Croatia makes title defence harder for Belcher and Ryan

Croatia has never won an Olympic medal in sailing, but they look certain to break their duck in the mens' 470 where they are making life difficult for defending champion Mat Belcher and his crew Will Ryan.

Leading after the first three days, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic have put together such an excellent regatta that they are currently discarding a fourth place.

The Australians on the other hand are discarding the 10th they scored in the last race today and they also added a second eighth place to the one they scored on the opening day. There are still three races to sail and the 11 point gap can be closed with some good sailing tomorrow. But at this stage the Croatians are showing no signs of weakness in any conditions and the forecast for light winds means the final race may not be possible.

Mat Belcher was philosophical about the situation, saying that it was difficult to get off the line in the light airs but also that the luck didn't run their way. “When we went right it (the wind) went left and we went left it went right. We caught up a bit in both races and minimised the damage.”

He also paid tribute to the Croatians, saying they were putting together a really good series. “Will and I are proud of the series we're putting together too. We won't change anything tomorrow. We'll keep going out and doing what we've been doing.”

They are seven points clear of the Greek crew who are third, with the French four points further behind.

Full results are availble here.

– Roger McMillan in Rio.

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