This year's Skandia Sail for Gold regatta is almost as big as the Olympics, according to triple gold medal legend Ben Ainslie. The reason is that many national teams are using the event as a crucial component of their selection process.
So anticipation was high this morning when the sailors arrived at the Olympic centre, but the wind had other ideas, toying with the race officials as they tried to set fair race course in the light and shifty conditions. The Match Racing got started on time, others were not so lucky with the Laser Radial's waiting ashore until 17:00 local time before being sent afloat.
But while the Women's Match Racing might have got started on time, it was still going when almost everything else was done. The usual names found their way to the top of the round robin, with stand-out unbeaten performances from Claire Leroy
(FRA), Anne-Claire Le berre
(FRA) and Silja Lehtinen
(FIN) all on 3-0, and Lucy Macgregor
(GBR) and Anna Tunnicliffe
(USA) on the slightly more impressive 4-0.
The RS:X fleet got going at a reasonable hour, and managed a couple of races for both the men and the women. Blanca Manchon
from Spain showed the class that made her the 2010 World Champion with two bullets to lead overall from France's Charline Picon
, hot on her heels with a first and second. In the RS:X Men it was Poland's Piotr Myszka
that matched Manchon's results with two wins, but with a slightly bigger advantage, this time to his countryman Lukasz Grodzicki
, who is in second overnight with a first and third. Britain's Nick Dempsey
won the second race to pull himself into third overall.
All three Paralympic classes were sailing early in the harbour - the wind was a lot stronger near the shore in the morning - and completed two races in all the fleets. In the Sonar it was Australia's Colin Harrison
and Russell Boaden
tied with USA's Rick Doerr
and Brad Kendell
, both teams with a first and a second. In the SKUDs it was Beijing silver medallists Dan Fitzgibbon
and Liesl Tesch
leading from their Aussie compatriots Jamie Dunross
and Rachael Cox
- the former benefitting from a three point margin. In the 2.4mR's it is Damien Seguin
of France leading from the Netherland's Thierry Schmitter
and his countryman, André Rademaker
The 49ers were also the beneficiaries of a race course close to Weymouth beach, and got a couple of races in for both flights. There was another outstanding performance in this fleet, this time from Italy's Sibello brothers posting two seconds and a first to lead overall from the Austrian pair of Nico Delle - Karth
and Nikolaus Resch
The 470s started mid-afternoon with some of the fleet's most recognisable names struggling in the conditions. It was the Croatian pair of Sime Fantela
and Igor Marenic
that topped the day with a second and a third, closely followed by Pierre Leboucher
and Vincent Garos
of France. Portugal's Álvaro Marinho
has been combining his match racing on the World Tour with the 470, and posted a third and a fourth with crew Miguel Nunes
and hold third overnight. Aussie World Champions Mathew Belcher
and Malcolm Page
were back in 15th. The 470 Women saw stronger performances from the superstars with 2010 Dutch World Champions Lisa Westerhof
and Lobke Berkhout
leading overall from Tara Pacheco
and Berta Betanzos
The Star and Finn classes were not released until 15:00 hrs and had the longest sail out to their course. They finally got underway at 17:30 after the wind had settled, and managed a single race. No one was particularly surprised to see Britain's triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie
lead for the first lap, but then New Zealand's Dan Slater
slipped through on the final round when Ainslie sailed to the wrong gate, and took the win. In the Stars it was all about Brazil's Robert Scheidt
and Bruno Prada
, winners of their one race from Mateusz Kusznierewicz
and Dominik Zycki
, with Canada's Richard Clarke
and Tyler Bjorn
The huge Laser fleet was out late, a combination of split flights - and the multiple starts required to get some of them away cleanly - making for a long day. In the end it was Germany's Franziska Goltz
that took the gun in the single Radial race, beating China's Lijia Xu and Sari Multala
(FIN). In the Men's fleet, Netherland's Rutger van Schaardenburg
won their single race from Britain's Nick Thompson
and New Zealand's Andy Maloney
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