A little over a year ago Annalise Murphy was realising a lifelong dream.
On the waters of Rio de Janeiro, Murphy won not only an Olympic silver medal in sailing's Laser Radial class – Ireland's first in the sport since 1980 – but also the hearts and minds of sports fans all over the globe.
It was a poignant moment for Murphy, who four years earlier had endured heartbreak when she was edged off the podium into fourth place in the final race of the London 2012 games.
Thirteen months on from her Rio glory – and after recently being named Sportswomen of the Year by the Irish times – and she has taken a different tack by signing up to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Murphy, 27, is the latest talented young sailor to join Dee Caffari's ranks on Turn the Tide on Plastic, a mixed gender youth team aimed at shaking up the fleet during the 45,000 nautical mile epic.
There were bits where I thought 'this is terrifying' and other moments where I thought 'this is amazing'Annalise Murphy
She has always been a fan of the Volvo Ocean Race but never considered being a part of it herself – until ocean racing legend Caffari got in touch with an offer she couldn't refuse.
“A couple of months ago Dee sent me an email asking if I'd be interested in trying out for Turn the Tide on Plastic team,” Murphy said.
“I said I'd love to give it a go but that I didn't know if I'd be any use as I've never done anything like it before. I went to Lisbon and did 48 hours offshore with the team. It was a totally new experience for me, and a real eye-opener.
“There were bits where I thought 'this is terrifying' and other moments where I thought 'this is amazing'. After that I got asked to be on the team and I didn't need to think too hard about it. I jumped at the chance.”
Murphy's training for Tokyo 2020 will have to be put on hold while she races round the world, but that doesn't mean an end to her dreams of a gold medal in three years' time.
“The Volvo Ocean Race actually falls at a perfect time if I want to go on to do Tokyo,” she said.
“When it ends in July next year I'll still have two full years to train for the Olympics. A break from Laser sailing will actually be quite healthy, and this will give me an opportunity to learn something new. I might be regretting the decision when I'm in my bunk in the Southern Ocean though!”
Strong, super-fit and busting to learn, Murphy is eager to impress as she gears up to make her Volvo Ocean Race debut in just over a month.
“My role on the boat will become more clear as I spend more time with the team but I want to make myself as useful as I can,” she said.
“I'm fit and strong, and ready to get my hands dirty. I'm under no illusions as to how hard this race is going to be – in fact I think it will probably be the hardest thing I ever do – but I'm up for the challenge. It's going to be an amazing adventure.”