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Olympic sailing day 7 preview: 49ers hit the water

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A massive afternoon of sailing featuring eight fleets and 20 total races will take place on the seventh day of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The first two races of the men’s 49er series will be streamed live on, followed by race 12 of the women’s RS:X windsurfing series.

As opening series racing continues, several top contenders will fight to solidify their spot in the medal races that begin on Monday.

Men’s 49er and women’s 49erFX

The two skiff-type dinghy fleets are the only portion of the regatta that has yet to set sail. That will change on Friday, as both classes are set to run the first two races of their respective opening series.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Australia’s duo of Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jenson edged out Kiwis Peter Burling/Blair Tuke for the gold medal. Both pairs have returned to Olympic competition in Rio and are favorites to vie for the gold medal once again

Women’s 49erFX will be contested for the first time as an Olympic event this afternoon. Brazilians Martine Soffiatti Grael/Kahena Kunze are confident that they can deliver the host country another gold medal.

They will have to beat out strong teams from Denmark and New Zealand to christen the event with a home victory.

Men’s and women’s RS:X

Thursday, Spaniard Marina Alabau reminded the regatta why she is the defending Olympic Champion, with results of 7, 2, and 1.

She will hope to put together a similar performance today to gain ground on a wide-open field.

With four victories in six races, it looked earlier as if Flavia Tartaglini of Italy would run away with the gold. She now holds just a one-point lead over France’s Charline Picon and Russia’s Stefaniya Elfutina.

On the men’s side, Dutchman Dorian Van Rijsselberghe is dominating. The defending gold medalist has won five of the last seven races, and looks unmatched across the fleet.

That includes Englishman Nick Dempsey, silver medalist four years ago, who sits eight points behind Van Rijsselberghe.

Men’s and women’s 470

Four races into both two-person dinghy events, American teams are clinging to spots in the top 10.

Team USA's Stuart McNay/Dave Hughes will begin the third race day in ninth spot, 21 points behind leaders Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic of Croatia.

Annie Haeger/Briana Provancha of Team USA hold the sixth overall spot in the women’s series, but are just six point back of New Zealand’s Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie for top spot.

Men’s Laser and women’s Laser Radial

Six races in, and Brazilian Legend Robert Scheidt is building momentum. The five-time Olympic medalist shook off a disappointing 27th-place finish in race three to post results of 4, 11, and 2 in races 4-6. He sits fourth overall.

Gold medal favorite Nick Thompson of Great Britain is also sailing very well, in second place with four races to run.

There has been no lack of drama in the women’s Laser Radial series. Paige Railey of Team USA and China’s defending gold medalist Xu Lijia will continue their rivalry in races seven and eight, but both are chasing Ireland’s Annalise Murphy, leader by one net point.

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