by Craig Heydon
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta - Australian sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have won Gold in the 49er class on the final day of the Olympic Test Event.
Iain Jensen and Nathan Outteridge on the 49er podium in Weymouth - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
Outteridge and Jensen ended the regatta tied on points with the Spanish crew of Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez, winning the Gold medal thanks to their fourth place finish in the final 10 boat medal race, while the Spanish were sixth.
The medal race was an up and down affair with the third placed New Zealanders running away with the race win meaning that the Australians had to ensure they stayed in the top eight to keep the Kiwis in the Bronze medal position.
The Australians and the Spanish both spent time at the front and the back of the fleet and when the dust settled Outteridge and Jensen finished the race fourth to the Spanish sixth and had their fourth straight win at the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
'Things didn’t really go our way at the start and the Spanish got out to the right and got ahead of us but surprisingly we were coming through on port and they didn’t tack on us and we managed to lead around the top mark,' said Outteridge. 'From there we just tried to stay at the front and hope that they stayed at the back but somehow we dropped to seventh and they clawed back up.
'We got some nice shifts on the upwind and managed to get a couple of boats between us and them and thankfully the Brits got in between us and them,' he said.
Jensen was impressed with the performance of the Spanish who have only recently returned to the class with the two crews neck and neck all week.
'They’ve done a really good job considering they’ve been out of the boat so long and it’s a bit of a worry because it will be interesting to see what they can do once they’ve done a bit of work,' said Jensen. 'It’ll be all on come this time next year.'
Outteridge and Jensen, the 2009 49er World Champions, have been unstoppable at the Olympic venue, adding the test event victory to their three consecutive Gold medals at the Sail for Gold Regatta.
'We never would have expected to win four in a row here and the fact that we’ve done it is amazing,' said Outteridge. 'There’s one more event here before the games next year and hopefully we can keep the winning streak going and hopefully we haven’t used up all our luck.
'We had a tough week and fought all week long and today was the most difficult day of them all and we’re just happy to come out on equal points and get the win on a count back, we’ll take that for sure,' he said.
The Gold medal for Outteridge and Jensen capped off a strong week for the Australian team with Tom Slingsby winning Gold in the Laser class while 470 crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won Silver.
Australian Sailing Team website