Calm winds sabotage Olympic sailing events

Aug 10, 2012

It could be a brilliant day for Britain's sailors on Weymouth Bay.

Or Australia could continue to beat the host nation.

Then again, the weather has to cooperate before gold medal races in the men's and women's 470 can be held in the Olympic sailing regatta.

The one thing sailors can't control, the weather, shut down sailing on Thursday. It was great day for sunbathers but a rotten day for sailing.

The men's 470 medals race was abandoned because there wasn't enough wind on the nicest day of the regatta.

AP

The race was rescheduled for noon Friday. The regularly scheduled women's 470 medals race is set for 1 p.m.

The men's 470 fleet never left the boatyard as a high-pressure system cut off the wind that normally whips in off the English Channel.

Gold will go to either Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page of Australia or Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell of Britain. The Australians have 18 points and the Britons 22. The medals race awards double points.

The Australians are trying to win more gold medals than the host country. They lead Britain 2-1.

For the British to get the 470 gold, they need to finish ahead of the Aussies, with a boat between them. If the teams are tied on points, the order of finish in the medals race serves as a tiebreaker.

"I think it plays the ball in our court a little bit if we wait longer," Patience said. "I imagine if the Aussies are feeling anything it's more discomfort than we are. The longer it draws out, maybe that's a good thing for us and a worse thing for them."

He added: "It's certainly not a problem for Stuart and me. This is our home. We've lived here for five years and we'll live here again once this is over. This is no skin off our back, is it?"

The British crew spent five hours hanging out in the team shipping container, staying out of the sun and watching other Olympic sports on TV.

"We were switching off, keeping fresh and being ready to get that espresso down our necks and hit the racing hard," Bithell said.

"It's like Harry Potter's tent in there," Patience said. "It just looks like a container from the outside, the size and dimension. You walk in there and you've got a whole world going on."

Bithell said Friday's forecast looks good for racing.

"We'll go through the routine process again — wake up expecting to race as we did this morning, and hopefully the race officer can get racing for us," he said.

In the women's 470, the British crew of Hannah Mills and Saski Clark is tied with New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie. They are the only teams that can win the gold.

Sailing for fifth through eighth place in women's match racing was also abandoned Thursday.

Associated Press

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