Peter Burling (helm) and Blair Tuke congratulate each other as the cross the finish line to win a Silver Medal in the 49er class at the 2012 Olympic Regatta, Weymouth
The New Zealand crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke won a Silver medal today at the 2012 Olympic Regatta, after finishing with two sixth places in the Mens Skiff (49er).
Going into today's race, the young New Zealand crew, trailed their Australian training partners by 20 points with 13 of the 15 races sailed.
The New Zealanders were 30pts ahead of the third placed boat, now a crew from Denmark, and really only had to sail conservatively to round out the series, and preserve a points buffer of over 20pts over the other crews.
In the moderate north westerly breeze on the horseshoe Nothe course at Weymouth, in front of a crowd of 6,000 paying spectators, Blair and Tuke took no chances at the start and had to climb through the fleet on both races sailed starting from middle of the 20 strong fleet and then reconnecting with the top group.
The Gold medal was won by an Australian crew, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, who have been training with Burling and Tuke for the past three years. The logic being that by working together they could beat the other top crews in the world, and that has proved to be the case.
The Silver medal is the first medal won by New Zealand sailors outside of Windsurfing in 20years of competition.
The last medals won outside of windsurfing were won in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Racing got underway on the course at 3.00pm in the afternoon under overcast skies. The first race was blown up and restarted after two legs had been sailed, due to a major windshift. After a 30 minute delay the race started again and ran for four laps of the Nothe course which is land-locked on three sides.
The second race also consisted of four laps, there were no issues with the breeze, which freshened as the race progressed, playing into the hands of the Australian crew, who sealed their Gold medal with a win and a third placing on the day. Racing finished under gloomy conditions around 5.30pm.
Blair Tuke told Sail-World after the finish that 'we just needed another couple of low scores. We didn't have a great start in the first one, but we know we are good at sailing on the Nothe course when it is shifty and breezy, we just kept our heads, knew what we had to do, and came away with a nice result. It was nice to secure the Silver before the Medal race.'
'We knew if we got a top ten then we were ahead of the Danes, and were all good,' he added.
'We had two top ten results on the first day. We knew we just had to turn out consistent results, and apart from the Australians we are the most consistent crew here,' said Tuke.
Double Gold - Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Ian Jensen (right) chat with Gold Medalist, Tom Slingsby, before their races in the 49er at the 2012 Olympics
They will have to sail a clean Medal Race, which is compulsory, on Wednesday, but are undecided as to what their strategy will be. However speaking later, Gold Medalists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen confirmed they would be going all out for a win.
In other racing today, the New Zealand 470 crew of Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders have slipped back to fifth on the points table after scvoring 7th and 9th places in the big breeze and seas on the Weymouth Bay course. Although they slipped from third overnight, they are only a single point off third place. Racing will continue tomorrow with more racing ion the inshore Portland course in both the Mens and Womens 470 classes.
Andrew Murdoch finished fourth in the Medal race for the Mens Singlehander (Laser) class today, also sailing on the Nothe course. He has finished fifth overall in the event, which was won by Australian Tom Slingsby, giving Australia two much needed Gold medals in the one day.
No racing was held in the Womens 470, where Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie are in second overall - one point out of first place.
Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders cross the finish line in seventh place in Race 7 of the 2012 Olympic Regatta, Weymouth
Tomorrow the Medal Race will be held for the Mens Windsurfer, JP Tobin (NZL) lies in 7th position overall, and would need to win with the fifth and sixth placed competitors finishing 10th and 9th respectively for Tobin to progress. The Gold Medal has already been won by Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) with a race to spare. He is coached by NZer Aaron MacIntosh. Both van Rijsselberge and Tobin were running a similar twin work up campaign as with the Gold and Silver medalists in the 49er - but with a different result.
New Zealander Tom Ashley won the Gold medal in the Mens Windsurfer in 2008, however Tobin won selection over Ashley fior the 2012 Olympics.