British team upbeat over sailing delay

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Hurry up and wait was all that the 400 competitors from 62 countries could do as Fushan Bay turned soggy and sultry on what should have been the sixth day of racing today. Eventually all racing was cancelled.

Competition manager Qu Chun was pessimistic from the outset in public and behind the scenes was furiously planning how to deal with a need to catch up in classes like the Laser and women's Laser Radial programme, or decide to go straight to the medal showdown on Saturday in two of the events central to Britain's medal hopes, the Finn singlehander and three-woman Yngling.

Olympic manager Stephen Park saw the whole delay as an opportunity. "The weather forecast for Friday is good, the team had had a fun day together, we think this puts pressure on other people more than on us.

"The closer we come to the medal races, the more they are looking over their shoulders. For our part, were looking to pounce at the next opportunity."

Park said that the compression of the catch-up races - three are scheduled for Friday for Ben Ainslie in the Finn and the Yngling trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson - provides us with an opportunity to make the medal races easier than it might have been.

"The sailors want to go racing. You could think of them as a bit like a husky dog racing team; between races, the good ones are very relaxed, but as soon as they are alerted, they are trying to jump off their leads."

Friday sees the first races for the Star keelboats and Tornado catamarans, plus the windsurfers, 470 dinghies and 49ers.

The fog did not stop about 8,000 spectators, about the daily average, from parading up and down the harbour wall, from which it will be possible to see the medal races, which pit the top 10 in each of the 11 classes into a double points decider.

But, if there was nothing to see yesterday, the forecasters say they may be in for a weekend treat as the high performance 49er follows the Saturday pair with its medal race on Sunday.

Just to be in it is the first objective of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes.

Mathematically, Britain's third gold medal prospects could still make a bronze, which is why Park wants them to have the best chance by sailing all six remaining fleet races. Even so, a medal for them would be as miraculous as a third gold for Ainslie and as heroic as a second for the Sarahs.

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