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London Olympics 2012 - Rough start for Australia on day 1

by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team on 30 Jul 2012
July 29, 2012 Finn class Race 1 - Brendan Casey struggles with hull deck damage. © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
The Australian sailing campaign for London 2012 started disastrously today. Hearts sank in the first Finn race, as Brendan Casey after a fast start, capsized and then after righting lost place after place and sailed off the course at the bottom mark. He had split the join between deck and hull and taken on a lot of water.

'I made an unforced error and capsized the boat,' said Casey. 'While righting the boat deck and gunnel were pulled apart and it was filling with water. I had to retire from the race and prepare it for the next one.

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'We ‘Macgyvered’ the boat back together with a roll of duct tape and tried to get as much water out of it as possible, I then calmed myself down and tried to put a good race two together,' said. Casey was in third position for the early part of the race but lost some ground on the two downwind legs to finish seventh.

The results leave Casey 16th overall after the opening two races, with races three and four scheduled for Monday.

'Luckily it’s a long event, you can come back from this position, it’s a matter of scoring consistent results,' said Casey.

'I’ve got one, a seventh, that’s fantastic, so we regroup tonight, let the shore team do their job and follow the normal routine, come down in the morning and get back into it.'

After their Skandia for Gold win, the Weymouth venue was again good to Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty won two races against strong teams, the current and past world champions in Finland and France while Gold Medal favourites Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) was beaten by the Spanish .

The Australian trio is currently in a three-way tie for the lead, alongside their Spanish and Russian competitors.

Price and crew began the day with a strong win against the current World Champion Finnish crew, led by Silja Lehtinen, on the Nothe course in front of a large spectator crowd. The Australians led throughout the race after good pre-start manouvring.

Next up the Australians faced Claire Leroy from France, who they beat to win the Sail for Gold Regatta at the same venue last month.

The French led narrowly on the first downwind when the Australian crew forced a penalty for a rule infringement. The Australians sailed a smart race to stay in close touch with the French and pounced for the win as the French had to execute their penalty turn just before the finish.

Tomorrow Price and crew will face the 2011 World Champion American Anna Tuniucliffer and Lucy McGregor 2010 World Champion British crews.

And tomorrow all eyes will be on the reigning Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby tomorrow. He went into Qingdao as a hot favourite but had a disastrous first day and ended up 23rd. A vastly more experienced Slingsby is ‘in the zone’ ‘A good start tomorrow would be a major step forward for the Australian Gold Medal Quest.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49ers and Krystal Weir in the Laser Radial will join the fray tomorrow.
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