Five Australian Sailing Team crews are in medal positions in five of the six classes with Australian representation, ahead of tomorrow’s first day of medal races at the Rio Olympic Test event, Aquece Rio – International Regatta 2014.
After three days of racing, Olympic Gold medallist Mat Belcher (QLD) and World Champion crew Will Ryan (QLD) are leading the 470 Men’s fleet as is Tom Burton (NSW) in the Laser Fleet.
Olympic silver medallists Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis are in second in the Nacra 17 fleet, while Olympic gold medallists Nathan Outteridge (NSW) and Iain Jensen (NSW) as well as Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price and crew Eliza Solly (VIC) are ranked third in the 49er and 49erFX classes respectively.
Medal races in the 470M and Laser fleets will take place on Saturday, 9 August local time, i.e. Sunday a.m. 10 August AEST, while medals in the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 fleets will be decided tomorrow.
This morning, Rio was plagued with light winds across the five race areas making life difficult for the Race Committees and the sailors. A light south easterly breeze was present with all fleets, bar the 49erFX and Nacra, getting at least one race in.
No Nacra 17 racing was possible on the fifth regatta day (third race day) with today’s race being abandoned just prior to completion. However, an additional race has been added: A new Race Four has been included in the series following a protest by many of the teams to reinstate a race result that was abandoned upon completion.
As it stands, French team Billy Besson and Marie Riou lead on 19 points with Australian Sailing Team’s Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis following in second on 24 points tied with third.
Thus Bundock and Curtis are going into tomorrow’s medal race in second place after a steep learning curve during their first time in Rio as Bundock explained:
“We’re five points off the lead and we are equal with third spot, so there’s plenty to play for tomorrow. It’s been a real eye opener being here. We’ve seen such a variety of conditions. We’ve experienced the good and the bad of Rio. We’ve had some great racing in good conditions and we’ve had some shocking racing and missed out on racing at all today.
“We wanted to come here and obviously do well, finish on the podium and if we can we would like to walk away with a win. All the good guys we’ll be racing in two years time are here, bar probably two people, so it’s a good experience in the right conditions.”
Australia’s second crew with Euan McNicol (NSW) and Olympic Silver medallist Lucinda Whitty (NSW) are ranked 8th.
After only one race today, Olympic Gold medalllists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are ranked third after a total of seven races in a tight fleet. New Zealand world champions Peter Burling and Blauir Tuke lead on 19 points, tied with overnight leaders Julien D'Ortoli and Noe Delpech (FRA), while Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are third on 26 points. Australian Sailing Squad’s Steve Thomas and Rhys Mara are ranked 12th.
The 49erFX were due to start racing after the 49ers but with light shifty winds prevalent across the course, no further racing was possible on the day. Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price (NSW) and crew Eliza Solly (VIC) will go into tomorrow’s medal race ranked third and as Olivia Price said, they have been happy about their performance thus far:
“Rio has been quite a difficult place to sail in. But we’ve started to get the hang of it. We’ve had two out of four qualifying days being blown out and we are sitting in third overall and have been able to hold that throughout the regatta. We’ve been very happy with the way we’ve been sailing. We have the medal racing tomorrow, theatre style, and it’s going to be quite light again so it will be interesting but we are looking forward to it. We’ll see what happens.”
Three single point theatre style races will decide the medals on Friday 8 August local time (Saturday a.m. AEST).
A ninth from Mat Belcher and Will Ryan saw them keep their lead in the Men's 470. The Aussies are 11 points clear of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) with one day to go ahead of the medal race.
Laser and Laser Radial
Tom Burton (NSW) leads Nick Thompson from Great Britain by two points after the Australian took a second and the Briton took a third in the only race on the Ponte race area. Western Australian Matt Wearn is currently ranked fifth.
With one race day to go for the Laser fleet before the medal race on Saturday Rio time, Tom Burton is confident:
“The conditions are pretty hard and tricky but Sydney Harbour is actually not that different, so it all comes down how you handle racing and so far so good. The first few days we had more wind than we expected, but it’s been good – typical Australian conditions and we like it. Both Matt Wearn and myself are going quite well, one day to go and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Racing resumes at 12:00 on Friday 8 August local time, i.e. 1 a.m. Saturday, 9 August AEST.
The Nacra 17 medal racing is scheduled for 12:50 (1:50 a.m. AEST), the 49er at 13:45 (2:45 a.m. AEST) and 49erFX at 15:00 (3 a.m. AEST). The remaining fleets will start at 12:00 inside Guanabara Bay.
– Cora Zillich/AST