Few Olympic classes have the ability to grab a viewer by the lapels and shake their imagination quite like the turbo-charged 49er. This high-performance skiff attracts sailors with lightning-fast reaction times and the ability to deal with closing speeds that are typically reserved for motor sports. And while today’s medal race is little more than a dash for Bronze, fans can still expect to see some great skiff racing.
As was previously reported, Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain 'Goobs' Jensen have already secured their Gold medal (mathematically) due to brilliant sailing leading up to today. Likewise, the New Zealand duo of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have sewn-up the hard-won Silver medal, proving again that the antipodes are the blokes to beat in high-performance skiffs.
The battle for Bronze is expected to be an on-the-water tussle between Denmark (Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang) and Finland (Lauri Lehtinen and Kalle Bask), unless, of course, these teams both finish in the back of the pack. Should that unlikely scenario play-out, Bronze will be a sprint to the finishing line between the British, the French and the Austrian teams.
As with all Olympic classes, the 49ers will contest their medal race on the Nothe course, rifling-off a series of Windward-Leewards, likely with an offset mark to the finishing line. As with previous races, the Aussies, the Kiwis and the Bronze-medal winners will all take a victory lap past Nothe hill, both to salute their cheering fans and to allow for photo opportunities.
Weather forecasts for today vary significantly, with differing opinions being offered by differing sources. According to the morning’s press briefing, the low cloud ceiling and poor visibility will improve as sand percolates through the hour glass, with the drizzle expected to give way to lighter, brighter skies later this afternoon. Likewise, wind speeds are also all over the map, but viewers can expect roughly eight to ten knots of air (big caveat: other sources purport that the breeze could be as meager as three knots).
Also unfolding on the Portland Harbor course, just off the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy (situated in here in Portland, UK) will be the final non-medal race for the Women’s 470 class. This will determine the contenders for the class’ medal race, which is set to take place this Friday. And once the go-fast 49er lads clear off the Nothe course, the Women’s Match Racing event will contest Day Two of their quarterfinals.
Please stand by for more news, quotes from the winning sailors and great photo-galleries, as the day unfurls.
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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9:58 AM Wed 8 Aug 2012GMT
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