I write this having had to climb down from the ceiling. I know as a journo I should be completely neutral in what I say but as a Brit who could fail to be proud of a day sailing that resulted in 2 Golds and a Silver on the day and a couple of race performances almost assuring a third to follow tomorrow.
The one letdown is that I got it wrong yesterday and had I actually found a bookie to accept my bet yesterday he would now be saying thank you very much – it looked good in the 49erFX medal race where Grael & Kunze established the third position in the Medal Race by the first mark and maintained that at every mark round the course. More importantly, that placed them ahead of the two other podium contenders, Germany & Netherlands
So Gold to Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze of Brazil, another trophy to join the Grael family collection. In Silver was Tina Lutz and Susann Beuke (GER) 7 points back with The Dutch team of Annemiek Berrering Annette Duetz (NED a further 5 points adrift.
It all went pear-shaped in the second Medal Race for my prediction and the Kiwis. It has to be said that the Bronze medalists also had a hand in the result. Fletcher & Bithell (GBR) went into the race needing to finish ahead of Burling & Tuke (NZL) with a boat in between them.
All around the racecourse except at mark 3 The Brits did the only thing they could and sail their hearts out maintaining a lead over eventual Bronze Medalists Heil & Ploessel (GER) for pretty much the whole race except for a short time 2 thirds through the proceedings. The Kiwi pairing just couldn’t break into the top two that they needed to in order to snatch the Gold back with GBR & GER seemingly linked by bungee at the front.
GBR & NZL finished the regatta on equal points but the British pairing finishing ahead in the Medal Race gave them victory. A case of close but no cigar.
Medal race 3 was the Finn. I got it wrong the other day, forgetting not all Ben Ainslie’s Golds were in the class but still, 5 Olympic Gold on the trot was still a record worth defending.
The Medal Race didn’t turn out to be the foregone conclusion Giles Scott’s 6 bullets in the fleet racing would have suggested. In fact, at Mark 2 he was 5 places back (10 points) from Zsomber Berecz (HUM) which had that difference continued he would have finished the regatta 1 point adrift of Gold. However the mark of a champion is doing what is required and he closed the deficit to 3 places (6 points adrift) to win the Gold Medal by 3 points, a narrower margin than the middle of the regatta would have suggested. The Podium was completed by Joan Cardona Mendez (ESP) a further 12 points behind.
The final Medal Race of the day, the Nacra 17 Mixed did go the way expected with Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti (ITA) hanging on to the Gold Medal position finishing the Medal Race just one place ahead of John Gimson & Anna Burnet (GBR) in Silver. Bronze went to Paul Kohlhoff & Alicia Stuhlemmer (GER) who were almost 30 points behind the Gold Medal winners. A moment of glory for Santiago Lange & Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) who crossed the line first in the Medal Race but over 40 points behind the Italian pair.
A fantastic day for Team GBR, medalling in 3 of the 4 Medal Races but the positives for the team didn’t end there.
Mills & McIntyre in the 470, who haven’t posted outside the top 10 the whole regatta scored a 9 (which became their discard) and a 3 while closest rivals, the pairing of Skrzypulec ( I would hate to have to try and get that one right as a commentator) & Ogar (POL) had a poor day posting two scores of 15, only one of which they could ditch. This elevated Lecointre & Retornaz (FRA) into Silver. The French team lies 14 points behind the British pairing so it truly is theirs to lose with the Poles needing to put two boats between themselves and the French to regain 2nd slot so their attention is likely to be off the British whom they would need to be last with them in first to grab the gold – unlikely.
In the men’s 470, once again the Gold is Australia’s without the Medal Race. Matt Belcher & Will Ryan are 20 points clear of the Swedes. Even if Dahlberg & Bergstrom win the Medal Race that will put them on 43 while a last place for the Aussies would leave them on 41.
It is more likely Anton & Fredrik will be looking over their shoulder at the Spanish boat of Xammar & Garcia-Paz who lie 2 Medal Race places behind them. Perhaps a match race in the offing there.
So we go into the evening before the final two Medal Races with, although not 100%, the two remaining Golds almost around the sailor’s necks, and I would be extremely surprised if it is one more Gold to the Aussies and another to the Brits by the end of tomorrow. The only uncertainty would be who completes the podium and in what order by the end of racing. – SS