Since the first modern Olympics in 1869, American sailors have won more medals (59) than any other nation, with Great Britain (50) coming in second. Americans were unstoppable until the 1992 Barcelona games, but the competition has become a lot tougher since then. Here are some of the stronger sailors the U.S. sailing team will face, excluding Britain’s almighty Team GBR.
Brazil’s four-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (two golds and two silvers) and crew Bruno Prada (pictured above) are definitely the team to watch. Canada’s Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn, and Sweden’s Freddy Loof and Max Salminen are also contenders.
American Zach Railey faces a serious battle despite his 2008 silver medal. The biggest threats are Pieter-Jan Postma of the Netherlands, former Finn world champion “Rafa” Trujillo of Spain, and two-time world champion Jonas Hoegh Christensen of Denmark.
Spanish/Basque double-Olympic medalists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, fresh from winning the Barcelona World Race and competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, will undoubtedly be fast, as will New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, and 2011 world champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen of Australia.
Never bet against the Australians—or more specifically, their legendary medal-winning coach, Victor Kovalenko. The United States will also have to contend with strong Dutch, Croatian and French teams.
Four-time Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby of Australia is the pre-regatta favorite, but New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina are also threats.
Former European champion Evi Van Acker of Belgium and 2011 world champion Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands (pictured above) will be sure to give Paige Railey a tough time, as will 2008 bronze medalist Lijia Xu of China.
This class is especially tight, and Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan can expect some hot tactical duels with the Spanish, Kiwi, Italian and Israeli teams.
Women’s Match Racing
U.S. sailors dominate here, but there will be pressure from France’s two-time world champion Claire Leroy and crewmates Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou, as well as from strong Russian and Australian teams.
Men’s and Woman’s RS:X
Israel is the quiet-but-quick country in both the Men’s and Women’s events. Also fast are the Poles, the Kiwis, the Dutch and the French.
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Top image courtesy of Daniel Forster/Rolex