Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - Page 19 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Spain win 6m Elliot sailing after Aussie skipper is dunked

Reuters, WEYMOUTH, England

Spain won the women’s match racing gold on Saturday after Australia lost their skipper overboard in the most dramatic racing conditions of the two-week Olympic sailing regatta.

Olivia Price, 20, slipped from the back during a tacking maneuver in winds of up to 27 knots during the third of five head-to-head races with Spain, costing Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty valuable minutes as they hauled her back on board.

In any other Olympic class, Australia’s mishap would have meant a capsize, but the heavy 6m Elliot keelboat stayed upright.

Last year’s European champions — Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez, Sofia Toro Prieto Puga and Angela Pumariega Menendez — won the deciding fifth race for Spain by a clear 100m for a gripping 3-2 finale to the sailing competition.

Spain went into the tournament unheralded, but finished third in the qualifying round-robin series then won their semi-final against Russia on Friday.

The 28-year-old Echegoyen Dominguez had predicted a tough five-race tussle with Australia.

“I think all the races will be close,” she said.

Explaining her success against more experienced teams, she said: “I think the secret is that we have sailed with great concentration and calm, and I think the favorites have the pressure.”

Their coach Toni Otero told his team to “treat it as a training day” as they prepared for the fifth race.

They led throughout the decider to bring home Spain’s second sailing gold. Their first came in the women’s windsurfing RS:X class last week.

The women’s match racing was the only event in which each nation raced against the other in a round-robin series to decide the top eight qualifying boats for the knockout final rounds.

Twelve countries took part in the 66-match series, with Australia winning all 11 of their opening matches.

The women’s Elliott 6m high-performance keelboat was making its last appearance as an Olympic class.

The women will take up the 49er FX, a comparable boat to the men’s 49er, at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

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