London Olympics 2012: Mid Regatta Blues - digging in

Annalise Murphy (IRL) in the Women’s One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Four days of Olympic competition and we're into the middle eight, the excitement of the Opening Ceremony is long forgotten, and the medal races are still a long way off. This is the trench warfare period, a time for consistency, to grind out the results, to stay focused on the wind and water in front of you, and to keep the eyes off the prize.
Some were more successful than others.


Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen did a great job - the Aussie favourites continue their class act in the 49er with another second and a win, to lead by 13 points after the discard kicked in. Behind them are the Kiwi pair of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. There was more Australian success (he says with gritted teeth) in the Women's Match Racing where Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty remain unbeaten in the round robin. But as we're still only at flight 17, we're not even at the end of the beginning yet.

Gold-medal winners Nathan Outteridge and Iain "Goobs" Jensen (AUS) kick-up spray at the London Olympics 2012

Marina Alabau of Spain was looking just as good in the RS:X Women, with another two bullets (to add to a one, two) and going eight points clear of Lee-El Korzits of Israel. In the RS:X Men, a tiny crack appeared in Dorian Van Rijsselberge's dominance. The Dutch sailor won his third race in a row this morning, but then dropped to third behind Nick Dempsey and Byron Kokalanis in the fourth. The latter pair provided the closest photo-finish we've yet seen, even allowing for Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson's two efforts in the Star class.

Where things did get more interesting was out on the Laser course - remember that Annalise Murphy of Ireland had been utterly dominant coming into today, winning the first four races of the Radials. The forecast had been for some big breeze, but it was coming with a front that was not due to arrive until early to mid-afternoon. And what the Radials got until then was a mixed bag - and quite a bit lighter than the previous two days.

Annalise Murphy is something of a big breeze specialist and she struggled today, posting an eighth, and then a 19th which is currently her discard. But even now Murphy still holds a nine point lead over Evi Van Acker of Belgium. The Netherlands Marit Bouwmeester is only another two points behind van Acker, and then it's the 19 year-old Brit, Alison Young, nine more points adrift and suffering for a weak first day.

The forecast is for solid breeze again on Friday, when the Laser Radials resume their contest. Can Murphy hold her nerve and her advantage? The wind is forecast to stay up for the rest of the Radial competition and if you believe that forecast, then it's worth putting some money on Murphy for gold.

The Lasers are also shaping up as a great contest. It was the favourite, Australia's Tom Slingsby who made all the early running with a couple of seconds and a win. Then came a bump in the road and Slingsby had to battle back from a couple of poor first legs to recover to a sixth, and then do the same again to get a ninth. It looked like this was the new pattern in the final race today, with Slingsby deep in the pack off the start line. But he found another gear up a very shifty first beat and fought back into contention to post a second.

It still wasn't enough to take back the overall lead though, which is held by Pavlos Kontides - the Cypriot started badly with a ninth and a fourth on day one, but then posted two bullets, a second and a fourth. It gives him a one point advantage over Slingsby, with Tonci Stipanovi? of Croatia seven points back in third. I'm still backing the favourite for this one, even if he does seem to have mislaid that magical touch in a breeze. I think it's temporary.

July 31, 2012 Pavlos Kontides (CYP) in fourth place in the Mens Singlehander Laser racing on the Portland course