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Olympic sailors eye record medal haul
Miles Godfrey
15:50 AEST Wed Jun 20 2012

Australia's Olympic sailors are expected to win a record medal haul at the London Games and should confirm themselves as a golden generation of champions.

Key to their chances are three crews who've been virtually unbeatable over the past 12 months, including on the Games course at Weymouth.

Standing in their way are British crews with a deep understanding of local conditions, backed by boisterous home support.

It should be the Ashes with lifejackets and ropes.

Among those aiming to bash the Poms is Tom Slingsby, who won his fifth Laser world title in May and capped an extraordinarily dominant year by winning his fifth regatta at Weymouth.

He had a shock 22nd-placed finish at the 2008 Games but loves the strong winds in southern England.

"In China I just never felt comfortable. On land, I didn't feel comfortable in the surroundings, the culture, the food," he told AAP.

Slingsby has a fierce rivalry with Team GBR's Paul Goodison and their clashes should be dramatic.

World 49er skiff champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are unbeaten at Weymouth over four regattas.

Outteridge pinpointed Team GBR's Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes as their chief rivals.

"We've always been enemies with the Brits from day one so why stop now?" he said.

The 26-year-old, who broke his back in a 2005 car crash, teamed up with childhood friend Jensen after heartbreak in Beijing.

Outteridge capsized with former crewmate Ben Austin just 100 metres from the finish line and missed out on certain gold.

World champion 470 sailors Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher are Australia's third red-hot hope.

Page, 40, won gold at his second Olympics in Beijing and is regarded as the best 470 sailor ever.

"The two other nations I really see fighting for the medals is the Poms and the French," he said.

"And both of them are going to their first Games."

It's Belcher's Olympic debut, while Page retires after London.

Team coach Victor Kovalenko says only bad luck can prevent Slingsby, Outteridge and Jensen, and Page and Belcher winning.

"Those three teams are ready," he said.

"We have to protect them from bad luck - but if everything is all right they are there."

Australia's best Olympic sailing performance was in Sydney, with two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

This year's target of three golds and two other medals looks beatable - with five other talented Australian crews.

Young-gun skipper Olivia Price, 19, underlined her skill by winning a World Cup regatta at Weymouth in June.

She sails with Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty in the match racing.

Windsurfer Jessica Crisp competes at her fourth Olympics in London and can medal in the RS:X class.

Olympic gold medallists Belinda Stowell and Elise Rechichi only teamed up in the women's 470 in September but finished ninth at December's world championships.

Brendan Casey is a long-odds chance in the Finn.

And former world champion Krystal Weir has enjoyed good recent form in the Laser Radial.

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