Preview of Race Day 11 at Rio Games

Published on August 18th, 2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 18, 2016) – Tuesday was a pretty amazing day, but today also promises plenty of drama with four Medal Races on the cards. First up are the 470 Women at 1300 hours, quickly followed by 470 Men, 49er Men and reaching a climax with the 49erFX as four teams go into battle on an equal footing.

It’s the perfect scenario and a perfect way to round off the sailing competition at Rio 2016. The temperature’s going to be about 23 degrees Celsius and the wind is set to blow about 10 to 11 knots from the south.

Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) have already won the Women’s 470 gold medal with the Medal Race to spare, but behind the British it’s shaping up to be an intriguing battle for silver and bronze.

A few protests at the end of the qualifying series have shaken up the running order. A disqualification from race eight has relegated Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol (SLO) from the bronze medal position down to seventh overall and with a much slighter chance of a medal. A disqualification from race nine has dropped the double World Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) out of medal contention altogether.

The team that have endured some brutal moments in an otherwise stellar week are the 2012 Olympic Champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL). Despite counting a disqualification in their scores, some excellent results including four race wins see the Kiwis in silver medal position on the leaderboard. However, so close are the points that they go into the double-points Medal Race tied with Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) and reigning World Champions Camille Lecointre and Hélène de France (FRA).

Just two points back are Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) and Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) are also still well within striking distance.

Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
The 470 Men’s medals have been wrapped up by the top three teams in the standings. It’s just a matter of who wins what between Croatia, Greece and Australia.

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) have been the class act of this four-year-cycle up until the start of this year. But in Olympic year, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) have since become the ones to beat after winning a number of major regattas including the 2016 World Championships. Most people still had the Aussies pegged as favorites going into these Games, but the Croatians have been exceptional in Rio, a sixth place being the worst score they have carried through from the ten-race qualifying series. After seeing their fellow countryman Tonci Stipanovic win Croatia’s first ever medal in sailing yesterday, these childhood friends are looking to see if they can improve on Laser silver with a historic 470 gold.

Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) have come on strong towards the end of the week and sit 11 points off the lead. Just two points behind them are the Australians so it’s a case of who beats whom to determine which of these crews gets the silver medal.

Men’s Skiff – 49er
For Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL), the Medal Race is a victory lap, the Kiwis having won the 49er Men’s gold medal with two races to spare after dominating the 20-boat fleet at Rio 2016 over the past week. However, they always go all out to win, so don’t be surprised to see New Zealand winning the race today.

Behind them the battle rages on for the other medals, with Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) holding second place just three points in front of the Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS). This means the 2012 Olympic Champions need to get at least one boat between them and the Germans to secure silver.

However, the Germans and Aussies can’t afford to engage in a pure match race because waiting to ruin the party are Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) who lie ten points behind Australia.

Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
Four into three, doesn’t go. We know that from watching the Laser Radial Women’s race at London 2012 four years ago. For the 49erFX Women’s Medal Race we are looking at an identical scenario, with four crews going into Thursday’s finale on an equal footing. They are: Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP), Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA), Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL).

The fact that that the fourth-placed New Zealanders sit a point behind the top three tied on 76 points is academic, because the Medal Race is a double-pointer. The order that they cross the line will determine what color of medal they win, or if they will be the unfortunate ones to win nothing at all.

Three of the four teams have won a 49erFX World Championship, the odd ones out being the Danes who have a European title. But any of these teams would happily trade those titles for an Olympic gold at Rio 2016. Only one of these eight sailors, Spain’s Echegoyen, knows what it feels like to be Olympic Champion after winning gold in the Women’s Match Racing four years ago.

If Brazil wins, the celebrations will be long and loud.

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Source: World Sailing

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