Race wins for Aussie sailors on Weymouth waters
Australians have picked up wins in three classes on day two of sailing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Tom Slingsby got his London 2012 Laser campaign off to an ideal start with a second and a first giving him the overall lead, while 49er crew Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are third after two races and Women’s Match Racers Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty are tied for first following four wins from four starts.
Slingsby went into the first two Laser races with plenty of pressure on his shoulders. The 27 year old is the reigning World Champion and current world number one, the same position as he was four years ago in Beijing.
Today Slingsby rose to the occasion, sailing consistently well in the moderate conditions to cross the line second in race one and first in race two. The results give Slingsby an eight point buffer over the second placed Guatemalan and third placed Croatian sailors.
“I had good starts and I knew I was going to be pretty quick,” said Slingsby. “My coach and I had a pretty good feel for what the wind and current were doing and I kept it pretty conservative and it seemed to work.
“I remember yesterday watching the Finns when the commentators were stressing because Ben Ainslie was back in 10th around the top mark and I was thinking to myself, I’d take a 10th around the top mark any day of the week,” he said. “I said to myself today that the result didn’t really matter, just get out and race well, two top 10s would have been a nice start, last Games I started with a 22 and a 21 so anything’s an improvement on that.”
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen took to the water in the 49er class with the reigning World Champions keen to extend their unbeaten run in Weymouth to six regattas and claim Australia’s first Olympic medal in the class.
The pair made a conservative start, deciding to re-cross the start line as they thought they had gone over it before the gun went off. Rounding the top mark in 15th they worked their way up the fleet to finish race one in eighth.
Outteridge and Jensen made a clear start to race two, getting to the top of the course in third and picking up another position by the bottom gate. From there they passed the leading Portuguese crew on the next upwind, eventually crossing the line first.
The results leave the pair third overall, three points behind the leading Danish crew and one behind their Swedish opponents.
“In the first race we were in a group that was a bit closer to the line than we realised,” said Outteridge. “Once the fleet goes you’ve got to go with them otherwise you get spat out. We went and as we did I thought we were a bit early, the individual flag went up and people started peeling back, so we just had to go back, not worth having an OCS in the first race.
“It wasn’t an ideal start but we did a great job to get back,” he said. “There were a few tense moments but we kept our composure and chipped away. That’s what this week is all about, those sort of things are going to happen a lot, either a start or a bad wind shift or a capsize, you just have to make sure get back into that front group again.
“In race two we got a good start, no one was over and waited our turn for a shift to come and were in the top three at the first mark, from there on just ground away and didn’t make any mistakes, it was a good race and we got the bullet,” he said.
Jensen, who is competing at his first Olympic Games, said that the pair is working on being as consistent as possible across the regatta.
“We’re aiming for top fives and trying not to get a drop early on in the event, so an eight and a one is close enough to top fives,” said Jensen. “We’re just going to keep trying to post low scores and if we can be consistent I’m sure we’ll be there at the end.”
Australia’s Women’s Match Racing team of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty continued their great start with another two wins, making it four wins from four starts.
The Australian trio came up against America’s Anna Tunnicliffe in their first race today. The Australians won the start after a strong pre-start work against the 2011 World Champion and held a small lead at the first mark. Tunnicliffe managed to grab the lead right at the second mark and held it till Price, Curtis and Whitty overtook just before the downwind finish line to win by the smallest of margins, less than a second.
Next up Price, Curtis and Whitty took on Great Britain’s Lucy MacGregor with the Australians winning by a comfortable margin to end the day tied at the top of the leader board with the Russians.
“It was another tricky but fun day for us,” said Price. “We had similar conditions to yesterday so we went out there trying to do our normal thing and it paid off.”
Brendan Casey has moved up from his overnight 16th to 12th in the Finn fleet following races three and four. The Finn fleet headed to the Nothe spectator course for race three with Casey finishing ninth and the Queenslander was 14th in race two on the Weymouth Bay West course.
“Today I had to put the wheels on but it didn’t really happen, I had good starts and good first beats but just got let down on the downwinds,” said Casey. “I was up there with opportunities, they just didn’t fall into place today.
“I improved from yesterday, got to finish two races today instead of one and we just keep on trying, it’s a changing sport every day,” he said.
Krystal Weir didn’t have the best start to her event, finishing 18th in both of Monday’s Laser Radial races to be in the same position overall.
“Today was a tough one, it wasn’t quite my day,” said Weir. “I had really good starts and my speed was good at times but I just made an error at the top mark in the first race, went the wrong way and it just didn’t quite pan out like I wanted.
“There’s a long way to go yet, I’ll just reassess for tomorrow and give it a crack,” she said.
All five Australian crews return to the water on Tuesday with Jessica Crisp joining them as the RS:X women’s competition begins.