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Australians sweep to 49er lead

by Rob Kothe on 11 Aug 2008
Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin (AUS) today Sail-World.com /AUS © http://www.sail-world.com
A disastrous first race DSQ for the 2008 49er World Champions, young Australian’s Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin was certainly not the Qingdao Olympic start than anyone had expected yesterday.

They had won six pre-event practice races with blistering speed but their first race starting strategy turned to custard as they were locked out of the front row, then they hit the top mark and on the next circuit,and then they had an incident with another boat.

15th across the line and DSQ. The second race yesterday they won and in the third race scored a seventh, hardly a dream start. The contrast today... a third placing, then two wins.

In Ben Austin’s words ‘Our aim was to stay out of trouble on the start line, we had really good boat speed and we were able to use it. If you get a clean lane going in right direct, life gets much easier. We just did not make any mistakes – we were both very happy with today.'

Nathan Outteridge explained what they set out to do. ‘On the start line we tried to avoid clumps of boats, to get clear in first 20 seconds; we have good speed in these conditions. We were prepared to make a slight compromise on starting position to make sure of that.

‘After that we just had a lot of fun. We had 11 knots for start of first race, blue water, blue skies, good visibility, today we saw islands, we’ve never seen before.’

Ben Austin summed up. ‘There is a long way to go in this regatta but today was a good confidence builder because it showed that our hard work over the last six months has really paid off. Today was a classic day that we’ve trained for, we had speed and good skills and we got three good results.

‘But there are ten races to go. We had a tough time yesterday, the Brits and a few others had some bad races today, but that might happen to us on the next day.

‘Right now we think just about any one in the top ten could come through.’
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