Finn favourite Giles Scott wins Olympic Gold with a race to spare at Rio, while RS:X medal places are decided
He was one of the names most touted to win Gold ahead of the Rio Games, but Giles Scott (GBR), for many the heir apparent to the legendary Sir Ben Ainslie, was careful to remind pundits ahead of the 2016 Olympics that gold was far from certain.
On Sunday 14 August, however, the four-time Finn world champion assured his place on the top of the podium, finishing 2nd in race 10 to win the men’s heavyweight dinghy class with a race to spare.
Scott, 28, now has a 24-point advantage over Vasilij Zbogar (SLO), and therefore cannot be beaten in Tuesday’s Medal Race, continuing an amazing 16-year winning streak for Britain in the Finn class which began with Iain Percy in Sydney in 2000, and saw Ainslie score three consecutive Golds in the class.
For 28-year-old Scott this victory has been hard-earned. He pushed his rival and sparring partner – and now employer at Land Rover BAR America’s Cup team – Ainslie hard for selection at the 2012 home Games, having risen to the top of the Finn class. When Ainslie stepped down from Olympic sailing, the path was clear for Scott to sail the Union Jack-flagged Finn.
As Scott went on to win two Finn Gold Cups, a second ISAF worlds in the class, and both Rio test events, he started to look invincible. After racing today he commented: “Matt [Howard, his coach] and I decided the way we wanted to campaign was flat out, we weren’t going to go soft on any regattas that we went to, anything we went to we wanted to win and win it in style.
“That approach is great but it does put a target on your back.”
On his first race in Rio Scott finished 17th. However, he soon rallied to score three race wins and four more podium finishes to extend his lead by over 20 points with a race to spare.
After racing Scott said: “I know what it means to me because I know how it made me feel towards the last stages of that final race. I found myself welling up, in tingles as it slowly dawned on me what I had done and I wouldn’t put myself down as the emotional sort but I had a little cry to myself, which I like to think I don’t do that often.”
RS:X medals awarded
More medals were decided today in the RS:X windsurfers Medal Races. Gold and Silver were a foregone conclusion in the men’s fleet, with Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) crossing the line in first place having already secured the overall win. Nick Dempsey (GBR) had already earned silver, while Pierre le Coq (FRA) did enough to take bronze.
Dempsey, 36, was competing in his fifth Games to score his third medal. He commented after racing that he won’t yet rule out a sixth Games bid, but admits it is unlikely. “Being the most decorated male Olympic windsurfer is awesome, something I’m incredibly proud of. I have been working for a long time, and it’s very hard to say at the top for that long. I’m not sure I can do it again. I would love to if I could. It will be emotional as soon as I sit down in a quiet space on my own.”
The women’s class was undecided going into the final, with seven sailors in contention for Gold. An emotional and clearly exhausted Charline Picon (FRA) finished second in the hugely physical light winds final to take Gold ahead of Peina Chen (CHN). In third was Stefaniya Elfutina (RUS), aged just 19.
In the 470 GBR have also moved themselves into 1st overall with Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark winning today’s second race to lead by four points from the American team of Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha. Reigning gold medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie picked up their second 21 points today, which has moved them down to 7th overall.
In the men’s fleet the Croatian du of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic are building an impressive lead, having not yet finished worse than fourth and earning two race wins so far out of the seven races completed. Nearest rivals Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) picked up an 8th and 10th today while Britons Luke Patience and Chris Grube had a day they will want to forget, scoring 27 points for a DSQ in today’s first race then finishing in 20th, which moves them to 10th overall.
In the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran fleet the Argentine team of Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli had a superb day, finishing 2,1 to take a five-point lead. After 12 race four teams remain within 10 points of one another in the fleet which has seen many teams enjoying very mixed fortunes over the course of the regatta.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark talk about their partnership here:
Murphy eyes Radial medal
Tomorrow, Monday 15 August, six more medals will be confirmed with the men’s Laser and women’s Laser Radial Medal Races.
Of these the Laser Radial remains the most open, with four sailors currently within the key 20-point margin. Leading is Marit Bouwmeester (NED), ranked World No.1 in the class and 2012 silver medallist. Second is Anne-Marin Rindom, the 2015 World Champion in the class, while third is Annalise Murphy (IRL), who just missed out on a medal at Weymouth. However, she is facing a challenge from fourth-placed Evi Van Acker (BEL), whose form has improved after reporting that she was unwell following an intestinal infection earlier in the week.
Irish sailor Murphy has Olympic sailing in her blood – her mother Cathy McAleavey competed for Ireland in the 1988 Olympics in the 470 class, the first time women could sail at the Games. Annalise made a huge impact in the 2012 Games, winning the opening four races in a row before just sliding off the podium in the final Medal Race, and many are rooting for her to go one better this time around. The Radial class at Rio has proved a particularly hard one to predict, however, with ten different sailors winning the ten races so far, including reigning Gold medallist Lijia Xu, who has picked up three DSQ’s in the regatta, dropping her to 18th overall.
Additional on-site reporting by Andy Rice/World Sailing and Imogen Stanley/RYA
Full results at http://www.sailing.org/olympics/rio2016/results_centre.php