Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen will be the 49er pair to beat at London 2012.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, (AUS) Gold medal winners in the 49er class- Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland
However Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) are back in the skiff and many are wondering if they can gatecrash the Australian party.
The Australians have been a formidable force in the 49er since teaming up after Beijing 2008 and have won three 49er World Championships together and finished second in the other.
London 2012 will be Jensen’s first Olympic appearance but for Outteridge it is his second and he will want to put the nightmares of Beijing 2008 behind him. Leading the Medal Race with 100 metres to go Outteridge with partner Ben Austin capsized and ended up finishing sixth, shattering their medal chances.
Despite having this on his back Outteridge said, 'We have a lot of confidence going into the event. We've won 14 of our 17 major events over the last few years, so it's now a matter of ensuring we just do everything right at the Games.
'We won't be doing anything different to what we have been doing all year long.'
The Australians haven’t faced the Spaniards since the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, Olympic Test Event last July and August. The Spaniards had just come back from another round the world trip and pushed the Australians all the way to the end. The Spanish pair led going into the final day but Outteridge and Jensen finished fourth to Martinez and Fernandez’s sixth. Nothing separated them in the end as they ended on 77 total points and 63 net points with the Australians coming out on top as the count back proved decisive.
Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez (ESP 7) - 2009 49er World Championship - Medal Race
Having recently returned from a round the world race the Spaniards mean business at London 2012 and hopped into the skiff almost the moment after they finished racing. They also turned down the chance to carry their nation’s flag at the Opening Ceremony as Martinez said, 'To attend the Opening Ceremony would have meant losing a whole day of training and we are already short of time.
'It is difficult to know how it would have hurt us, maybe nothing, but the Games are the Games and it would be wrong to accept that responsibility if it would harm our chances.'
If they can rediscover their form from the Olympic Test Event then they have the potential to crush Australian dreams.
New Zealand’s Peter Burling will make his second Olympic appearance having sailed the Men’s 470 at Beijing 2008 finishing 11th whilst crew Blair Tuke makes his debut. The Kiwis have finished second behind the Australians at the last two 49er World Championships and will have to step it up to overcome their Australian training partners.
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (GBR) will have the home water advantage and will also be in contention whilst Austria’s Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch, Denmark’s Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang and Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) will all stake their claim to 49er gold.
The 49er fleet set sail on Monday 30 July at 12:00 on the Nothe Course. The fleet enjoy a lay day on 4 August before racing resumes on 5 August. The 49ers will play to the Nothe Spectator area. On 8 August the gold medallists will be decided after the Medal Race.
ISAF Olympic Sailing website