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Rio 2016 Day 8 - From 0 to 30 knots in 10 minutes

by Mark Jardine on 15 Aug 2016
Laser Radials sailing under the statue of Christ the Redeemer ahead of the Practice Race start Richard Gladwell
Rio's weather is difficult to read... unless your name is Ian Walker. The Medal Race course had no wind whatsoever for most of the afternoon, but the double Olympic silver medallist and Volvo Ocean Race winner had it spot on.

As it was, the Race Officer had probably seen the same forecast as he'd sent the ten Laser Radial sailors out to the course in no wind, in anticipation of getting a race away ahead of the 1630 cut-off time. The wind went from zero to gusts of 36 knots in minutes, leaving the organisers little choice but to raise AP over A and abandon racing for the day.

Although the squall came in quite quickly, beginning as a 5-8kt breeze and increasing to 20-25kts, conditions in the Bay were quite sailable by the Medal Fleet, with all sailors practicing in the conditions with no capsizing. Offshore it was a different story with winds of 42kts being reported by the Australian 49er team.

Of concern for the Medal Race was the requirement not start a race after 4.30pm (it is winter in Brazil) and with the Mens Medal Race unable to be sailed today for this reason, the pragmatic choice was probably made to not sail the Womens Medal race today.

The Women's Laser Radial and Men's Laser Medal Races are now scheduled to take place on Tuesday, together with the Finn and Nacra 17 Medal Races.

There was racing elsewhere, outside of Guanabara Bay the 49er and 49er FX fleets held three more races. There was no racing in the Mens or Womens 470 class, who had three races to be sailed.


New Zealand's Peter Burling & Blair Tuke had a great day on the Copacabana course with a 2,3,1 scoreline which has enabled them to open up an 18 point lead at the top of the leaderboard. Germany's Erik Heil & Thomas Ploessel are in 2nd overall on 39 points while the London 2012 gold medallists, Australia's Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen have moved up to 3rd, but are 15 points off second overall.

'We had a really good day, today', said Burling. 'We got three low scores. The boat was going really fast, there were some beautiful conditions out there. We got hit pretty hard by a massive squall on the way in.'

'I think everyone here is fairly cold and have work to do on their boats, to check them over and make sure they are all right.'

Burling and Tuke estimated that the squall was 45-50kts in strength. 'A SW front came in five minutes after the race. The wind turned from 11kts from the SE into 35-40kts in the space of 5-10 minutes,' said Blair Tuke.

'We had been finished about five minutes, when the squall hit. We capsized, and capsized again once more with just the rig in. It was just as hairy for Hamish (coach Hamish Willcox) in the RIB towing us as well,' added Burling.

'There were some massive waves out there with the tide going out, we were just happy to get ashore.'

The 49ers were sailing on the Niteroi course about a mile offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Some teams were aware of the squall being forecast and were prepared, others were caught unawares. It seemed that the New Zealanders had started sailing home when the squall hit. They were unable to run with it and capsized. The sails were dropped, the boat righted and towed in behind a team coach boat.

Several boats did sustain damage in the squall including at least one 470 which tore a jib.

The big movers of the day were the French pair of Julien d'Ortoli & Noe Delpech who won two of today's races, moving up to 4th overall.

The Irish duo, Ryan Seaton & Matthew Mcgovern have dropped to 7th overall, just ahead of the British team of Dylan Fletcher-Scott & Alain Sign who are clawing their way up the rankings after their poor start to the event.

49er FX

On the Niterói course is was a great day for the Spanish team of Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez & Berta Betanzos Moro, posting a 4,1,1 scoreline to lead overall. New Zealand's Alexandra Maloney & Molly Meech are just 4 points off the lead with Brazil's Martine Soffiatti Grael & Kahena Kunze just a point further back.

Great Britain's Charlotte Dobson & Sophie Ainsworth are by no means out of touch with the medal placings in 5th overall and USA's Paris Henken & Helena Scutt are within the top ten. Ireland's Andrea Brewster & Saskia Tidey's challenge is fading a bit and they need to get back to the form they showed in the first 3 races to make it into Thursday's medal race.

RS Sailing 2019 - FooterAnyport Ewincher 2019 FooterX-Yachts AUS X4 - FOOTER - 2

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