by Matt Carter
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, there could be a golden double for Britain’s sailors tomorrow after the first attempt to run the Men’s 470 medal race was hindered by a lack of breeze at Weymouth and Portland today on Thursday 9th August.
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (GBR) competing in the Men’s Two Person Dinghy (470) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
The abandonment means that both Britain’s men and women 470 crews will engage in a thrilling medal race double-header tomorrow (Friday 10 August) with both Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in with a golden chance of claiming their first ever Olympic titles on home waters.
The Men’s race is now scheduled to take place at 12pm on the spectator Nothe course with the Women following at 1pm. The British men are guaranteed at least a silver medal but are only four points behind Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) in first. Meanwhile the British girls are tied neck and neck at the top of the women’s leaderboard with New Zealand with at least a bronze already in the bag.
Early forecasts this morning suggested that although the wind was likely to be very light there was optimism that there would be enough breeze by the early afternoon to enable a fair race to take place. But despite the best efforts of the race committee, the light breeze was never deemed consistent or stable enough to get either the Men’s 470 medal race or the 5-8 Women’s Match Racing Sail-Off underway.
Patience insists that the boys won’t be affected by the enforced delay.
He said: 'We have no pressure and it’s a win-win situation. It’s certainly not a problem for Stuart and I. Stuart was just saying earlier that this is our home and we have lived here for five years and we will live here once this is over so it’s no skin off our backs, we’ve got nowhere else to be!'
Stuart continued: 'We have been in our athlete container out of the sun today, watching a bit of the Olympics on TV, nothing much really, just switching off and keeping fresh and being ready to get that espresso down our necks and hit the racing hard.
'With the high pressures and the thermals it’s hard to predict exactly what is going to happen but I do believe tomorrow is going to be much better in terms of forecast. We will go through the routines and process one more time. We will wake up expecting to race as we did this morning and hopefully the race officer can get a race in for us. It could be a golden day for Team GB.'
After the disappointment of seeing their Match Racing medal dreams ended at the quarter-final stage yesterday, Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor were also denied the chance to finish their London 2012 on a positive note after the lack of breeze caused the abandonment of the 5-8 Sail Off.
The match racers did at least get out on the water in an attempt for the race committee to get some racing on but their efforts ultimately proved futile. This means the Brits end their campaign in seventh position. This was their ranking from the round robin phase with which they progressed through to the quarter-finals.
Lucy said: 'It was a bit of a shame. Despite initially not wanting to go sailing after yesterday’s dramas actually when we got on to the water today we really wanted to go racing to try and get that fifth spot particularly in the company we were in with the French, American and Dutch teams. It was disappointing to have hung around on the water and not really had the chance to finish on a bit more of a high.
Annie said: 'It wasn’t sailable in the end. We tried but the wind hasn’t settled down all day. At least the three of us got to be out there, it’s a shame we didn’t get to do a final race together as we were really looking forward to that, but I’m sure it won’t be the end.'
Kate added: 'It’s going to be exciting watching the 470s, they are both guaranteed medals so that’s awesome. We can’t wait to get behind them and support them. Then it’s the Closing Ceremony in London on Sunday and we can’t wait for that.'
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August.