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.  



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