London Olympics 2012—Laser guns blasting today at Weymouth
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 6 Aug 2012
The anticipation continues to ratchet up today at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, situated in Portland, UK, where the Laser and Laser Radial classes are contesting their medal races on the Nothe course today, starting at 1300 hours, local time. Thankfully for the competing sailors, a brilliant azure sky and a nice breeze will characterize their medal racing.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition Thom Touw © http://www.thomtouw.com
The breeze, which has cooperated beautifully all week, is expected to build slightly as the day progresses. The Laser Radials are the first to answer their medal-race guns. According to the weather reports, the breeze is currently blowing from the west-southwest, before clocking further south—to roughly 230 degrees—by 1300 hours. The forecasts call for this to build to 15-16 knots by later this afternoon, holding steady at its south-southwest angle.
Four sailors are in contention for Gold in the Laser Radial class, with their finishing order determining who gets a medal and—if so—what color it will be. China’s Lijia Xu, The Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester, Ireland’s Annalise Murphy and Belgium’s Evi Van Acker are all within striking distance of their long sought-after medals, so please stay tuned as more information becomes available.
In the Men’s full-rig Laser class, the battle for Gold is between Aussie Tom Slingsby and Cypriot sailor Pavlos Kontides. 'Slingo' is a five-time Laser World Champion, but he has never earned an Olympic medal—a goal that the hyper-fit, hyper-talented Aussie has chased for years. For his part, Kontides is in for the fight of his life, as his country has never won any Olympic medal of any color, in any sport, ever. (Can you say pressure?)
Slingo enters the medal race 14 points ahead of the Cypriot, giving him a substantial point advantage. For Kontides to win, he must finish at least seven places ahead of his Australian rival. While this is a heady task, the Nothe course, with its shifty, hard-to-read wind patterns could well throw wild cards at the fleet, but, mathematically, the top two positions are sewn-up, making today’s race a battle for Bronze.
Interestingly, word broke today that the Countess of Wessex will be on the water to take in the racing.
The Men’s 470 class are also competing today, riffling-off two classes on the Weymouth Bay West course. Inshore, on the Portland Harbor Course, the Women’s Match Racing event will host a single re-sail between Denmark and Spain. And once the Laser and Laser Radial classes clear off the Nothe course, the 49ers will take flight for their last two non-medal races of this Olympiad, blasting through two races that are likely to be a series of Windward-Leewards.
Please stand by for more news, as it breaks.