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London Olympics 2012—Medal fever sets in

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 5 Aug 2012
Ben Ainslie (GBR) competing in the Men’s One Person Dinghy in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. onEdition
Sunny skies and an air of urgency hang over the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, situated in Portland, UK, where the first two medal races of the London Olympics 2012 are taking place today. First up, at 1300 hours, local time, are the Stars, followed—at 1400 hours—by the hotly contested Finn class. Both races will take place on the spectator-friendly Nothe course, where shore-based sailing fans can cheer-on their favorite athletes.

The weather forecasts are calling for shifty winds that are expected to clock from 180 degrees to 200 degrees for the Star class, before swinging further south-southwest for the Finn medal race. Wind speeds are expected to hover around ten knots, with roughly 60 to 90-percent cloud cover on the Nothe course.

Both the Finns and Stars are expected to sail a number of Windward-Leewards, with an offset mark before the finishing line. According to this morning’s press briefing, the top three sailors in each class will then take a victory lap past their cheering fans, prior to sailing back ashore for the medal ceremonies and other assorted celebrations.

For the Star class, this could prove to be their last Olympic medal race, as the class was voted out of the Games for 2016, thus adding an extra sense of urgency to today’s race.

For the Finns, today is all about the hotly contested battle between Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie and Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen. While the Dane has sailed a better regatta so far than Ainslie (and enters today’s medal race with a two-point advantage in the overall standings), there’s no question that Ainslie wants this victory badly. Stay tuned!

In other non medal-race news, the Women’s and Men’s RS:X classes are both set to power through two races on the Portland Harbor course, where the breeze is expected to be even shiftier than on the Nothe. The medal race for the RS:X sailors is set for Tuesday, August 7, so today is the last chance for these sailors to improve their point standings.

The 470 class will also contest two races today. The Women’s 470 class will take to the Weymouth Bay West course at 1300 hours for their first race, before then sailing closer ashore to the Nothe for their second race. The Men’s 470 event will fire-off two races on the Weymouth Bay West course, starting at 1430 hours, local time.

Please stand by for more news, as it breaks.

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