Preview of Day 1 Olympic Sailing
Published on August 8th, 2016
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 8, 2016) – Rio de Janeiro looks set to deliver a great start to the Olympic Sailing Competition today, with moderate breezes forecast this afternoon from the south-east. While this morning Christ the Redeemer has been enshrouded in low-hanging cloud over the city, the skies are expected to clear and the breeze predicted to build to 14 or 15 knots in time for the 1pm (local time) start of racing.
Competition in the Men’s Windsurfer and Women’s Windsurfer begins on the Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) course at 1300 hours. Meanwhile on the Escola Naval (Naval School) course slightly to the North of the windsurfers, the Men’s One Person Dinghy and Women’s One Person Dinghy contests also begin. The RS:X windsurfers are scheduled to complete three races today, each with a target time of 20-25 minutes. The Laser and Laser Radial dinghies are down for two races, but they have a longer target time of 50 minutes per race.
The athletes will be racing their RS:X boards in a 12-race series, with the top 10 qualifying for the Medal Race on 14 August. It will be vital for the leading lights in the Men’s and Women’s fleets to make a good start to their regattas today, and the solid breeze will come as a welcome relief to the favourites. There are a number of course configurations available, although if the wind is strong enough for planing conditions it’s most likely they’ll be competing on the IS and OS course configurations.
Four years ago in the Men’s Windsurfer competition, Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) shaved his head for that extra bit of streamlining and it seemed to work. The flying Dutchman dominated the London 2012 competition to win gold. So it probably doesn’t come as much surprise to his rivals that van Rijsselberge will be opening the Rio competition with his head freshly shaved. No such superstitions for the London 2012 silver medallist and Athens 2004 bronze medallist Nick Dempsey (GBR), competing at his fifth Games. Of a number of others to watch, two in particular are the 2015 World Champion Pierre Le Coq (FRA) and 2016 victor Piotr Myszka (POL).
In the Women’s Windsurfer, Marina Alabau (ESP) returns as the defending Olympic Champion although she identifies Charline Picon (FRA) as a big threat along with Bryony Shaw (GBR), the bronze medallist at Beijing 2008.
The sailors will be racing their Laser and Laser Radial dinghies in a 10-race series, with the top 10 qualifying for the Medal Race on 15 August. The most likely course configurations for today’s two races are the so-called Inner (I) and Outer (O) Loops, providing some reaching legs in addition to upwind and downwind legs for the two fleets.
In the Men’s One Person Dinghy, all eyes will be on Robert Scheidt (BRA), to see if the legendary Brazilian can open his account as he bids to become the first sailor ever to win six medals at six Games. However, Nick Thompson (GBR) has won the past two Laser World Championships, and there are so many potential medallists in this field, arguably the most wide open in the 20 years that the Laser has been in the Olympics.
In the Women’s One Person Dinghy, the three medallists from London 2012 are still very much in the mix. China’s Lijia Xu (CNH), Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) are all at the top of their game, although the reigning World Champion is Great Britain’s Alison Young (GBR) and the winner of last year’s Test Event in Rio is Gintare Scheidt (LTU) who won a silver medal in this event for Lithuania back in Beijing 2008.
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