Andrew Murdoch may have fallen agonisingly short of a world championship medal but the Kiwi sailor says his performances at the Finn Gold Cup have given him the belief he can compete with the best.
Despite finishing the Auckland regatta third-equal on points with Vasilij Zbogar, Murdoch – who placed ninth in Sunday’s medal race – missed out on the bronze due to the Slovenian’s sixth-place finish in the finale.
The 33-year-old performed solidly throughout the week off Takapuna apart from two disappointing performances on Thursday where he finished fleet 37th and 43rd respectively.
But the fact he was able to fight back into medal contention heading into the final day has given him heart as he looks to book a place at next year’s Rio Olympics.
“I had to dig pretty deep to do that and also just really back myself to keep doing what I was doing and not to totally change everything after something goes wrong,” Murdoch said.
“To come back fighting and be in contention for a medal in the end was really what I wanted to do so that’s definitely a positive to take out of it.
“I’ve shown myself that I’m amongst the top in the world.”
A two-time Olympian in the Laser class, Murdoch switched to the Finn class two years ago after Dan Slater stepped aside following London 2012.
With only one spot in Rio up for grabs, he’s locked in a fierce battle with fellow Yachting New Zealand high performance team member Josh Junior.
The 25-year-old was denied a chance to improve on his final overall standing of 14th after the final fleet race was cancelled – another boost for Murdoch following his cruel finish.
“Obviously Olympic selections looming in the near future and I think any of the racing that we’re doing over the next little bit is good to do well at,” he added. “It’s helped my cause for getting to Rio… if I just keep pushing hard and improving I’ve got to be in reasonable shape, for sure.”
While Murdoch was taking plenty of positives from the week, there was no hiding his disappointment at missing out on the top three.
“I had myself in contention for a medal and to not pull that off – gutting. But I’ll just have to take the lessons out of it and come back stronger next time.”
The regatta was dominated by defending champion Giles Scott.
The British sailor had the title wrapped with a race to spare and finished 45 points clear of Frenchman Jonathan Lobert in second.
“He’s really shown the potential of the boat and how fast it can go,” Murdoch said of Scott. “It’s a mixture of speed of the boat through the water and also the tactical decisions that he’s making on the race course which is putting him where he is at the moment so I’ve just got to put time into closing that gap down.”
Given the intense buildup to the Gold Cup, Murdoch will recharge the batteries over the next few weeks before getting back into training.
He’ll next compete in New Zealand in January ahead of the European season which starts in March.
by MARVIN FRANCE