance for the different fleets to get to know the racing waters, before racing starts in earnest on Sunday 1st September. The race schedule calls for two qualifying races each day, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Then the Finals series runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The new champions will be crowned at a glittering prizegiving ceremony of the evening of Friday 6th September. 

Among the top sailors racing in the European Laser Standard Men's Championship fleet will be Brazil’s legendary Robert Scheidt. Winner of two Olympic gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze, and victor at no fewer than eight Laser world championships between 1995 and 2005, Scheidt has returned to the Laser from the Star keelboat in which he won silver in Beijing in 2008 and bronze in 2012, to the Laser. Dun Laoghaire features highly on his own new odyssey, seeking to win a sixth Olympic medal on home Brazilian waters, although he is not eligible to win the European title.  Pavlos Kontides, who just over one year ago became the first ever Cypriot athlete to win an Olympic medal when he clinched silver in Weymouth and Portland at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic finished fourth in London and will be among the top seeds, as will Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim who finished runner up at the 2012 European Laser Standard Men’s championship, and France’s Jean Baptiste Bernaz who finished fourth. 
While Australia’s 2012 Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby is competing at the America’s Cup, the Laser legacy remains strong from his native country under Olympic bronze medal winning coach Michael Blackburn. In the Laser world rankings four of the top five slots are held by Aussie sailors and three, Ashley Brunning, Ryan Palk and Matthew Wearn will all race on Dublin Bay. 

Of the top five finishers at last year’s 2012 Olympic regatta in the women’s Laser Radial class, four are set to race next week. All eyes will be on Ireland’s Annalise Murphy, who memorably missed out on an Olympic medal by a tiny margin, finishing fourth. She has had a great season so far with wins at the Delta Lloyd Regatta and Italian Olympic Week and will be looking to deliver on the very waters she grew up sailing on. The Netherland’s Marit Bouwmeester, silver medallist last year, and Belgium’s Evie Van Acker are likely to be among the leading contenders as will be Britain’s Ali Young who finished fifth in the Olympics.

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