The weather kicks off at Skandia Sail for Gold but racing for all classes other than Star and Paralympic continues
Dubbed the ‘Winter Games’ by some of the foreign teams, today of all days, it was easy to see why. With 20-25 knots due to sweep across the area by lunchtime before the breeze really wound up to 30+, the driving rain promised to add the final touches to an winter scene.
Add to this the temperatures which have dropped so far that the central heating has been turned on in many of the team houses and you start to get the picture. When asked, most say they love the sailing but struggle to come to terms with the temperatures.
The weather has been the most widely discussed topic here in Weymouth since the beginning of the event. For some the strong winds have provided a big lesson in the variety of conditions that Weymouth Bay can dish up. Some like Laser Radial sailor Lijia Xu have used this to practice in the breeze and have been pleasantly surprised at their results. Others like British Olympic member Alison Young in the same class have demonstrated how much they like the punchy conditions.
Yet for some the strong conditions have been a worry. With just 50 days to go, breaking gear so close to the Games could cause problems for their campaigns. The Star fleet among others were concerned with the damage that could result if the fleet was caught out in the conditions that were forecast.
In the event the organisers took advantage of a small window for racing in the morning and managed to complete a number of races for all but the Stars and the Paralympic classes. To get some racing completed was particularly important for many of the classes that had previously been split into yellow and blue classes. Last night the cut was made and the sailors seeded and the top guns needed to square up against each other before the final 10 selections for the medal race were made. With serious doubts over the weather for tomorrow, today could be the only chance to get the medal race groups sorted.
In the racing that did take place the 49ers opened the show with Outteridge and Jensen demonstrating how it should be done by taking another win to continue their lead in the overall stakes.
In the Laser, Tom Slingsby continues to hole pole while in the women’s Laser Radial Lijia Xu leads by just one point to Britain’s Alison Young after posting a 6th and a second to Young’s 5th and a 1st. This is a class to watch, particularly as the more familiar top names seem to be further down the field.
Another Australian dominance is in the 470 men where Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page stretched their overall lead with a third today. Britain’s Patience and Bithell who lie second overall continue to find form, posting a 2nd and a 1st.
In the women’s 470 Kiwis Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie take the lead after nailing two wins in the lively conditions.
But leading those with the most solid score lines it was Giles Scott in the Finn who muscled his way to the front once again to score his fifth victory out of seven races, his next best result being a second. Ben Ainslie continues to sit in second overall but such a dominant performance by Scott who lost out to Ben in his place at the Olympics will doubtless raise eyebrows in some quarters.
By lunch time the torrential rain reduced visibility to a few hundred metres – if you had goggles and pure guesswork if you didn’t. Just as the Finn class finished the sun came out, and the breeze increased as if someone had opened a door in the Western Approaches. After that, the mens’ RSX managed to squeeze in a race in 25-30 knots but the attempt to get the womens’ race in ended in chaos as the fleet was blown around the harbour in gusts that got close to 40 knots. Some ended up on the lee shore at Castle Cove and a full sweep of the harbour was required to ensure that the fleet had all been accounted for.
Tomorrow sees more of the same with strong winds and rain throughout the day – but then today we got more than most had expected. Fingers crossed.
For full details of results in each of the fleets go to Sail for Gold results
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