49er World Championships start. Sail Melbourne 2008
Britain's Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes are tied in the lead with Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin at the 49er World Championships in Melbourne. With just one series race and the Medal race to go, the British pair pulled up from sixth to tie the lead today. Outteridge and Austin also pulled out everything to move from third to first.
With one day of racing remaining, reigning world champions Morrison and Rhodes turned in a champions performance to tie the lead with Outteridge and Austin. Leaders going into racing today, Athens silver medallists Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk (UKR) are now in third place, but only one point off the lead in what has turned into a nail biting series, with only one day of racing remaining.
Next best placed, 11 points behind the leaders, are brothers Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello from Italy. Athens gold medallists, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (ESP) dropped back to sixth place overall after a shocking day with 22, 10, 19, 14th results. They are now 25 points off the lead in an almost unrecoverable situation.
Racing was conducted in shifty and fluky breezes which peaked at 15 knots and averaged 10 knots, 'but it was all over the place and up and down,' according to race officials.
'It was really, really hard today,' said Nathan Outteridge. 'Iker (Martinez) was with us a couple of times, but he fell away – we made our way back to ninth in the first race today. The breeze was so shifty. In two races we got it right and in two races we got it really wrong. We came from last in Race 1, to get back to ninth – that was the important race for us in terms of overall results.'
'We were a whole leg behind in the third race; we just got the shifts wrong and rounded last around the top mark. But it was too close to shore and moored boats – it made it a lottery. The mark should have been further out, then it wouldn’t have been a problem. Have a look at the results – it was one of those days,' Outteridge said.
Race Officials sent the 49ers off on four races today, leaving a one race to be sailed tomorrow, then the top ten from the 25 crews in the gold fleet series will then sail off for the Championship in the Medal Race, worth double points, scheduled for 3.00pm tomorrow afternoon. The Medal Race cannot be used as a drop.
More to worry about in the Silver fleet, as the two top nations which have not yet qualified for the Games, will do so following their two final races.
Results are provisional pending protests.
Xabier FERNANDEZ and Iker MARTINEZ (ESP) 49er World Championships - 2008 Sail Melbourne