HUNDREDS decked out in green and gold packed Wangi Wangi RSL Club last night to watch their Olympic heroes slowly work their way towards the line in pursuit of gold.
But unlike most races at the London Olympics, the all important line that needed crossing was not at the finish.
Lake Macquarie sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain ‘‘Goobs’’ Jensen held such a commanding lead heading into the final race of the 49er-class race that all the pair needed to do was contest the event and avoid disqualification to claim gold.
But Wangi Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club life member Noel Butler said word had filtered through before the race from the Australian camp that the pair intended to go out hard and prove they were the best in the world.
‘‘They only had to enter the race, they didn’t have to finish,’’ he said.
‘‘But we heard that their game plan was to sail like they would normally and go out hard with the New Zealanders and let the others battle it out for bronze.’’
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Despite victory being all but assured and a relatively straightforward task ahead for their Olympic heroes, Mr Butler said there were still nerves among those in the RSL club last night.
‘‘They’ve got an unassailable lead and it’s all gone to script but we all know in sport anything can happen,’’ he said.
Outteridge’s 2008 Olympic campaign ended in catastrophe when he and former crewmate Ben Austin, also from Lake Macquarie, were leading the last 49-er skiff race and capsized metres from the finishing line.
The pair slumped from first to fifth.
But there would be no repeat last night of the bad luck at Beijing as the pair cruised to victory in front of hundreds of screaming Australian fans.
Back home, hundreds more who had followed the journey from their quiet suburb to Olympic gold stood and applauded.