For fans of Olympic windsurfing, today is the last dance. Come the Summer Olympics 2016, kiteborders will replace the 'planks' (lighthearted slang for windsurfers) as the go-fast, pyrotechnic class, making today the final chance for windsurfers to earn their coveted medals. Here at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, situated in Portland, UK, these final hours have added an extra sense of importance and urgency to the day’s racing.
In the Men’s RS:X class, Gold has already been determined as The Netherlands Dorian van Rijsselberge has amassed an unassailable lead going into the medal race, thus cementing his position on the podium’s top step. This turns today’s race into a battle for Silver and Bronze. While the fat lady is still a few hours away from crooning, Germany’s Toni Wilhelm looks solid for Silver, while Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski is likely to take home Bronze.
The Women’s RS:X class is less solidified than the Men’s class but Spain’s Marina Alabau Neira is the pre-race favorite for Gold. The tussle for Silver and Bronze is expected to be a melee between Isreal’s Lee-El Korsiz, Finland’s Tuuli Petaja, German’s Moana Delle and Poland’s Zofia Noceti-Klepacka.
Both classes will contest their medal race on the spectator-friendly Nothe course, allowing the cheering fans to get an up-close-and-personal view of the speedy planks blasting past. Both classes are also expected to sail a series of Windward-Leewards, with either a slalom finish or an offset mark to the finishing line.
According to the morning’s weather briefing, the breeze is expected to blow from the west-southwest/south-southwest, slowing rotating from 230 degrees to 210 degrees as the day progresses. Wind speeds are currently hovering around 10 knots, but this should spike to roughly 15 knots by this afternoon.
According to Christopher Atkins, who emcees the morning’s animated press briefing, sailors and spectators alike can expect 'an English summer day, starting out drizzling and will get worse as the day progresses.' Thankfully, the wind is perfect for sailing, even if the race watchers assembled on the Nothe will need to employ their wet-weather gear.
Also unfurling today, the Men’s and Women’s 470 classes will conduct their final non-medal races of this Olympiad. These races, which begin at 1200 hours, local time, will take place on the Portland Course. The men will sail an outer trapezoid course, while the women will race on an inner trapezoid racetrack.
The Women’s Match Racing (WMR) event will also see action today on the Nothe course, once the planks head back ashore. For the WMR sailors, things get serious, as today’s racing serves as their quarter-finals. The first teams to rack up three wins (out of five) will progress to the next level of competition. Currently, Australia’s 'Speedy Sheilas' (Olivia Price, Nina Curtis or Lucinda Whitty) stand undefeated. It will be interesting to see how they fare, now that competitors such as America’s always-fast team of Anna Tunnicliffe, Debbie Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer are playing for keeps.
Please stand by for more news, as it breaks.
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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10:16 AM Tue 7 Aug 2012GMT
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