Friday, August 15, 2008

British Sailors Lead The Way Into First Olympic Medal Races

[Source: ISAF] British Finn sailor Ben AINSLIE is on course for his third consecutive Olympic gold medal and GBR also lead the battle in the Yngling going into the first Medal Races ever held at the Olympic Games.

The Finn and Yngling fleets both completed their Opening Series on the seventh day of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao. A lack of wind earlier in the day meant only one race, race 8 of the Opening Series, could be held. A second place finish for Ben AINSLIE gives him a 12-point cushion over the USA’s Zach RAILEY going into tomorrow’s Medal Race and assures him of a silver medal at worse.

In the Yngling fleet, Athens gold medallists Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB and new crew Pippa WILSON are just a single point ahead of Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Merel WITTEVEEN of the Netherlands. The Dutch team won today’s race to set up a fantastic Medal Race tomorrow. With the Greek team a distant third, the battle for the Olympic gold medal will centre on the two leading teams and whoever of the Dutch or British boat cross the finishing line first will end the day on the top step of the Olympic podium.

Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom of Sweden lead the Star class after the opening race. Qingdao, 15 August 2008. Photo copyright Juerg Kaufmann

The Medal Race is a new Olympic Format for sailing and is being used at the Games for the first time ever this year. The top ten boats from the Opening Series qualify for the Medal Race, with their scores in the Medal Race counting for double points. The competitors carry their overall scores from the Opening Series of races through to the Medal Race and the medals will be decided by combining the Opening Series score with a boat’s Medal Race score. In addition, where a boat can exclude one score from their Opening Series points total, the score in the Medal Race cannot be excluded. The races will be held just in front of the spectator breakwater at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, on a short 30-minute course with Jury boats to officiate the action on the water.

The Medal Races for both the Finn and Yngling events will be broadcast live and will be followed straight away by the medal ceremonies, held on a specially constructed platform inside the marina. The first Medal Race scheduled is for the Finn at 13:00. The Yngling Medal Race is scheduled to start at 14:00. Check your local television listings for broadcast times. You can also follow the action live with mark-by-mark roundings and estimated finishes on the ISAF Olympic Games microsite.

In addition to today's races in the Finn and Yngling, the Star and Tornado fleets also got their Opening Series underway on course area A. With the forecast northeasterly breeze not arriving until late in the afternoon, there were long delays this morning and consequently only one race was completed in the Star, Tornado, Laser, Laser Radial, Men's and Women's RS:X and Men's 470 fleets. The Women's 470 fleet managed to squeeze in two races.

Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis, 2nd placed in the Tornado class. Qingdao, 15 August 2008. Photo copyright Juerg Kaufmann

Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM of Sweden won the first race in the Star, with a lot of the pre-regatta favourites posting high scores after getting caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift up the first beat. Spain's 2005 and 2007 World Champions Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ BLANCO won the opening Tornado race. In the two windsurfer fleets the Israeli and Chinese leaders consolidated their positions, as did Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) in the Laser Radial. In win in today's Laser race puts Paul GOODISON (GBR) top of the overall standings. Australia hold the lead in both Men's and Women's 470 fleets.

Following today's delays the schedule for tomorrow has been updated.



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