London 2012: Patience and Bithell assured of at least silver

But Australia's Belcher and Page lead into Thursday's medal race

Tuesday August 7th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Women's Match Racing

The lengthy Women’s Match Racing competition aboard the Elliott 6s has entered its quarter final stage. After the round robins were completed over the weekend, the bottom four teams of Stephane Hazard (NZL), Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN), Rita Gonçalves (POR) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE), got their matching orders, leaving the top eight to contest the quarterfinals.

The round robins also served the purpose of providing a seeding for the quarters, with the 1st placed in the round robin racing the eighth places, the second placed the seventh, etc with the following pairings and results from today

Renee Groeneveld (NED) v Olivia Price (AUS) – 1-1
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) v Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) – 2-0
Claire LeRoy (FRA) v Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) 0-2
Lucy Macgregor (GBR) v Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) 1-1

The quarter finals are a first to three series and once again they are happening in slow motion compared to the frantic pace match racing events tend to happen at elsewhere. All of the quarterfinal bouts saw two flights sailed with the remainder to be completed tomorrow.

The only team to win both their matches was the Finnish team of Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff.

“It was amazingly close,” said Lehtinen of her races today. “The last finish was a matter of 1cm and there was a protest and the umpires took their opinion which was probably quite a debatable situation so we might have been a little bit lucky in the first one. It was over coming into the finish, rule 17 and giving room at the mark.

“Second one, they got the start that we wanted, but we managed to get the next few shifts better and went ahead, but it was really close. All the time they were close enough to attack and it was very exciting.”

Anna Tunncliffe, the Laser Radial gold medallist from Beijing, was our top tip for Gold in the Women’s Match Racing but at present lies 0-2 down to the Finnish team.

“We are not down on ourselves about the scoreline,” said Tunnicliffe. “We made a mistake but we are sailing really well and we are not going to change anything that we’re doing.”

While Olivia Price’s young Australian team, including Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty, came out unbeaten in the round robins, today they dropped a match to the Dutch crew of Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes and Marcelien Bos-De Koning, their contest now standing at 1-1.

Wait a minute - Marcelien Bos-De Koning? The three time 470 World Champion and Beijing silver medallist?

Last time we caught up with De Koning (read here) she had taken up sailboarding and was competing at the RS:X World Championship in Denmark in 2010. What happened? “It was so much fun - I wish I had had more time to make that happen. We had to be in eighth place for the Dutch team to go through to the Olympics and I didn’t make that. And then Renee called me and said ‘you are going to do bow for us’. And I said ‘okay, if you say so!’” The first time the Dutch team sailed was on 11 November last year, less than a month out from Perth 2011.

Of their races today De Koning says that they should have been the Australian in the first race as well. “It is really close and we know that we are a bit faster upwind and they can be a bit faster downwind. We finished downwind which is the hardest part. 1-1 - we are pretty happy.

“We had a penalty in the first race– at first it wasn’t obvious but afterward it was – we pushed a little bit too much. It was downwind, they gybed and we gybed a little bit later and then we rounded up and made it hard for them to gybe which was okay if we’d started it, but they started it so we got the penalty. Then it was all over. But we were behind so it was already a bit hard and we only had one third of the race to go. In the second we pulled away in the second upwind and then stayed happy on the downwind and we won.”

De Koning observes that they are very familiar with the Australian team was they were their training partner. This is similar for the Finns and Americans who were also training partners and have lined up in the quarter finals. “It doesn’t matter who you meet – they are all really good.”

Meanwhile the Brits are lining up against the Russians and did well to go 1-1 up against the team that came out second in the round robin.

As the British team’s bow Kate Macgregor described it: “In the first there were a lot of penalties thrown about in the first one and we equalled them out ,which was good. Then at the leeward we got a kite sheet under our boat, which was a big mistake that we shouldn’t have made. It meant we had to sort that out up the second upwind. We felt comfortable because she had a penalty, but with all the messing around and then that problem continued for the downwind - so we didn’t have our best downwind – on the second lkap she got ahead and she still had a penalty to do at that point adnt hen we pushed it right towards the end and then got a penalty ourselves. So there were a lot of penalties going around.

“The second race was a bit more clean and we just managed to stay between her and the finish line – which was easy.”

Big sister and helm Lucy added: “We felt good today. We felt like they are the sort of opposition we can put pressure on and they crumble a bit under it. We can’t wait for more.”

Fingers crossed for the Brits tomorrow.


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