NZL Sailing Team: Battle lines drawn for Kiwi Gold in Pre-Olympics

NZL Sailing Team are New Zealand’s National Sailing team competing in Olympic sailing events
Yachting NZ
New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch will start the Laser Medal Race with the lead at the Weymouth and Portland 2011 National Regatta – but with just two points between the top three placed sailors it’s set to be an all-time battle.

The fleet sailed the final two races of the qualifying series overnight – Murdoch retaining his lead after placing 9th and 2nd. But Tom Slingsby (AUS) was able to close the three point gap to just one with a 1st and an 8th, and Rutger van Scaardenburg (NED) looks threatening after a 4th and a 1st.

Murdoch leads on 48, Slinsgby trails by one on 49, with van Schaardenburg on 50 points – Friday’s medal race will require nerves of steel. Local sailor Paul Goodison remains in medal contention as well with 56 points in 4th position.

Unlike the typical schedule of the ISAF World Cup Regattas the Olympic format will see the top ten take a day off racing before they line up in the Medal Race. For the remaining 46 sailors in the fleet, the regatta is done and dusted.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (left) continued their string of top race finishes returning to the water last night after a rest day. Just two races were possible for the 24-strong fleet in the Men’s High Performance skiff and a handful of DNFs dotting the scoreboard for the lower placed nations gives an indication that conditions were challenging.

Yet despite being the youngest pairing in the fleet, breeze is something the kiwis don’t shy away from and they mastered it with a 3rd and a 2nd to retain their position in 3rd overall behind Australia and Spain out in front.

Tonight’s racing in Weymouth for Burling and Tuke will determine where they sit in going into the Medal Race, and being the penultimate day of the series the pressure will build among the fleet leaders.

Both 470 fleets managed two races overnight, New Zealand’s Women’s pair of Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie came out firing with a race win, following that up with a 7th place in the second race. Their overnight results sees them gain a place on the leader board moving from 8th up to 7th overall with just the Medal Race to sail.

While the Weymouth podium is now out of reach for the kiwi girls, who have clocked up some terrific international results this season, they will be looking to further improve their final place, and with a strong medal race this is entirely possible.

The Finns were back on the race track last night including seasoned kiwi campaigner Dan Slater who came away with a 7th and a 9th in the two races sailed and he sits in 8th overall. Two more races remain ahead of the Medal Race in this class but it’s no surprises to see Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie at the top of the board with a seven point leading margin on his closest rival.

For Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders the series comes to an end, finishing 13th overall in the Men’s 470. They placed 11th and 9th in two races sailed overnight improving their overall position by one, but not enough to make the top ten nations for a Medal Race start.

The regatta concludes for Sara Winther in the Laser Radial also, finishing in 22nd place and well outside the top ten who will now prepare for their Medal Race.
No racing was possible overnight for the Star class: - 'With strong winds and gusts of up to 30 knots reported on the Portland Harbour course the Stars were cancelled,' says the official report.

Tonight in Weymouth Jon-Paul Tobin and Natalia Konsinska will line up for the windsurfing Medal Races, while the 49er, Finn and Star fleets will be back out for more qualifying races.

Weymouth and Portland 2011 International Regatta
New Zealand’s Current Standings
1st - Andrew Murdoch: Laser (4, 5, 2, 3, 11, 4, 8, 12, 9, 2)
3rd - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke: 49er (11, 16, 3, 3, 1, 3, 9, 5, 3, 3, 2)
6th - Jon-Paul Tobin: RS:X Men (6, 6, 9, 16, 5, 11, 2, 4, 21, 1)
7th - Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie: 470 Women (21, 11, 2, 26 BFD, 3, 3, 17, 4, 1, 7)
8th - Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk: Star (5, 2, 15, 7, 10, 22DNS)
8th - Dan Slater: Finn (13, 18, 5, 2, 28OCS, 4, 7, 9)
10th - Natalia Kosinska: RS:X Women (12, 10, 4, 7, 7, 11, 12, 14, 19, 8)
13th - Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders: 470 Men (17, 16, 4, 13, 15, 33OCS, 4, 16, 11, 9)
22nd - Sara Winther: Radial (11, 26, 26, 21, 15, 25, 18, 8, 10, 50DNF)

About this regatta:

The Weymouth and Portland 2011 International Regatta is an official London 2012 Test Event and part of the London Prepares series.

Racing runs from 2nd – 13th August with medal races scheduled over the final three days starting with the Men’s and Women’s RS:X on 11th August. All ten of the Olympic events are being contested with each nation able to send just one entry to each event.