London 2012: 49er form guide

Richard Langdon / Skandia Team GBR
Our ranking; Spanish dark horse Xabi Fernandez tells of their campaign; Stevie Morrison gives his assessment
The 49er, the Men’s Olympic skiff is back for the fourth time at the Olympics. While the form going into the event would suggest that Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are the run-away favourites (see our interview with Outteridge here), the class has one giant dark horse in the form of Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez. Over the last four years Spain’s dynamic 49er duo have been a little bit busy. During this period they have raced around the world not just once, but THREE times - first in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race with on Telefonica Blue, then doublehanded in the Barcelona World Race when they finished second on the IMOCA 60 Mapfre and more recently in the latest Volvo Ocean Race on their ultimately unsuccessful Telefonica campaign. While this might seem like an already pretty heavy schedule, few would contemplate trying to shoehorn an Olympic campaign over and above of all of this. Nonetheless Iker and Xabi have been putting in the hours whenever they could and during the Brazil stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, with 100 days to go to the Games, it was announced that they had been chosen by the Spanish federation above the Alonso brothers. This comes as little surprise. They are the most experienced sailors in the present 49er roster having started out in 1998, winning gold in Athens 2004 having won two World Championships prior to this, claiming silver in Beijing 2008 and then winning the 49er World Championship in the Bahamas in 2010. That they were still on the pace was confirmed when they competed at the Test Event in Weymouth a year ago. Xabi Fernandez says that they made the decision to go ahead with their campaign after their success in the Bahamas. “We prepared well for that in two