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London Olympics 2012: Sailing Olympics Newsletter - Day 1
2008 Olympic Gold medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) - Womens Match Racing, Day 1 Carlo Borlenghi/FIV
The 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta has been completed with the fleets enjoying generally superb sailing conditions.
Today was notable for a number of firsts, and lasts.
This was the Olympic debut for the Womens Match Racing event, contested in the Elliott 6mts - designed especially for womens match racing event at this regatta.
It was also the first time that a paying spectator crowd had viewed Olympic sailing, with a gallery on the Nothe of several thousand, although an official count is not yet to hand. They were treated to the opening race in the Mens Heavyweight Singlehander (Finn) – sadly local hero, Ben Ainslie was not able to deliver a win in his home stadium.
That was followed with Womens Match Racing, with the first day of Round Robin, or Qualifying.
There was some spirited sailing and some controversial racing, with penalties, offset penalties and plenty to cheer about. Hopefully they had a commentary to match.
The Nothe is a spectacle in itself, forming a natural sailing amphitheatre, dressed in green grass, covered in fans and with the occasional national flag prominent in the crowd. It is expected that the fan euphoria will pick up later in the week, and certainly the beginnings are present.
On the water broadcasting from the 2012 Olympic Regatta, Day 1 Richard Gladwell
The Lasts are the Womens Match Racing - which will be seen for the first and last time in this Olympic Regatta.
Last time too, for the Star class, with the Two Man Keelboat event being dropped for the 2016 Olympics. To underline their frustration with the decision by the sport's ruling body, the fleet turned in a near-dead heat with the first two finishers being recorded with the same time, but split in placings by line judges.
The Media Jury has returned an early verdict on Weymouth as an Olympic Venue, and indeed the Event itself. Fantastic!
With the sword of the International Olympic Committee hanging over the continuation of the sport beyond the 2016 Olympics, the pressure is on the sport to change and deliver.
The change is certainly there, with 40% of the classes being changed for the 2016 event. For 2012, the challenge is to step away from the perception of mundane tedium that has dogged the sport for decades.
A change to short course, long course and stadium racing is a difficult ask. But so far Weymouth seems to be carrying it off with aplomb.
There are five race areas designated. Three of these are long course, traditional sailing areas, the other two are the short 0.6nm Nothe course, and then the Portland Harbour course of 1nm.
To some the Portland Harbour course looks an abomination. What is the sport coming to when it decided Olympic medals on an enclosed course? But weird as it may seem, this patch of water looks beautiful with the wind from the right direction, which it has been for the past two days.
The medalists from this Olympics, will be those who are proven to be the best across a variety of sailing conditions, and styles of racing, rather then the best at sailing the same style of course in a seven to ten series of races.
It seems to be a fair proposition, even though traditional Olympic fans may have mixed feelings.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, reigning Olympic Champions in the Star class, July 29, 2012 Star Race 1 Richard Gladwell
It also has to be said that Weymouth provides some spectacular and varied backdrops to the racing – which is being reflected in the images coming from the courses.
On the water the race organisation is friendly and impeccable. Normally the first day has its wrinkles – but there were few today. The regatta is like nothing else we have seen for the on the water interaction between officials, course marshalls, media and others.
Long may it continue. With all the woes and uncertainty facing the world at present a bit of humour and a smile goes a long way, as a point is being made.
Rod Carr - Competition Manager, surveys the racing on day 1 2012 Olympics Richard Gladwell
Ashore the legion of volunteers, Police and Marines are outstanding – with the same friendly but firm approach. Always a smile – which goes a long way in a moment of tension, of which there are plenty at an Olympic regatta.
In this edition we bring you Bob Fisher's insights on the day and has a look at the Star class in particular. Mark Chisnell gives his take on the day with a look at Ben Ainslie's fortunes. Has the current Olympic Champion stumbled with his two second places today?
RS:X - Practice July 29, 2012 Richard Gladwell
Rob Kothe, our Publisher and our US Editor, David Schmidt was both out on the water today and gives his impressions of the regatta, and their significance.
We've plenty of image galleries both from our own photographers, and some of the freelancers working on the regatta.
It is now late at night in Weymouth, for the editorial team there is still work ahead updating stories and images as they come to hand.
July 29, 2012 Finn class Race 1 - Casey suffers deck damage Richard Gladwell
Tomorrow the more events get underway and we will have comprehensive coverage for you in tomorrow's edition, with plenty of updates as they happen on www.sail-world.com
Richard Gladwell Olympic Editor
July 29, 2012 Finn class, Race 1, In front of the fans on the Nothe Richard Gladwell