Four Irish women competed at the 2020 ILCA Laser Radial World Championships in Melbourne. With Ireland now qualified for the Laser Radial discipline at the Tokyo Olympics, there is an open trial to select the athlete who will represent Ireland at the Games.
Irish Sailing are using three international regattas to identify which candidate gets the nomination to represent the country at the summer’s Olympics.
These regattas include; the ILCA Laser Radial World Championships in Melbourne (21-28 February), the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Spain (28 March – 4 April) and the Hyéres Regatta in France (18-25 April).
The four athletes in competition are Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller, Annalise Murphy and Eve McMahon.
Annalise Murphy was the highest ranked Irish sailor as she finished 12th overall. The 2016 Olympic silver medallist went into the final day positioned in eighth but was forced to retire from the gold race following yellow penalty flags.
It was a strong showing from Murphy in difficult conditions in Melbourne, which were subject to multiple storms.
Murphy took victory in Race Three and placed second in Race Six, Eight and Nine. Unfortunately disqualification in Race Seven and her retirement in Race Ten pushed her out of the medal contention.
Nonetheless, it’s been an impressive return to the Laser Radial from Murphy, who took a hiatus after the 2016 Rio Olympics, to focus on the Volvo Ocean Race and attempting to develop a 49erfx challenge. Last month at the Sail Melbourne, she finished second overall behind the 2016 Rio gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester.
Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins finished up 40th overall. Hopkins, aged 21, was also the second highest Irish women at the Sail Melbourne last month where she finished 25th.
In the silver race, Irish duo Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon finished 10th and 25th respectively. Keller, who sails out of Lough Derg Yacht Club, qualified the Irish boat for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at last year’s World Championships. McMahon is the youngest of the four competitors and won the gold medal in the U17 category in the silver fleet at the Sail Melbourne last month.
The Netherlands’ Olympic gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester won the overall Championship. Bouwmeester, who won five of the ten races and finished first with 42 points.