Nervy times for all today as the familiar cycle of the Olympic sailing games ‘messes with heads’ at the front and the back

Day three is always the most nerve wracking for those already into their Olympic sailing Games. Posting poor results early on not only adds to the pressure, but helps those at the front of the fleet build their confidence and get into their stride. But today sees plenty of additional jitters as the weather starts to close in. Winds are due to increase throughout the day to over 20 knots, the sea state on some courses will also play a significant part.

For the Finns big waves will mean plenty of surfing opportunities but also plenty of risk of capsizing to leeward. For the Stars, big waves and breeze produce a high risk of gear failure, in particular rigs.

For the 49ers racing today is in Portland Harbour. You might think there is more shelter in the harbour and while the water is indeed flatter, the teams know that it always blows harder in the harbour than outside when the breeze is in the SW. For the 49ers this will take them close to their limit if the breeze climbs to 20-25 knots. Britain’s Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes like the breeze as they demonstrated at Sail for Gold earlier this year and they will be looking to step up their game today. (Watch out for their trademark port tack starts, great to watch.)

Clearly those that have posted disappointing results will know that they are running out of opportunities to catch up with the leading pack. Ainslie may be lying in third but he has to pull it off today.

Equally, Paul Goodison may only have had one day’s racing but it left him trailing the Olympic sailing favourite by 30 points. He too has to pull the rabbit out of the hat today and get back into the frame. Last night he was seen hobbling around the compound on the way to the team’s physio and while the report is that he has responded well to treatment, there will doubtless be some anxiety about today’s races.

But it’s not just those playing catch up that are feeling the pressure. Those at the top of their tables know only too well how easy it is to fall from grace in a moment.

As one sailor said last night, “There’s something about the Olympics that messes with your head!”


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