British 470 women secure a medal while the match racing girls go to the wire
This morning the Kiwi 470 women Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie led the fleet by four points. By the afternoon they were neck and neck with the British pair Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark. The next time these two teams meet they will be head to head as the pair dual for Gold on even points.
At 33 points apiece with third placed Dutch sailors Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout carrying 52 points, the Brits and Kiwis are clear ahead and will most likely lock horns in a match race come Friday’s defining race.
“The first race didn’t really go to plan. We had a good start but there was a consistent shift which helped everyone else get back into it and we dropped two places which meant that the Kiwis had a 10 point jump on us,” said Saskia Clark. “We managed to get our heads back in gear for the second race with a very similar strategy to the first race but it came good for us that time.”
Good would be an understatement. As the Brits took a well deserved second, the Kiwis were buried in the pack scoring their worst result of the regatta, 18th.
So how would Clark and Mills be approaching the meal race? Was being on equal points better psychologically than defending a slim lead?
“We found ourselves in this position at the world championships. We were a point ahead,” said Clark. “Effectively we were on equal points with all four boats but as we were a point ahead we had the gold to lose. That definitely was a stressful thing. We really tried to push that in our heads that we were equal fourth. So it’s a little less stressful going in this way. But of course the Kiwis will be doing exactly the same, but it’s still a nice place to be.”
Lucy Macgregor’s team found its mojo yesterday with a win against the Russians in the second and final match of the day. It was a well deserved win from a team that should have won the first race as well had it not been for a spinnaker sheet problem and a penalty.
Today the girls won their first race in another demonstrative performance. All they had to do was to win the third match and they would be through to the semis.
Their start went well, so did the first leg and the second although when they rounded the windward mark for the last downwind leg they were just a couple of metres ahead of the Russians. This kind of margin downhill provides the trailing boat plenty of opportunities for the trailing boat to cover and mix things up. Which is precisely what happened in the closing stages of the race.
On the final stages of the downwind leg the Russians rolled the Brits as the boats approached the left hand lay line into the finish. The Brits appeared to gybe for the finish early allowing the Russians off the hook. The pair appeared to cross the line neck and neck, possibly even the Brits ahead as their hull and spinnaker appeared to be just forward of the Russians, but the win went to Russia.
The result 2:2 the final race would be the decider.
THE DECIDER – ONE MATCH, ONE IN, ONE OUT
A very tight pre-start in which Macgregor attacked Ekaterina and bounced the Russians off to the left hand side before tacking quickly onto port themselves to get to the left hand side. Initially it paid, Macgregor gaining a boat length advantage as the pair got engaged in a tacking duel.
By the weather mark the Brits rounded ahead, leading by a boat length, a familiar scenario with the Russians looking to throw dirty air onto the Brits. So familiar that by the bottom mark the Russians managed to squeeze ahead.
Next came some text book sailing by the Brits to demonstrate how to get ahead on the beat as Macgregor got to the right and controlled the upper part of this beat.
A gybe set at the top by the Brits was slow and took them out of the breeze. Russia stayed on port and slipped ahead, the pair were now split. The Nothe went silent as British hearts sank.
Separated across the course the Russians continued to gain to draw out a lead that Macgregor and co could not challenge.
The Russians were into the semi finals the Brits out.
The semi finals will now see Austria, Finland, Spain and Russia battle it out.
“I kind of let the others down at the end,” said a tearful and choked skipper Lucy Macgregor.
“Match racing is tough. I really can’t believe that we lost,” said Annie Lush.
But perhaps they hadn’t. As the girls stepped ashore the British team announced that it was protesting the race committee over the result of the finish to race four.
“The fourth race was very close and it seems that there is video evidence showing that we did actually cross the line before the Russian team. We are now going to put in a protest and hopefully will win the race that was given to the Russian team.”
UPDATE – The British protest was rejected – The Brits are out of the match racing