In the bag for Bouwmeester
Strong winds once again provided a tough physical test for competitors at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic sailing test event today. Wind speeds in excess of 25 knots across Portland Harbour curtailed the racing schedule, with the 49er fleet only managing two of their three scheduled races, and the Star class returning to shore almost as soon as they’d left with no racing possible and some boats with broken masts.
Star of the day was the Netherlands' Marit Bouwmeester who sealed gold in the Laser Radial with the Medal Race still to go at the .
Bouwmeester has dominated the Laser Radial fleet almost from the outset of this regatta with a tremendous display and she heads into the Medal Race with an unassailable 32 point lead. “I am very happy that I could finish everything today. It was really windy and quite shifty today but it’s always pretty tricky so I was happy with a four and two."
After her superb performance in Weymouth Bouwmeester is eyeing up Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship Laser Radial glory, “Hopefully at the Perth 2011 ISAF Worlds I can get a world title behind me. Everything went well this week but Perth is a different venue and I am definitely going to train hard to do my best there.”
Paige Railey (USA) was the standout sailor of the day as the American recorded two stylish race wins in winds of 20-25 knots on the Weymouth Bay West course. Railey trailed Charlotte Dobson (GBR) round mark one and two in Race 9, but she powered ahead and won convincingly by 56 seconds. Her victory was not as emphatic in Race 10 but she held the lead from the start to finish 28 seconds ahead of Bouwmeester.
Railey is now hot on the heels of Evi Van Acker after the Belgian went 8-6 on the fifth day of Laser Radial sailing. Van Acker has 49 points and Railey is on 58 points ahead of the double points Medal Race on Friday.
Britain's Charlotte Dobson ensured her place in the medal race with 2,10 for her efforts today. She goes into the final in ninth overall.
Just two points separate Andrew Murdoch (NZL), Tom Slingsby (AUS) and Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) with only the Medal Race to go in the Laser. Murdoch had a three point lead overnight, but Slingsby brought the deficit down to one after a bullet in Race 9 and an eighth in Race 10. Murdoch went 9-2 and van Schaardenburg, who did trail Murdoch by eight points, has brought the difference down to just two points after a fourth in Race 9 and a bullet in Race 10.
A fantastic Medal Race is on the cards and if tactics come into play Great Britain’s Paul Goodison (GBR) is still in with a shout as he sits in fourth on 56 points, just eight points behind Murdoch.
Ben Ainslie extended his lead in the Finn after he recorded his third race win after eight races. Ainslie won Race 7 by a comfortable 51 second margin over Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO). The Finns raced on the Nothe course in Race 7 and Ainslie rounded three of four marks in first place. At the first mark he was 15 seconds behind Pieter Jan Postma (NED) but the Brit rounded the next mark seven seconds ahead of the trailing fleet and gradually extended his lead to take the bullet. Ainslie finished second in Race 8 and with 15 points he has a seven point lead over Pieter Jan Postma (NED) who won Race 8.
“Pieter and Jonathan have been sailing really well," said Ainslie. "I’ve been very impressed with the way they’ve been sailing. They’re both quite big strong guys, so it’s been hard work keeping up with them. It was a tough day out there today. We sailed on some different courses which was interesting for everyone I think. Physically it was hard work so I was happy to come away with the results and two more fleet races to go. It was really interesting going on the Nothe course, and I think we’ll see more of that next year. It is a difficult course, the wind is shifting around a lot. We’ve trained there quite a bit in the build up to this event and of course then something completely different happens. It was interesting, but I came away with a win in that race so I was happy, and then we had a bit of an epic battle in the harbour this afternoon. The wind came up quite a lot, sort of 20-25 knots so it was pretty full on.”
Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JPN) reduced the gap on Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) to just one point ahead of the Medal Race. Mills and Clark have led the Women’s 470 fleet from the start, but the Japanese sailors have slowly chipped away at their lead. With the Medal Race taking place on Friday at the Nothe the Brits are on 37 points and assured of a podium sport, but the Japanese girls are on 38 points. Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) are in third on 47 bullets after their bullet in Race 10. The days other race win went to Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) who are down in seventh place on 69 points.
