The young Australian Women’s Match Race team of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty had a perfect start to their Olympic campaign on the tricky Nothe course today (Sunday). They easily accounted for Silja Lehtinen’s Finnish crew in the opening match, before a fascinating battle with former world number one Claire Leroy of France.
The turning point in the second race came on the first of two downwind legs, when Price had right of way and Leroy was obliged to sail her proper course. She failed to do so and forced the Australians up, immediately incurring a one-turn penalty from the on-water judges.
The manoeuvre has allowed the French to take the lead, but Price sat on their transom the whole way round, preventing Leroy from cancelling out the penalty. Holding a slender four second lead as she approached the finish line, Leroy threw the Elliott 6m into a tight turn but Price, Curtis and Whitty were too close, sneaking through for the tightest of wins.
Other results also went the Australians’ way, with the two favourites for the gold medal both suffering a loss. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) beat Lotte Meldgaard (DEN) in her opening match but lost to Tamara Dominguez (SPA), while Lucy Macgregor (GBR) also beat the Danes but went down to Dominguez in her second match.
After the first day, Price is tied at the top of the board with Dominguez and Ekaterina Skudina (RUS). Tunnicliffe, Macgregor, Leroy, Lehtinen, Stephanie Hazard (NZL) and Renee Groeneveld (NED) have a win and a loss, while Lehtinen, Meldgaard and Rita Goncalves (POR) have yet to record a win.
The Australians face a tough day tomorrow, when they sail against Tunnicliffe and Macgregor. However, a win in either or both of these matches should be enough to ensure they progress to the quarter finals.
Unfortunately, the girls declined to speak with the media this afternoon, citing the need to get to the recovery room, so we are not able to bring you any comments or insights from them.
- Roger McMillan