After looking totally unbeatable all week, the Australian 49er crew of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen had a reality check today, but still lead the fleet by a comfortable 11 points. However, the big movers were the British crew of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, who had two bullets and moved past Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) into second spot.
Sailing on the protected harbour course in steady winds, there were very few passing lanes, so the races came down to getting off the line quickly. It was something the British were able to do, and the Australians couldn’t.
“We’ve had good boat speed all week,” Stevie Morrison said.” The difference was we got good starts today.”
In contrast, Outteridge said that the Australians had made it tough for themselves. “We weren’t getting the starts as good today as we have been in the last couple of days. From that when we flop onto port, you’re not quite in the front row so there’s a lot of tight crosses with all the other guys who didn’t have a good start.
Their cause wasn’t helped by clipping the tiller of another boat as they tried to duck the stern, resulting in a penalty turn which dropped them back 15 places. They did a great job to fight back to 10th by the finish, which at this stage is their drop.
“Next race, again not the best of starts,” explained Outteridge. “(It’s) extremely tight racing on the harbour and that’s how it happens sometimes.”
The Australians were 12th at the top mark in race two, but again made good gains throughout the race, sometimes splitting from the leaders and following their own course. They continued to show superior boat speed on all but the British, and crossed in sixth spot for another “keeper”.
Outteridge said he was happy that they were moving through the fleet up to the first mark. “That’s what’s going to win you medals,” he said.
Jensen also emphasised that point when talking with us afterwards. “We didn’t go out there and try to dial up the risk too heavily. Just kept our composure and kept grinding away. To be able to make up boats every leg is very important and we did that today,” he said.
While a little more subdued when talking with the media than they were yesterday, both sailors were very positive about tomorrow’s prospects.
“We’re on the Nothe course tomorrow, three races on a shifty course,” said Outteridge. “We typically sail pretty well there. We just need to execute what we’ve been trying to do all week. Tomorrow I’m confident we’ll be back up there and doing it again. If we round the top mark in the top ten there will be plenty of opportunities…”
The standings after eight races are: Australia 24, Great Britain 35, New Zealand 41, Portugal and Sweden 49, Finland 51, Denmark 53, France 54, Ireland and Austria 61.
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