On the at-tack: Surbiton’s Nicola Groves in silver medal position in Nacra 17 class at Rio 2016

In her Olympic debut, Surbiton resident Nicola Groves is racing towards a medal on the waters of Guanabara Bay.

After six of the twelve races in the Nacra 17 regatta, Groves and crewmate Ben Saxton are second overall.

In their four races yesterday, the Team GB sailors came second, seventh, fifth and third, keeping them level on points with leading boat New Zealand, who are ahead by virtue of having won more races.

Held over from Wednesday due to poor weather conditions, the first race of the day, and the third in the competition overall, provided the GB crew’s best result of the regatta so far.

Groves and Saxton maintained a top ten position throughout, and did well to rise from sixth position at the halfway point, sailing past the Singaporean, New Zealand and Australian crews, before pipping the Italians to second place, crossing just two seconds in front of them.

Saxton and Groves were able to find impressive pace over the second half of the course throughout yesterday’s racing, and they took another handful of places in race number four, rising from 14th to seventh position.

As their worst result in the competition so far, the seven points they picked up from that race have been discounted – in the sailing competition the gold medal is awarded for the least points gained.

The Nacra 17 are the fastest boats in the Olympics, their course time half that of some boats on the water.

And 30 minutes was all that was needed for the GB boat to pick up a fifth place in race five.

By this time, the New Zealand crew were emerging as clear rivals to Groves and Saxton, and they raced side by side to the finish line, the bow of the Kiwis crossing the line one second before the Brits to take fourth.

Groves and Saxton found themselves at the head of the field for the first time yesterday in the final race of the day.

Leading at mark two, they eventually dropped to second, Gemma Jones and John Saunders in the New Zealand Nacra again finishing one place ahead in second.

The Nacra sailors have a rest day today, before recommencing on Saturday for races seven, eight and nine of the twelve race series.

Expect to see the British and New Zealand boats tracking each other more and more closely as the two engage in battle for gold.


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