by Bob Fisher
On a day when the breeze grew progressively lighter, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada sailed an impressively consistent three races in the Stars. The 2007 world champions hold third position overall after gaining ten points on Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France on the day to lead the French by four points.
2008 Olympic Regatta - Star
But the Brazilian’s sterling performance was matched by Britain’s Iain Percy and Andrew 'Bart' Simpson who scored 1-2-6 to close the gap at the top of the table with Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom of Sweden to just two points and they are 12 clear of Scheidt.
When the breeze was up in the 15-knot range, the Brits’ downwind speed was staggering. In the first of the three races they picked off 45 seconds and five places to move to the front. Once there, ahead of the Swedish pair, they sailed conservatively to win the race.
In the second race, Percy and Simpson were ninth to the first mark, 26 seconds down on the leader, but they led through the leeward gate by six seconds. Loof and Ekstrom moved ahead on the second beat, but could not shake off the attentions of the Britons.
The wind had begun to waver as the tide turned and when the flood began, it veered from the east to almost south and fell away to less than eight knots for the third race of the day, the tenth of the series. Rohart led from John Dane and Austin Sperry around the first mark with Percy in third place.
The run was very soft, but not as shifty as the second beat when Scheidt moved to second behind the French pair. The final run saw the fleet split wildly with Percy favouring the right and Flavio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria of Switzerland using the left and coming out in front of Rohart on the line. Scheidt was third while Percy beat Loof for sixth.
There’s a lot on for the leaders in the medal race. Percy has to beat Loof to win gold, but cannot afford the luxury of sailing him to the back of the pack as Scheidt is but 12 points, or six places away and Rohart a further four points back has an outside chance of gold, if all the other three finish at the back in a pre-arranged order.
With decent breeze the Star medal race could be the thriller of this Olympic regatta.