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Olympic sailing day 4 recap: China's Xu responds to U.S. challenge

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A total of 12 races took place on Guanabara Bay on day four of the Rio Olympics sailing competition. The day began with Men’s Finn, followed by Women’s Laser Radial, Men’s Radial, and Men’s and Women’s windsurfing in the RS:X class.

With medal races still several days away, the afternoon’s action was a continuation of Monday’s opening series races. In each event class, a fleet of sailors will run either 10 or 12 races, with each sailor receiving a point value identical to their finishing position for each race. As in golf, the goal is to accumulate as low a score as possible. Sailors may drop their worst score after all races in the series have been run.

Men’s Finn

The first of the day’s two Men’s Finn races featured a disappointing result for heavy medal favorite Giles Scott of Great Britain, who finished 17th out of 23.  Pieter-Jan Postma of the Netherlands, who took 4th place overall at London 2012, also posted a result below his usual standards due in large part to a tie-up with a refereeing vessel at the start of the race.

Argentina’s Facundo Bazan Olezza ultimately claimed the race victory.

Giles recovered in the afternoon’s second race, finishing third behind 2012 silver medalist Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark and Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar, who placed first. Bazan Olezza followed up his early race victory with a ninth-place finish in the later race.

With still eight races to go in the Men’s Finn series before the medal races, Zbogar leads with four net points.

Brazil’s Jorge Zarif sits tied for third after two top-10 finishes, while USA’s Caleb Paine will begin tomorrow’s races in eighth position and Britain’s Giles will do the same in 10th.

Women’s Laser Radial

At the conclusion yesterday’s races in the Women’s Laser Radial dinghy series, American medal contender Paige Railey initiated a successful protest against defending gold medalist, China’s Lijia Xu, for not performing a penalty turn in time. Xu was dropped to 23rd in the rankings, but she responded emphatically with a third-place and first-place finish in today’s races to re-elevate her to the top of the overall standings.

Railey did not fare as well, posting 10th and 21st place finishes. She sits 10th in the overall standings.

After failing to crack the top-20 in either of yesterday’s races, Hungary’s Maria Erdi posted a pair of top-five results – including an outright victory in the early race – to claim a spot in the overall top-10.

Men’s Laser

Julio Alsogaray entered the day’s Men’s Laser races holding the top spot in the overall standings. With an outright win in the later race, top spot is where he remains.

With 27th-place and fourth-place finishes, Brazilian sailing legend and 5-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt continued an inconsistent start to the opening series, and finds himself in 8th place.

Representing three less-talked-about nations at the Olympics, Cy Thompson of the Virgin Islands, Juan Ignacio Maegli of Guam, and Pavlos Kontides of Cypress – the early race winner – all hold a top-10 positions after day four.

Consensus gold medal favorite, Nick Thompson  of Great Britain, has struggled thus far by his standards, as he sits in 12th position overall without a top-five finish in four races. Australian Tom Burton, also a medal favorite, posted a pair of strong results to remain near the top of the standings with six opening series races still to run.

Women’s RS:X

Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini dominated the women’s RS:X windsurfing this afternoon. She claimed outright victory in the first two races of the day, and added a strong fourth-place finish in the third.

She leads Charline Picon of France by just one point in the overall standings at the midway point of the opening series. Picon would’ve had to have been perfect to better her efforts from yesterday’s races, where she posted two first-place and one second-place finishes.

Picon and Tartaglini seem destined to win medals, and the fight for gold will certainly be one to watch.

Men’s RS:X

Finally, the men’s windsurfing seems to be producing a similar two-man race for gold between favorites Nick Dempsey of Great Britain and Dorian Van Rijsselberghe of Netherlands.

In the first race of the day, Dempsey added a third victory out of four races, and extended his lead in the standings. However, Van Rijsselberghe proceeded to win the final two races of the day, closing the gap to just one point.

Dempsey suffered his worst result yet in Race Six with a 14th-place finish, and while that score is currently excluded from the overall standings as his worst score, it may come back to haunt him as Van Rijsselberghe’s dropped score is just a five thus far.

Poland’s Piotr Myszka also extended a streak of top-five finishes and sits currently in third place.

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