It was quite a day on the waters off Rio today.
The Finn Gold was already firmly in Giles Scott’s (GBR) hands but he still gave the Medal Race his full attention claiming 2nd to round off a perfect regatta and an incredible winning margin of 32 points. With the other medals still up for grabs and a perfect sail by Paine (USA) to win the race while Zbogar (SLO) managed a 6th giving the American sailor USA’s first medal of the regatta with the Slovenian taking the Silver Medal. Already a huge improvement on the blank scored by America in Weymouth four years ago.
Over on the Nacra course it was drama all the way with Lange & Saroli (ARG) picking up an early penalty, the Argentinians made it hard work for themselves, even harder when they picked up a second penalty later in the racing. Behind them, Waterhouse & Darmain (AUS) and Zajac & Frank (AUT) took Gold and Silver with a 2nd and 3rd in the medal race but it took a countback to separate them. It was a remarkable victory for the Argentine pair as former Tornado World Champion, Santiago Lange celebrates his 55th birthday next month. He recently recovered from cancer and this was his 6th Olympics having first represented his country at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Over in the Lasers, Tom Burton (AUS) and Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) engaged in a pre-start battle with Burton coming off best but with still a battle ahead to overhaul the Croatians points difference. However Burton finished the Medal Race in 3rd to claim Gold as Stipanovic returned to the start line late and never made it through the fleet to finish in 9th place. Consolation however in the knowledge he had secured the first sailing ever medal for Croatia. The podium was completed by another Antipodean, Sam Meech (NZL). Multi Olympic medal winner Robert Scheidt (BRA) – at the ae of 41 was just 4 points back (2 medal race places) in 4th overall. Quite an achievement.
Over to the Laser Radial Medal Race and Alison Young’s victory in the race was not enough elevate her above 8th overall with the Gold Medal going to overnight leader Marit Bowmeester (NED) claiming the Gold Medal she lost out on to Xu Li Jia (CHN) in Weymouth 4 years ago. A silver medal for Analise Murphy (IRL) went some way to compensate for her 4th place at London 2012 which must have been particularly sweet if you remember her start to that regatta. The podium was completed by Rindom (DEN) who had sailed a consistent regatta with only one placing outside the top 10, such was the competitiveness of the top end of this fleet.
Off the medal course there were still 4 other classes fighting to decide who would sail on the last day of their regatta.
Worthy of note is Clark & Mills (GBR) who emulated their GBR team mate by securing the Gold Medal in the Women’s 470 a day in advance and now stand 20 points clear at the top of their leaderboard. A remarkable recovery by Aleh & Powrie (NZL) who, if you remember were languishing down in 6th finds them in silver medal slot but just one point clear but if they find their form of the last 3 races again (1,1,4) should be able to secure that medal BUT just one point behind in bronze position are haeger & Provancha (USA) who I am sure would be delighted to go one better than their compatriot, Caleb Paine in the Finns. Could be quite a ding dong that race.
The men’s 470 sees another chance for a Croatian Medal with Fantela & Marenic (CRO) holding top spot and 11 points clear of mantis & Cagialis (GRE) who will doubtless be sailing with one eye over their shoulders at Belcher & Ryan (AUS) who are just one place behind them in medal race terms (2 points). This silver/bronze battle may well play into the hands of the Croatian pairing giving them a cleared shot of going one better than their team mate in the Lasers.
Worthy of mention is the family rivalries that have been out there on the water this week.
When people talk about the Olympic family they are not usually being literal, however in the Olympic Regatta in Rio there have been some interesting, it not immediately obvious real family rivalries going on.
For example, Mr & Mrs Scheidt in the Lasers.
Obviously different classes but Robert Scheidt (BRA) met his Lithuanian wife, Gintare,(LTU) at, I understand, the Qingdao Olympics Test Event. Neither won a medal but Mr Scheidt finished 4th with Mrs Scheidt in 7th so, in the words of David Bowie “He can be hero (well) just for one day”.
Over in the 49erFX Martine Grael (BRA) who, along with her crew Kahina Kunze, has a real chance of emulating her father Torben’s silver medal which he won in a Soling back in 1984 at the Los Angeles Games and with 3 teams on equal points, even a chance of going one better. This race could end up being a near repeat of the London Laser Radials with the finishing order matching the podium.
And spare a thought for brothers Yago & Klaus Lange (ARG) who are lying in 7th place in the 49er.
Not a bad position for the young men you might think until you realise dear old dad, Santiago, who at 55 is the oldest sailor in the regatta by a long way (not 57 as reported on some sites) has just been crowned Olympic Champion in the Nacras.
A definite case of when father says ‘You think you know better?’ it might be best not to argue.
Just 4 more medal races to go and not a dead dog run into yet, it looks like IOC, World Sailing and Rio have pulled it off.
– Shanghai Sailor