Penultimate day at Skandia Sail for Gold is blown off as 3-40 knot winds pound Weymouth Bay
When racing for day 5 was finally called off, few were surprised. The forecast for Friday’s weather had never looked good with gale force winds sweeping up the English Channel from Thursday afternoon onwards. Given the number of sailors in Portland’s favourite pub, the Cove Inn last night, many had already written off the penultimate day’s racing.
Nevertheless, throughout the morning the race organisers had tried to ensure that they were ready to exploit any drop in the breeze but by 1400 racing for all was called off.
The decision marked the end of the Paralympic sailors’ event. In fact their last race had been on Wednesday as it was deemed too windy to race yesterday, Thursday. The result saw British sailors at the top of all three classes, with the most dominant performance coming from Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell in the Skud 18 who had won five of their six races.
In the Sonar class John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas won overall beating the Dutch team Udo Hessels, Mischa Rossen and Marcel van de Veen by four points.
In the 2.4mR class Thierry Schmitter (NED) and Britain’s Helena Lucas finished the event on equal points with Schmitter winning the tie breaker.
The news that today’s programme was cancelled also cleared the dinghy park earlier than usual as tomorrow’s medal racing sees just the top ten boats in each class compete for double points. Given the testing week and reduced number of races that have taken place, there have been some surprises in the results with some big names finding themselves further down the rankings than they had expected. There are also some tight matches at the top and with a breezy forecast, tomorrow’s racing promises to be particularly exciting. No one is home and dry in any of the classes which should add to the drama.
Of those that look likely to excel, Outteridge and Jensen (AUS) have been leading their field as has Julian Bontemps in the RSX men, Zofia Noceti-Klepacka in the womens’ RSX and Giles Scott in the Finn.
But for many, tomorrows racing will either be a needle match or a tough climb for the big names. Paul Goodison who is currently 5th in the Laser faces such a haul to get onto the podium. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) who has frequently dominated the Laser Radial class finds herself with a similar task as she currently lies in 6th. In this class the prospect of a battle between Lijia Xu (CHN), Alison Young (GBR) and Sari Multala (FIN) where one point separates three sailors that have fought tooth and nail this week lis another reason why this race will be closely watched.
In the 470 men, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell are poised to take the top trophy from Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS), while in the women’s fleet Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) have a similar battle with France’s Camile Lecointre and Mathilde Geron.
In the Star Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson will have to fight hard to maintain their one point lead overt the season’s consistent leaders, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada in a fleet that is notoriously tough.
To add to the excitement, tomorrow’s weather looks likely to be in the upper range with forecast breeze of 17-24 knots.
Each of the races is just 20 minutes and will be run on two course areas, Portland Harbour and the Nothe course where the official Olympic stadium will be.
Racing starts at 1000 with the Laser and finishes with the Finns at 1500 in the harbour. The first race on the Nothe will be the 470 men at 1040.
Meanwhile we will be out on the radio RIB as usual bringing back live commentary of each race.
For full details of results in each of the fleets go to Sail for Gold results
Follow the action replays of the trackning and radio commentary.
LIVE TRACKING & RADIO