by Craig Heydon
At the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the test event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Australian windsurfer Jessica Crisp has finished eighth in the RS:X women’s class.
Jessica Crisp racing on the Olympic course in Weymouth - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
Crisp went into the final 10 boat medal race in eighth overall, in a close group of athletes and needed a good result to maintain her position.
The three time Olympian had a slow start and was forced to play catch up but came home strong, passing two of her competitors in the final slalom to finish fifth and hold onto her eighth overall.
'I started pretty badly as I didn’t want to get in the way of the top three who were fighting it out for the medals,' said Crisp. 'I had the worst start, they planed off and I was left standing there even though it was blowing 20 knots.
'I worked my way back through the fleet and coming into the slalom at the end I was seventh,' she said. 'The British sailor Bryony Shaw spun out into a mark and I passed her and then on the last reach in I came up on Spain’s Marina Alabau and got her on the line in a good finish.'
The 49er fleet completed two races on Thursday with Spanish pair Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez taking the regatta lead back from Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, and are ahead by just a single point.
The two crews have gone back and forth all week, and New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke now are just five points adrift of Outteridge and Jensen, setting up a great finale to the event.
The fleet will return to the water on Friday for two final fleet races before the 10 boat medal race on Saturday.
'We had a good race one and were in the pack around the first mark,' said Outteridge. 'We managed to get into the lead and kept swapping with the Spanish the whole way round but ended up getting them by a pole length on the line coming in at about 20 knots, it was a good finish between us again.
'In race two we were in the pack again and couldn’t find a gap on port coming into the top mark and then the Austrians ahead of us did a bad tack and the only option was to run over the back of their tiller so then we had to find the spot to do a penalty turn,' he said. 'We eventually got it done after going around the mark and from then on were just playing catch up, luckily there was a bit of carnage at one of the bottom marks and we managed to get around and got back to eighth, saving the day again, it seems to be what we’re doing everyday here.'
Outteridge is looking forward to the challenge the final two fleet races and the medal race will pose over the next two days.
'We need to get out there and do some more racing and claw some more points back,' he said. 'The forecast is a little more sailable, 15 knots or something like that. We’re looking forward to it, we’ve got the smallest drop out of everyone so hopefully we can post a couple of good races, or at least one good one and we might be able to sail someone back into the fleet, we’ll see how it goes.
'The points are so close and there’s more than one boat to worry about now so it’ll be all on tomorrow,' said Outteridge.
Strong conditions on Weymouth Bay kept the Finn class on shore for the day while the Star class managed to go racing in the harbour in the early evening with Australians Paul McKenzie and Philip Toth still on the water at 8pm local time.
Friday is set to be a busy day in Weymouth with the 49er, Finn and Star classes returning to the water for their final fleet races while the Laser, Laser Radial and 470 classes will contest their medal races.
Australians Tom Slingsby, Krystal Weir, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page will all compete in the medal races on the Nothe course, the spectator venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Slingsby is in a tight battle for the medals in the Laser class, heading into the final race just one point off the lead and one ahead of third position.
Weir is eighth overall in the Laser Radial class and will be keen to push her way up the leader board in the final race of the regatta.
In the 470 men’s class Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are 14 points behind the leading French crew and will be pushing hard to turn their current Silver medal into a Gold one.
The pair has recovered well from a dramatic final race which saw them collide with the New Zealand crew coming into the finish, causing damage to the two boats and also Page.
Page was cleared of any serious injury to his arm and the pair is set to contest their fourth straight medal race on the Olympic course.
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