Kiwi duo Burling, Tuke, leaders in 49er opener in Olympic sailing


Skies cleared and weather began to cooperate as an almost three-hour delay was lifted to commence the opening series of the men’s 49er events.Twenty total races were in line for Friday afternoon’s jam-packed Day 7 of Olympic sailing, but were trimmed to 16 due to the weather delay. Race three from the men’s 49er and women’s 49erFX were postponed – they will race four races each on Saturday instead of the normal three in a day’s time.Race 6 from the men's and women's 470 class will move to Sunday, where races 6, 7, and 8 will take place.The 16 races that did take place, exhibited action-packed results – expected and unexpected.

Men’s 49er and women’s 49erFX

Men in Kiwi costumes on the beaches of Marina da Glória flapped their arms as the heavy favorites to win Olympic gold in the men’s 49er rounded their last mark and headed towards the finish line.Cheering ensued from the men in costume when New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took the top spot in both races of the opening series. In the past four years, Burling and Tuke have been undefeated through 26 regattas in their respective event.The 49erFX made its Olympic debut in Rio on Friday and Erin Rafuse and Dannie Boyd of Canada capitalized, claiming the top spot after the two opening series races.Gold medal favorites and hometown heroes, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil, are in a three-way tie for second overall with France’s Sarah Steyaert and Aude Compan and Italy’s Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich.Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt finished 14th overall with 29 net points after two races.

Men’s and women’s RS:X

The opening series of the men’s and women’s RS:X concluded as the sun began to set on Guanabara Bay.Two things are forecasted to be conclusive: Netherland’s Dorian Van Rijsselberghe [van RICE-il-bare-guh] is far enough in the lead that no competitor can score lower after Sunday’s medal race. The gold medal favorite is indeed locked to receive Olympic gold in the event.Similarly, Nick Dempsey of Great Britain is days away from a silver medal, besides Van Rijsselberghe, no other sailor in the men’s RS:X can score lower to take silver from him.The race for bronze will be competitive; France’s Pierre Le Coq and Greece’s Vyron Kokkalanis are within eight points of Poland’s Piotr Myszka.Team USA’s Pedro Pascual finished in 28th overall and did not secure a top-10 spot to advance to the medal race on Sunday.On the women’s side, the gold medal is still fair game for the top-10 women heading into the medal race.Russia’s Stefaniya Elfutina, Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini and Marina Alabau of Spain head into the medal race on Sunday as the top three contenders.American Marion Lepert finished in 16th position. She will not advance to the medal race. 

Men’s and women’s 470

It was a great racing day for the Americans.Team USA's Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes, who began the day in the ninth spot climbed in the rankings to eighth after finishing their fifth race in fourth. They are now 22 points behind leaders Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic of Croatia.Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha of Team USA rose two spots to fourth overall and took the lead from gold medal favorites, New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie.

Men’s Laser and women’s Laser Radial

Saturday is an important day for all Laser and Laser Radial athletes, it will be the last chance to climb to a top-10 spot to advance to the medal race.Five-time Olympic medalist, Brazilian legend Robert Scheidt continues to build momentum and improved from fourth overall to second overall after races seven and eight.Gold medal favorite, Nick Thompson of Great Britain was on his way to catching the top overall finisher, Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic, but two uncharacteristic finishes dropped to fourth overall. American Charlie Buckingham is in 15th-place overall with 92 net points, 17 points outside of medal race contention.In the women’s Laser Radial series, Evi Van Acker of Belgium, the silver medal favorite, improved from 10th to 7th overall. Paige Railey of Team USA sits outside of medal race contention in 11th with 81 points. The luck of the Irish ran out for Ireland’s Annalise Murphy as she posted her worst race of the Games, which dropped her from 1st to third overall. Denmark's Anne-Marie Rindom took the top spot. Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherland's is 10 points behind Rindon in the second overall spot.