What’s on Tap for Today (Friday, Aug. 3, 2012)
Lasers: Race 7 on the North Course at noon, Race 8 on the Portland Harbour Course at 1340, approximately
Laser Radial: Races 7 and 8 on the Portland Harbour Course, starting at 1330 approximately
49er: Races 9, 10, and 11 on the Nothe Course, starting no earlier than 1330
470 Men: Races 3 and 4 on the Weymouth Bay West Course, starting at 1210
470 Women: Races 1 and 2 on the Weymouth Bay West Course, starting at noon
Finn: Races 9 and 10 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at noon
Star: Races 9 and 10 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at 1210
Women’s Match Racing and the RS:X classes have the day off.
Weather: Isolated rain showers, SSW breeze 14 to 16, with gusts into the mid-20s. It’s looking like a beautiful day here in Weymouth and Portland. That is, of course, relative to the previous four days. But this might almost classify as a nice summer day in most parts of the world. Then again, maybe I’m speaking too soon.
What to Watch For:
All eyes will be on the Finn course again. Yesterday’s tiff between Jonas Hogh-Christensen and Ben Ainslie, with Dutch sailor Pieter-Jan Postma playing a supporting role, has only heightened the interest in this class, if that were even possible given the extreme British interest in the Finn. Yesterday, Ainslie did exactly what he needed to do, pick up enough points to make it close. Now the pressure shifts back to Hogh-Christensen a bit. Today, Ainslie’s goal is to pick up one more point. Because the medal race counts double, and because it’s also the tiebreaker in the event two sailors finish with the same point total, any two sailors within two points of each other are effectively tied going into the medal race, making it a who beats who situation. Hogh-Christensen’s one card to play is the fact that he’s currently throwing out an eighth while Ainslie is tossing out a 12th. Should Hogh-Christensen find himself in front of Ainslie at any moment in today’s racing, it might be a smart move to camp on the British sailor and do whatever possible to slow him down. A bad race for both sailors will be a points gain for the Danish challenger. However, as Hogh-Chrisrtensen pointed out himself yesterday, the last time he did any match racing was 15 years ago. Ainslie on the other hand is a former match racing world champion and has shown his prowess at match racing within a fleet many times.
Aside from an opening race 11th, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson have sailed a flawless regatta in the Star class, producing an impressive string of top-3 finishes. A double-points medal race on the shifty Nothe Course presents lots of opportunities for movement on the overall leaderboard, however, should Percy and Simpson stretch their 9-point lead out to 13 or 14 points, it’s likely to put the two trailing teams, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil and Freddie Loof and Max Salminen of Sweden into silver-preservation mode during the medal race. Fourth is quite a ways back from third, so unless the fourth through sixth teams (Poland, Norway and the United States) make a significant move today, the medal race will simply be about the color of the medals for the top three teams.
The Women’s 470 finally starts today. It’s been a long wait for the women, but they’ve been rewarded with a banner day. Sun, warm temps, at least for Weymouth, and great breeze. Realistically, the American medal hopes right now are down to the Women’s Match Racing and the Women’s 470. Let’s see if Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, who have shown speed in breeze, can get off to a strong start. Otherwise the U.S. team will have to start to come to grips with a one-medal games, their smallest haul in recent memory, if not ever.
That all said, Paige Railey in the Laser Radial isn’t out of it. However, she needs a banner day, and some help in the form of double-digit scores from the sailors in front of her to move back into real contention. With just four full-fleet races remaining, she can’t afford to lose points if she wants to be in a position to challenge for a medal in the medal race.
49er: Three races on the Nothe Course will go a long way toward separating the pretenders from the contenders. When the 49ers come off the water today, they’ll only have four races remaining before the medal race. Teams in the middle of the results will need three solid results to move back into striking position.