Dying winds blow away medal race

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page's race for gold has been delayed by light winds.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page's race for gold has been delayed by light winds. Clive Mason - Getty Images

PAUL Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders needed everything to go their way to pick up a medal in the men's 470 and it didn't help that racing was abandoned because of a lack of wind for the medal race at Weymouth.

The young sailors are fifth heading into the double points race and need to win hope both Argentina and Italy stumble badly for them to medal and would have liked to have raced in today's conditions.

Australian pair Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are guaranteed the silver medal, but will be racing for gold once the winds pick up again.

Snow-Hansen and Saunders are good in heavier weather but light and shifty conditions make things more unpredictable and open up opportunities.

In reality, they didn't need to leave themselves so much to do. They were disqualified from the first race after a protest from Argentina - the New Zealanders felt they were harshly penalised - after crossing the finishing line eighth.

That would have left them only seven instead of 15 points off third heading into the medal race but they also scuppered their chances with a 12th and 13th in the last two races.

The men's 470 crew were third at last year's Sail for Gold regatta against the same crews and were considered genuine medal contenders.

"It's been a big learning experience, for sure,'' Saunders said. "It's full-on. There's a lot of pressure around but it's been fun and we have learned an incredible amount.

"The first day in general was pretty crazy. There were a lot of things going on. The protest, drug tests, media. It opened our eyes to what the Olympics are all about.''

Their medal race will now be sailed tonight (NZT), with the women's 470 crew of Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie sailing off for gold immediately after. Aleh and Powrie are joint leaders with Great Britain with daylight third, meaning whoever crosses the line first will win.

Light winds are forecast again tonight (NZT) but men's 470 coach Hamish Wilcox, who also doubles as the team's weatherman, is confident both races will be sailed.

Today's abandonment has only delayed Saunders and Snow-Hansen's post-regatta plans.

"The first thing we want to do is eat a lot of food and enjoy ourselves because we have been dieting and training pretty hard for the last year-and-a-half,'' said Saunders, who can afford to pack on a few more kilograms to his 72.5kg frame. "It will be pretty cool to let go.''

Topics:  london olympics sailing

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