Day two RYA review: Consistency key for British 49er pair
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes continued Team GB’s confident start to the Olympic sailing regatta on Sunday, taking the overall lead after first day of racing for the 49er class.
The Olympic debutants kept their cool in the Qingdao heat to post a consistent scoreline of 4,3,5 from their three opening races in the skiff event, making the best of the extremely light wind and tidal conditions in the Yellow Sea off Qingdao.
The 19-boat fleet raced close in to the shore, with their huge spinnakers emblazoned with national flags providing a visual treat for the spectators along the breakwater.
Race one for the class saw few places changes in the top pack, with the British pair in their finishing position of fourth for three-quarters of the two-lap race. A good start in race two saw them round the first mark in first place, but they were beaten into third before the finish by Australian World Champions Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin, and the Austrian duo of Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch.
The Team GB pair got off to a poor start in race three, as 29-year-old Morrison explained: 'The water was pretty choppy and with such light winds and the tide underneath you we were a bit too concerned about being over the line.
'If you’d been over the line in that sort of situation you’re not going to get back probably before the other guys are at the finish.'
He reflected: 'We were cautious – too cautious in hindsight – but what we did do was not shout and scream at each other and panic about the situation. We got on with what the basics are which is finding a bit of clear air and where the next good gust is coming from.'
Level-headedness paid, and Morrison and Rhodes crossed the finish line in fifth place in their third and final race of the day, to see them take an early lead in the 49er fleet.
'We’re very happy,' said Morrison, 'but you can’t win it on the first day – everyone says that in sport.
'We wanted a good solid start and we did that. We were obviously pretty nervous before today, being our first Olympics, but we probably built it up in our heads to be more than it actually was. It was still a sailing race, and Ben and I are normally pretty good at that!
'We just tried to not freak out and not forget the basics and I think we did that. So, nothing spectacular – just solid.
'I’ll be a lot happier if we’re first overall on the 17th!' he concluded.
RYA website - www.rya.org.uk/beijing2008
Team GBR - The names and the faces - http://www.sail-world.com/UK/Team-GBR---The-names-and-the-faces/47353
Qingdao-Racing-Schedule - http://www.sail-world.com/UK/Qingdao-Racing-Schedule/47381