Andy Rice reviews the fleet as these two classes approach their medal races
The Laser and Laser Radial classes and the RS-X Men & Women board sailors have reached the halfway point of their Olympic Regatta. Poor wind means that all four divisions are slightly behind schedule, with the singlehanded dinghies having completed just four of their 10 scheduled races before the Medal Race, while the windsurfers have done 5 of 10.
Even so, some patterns are emerging, and we look at who’s up and who’s down at the halfway point of this high-pressure regatta.
Diego Romero of Italy is sailing the regatta of his life, leading the Lasers at the halfway stage. Whether he can hang on is another matter, however, as there is a gaggle of better known sailors waiting to pounce. Lying in the silver medal position a point behind Romero is Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren, who won the silver at the Test Regatta in Qingdao 12 months ago. Just a point further back is the Athens bronze medallist Vasilj Zbogar, and another point behind in 4th is Paul Goodison, Britain’s Laser sailor who has won both Test Events here.
Biggest shock is the poor performance of reigning World Champion from Australia, Tom Slingsby. Light conditions have never been the 23-year-old’s strong point, but no one expected him to be lying in 26th place after five races. He hasn’t even shown a glimmer of promise in Qingdao, scoring a very consistent 21,22,21,22, (36) so far. New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch opened his account with 2,5, but followed up with scores of (40),20, 24 – leaving him in 13th overall, five points ahead of Athens silver medallist, Andreas Geritzer from Austria. It’s not over yet for these sailors, but they have a lot to do in the remaining five heats before the Medal Race, if indeed the conditions permit all races to be held.
New Zealand’s Jo Aleh started with a disastrous 22nd, but has since racked up scores of 4,2,2,2 and leads Lithuania’s light wind specialist Gintare Volungeviciute by three points, who has won two races so far. Among the chasing pack are Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), Xu Lijia (CHN) and Penny Clark (GBR). Clark lies 6th with an extraordinary yo-yo set of results which read 2, 22, 1, 22, 3.
Biggest casualty is former World No.1 from Mexico, Tania Elias Calles who languishes in second last, 27th place overall. No come back from that position. Tatiana Drozdovskaya of Belarus won last year’s World Championship in Portugal, although the strong winds there are a far cry from the light conditions of Qingdao. She is struggling in 17th overall.
Israel’s Shahar Zubari is sailing out of his skin in the RS-X Men’s windsurfer division. He has never won a major event, but he leads the regatta counting scores of 1,3,1,3 and discarding a 17th. Similarly Hong Kong’s King Yin Chan has shown little of the form to suggest that he should be lying in 2nd place overall with a very set of consistent scores that allows him to discard a perfectly respectable 5th place. The next three sailors on the leaderboard are all hot prospects, and in 3rd, 4th and 5th overall respectively are Nick Dempsey (GBR), Tom Ashley (NZL) and Julien Bontemps (FRA). Dempsey won the bronze medal in Athens four years ago, and seems to be improving as this series develops, his scores running (11),9,3,2,1.
Portugal’s Joao Rodriguez is having a terrible series in 14th overall, certainly by the standards of a sailor who won the Europeans and came runner-up in the Worlds earlier this year. Przemyslaw Miarczynski nearly always finished on the podium of World Championships, but tends to prefer the strong winds, and has yet to hit his stride in Qingdao. He sits in 20th overall in a fleet of 35.
The RS-X Women’s division is running very much to form. Athens silver medallist looks very at home in the conditions – which should be expected as Qingdao is her home town – and she has notched up three bullets on the trot, followed by two 3rd places. If she can maintain that kind of form she will be unstoppable, and the home crowd will go crazy. After that is a series of the usual suspects, with Jessica Crisp (AUS), Marina Alabau (ESP), Alessandra Sensini (ITA) and Bryony Shaw (GBR) all in the hunt.
Down but not yet out is reigning Olympic Champion Faustine Merret in 10th overall. She can still pull it back, although there is such quality ahead of her it’s difficult seeing that many of her rivals slip up. As in the Men’s division, there is Polish disappointment in the Women’s boards, with last year’s world champion Zofia Klepacka struggling in 12th overall.
UK Laser sailor Paul Goodison talks to Matthew Sheahan after his opening day at the 2008 Olympics
British 470 sailors Nic Rogers and Joe Glanfield describe their first day on the race track 11-8-08
Ben Ainslie after the second day of racing plus comments on penalties – 10 Aug
** USEFUL LINKS **
British Olympic Organisation website