Just ahead of Tuesday's first two RS:X races for Shahar Zubari and Lee Korzits, the Israeli sailing delegation at Weymouth Bay is dealing with weather conditions. Hours before the races for which they spent years preparing, the wind became a particularly significant issue.
Gur Steinberg, who is in charge of preparing the sailors for the Olympics, and Israel Sailing Association chairman Yehuda Maayan, held several talks with a German meteorologist on hand and tried to draw out every possible piece of information about the forecast for the coming days.
The wind strength is likely to determine who will remain in the medals picture. While the current weather should work wonderfully in favor of world champion Korzits, too strong a wind would be a horrible scenario for Zubari, who took bronze at the Beijing Olympics. Steinberg said Tuesday's forecast is for moderately strong winds, but of course nothing is for sure.
Korzits was forced in recent months to cope with medical problems that forced her to take time off. After she returned to win her third world championship in March, her determination became stronger than any of the other elements. She left Israel for Weymouth two weeks ago and since then has been constantly training on the sea. The one day she didn't sail, she went for a swim.
Maayan said Korzits seems to be in top form. He said if weather conditions hold, she should be in the fight all the way to the end of the competition. In the Olympics, he said, one puts health issues aside and does whatever it takes to reach one's goal. "I believe in her and believe she can win a medal," he stressed.
Regarding Korzits' health, Steinberg said: "She looks good right now and her health is satisfactory. It's kind of a relief for us. In general, Lee has been behaving maturely and professionally. She chose, for example, to use the time of the opening ceremony to rest up, and I really appreciate that. She doesn't miss practices. She's serious, and she's focused."
The story with Zubari is more complicated. While everyone at Weymouth agrees that he is giving his all in training and is in good shape, the basic assumption right now is that the wind conditions are liable to ruin his dream of winning a second Olympic medal.
"I practiced as usual over the past several days, and there's nothing really new. I held my last practice before the competition on Sunday, and yesterday I wanted to take a day off," said Zubari, noting that he wanted to save his strength.
He said the winds were getting stronger, but he was hoping for the best. He said he thinks he is prepared for the competition. "I can't say that I'm nervous," he added.
Maayan noted that Zubari qualified at the last moment when he beat Nimrod Mashiah and had to do a special training program both in Eilat and Weymouth. He agreed that Zubari is in good shape, and that more depended on the wind. He said he didn't want Zubari to be too relaxed but rather to feel some tension, adding that after four years of work it would be a disappointment if either Zubari or Korzits didn't end up on the podium.
Edelman trailing in Laser radial
Israeli sailor Nufar Edelman got off to a poor start at Weymouth on Monday in the women's Laser radial competition.
Edelman, who finished 16th in Beijing in 2008, placed 33rd in both the first and second races, and is ranked 35th after the first day of competition.
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