Olympics Daily Debrief, Day 8 — Hurry Up and Wait

Postponements reigned supreme at the Olympic regatta today, until a squall hit. The wind was nowhere — and then it was everywhere at once.

Squall Olympics

The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition

Israel's Eyal Levine and Dan Froyliche fight their way back to shore after a squall came through Guanabara Bay. On the outside courses, the wind speed went from 10-12 to over 40 knots in a matter of minutes.Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, Australia's 49er squad, had just crossed the finish line and were heading to their coach's boat when they took a peek under the sail. A squall line was barreling down on the 49er fleet so fast, Outteridge and Jensen had only a few seconds to spare in which to douse their kite and get their sails down, tie on to the rib and hold on for dear life. Other boats in the fleet weren't so lucky, with knockdown force winds topping out above 40 knots throwing sailing and bare-poled boats over in rapid succession. For the skiffs and 470 fleets, the race back to the boat park was the most important of the day.

"We ragged it quite fast on the way in," says Germany's 49er skipper Erik Heil. "But what lucky timing. Just after the last guy came across the finish line, the breeze came in 130 degrees from the other side, and with massive force. Even with just the mast up and no sails, we still needed to get on the trapeze to stop the boat tipping over. We have some boat work to do, we have damaged the sails, we have to check the mast."

49er Sailing Rio Olympics

The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke recorded 2-3-1 today to hold the lead in the 49er class by 18 points. On the way in, they capsized twice, once with the sails up and one bare-poled. "I think it was just as hairy a ride in for Hamish [Willcox, coach] as well on the rib," says Burling. "He nearly capsized as well. There were some big waves building up."Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Despite the chaotic final hour of the day, the earlier part of the day was gorgeous sailing, with 10-14 knots, flat water and sunshine. The course was relatively even with a slight advantage at the top mark on the left side due to an ebbing tide, and New Zealand's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke kept their grip on the lead. Rivals Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen closed the gap on the Kiwis today. "The way forward is to focus on ourselves, correct the mistakes we've made so far this regatta and get some good results," says Tuke. The Australians suffered early on in the regatta, executing poor starts and failing to get out of the pack. They've since recovered to third overall, and if they can continue to close the gap on the Kiwis and Germany's Erick Heil and Tomas Plossel tomorrow in the final day of preliminary racing, they'll have a chance at gold. If Burling and Tuke continue to reign, they could run away with the gold tomorrow.

In the 49erFX, the Spanish team, Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos, had two bullets out of three, putting them in first overall ahead of 2016 World Champions Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech from New Zealand. The Echegoyen and Betanzos have sailed extremely well in the light breeze, but have struggled when it's steadier. Today they proved they can handle both, and have certainly given the world champs a challenge. Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are one point behind the New Zealanders, with Denmark's Jena Hansen and Katja Salsov-Iverson four points behind them. This is one of the closest fleets we've seen so far here in Rio, and the 49erFX fleet is undoubtedly one of, if not the most, competitive female fleet.

Olympic Regatta Rio 2016

The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition

Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark lead the 470 women going into the final day of preliminary racing, which was rescheduled from today until tomorrow.Sailing Energy/World Sailing

The skiffs were the only fleet to get in any completed races today, two for the 49ers and two for the FXes. The 470 men did start one race, and then abandoned it due to too little wind. The entire day was all about waiting, as the Laser and Laser Radial fleets were scheduled to contest their medal races but were thwarted by an absent sea breeze. The radials did go out to start their race, just when the massive front came through and threatened to wipe them out, too. The Race Committee finally called the race due to too much wind. Reports show that the wind on the Pao course, inside, went from 3-5 knots to over 35 in a matter of 20 minutes. Umbrellas on the beach were lifted out of the sand, and the Radial girls were planing as they waited for tows back to shore.

olympic sailing

The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition

Sweden's Josefin Olsson ready for the Laser Radial medal race, before it was cancelled due to too much wind.Sailing Energy/World Sailing

The 470s were slated for a layday tomorrow but are now scheduled to contest the three races originally on tap for today. This means they lose their pre-medal race reserve day, as the medal race is still scheduled for Wednesday. Tuesday’s racing will include the final skiff series, and the Laser, Radial, Finn and Nacra medal races. The skiffs will aim to complete races 10, 11 and 12, rounding out the preliminary series.

Full results can be found at sailing.org.

Editor’s note: we will update this story as schedule changes are announced.