Mills and Clark had pulled through to third in their first race of the day, but a capsize in the big downwind swell saw them finish the race in tenth, with their Japanese rivals ahead third. A fourth in their second race kept them one point in the lead, but will ensure a nail-biting medal race on Friday.
“We’re leading going into the medal race, but it would have been nice to have a bit of a cushion which we’ve now lost after having that cushion all week,” Clark explained. “Going into the medal race you want to be in with a shout of getting a medal and we’re definitely in with a shout of that. We were really pleased with our results in the windier stuff. To be sailing around matching the windy weather specialists for speed and stuff and managing to hold in and get some good results, it’s just a shame we couldn’t quite finish it in that race. We definitely set our target high to do well this week, but we also wanted to make sure we were learning about everything – more about the venue, the wind conditions and also about me and Hannah and our team. We put ourselves under a bit of pressure to do well, our little team within Team GBR, and learning all the things that we can. That’s all gone really well, and hopefully we can walk away after the medal race with a good result there.”
Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) take a 17 point into the Men’s 470 Medal Race after they recorded their eighth top five finish from ten Men’s 470 races. The French duo have epitomised consistency in Weymouth and a strong performance in the Medal Race will hand them the gold medal. Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won Race 9 but did not finish Race 10 and are second on 49 points. Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela have moved up to third place overall after their 3-2 today to move onto 58 points.
Britain's Nick Roger and Chris Grube pulled up to fifth with a fourth and a race win.
Only two races were possible in the 49er and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) have moved back into pole position on 29 points after winning Race 10. Iker Martinez and Xabier Hernandez (ESP) are second on 32 points and Race 9 winners Emmanuel Dyen and Stephane Christidis (FRA) are seventh. The 49ers will continue tomorrow with Races 12, 13 and 14.
However today it was the Brits Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who were the winners of the day with a second and a first after some lively racing on the Nothe course. They narrowed the gap on the podium spots with their 2,1 from the day seeing them in fourth overall and just a point off of the New Zealand crew currently in the bronze medal position.
“By the end of our second race it was certainly well up to the top end of what you’d race a 49er in!” Morrison explained. “It felt like a relatively smooth day for Ben and I but there were a lot of boats up and down and a few crashes, but that’s what you come to expect when it’s this windy in a 49er. It wasn’t really full-on limit stuff, because on the Nothe course the water’s so flat, you haven’t got the sea state which is often the thing that makes it so hard. A lot of people have seen the medal race in China where it looked like you could hardly sail a 49er, but the sea state there was so steep a chop. Here it’s glassy flat and despite the wind strength, it’s relatively do-able. Ben and I have been sailing well all week – there have been some little things that haven’t been as ideal as we’d like and that’s led to a few mistakes. Whenever it’s breezy, Ben and I have done a lot of sailing together and we back ourselves to do well, so the confidence doesn’t dip after a capsize. We’re full of confidence, we’ve been going fast, we’re getting better and it’s at this time of the week that you’ve got to start putting the results in.”
The Women’s Match Racing 5-8 place sail-off was scheduled today on the Portland Harbour course but racing was cancelled meaning Olivia Price (AUS) finishes in fifth followed by Mandy Mulder (NED), Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and Anna Kjellberg (SW
Tomorrow also sees the Women’s Match Racing Final and the Men’s and Women’s RS:X Medal Races. The Finns will also continue with racing scheduled to start at 12:00 local time.
Thursday will see the first medal won for the Skandia Team GBR, with Nick Dempsey assured of silver, but gunning for gold with Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberge in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event. Bryony Shaw is in good shape to make it two windsurfing medals for GBR, currently poised in third overall and with a seven point lead over the fourth placed French sailor Charline Picon.
Fleet racing will also continue on Thursday for the Finn, Star and 49er classes, with the 470, Laser and Laser Radial classes having a rest day before their medal races on Friday.