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Australia, NZ take gold in 470 sailing

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LONDON, Aug 10: Australia took gold in the postponed men’s two-hander 470 sailing class at the London Olympics on Friday with Britain taking silver.

Overall leaders and pre-event favourites Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, triple world champions, edged a tight contest with their British challengers Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell who were lagging just behind going into the title decider.

Patience and Bithell were runners-up to Belcher and Page in the 2011 world championships.

Racing was called off on Thursday because of a lack of wind but the men’s event got under way at 1200 local time (1100 GMT).

The sailors faced different conditions on Friday with the wind for the first time coming from the southeast but Australia mastered it best to prevail.

The gold-medal race, which counted for double points, was held on the spectator-friendly, shore-based Nothe course.

The short course, which has gained a reputation for its unpredictable wind shifts, provided the added element of swell coming from the southeast due to the change in wind direction.

The race for bronze saw Argentina’s Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente deny Italy’s Gabrio Zandona and Pietro Zucchetti.

New Zealand’s women sailors fulfilled a pledge to go one better than their men by winning gold in sailing’s 470 class.

Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie sailed serenely round the short Nothe course untroubled by the British team of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who took silver having entered the medal race joint first.

The Netherlands team of Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout won the bronze after a tight finish with France’s Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron.

The French women finished in front of the Dutch in fifth place in the medal race but the veteran Dutch women squeezed home by one point overall.—Reuters

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