by Craig Heydon
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Australia’s Women’s Match Racing skipper Olivia Price celebrated her 20th birthday in style with two more race victories as herself, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty guaranteed themselves top seeding for the quarterfinal with one race left in the round robin.
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty (AUS)
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen continue to lead the way in the 49er class at the halfway point of their competition while Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page had a mixed day in the 470 men’s fleet to open their London 2012 campaign.
Price, Curtis and Whitty made it 10 wins from 10 starts in the Women’s Match Racing competition following victories against Spain and Denmark to be three wins clear of second place.
The wins came on the same day that the youngest Australian sailor at the London 2012 Olympic Games turned 20.
'We had another good day,' said Price. 'To be honest I hadn’t thought that it was my birthday, I’d been trying to block it out but now that it’s finished it was a good birthday.'
The Australian trio has one round robin race left, to take place on Saturday, before the quarterfinals take place next Tuesday.
'We’ve got a day off, then one race on the next, day then two days off so we’ve got a pretty good plan of what we’re going to do,' said Curtis 'We’re used to spending time here in Weymouth so we’ll just enjoy ourselves and have a bit of downtime.'
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are 11 points clear at the top of the 49er table after eight races but it was their British opponents who had the best day, moving into second following a pair of race wins.
Outteridge and Jensen 49ers - London 2012 Olympic Games
The Australians were forced to fight hard in both races on Thursday, finding themselves at the back of the pack in race one after having to take a penalty turn and then having a less than ideal start in race two, finishing 10th and sixth in the two races.
'We made it tough for ourselves, we weren’t getting the starts that we had been in the last couple of days,' said Outteridge. 'In the first race we clipped someone’s tiller extension and had to do a penalty turn that cost us about 15 spots, we did a great job to get back through the fleet.
'In the next race we didn’t have the best of starts but were doing really well. We were crossing a lot of boats and were back on top. Then there was a tight cross with the Germans and it was touch and go if we were going to make it. We asked if we could cross and they said no so we ducked them, we ducked another and another and then we were back in the teens. It’s extremely tight racing in the Harbour and that’s how it happens sometimes. We’re happy, we’re moving forward through the fleet after the first mark and that’s what’s going to win the event.'
The 49er fleet returns to the Nothe spectator course on Friday with three races scheduled.
'We’re on the Nothe course tomorrow and it’s going to be a big day with three races on a shifty course,' said Outteridge. 'We typically sail pretty well there so we just need to execute what we’ve been trying to do all week. We’ve been pretty good at the starts and getting to the first shifts, today wasn’t the best for us but we’re confident that we’ll be back up there and doing it again. I would expect that if we can round the top mark in the top 10 tomorrow there will be plenty of opportunities. On the harbour there weren’t as many opportunities, that’s why we were so happy that we could move through even though the wind wasn’t doing too much.'
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page sit fifth overall after the two opening 470 men’s races following a third and a ninth.
470 Men, Belcher and Page AUS - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
The pair said that they made a number of uncharacteristic errors on Thursday, being forced to take a penalty turn after hitting a mark in race one and then in race two they restarted after being over the line early.
They fought back well, rounding the top mark 20th, working their way up to fifth before having to take another penalty turn after fouling the Italian team, dropping them to the middle of the pack. In a strong final run to the line they clawed back a few more boats, eventually crossing the line ninth.
'We made a few little schoolboy errors and that was the disappointing thing from the day,' said Page. 'We’ve got high expectations and haven’t made silly errors like that in some time, since we were a very new team at the 2009 World Championships.
'The positive thing from the day is that although we weren’t happy with our performance we didn’t kill ourselves with the results,' he said. 'It’s just day one, there is a long way to go and we have to be patient and what we’ll do tomorrow is just be ourselves, opposed to what we were today.'
Belcher said that it was a less than ideal opening day of the Olympics for the pair.
'Mal and I have always focused on our performance, our results were ok but we just weren’t too happy individually, or as a team, with how we went,' he said. 'We have very high expectations and have had a great year. We’re very experienced, and too experienced to make those mistakes. We had great speed and are looking to tomorrow to increase our performance and get back into our usual rhythm.'
Jessica Crisp has moved into 12th overall in the women’s RS:X after six races following a seventh and a 12th on Thursday.
The four-time Olympian said that she is still having issues getting off the start line but managed to fight her way back through the fleet in race one to finish with a seventh.
The RS:X fleet have a lay day on Friday before returning to the water for another two races on Saturday.
The Finn class was back in action today after their lay day with Australia’s Brendan Casey now sitting 14th overall.
Casey started his day with a 19th before a stronger race two where he was ninth. The final two Finn fleet races will be held on Friday with Casey keen to finish his Olympics on a high.
The Laser and Laser Radial fleets return to the water on Friday, with the 470 women’s fleet in action for the first time.
Australian Sailing Team website