SKUD 18s on day four of the Paralympic Sailing Competition
Photograph:David Staley / IFDS
Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) have put a gap of four points between them and Jen French and JP Creignou (USA) and Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) with three SKUD18 races remaining at the Paralympic Sailing Competition.
Very little has separated the top three crews since racing began with just two points the difference throughout. But on the fourth day of racing and in challenging winds the Australians overcame the testing conditions to finish second in Race 7 and take a bullet in Race 8. Their rivals both recorded a fourth place finish in the two races handing the Australians the initiative.
In the first race Rickham and Birrell squandered an opportunity to take points off the Australians when they rounded the first mark in the lead with Fitzgibbon and Tesch in fourth.
But the British pair lost their advantage on the second leg when they gybed away from the leading pack and rounded the next mark in third place behind John McRoberts and Stacie Louttit (CAN) and French and Creignou (USA), and just one place ahead of Fitzgibbon and Tesch.
By the third mark the American crew were in the lead, the Canadians second and the Australians third. With French and Creignou too far ahead to catch, Fitzgibbon and Tesch attacked the Canadians on the final leg to snatch second place with the Brits finishing fourth.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch took control of the second race soon after the start and protected their lead to record a third victory in eight races. The British duo tried to close them down but had to settle for second, ahead of McRoberts and Louttit who came back from a sixth place at the first mark to overhaul French and Creignou just before the final mark.
Three races remain and whilst the Australians only have a four point lead they are discarding a third, their worst result so far. The Americans discard a fifth whilst the Brits lose one of two fourths.
1. Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) - 11pts
2. Jen French and JP Creignou (USA) - 15pts
3. Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) - 15pts
4. John McRoberts and Stacie Louttit (CAN) - 24pts
5. Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) - 40pts