Heavy winds and brackish waters enveloped Guanabara Bay on Olympic Day 5. Several races were delayed due to the harsh conditions, while one race, the third of three mixed Nacra 17 races, had to be postponed all together.
In total, six different fleets each ran two opening series races this afternoon, including men’s Finn, men’s Laser, women’s Laser Radial, men’s 470 and women’s 470 in addition to the mixed Nacra 17.
In some cases, medal favorites were able to navigate the challenging conditions with success, but in others, results favored less-likely members of the fleet.
Today, Giles Scott demonstrated why he is a four-time Finn world champion and the favorite to win gold in Rio. The Brit placed second in the earlier of the two races, and followed it up with an outright victory in the later race.
Early yesterday, Scott struggled in the unpredictable breezes off Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), but recovered with a third-place finish later in the day. Today’s results were more than good enough to vault him past nine other competitors to the top spot in the overall net points standings through four races.
Caleb Paine of Team USA ran a forgettable early race, finishing 21st, but added a strong third-place finish later on to remain top-10 in the standings.
France’s Jonathon Lobert, a medal favorite behind Scott, was the fast man in the early race and seventh in the later race. He sits fifth overall.
Women’s Laser Radial
After a pair of top-three results yesterday, it looked as if defending Laser Radial gold medalist, Lijia Xu of China, would again rise far above the fleet. Instead, she fell back three spots to fourth place after eighth-place and 12th-place finishes.
Meanwhile, Xu’s rival, Team USA’s Paige Railey, sailed very well through the strong winds. She finished second and seventh in the two races, elevating her to seventh in the standings.
Everyone is chasing Ireland’s Annalise Murphy, however. After a pair of top-five results today, she leads Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom, winner of the late race, by a single point for top spot in the overall standings.
Five-time Olympic medalist and Brazilian sailing legend Robert Scheidt somewhat steadied his inconstant start to the men’s Laser opening series with 11th-place and second-place finishes today.
Great Britain’s Nick Thompson was the fast man of the day, harnessing the rough wind to second-place and first-place finishes.
Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia has been by far the most consistent sailor in the Laser class at these Olympics, and that continued with a pair of top-seven finishes today. He has finished out of the top-seven just once (a still-respectable 12th-place result) in six races.
Half-way through the opening series, Stipnovic holds an 11-point lead over Thompson, with Scheidt lurking just six points behind the Brit.
Men’s and women’s 470
Fleets of both genders raced in the two-man dinghy class this afternoon to begin opening series competition.
Americans racked up a total of four top-10s out of four between the partnerships of Annie Haeger/Briana Provancha and Stuart McNay/Dave Hughes. They sit fifth and eighth in their respective rankings.
Just two races in, the men’s fleet is led by the Croatian team of Sime Fantella/Igor Marenic while the women are paced by Ai Kondo Yoshida/Miho Yoshioka of Japan.
Mixed Nacra 17
The only Olympic sailing event featuring mixed-gender partnerships also got started this afternoon, though only two out of a planned three races were run due to weather delays.
The highlight of Olympic sailing opening series competition occurred in the second of the two races that were run, when Samuel Albrecht/Isabel Swan of Brazil gave the host country its first race victory in any class.
Unfortunately, the victory followed a disappointing 17th-place result in the duo’s earlier race, relegating them to seventh in the overall standings of the 17-foot catamaran class.
The Swiss team of Matias Buhler/Nathalie Brugger, winners of the first race, currently share the top spot with British duo Ben Saxton/Nicola Groves, though it is very early.
Americans Bora Gulari/Louisa Chafee sit in 11th place after 13th and 10th-place results.