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Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen will be out to create history and win Australia’s first Olympic 49er medal when they begin racing in Weymouth on Monday.
The pair head into the event full of confidence having won three of the last four 49er World Championships and all five regattas they have contested in Weymouth.
With races one and two scheduled for Monday, Outteridge and Jensen will take part in a practice race on Sunday to finalise their preparations.
“The practice race tomorrow is more about making sure the boat is all good, it’s nice to have some breeze here for it so we can check the settings and that we’re on the pace,” said Outteridge.
After a week of lighter conditions the wind is expected to pick up for racing, something that Outteridge is understandably happy with.
“It’s back to normal now, we’ve been here for a lot of time over the last four years and 80 per cent of the time the wind has been from this direction,” he said. “Our forecast is good for at least the next seven days with 10 to 20 knots from west. We’ve spent the whole time training for it so it was a little bit nerve wracking a week ago when we were seeing these really light winds, it just wasn’t quite what we were expecting, but now it’s back to normal and we’re pretty excited.”
Competition will be fierce in the 49er fleet with a number of countries capable of taking gold. The majority of the crews race against each other on a regular basis, all except one, the Spanish pair of Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez who have just finished the nine-month long Volvo Ocean Race.
“They’ll be good,” said Outteridge. “There’s no doubt about it, they’ve won a gold medal, they’ve won a silver medal, they’re won three World Championships, so they’re one of the top teams who have been in the class almost forever. They haven’t done a whole lot of 49er sailing this year but they’ll be fine, right up there.”
Outteridge and Jensen made the trip up to London on Friday to march in the Opening Ceremony, an experience Outteridge said he’ll never forget.
“It was really cool, I didn’t get to go to the one in Beijing so to march out with the rest of the team provided great chance to meet all the other Australian athletes,” he said. “Being down here in Weymouth means that we miss out on all the activities happening in London so it was great for us to get up there, relax for a bit, see what it’s all about and soak up the atmosphere. It was nice to get involved in it and then get back down here and down to business.”
With just a day and a half until they begin racing the four-time World Champion and Beijing 2008 representative said that himself, Jensen, and coach Emmett Lazich won’t be doing anything differently.
“We’ve done so many events here over the last four years, and we’ve done so many events as a team, that we’ve always said not to do anything differently heading into the Games,” said Outteridge. “Tomorrow night we’ll just have dinner, hang out, keep it pretty low stress and I’ll probably look back at some footage of us racing here over the last few years.
“We haven’t done much racing over the last few days because it’s been so light so the best way to get back into it is to watch some good footage, keep the mind on it and not get too stressed,” he said.
Racing for the 49er fleet begins on Monday 30 July with the medal race to be held on Monday 8 August.
For more information on Australia’s sailors visit www.australiansailingteam.com.au and follow the team on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AusSailingTeam and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AustralianSailingTeam.