by Craig Heydon
Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have extended their lead at the head of the 49er fleet following an impressive day on the water in Weymouth.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) competing today, 01.08.12, in the Men’s Skiff (49er) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.t
The Australian pair dominated on Sunday and head into the final three races of their London 2012 campaign with a 20 point lead over New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell have moved into seventh overall in the 470 women’s fleet following a ninth and a seventh in tricky conditions on the Nothe course.
In the RS:X women’s class Jessica Crisp’s London 2012 run came to an end, with the windsurfer finishing 11th overall.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen headed into the day’s two 49er races nine points ahead of their New Zealand opponents Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
The Australians were on the pace from the first start gun and led at every mark rounding of the day, eventually opening up a 20 point lead over the New Zealanders. 'The start was quite tricky due to the swell and we didn’t quite get off the line as well as we were hoping but we were able to get the first shift in both races,' said Outteridge, 'Today we weren’t making any errors and were keeping a close eye on the Kiwis in both races and it all worked out nicely for us. Outteridge said that while they’re thrilled with their lead the pair is well aware of the dangers posed by two races on the Nothe course on Monday.
'The Nothe course is very tricky, you have to be on your game there and we could easily lose 20 points tomorrow,' he said. 'We’re happy with where we are and we just need one good race tomorrow and then we can assess where the Kiwis are, they’ve got quite a high score so that works in our favour. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing all week.'
Jensen said that their plan for Sunday’s two races was to be consistent and not take any risks in the shifty conditions and that the two wins was a great result. 'It’s great now that it’s happened but going out there we were just hoping to post some nice top five results and be consistent,' said Jensen.
'We didn’t dial the risk up at all today, we were working up the middle of the course and it just so happened that we got the best of the pressure in both first works and we were launched. It’s great to come away with the two firsts and I don’t know what type of message it sends but it’s a good little gap heading into the final day and we’ve just got to consolidate.'
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell’s day was dealt a blow before hitting the water after the Australian duo was disqualified from Saturday’s final race for a rule infringement, dropping them to 11th overall. The pair put the disappointment behind them and finished ninth in the opening race of the day on the Nothe spectator course.
They were then leading race two before it was abandoned as the breeze shifted significantly. The race was restarted with Rechichi and Stowell finishing seventh, leaving them seventh overall.
'The disqualification was frustrating but it was the furthest thing from our mind out there today,' said Rechichi. 'We knew what we had to do and adapted our strategy accordingly. It was the case of a few missed opportunities again and we seem to be picking up points here and there that we really shouldn’t be, there are four more races and hopefully we can nail some of them.
'It’s guaranteed that disqualification will be our drop, if we post another big score it will essentially be the end of the regatta,' she said. 'It changes things in that we are now trying to make some points back and we can’t hedge our bets too much because we’ve got to start pushing up there. We’re in the game but we’re hanging on for dear life and we’re going to have to fight pretty hard to try and narrow the gap to hopefully give us a shot.'
Jessica Crisp went into the final two RS:X women’s fleet races with plenty of work to do to make Tuesday’s medal race. The four-time Olympian needed to close the 10 point gap to 10th position to make the medal race but was hampered by gear failure. Crisp was 13th in both of the day’s races, finishing the event 11th overall.
'The last day was very tough, it seems like the gods or the universe was conspiring against me this week,' said Crisp. 'Finally I had good starts and had a strong upwind in race one and was second to the top mark. I put my foot on the mast track to pull it back to go downwind and it didn’t work, tried again and again and in the end I said I’ve just got to get downwind so I was pumping my guts out and the whole fleet went past me. In the end I did alright considering that the gear didn’t work, it was just heart wrenching, horrible.
'I was thinking of giving up after that one, there was lots of crying but you never give up, I’ve never given up so I wasn’t going to start today,' she said. 'I had a good start in race two and was just trying to get myself together. I sailed alright but on the downwind I didn’t pick the wind and lost a few places, by then it was pretty hard to get back into it given what had happened in the race before.
'It’s a bit funny that I’m so upset about today but I shouldn’t be at the point where I’m fighting to get into the top 10,' said Crisp. 'Everything just hasn’t gone my way this event, I made it pretty hard and it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s tough, very tough.'
While Crisp’s fourth straight Olympic Games ended earlier than she would have liked she said that she won’t be lost to the sport post London 2012.
'I’ll still windsurf, I love windsurfing,' said Crisp.
Australia’s Laser, 470 men and Women’s Match Racing crews were all off the water on Sunday.
Monday is set to be a big day for Australia in Weymouth with Tom Slingsby sailing for gold in the Laser class. Slingsby takes a 14 point lead over Cypriot Pavlos Kontides into the medal race and is guaranteed at least a silver medal.
Australia’s 49er and 470 men will also be in action, with both crews out to extend their leads at the front of the pack.
Current Australian standings:
49er – Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen – first overall
Laser – Tom Slingsby – first overall
Women’s Match Racing – Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty – first overall
470 men – Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher – first overall
470 women – Elise Rechichi & Belinda Stowell – seventh overall
RS:X women – Jessica Crisp – 11th overall - finished
Laser Radial – Krystal Weir – 12th overall – finished
Finn – Brendan Casey – 13th overall - finished