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Tokyo2020: British look set for another very good Olympics

by Richard Gladwell/ 28 Jul 2021 09:26 PDT 29 July 2021
Tokyo2020 - Day 4 - July, 28, - Enoshima, Japan. Womens 470 © Richard Gladwell - / nz

The sight of the Union Jack at the front of the Tokyo2020 fleets is becoming more familiar with each passing day in the Tokyo2020 Olympic Regatta, being staged at Enoshima.

The fickle offshore breezes of the first three days were replaced by a solid onshore wind of around 12-15kts, and bright sunshine.

The British now lead three of the ten Olympic sailing events - the Mens 49er skiff, the Womens 49er FX skiff, and the Womens RS:X windsurfer.

They are well poised to make the podium in four others - one of which is the Finn where defending Olympic Champion put aside two ninth places in the opening stanza of the regatta and posted two solid wins in the seabreeze.

The Mens and Womens 470 class got underway today, sailing on the Stadium course at Enoshima, and the Brits lie third overall after just two races in both events. They are one of a group of five crews in the Nacra 17 Mixed multihull, who are separated by just one point for positions second to sixth.

That puts the Brits in the top three in seven events, and are within striking distance in the Mens RS:X and looking for a bit of luck in the other two.

The thing that puts the Brits apart from the rest is their consistency in the early stages of the regatta. The first two days of the regatta were marked by tricky wind conditions and that was the downfall of many in the Laser, Laser Radial and both RS:X windsurfer fleets.

If you thought you were having a bad day in one of those classes, you only had to look around to see that you were in excellent company. After the first two days of the regatta most of the sailors had at least one double digit place to their credit - which will be their discard place when the final scores are added.

The issue is that places at the start of the regatta in fickle winds, count for exactly the same as places later in the week, in more conventional breezes and sailing conditions.

The arrival of the seabreeze, described as being from south at 15-17kts, was a probably a little high, given the sea state and lack of capsize. For sure there was the odd one, but not at the level that would be expected as top crews pushed their boats hard, and took risks.

Quite how the Stadium course pans out later in the week for medal racing remains to be seen. Even with the onshore breeze blowing for less than a day, and with the ever present swell running at about a metre in height, there was quite a backwash being set up. It didn't appear to affect the Mens and Womens 470 racing this afternoon, but whether that continues to be the case with the breeze predicted to increase further tomorrow.

The good news for Kiwi fans is that hot-favorites for the Gold medal in the 49er class, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke recovered from an indifferent first day in the 49er event, and are now tied on points for third overall. Their regatta is now taking on its usual form - a patchy first day, followed by some solid top three placings, and then they seem to find form as they chase down the leaders. Whether this regatta follows that pattern remains to be seen.

For the Antipodeans it was a better day in the 470's with Australia's Matt Belcher and Will Ryan leading the event after two races, with the New Zealand crew of Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox one point adrift in second. In the Womens 470, Poland's Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar won both races, with defending Olympic champion Hannah Mills along with new crew Eilidh McIntyre handily positioned in third overall.

The forecast for Thursday is for winds gusting up to 22kts, from a southerly direction, much as today.

However from Friday, we are back in to the light and frothy conditions as the breeze comes off the land, and all that entails with the inshore courses being subject topographical influence - as the Lasers, Laser Radial and RS:X competitors only know too well.

There is plenty of golf left in this course.

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