Weymouth and Portland International Regatta - Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) clinched the 49er gold medal on the final day of the Olympic Test Event following a fantastic medal race on the Nothe course.
49er fleet in action - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
Spain’s Iker Martinez and Xabier Hernandez led the Australians by four points before the Medal Race meaning that for the Australians to win they had to finish ahead of the Spaniards by two places.
And in winds of 9-11 knots Outteridge and Jensen did exactly that as they finished in fourth with the Spaniards coming in sixth. Both teams ended on 63 points but the Australians took the gold after they finished ahead in the final race.
'It’s a bit of a relief as it’s been tight all week,' said Outteridge. 'We couldn’t have had a closer Medal Race with the positions changing all the way around. I think it is quite fitting that we ended up on equal points but I’m pretty happy we won on the countback.'
Sailors, coaches and the general public gathered at the Nothe Fort and Gardens to watch the final days Medal Races and the sailors have felt the crowds presence, 'We’ve got a big team over here considering there’s only a small number of athletes,' said Jensen. 'It’s good getting all the support we can and they’re all really positive and happy to help and it’s a big boost.'
The next big event for the Australians is the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships and the pair will want to continue their form, 'We will go home after this and do a little bit more training and head across at the end of November,' said Outteridge. 'Our main goal is to go there and get selection spot for the games and it would be great to get a victory there and continue our form heading into the Olympics.'
New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke won the Medal Race by seven seconds ahead of Emmanuel Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) to take the bronze medal.
Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) wrapped up the Star gold medal ahead of the Medal Race. The Brazilians went into the final race with an unassailable 24 point lead. However the competition for the silver and bronze medal in the build up to the Medal Race was significantly closer with just two points separating Peter O'Leary and David Burrows (IRL), Mateusz Kusznierewicz and David Burrows (POL) and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR).
A race win in the Medal Race handed silver to Percy and Simpson with the Polish team finishing in bronze medal position after they finished in seventh but ahead of the Irish pair who came down in tenth to finish fourth overall.
'We had a great race today and it all went to plan,' said Percy. 'We have a lot of breakages this week. We’ve got a new boat. This one, she wants to retire. We worked hard this last two weeks.'
And Simpson added, 'It was probably the best race we have had all week. We needed to beat the Polish and the Irish to get second. It was a really great race. It went to plan.'
Percy and Simpson had a poor start to the regatta going 7-13 on the opening day before snapping their mast in race four meaning they were unable to finish the race. But the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Star gold medallists clawed their way back to take the silver medal but they were 20 points behind the prolific Brazilians.
In the Finn class Ben Ainslie (GBR) brought a 19 point lead into the Medal Race, only a disqualification for the Brit would have come in between him and the gold medal. But he made no errors to win the Medal Race by 11 seconds ahead of Dan Slater (NZL).
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) dropped from second to third overall after finishing eighth in the Medal Race. Nonetheless he rounded off a fantastic week for the Dutch team who picked up five medals, two of which were gold.
Jonathan Lobert’s third place in the Medal Race moved him ahead of Postma to take the silver medal.