by Craig Heydon
Australian sailor Tom Slingsby is guaranteed at least a London 2012 silver medal following a day of dominance on the waters of Weymouth Bay.
Tom Slingsby (AUS) competing today, 04.08.12, in the Men’s One Person Dinghy (Laser) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
The five-time Laser World Champion went into the penultimate day of racing five points clear of Cypriot Pavlos Kontides. A pair of wins has given the Australian a 14 point lead going into Monday’s medal race.
If Kontides goes on to win the 10 boat final race Slingsby needs to finish seventh or better to claim the gold.
Tom Slingsby knows the pain of coming home empty handed from an Olympic Games and has done everything he can at London 2012 to stop that from happening again. Slingsby edged closer to the top step of the podium on Saturday with two dominant race wins giving the 27 year old a 14 point lead over his Cypriot opponent heading into the decider on Monday.
'I did everything that I could today with two firsts,' said Slingsby. 'Pavlos had some really good comebacks today but I can’t control him, I just did what I could do. I’m still not guaranteed gold and I didn’t come here for a silver, until I lock that race away I’m not happy at all. Slingsby heads into the medal race having won the final three fleet races and the Australian believes that his win in Friday’s final race was a turning point.'On paper it shouldn’t have but for me personally I just felt that the regatta wasn’t going my way,' said Slingsby.
'The race before I had a 15th and I felt like I was slipping a bit, when I got out and won that race I was pretty emotional and felt like I’d really turned a corner and I showed that today. I was super confident and I knew I was going to be pretty hard to beat in those conditions and I showed it.'
470 Men Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have moved into the lead of the 470 men’s class following a pair of race wins. Belcher and Page were at the head of the fleet all day and currently sit four points ahead of Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.
'You can’t ask for anything more than two firsts,' said Page. 'We’ve certainly had our mojo back over the last two days.'
The pair has now won three of the opening six races but Belcher said that they’re well aware that there is a long way to go before the medal race. 'It’s a great position to be in,' said Belcher. 'Mal and I are experienced, we haven’t lost an event all year and that gives us great confidence. We feel very comfortable in the yellow jersey. It’s not going to stop us sleeping at night but we’re also experienced enough to know that there are still four races to go before the medal race.'
The 470 men’s fleet will enjoy a lay day tomorrow with Sunday also coach Victor Kovalenko’s birthday.
Australia’s Women’s Match Racing crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty finished the round robin with a perfect 11 wins from 11 starts to top the round robin following a final race win against Portugal. Price, Curtis and Whitty controlled the race against the Portuguese from start to finish, eventually crossing the line five seconds clear.
The Australian trio has had an amazing start to the regatta and will take on the Netherlands in Tuesday’s quarterfinal after finishing top of the round robin. 'Today was just another day for us,' said Price. 'We went out there just trying to win the one race that we had and we did it, ticked that and the whole regatta starts again in two days time.
Price said that while it was nice to sweep the round robin the trio are looking ahead to the quarterfinal. 'I guess it’s always a positive and we’re not complaining with how we’re going,' said Price. 'We’re happy with the way that we’re performing and keeping to our system.'
The 470 women’s team, Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell, worked their way up the leader board on day two of racing, moving into seventh overall following a third and a 12th.
Rechichi and Stowell had a great first race, showing plenty of speed as they finished second before equipment issues hampered their second race. 'We really had to fight for it in the first race,' said Stowell. 'We just lost second on the finish line to the Kiwis, it was a really good race and we fought hard which we’re pretty happy with. We had something blow out on the spinnaker in the second one. For people who check everything that was pretty annoying. We lost boats and ended up back in the pack which set us back quite a bit.
'We’re really happy that we’re doing well in these conditions and we could have been in the top seven in every race so far,' she said. 'Those equipment points cost us a lot which is very disappointing, we’ve just got to be quite diligent and refocus for tomorrow. I’ll go and do my equipment checks and again make sure we’re on top of everything and hope that nothing else goes wrong. We’ve got six races more and we’ve spent a few points that we didn’t need to spend so we’ve got to try and be quite good with that in the next six.'
Jessica Crisp has given herself a shot of making the medal race for the RS:X women but the four-time Olympian will have her work cut out for her in the final two fleet races, needing to close the 10 point gap to the 10th placed Alessandra Sensini of Italy. Crisp had her best day of the regatta with a fifth and an eighth, fighting hard on the Nothe spectator course.
'As I’ve been saying all week if I can get off the start line I would have a good day and today was better,' said Crisp. 'It’s nicer when you start and you’re not looking at the whole fleet, then you can just race. 'Today it was quite technical as we had four laps so you could catch up, there were lots of opportunities to come back through instead of it being a one-way course,' she said. 'It’s still doable to make the medal race, never say never, but 10 points is still a lot.
'Today I was much better, on the pace again, but the starts are still really hard,' said Crisp. 'We’re on the harbour again tomorrow and if they make us do a few laps anything can happen.'
Krystal Weir has finished her 2012 London Olympic Games campaign 12th overall, following mixed results in races nine and 10 of the Laser Radial fleet. Weir needed two strong races to qualify for Tuesday’s Medal race and was on track following a fourth in race one. The Victorian was on track for another strong result in the final race before being forced to take a penalty turn for a rule infringement, dropping her down the leader board, eventually finishing 22nd.
'All was going to plan, my goal was to get two top fives today and in the first race I was coming second and dropped to fourth so that was still in the target,' said Weir. 'In the second race I was sitting in fifth, maybe I just pushed it a little too hard with the jury giving me a yellow flag meaning that I had to do penalty turns in 20 knots which was fun. From there I dropped back into the pack and it was quite difficult to punch through.'
Weir said that her slow start to the week eventually cost her a place in the top 10 and a shot at a medal.
'You just need to free up and have some fun from the get go and don’t get too serious,' she said. 'I think I was just really uptight on the first few days and it took a lot for me to be free and just let the boat sail rather than forcing it. In the second half of the event I was back to my old self but you can lose it on day one for sure and that’s what happened.'
Australia’s 470 women, 49er and RS:X women’s crews will be in action on Sunday with the 470 men and Laser representatives having a day off.
Current Australian standings:
Laser – Tom Slingsby – 1st overall
49er – Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen – 1st overall
Women’s Match Racing – Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty – 1st overall
470 men – Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher – 1st overall
470 women – Elise Rechichi & Belinda Stowell – 7th overall
RS:X women – Jessica Crisp – 11th overall
Laser Radial – Krystal Weir – 12th overall – finished
Finn – Brendan Casey – 13th overall - finished
Australian Sailing Team