By Peter Smith
WEYMOUTH, England (Reuters) - Australia entered the quarter-finals of the Olympic women's match racing sailing event on Tuesday as clear favorites with an unbeaten 11 wins after a round robin series of races.
Skipper Olivia Price and her two crew Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty dominated the head-to-head racing in the preliminaries, giving no quarter to the rest of the 12-strong field.
Price was taking on the eighth-placed Dutch team of Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes and Marcelien Bos-de-Koning in the opening races on the short but difficult shoreline Nothe course.
A place in the semi-finals awaited the first boat of each match racing pair to score three points.
Russia's Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Siuzeva and Elena Oblova were ranked second equal with Spain and the United States after the round robin having won nine races and faced Britain's sister double act of Lucy and Kate MacGregor.
They were making history as the first British sisters to sail together in the Olympics.
The 2011 world champions, also racing with Annie Lush, made the quarter-finals lying seventh overall.
Beijing Olympic Radial gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe gave up her singlehanded sailing to lead the American match racing team to victory in the 2011 World Championship.
The British-born skipper, with Debbie Capozzi and Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer, was lying fourth as they took on Finland's Siija Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff.
In the fourth pairing, France's former world champion Claire Leroy along with Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou were racing Spain's fancied crew of Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez, Sofia Toro Prieto Puga and Angela Pumariega Menendez.
While all the other Olympic events are fleet-based, the Elliott six-meter high performance keelboat class event is a series of one-on-one battles between the two teams.
The crew have to weigh in at no more than 205 kilogrammes.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp