Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Merel WITTEVEEN won today's sole Yngling race to close the gap on overall leaders Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON to just one point and set the scene for a nail-biting Medal Race on Saturday.
, Sarah WEBB
and Pippa WILSON
(GBR) scored a fifth place in the only Yngling race today, whilst a bullet for the Dutch crew of Mandy MULDER
, Annemieke BES
and Merel WITTEVEEN
reduced the Brits' five-point overall advantage down to just one. A third place finish for Sofia BEKATOROU
, Sofia PAPADOPOULOU
and Virginia KRAVARIOTI
(GRE) moves them up to third overall, one point ahead of Americans Sally BARKOW
, Carrie HOWE
and Debbie CAPOZZI
The Yngling fleet had a long wait as the wind died out on course area E, but eventually got started at 15:55 just five minutes before the time limit. MULDER, BES and WITTEVEEN led around every mark, fending off a sustained challenge from the French and Greek boats to win the race by just one second.
"We started on the left and were able to cross Great Britain with perfect speed,"
explained MULDER. "When going downwind, everyone chose different directions, and we stayed in the middle. The Greeks and the French were very close to us, but again we caught the wind and had good speed, which is our secret."
The Brits started well, but dropped a couple of places on the second upwind. WILSON revealed, "We made a slight error on our sail selection and so were a little bit compromised for speed - we overestimated the wind a bit. So it was a tough race but we hung in there tactically and as a team."
Going into tomorrow's Medal Race it's a straight head-to-head battle between the British and Dutch teams. BEKATOROU, PAPADOPOULOU and KRAVARIOTI are 20 points off first position and only able to improve their positions if one of the two leaders picks up a letter score (for a disqualification or an early start).
Whilst the Brits are back-to-back World Champions and the world #1 crew, the Dutch team were an unknown quantity coming into the Games as the unique Dutch selection process of rotating nine crew around three different boats meant the final team for Qingdao had only been formed a few weeks early. Whereas the Brits have been extremely consistent, the Dutch have been more erratic but incredibly fast, with three race wins in the eight-race series. Who wins out tomorrow is very difficult to call.
For their part, the Brits are relishing the challenge, "We put enough pressure on ourselves to win gold every day that we sail," WILSON said. "It's great to be in this position, but we want gold so we'll do everything we can to make that happen.
"It's always been about coming home with a gold medal for us, for Great Britain, for everyone that's supported us - that's always what our programme's been about."
The battle for the bronze medal will be incredibly close with just seven points covering the boats in third to eight place overall.
The Yngling Medal Race is scheduled to get underway tomorrow at 14:00 local time.
Overall Results - click here