The Spanish match racing team led by Tamara Echegoyen has won Gold on the final day of Olympic sailing
The Spanish match racing team led by Tamara Echegoyen has won Gold in a series that went all the way to the wire. In the first to three final the Spanish won their second Gold of the Olympics, denied Australia a fourth and pushed Britain into third in the sailing medals table.
Australia has been the stand out team at the 2012 sailing Olympics and looked set to make every one of their medals a Gold. But as they squared up to the Spanish team it became clear that this finale was going all the way to the wire..
In the first race the Spanish took a win. In the second Olivia Price’s Australian team redressed the balance with a solid win, leading from the start. But drama came in the third race as helmsman Olivia Price went overboard during a wild gybe on the first downwind leg. They had trailed the Spanish around the windward mark and were on the verge of overtaking them on the downwind leg as they surfed around the outside. But then came the gybe that laid them flat and swept Price out of the boat. By the time Price was back aboard the Spanish were clear ahead and took the lead.
In the fourth race the Australians took the lead to win the race. After two weeks of racing, four years of training, Gold came down to the last race of the 2012 Olympics.
At the start the Spanish hit the line at the pin end on the button, the Australians had been forced to take the committee boat end of the line, tacking to stay behind the line, a move that made them slow to start, Early advantage to the Spanish who crossed the Australian bow on port and then defended the right all the way up the first beat.
At the windward mark the Spanish rounded ahead but it was still close.
On the downwind leg a gybing duel ensued just metres from the leeward mark in which the Australians were dealt a penalty as they touched the Spanish during a gybe. It proved to be the end of Australian hopes for Gold. Despite doing their penalty turn, the penalty flag remained up on the umpire boat indicating that the infringement had still not been cleared. Just one turn provided a comfortable lead for the Spanish, a second assured Gold for Spain.
By the final windward mark the Spanish were still clearly ahead, the Australian penalty remained and the ywning gap between the pair on the final downwind leg betrayed the close nip and tuck nature of this final.
BATTLE FOR BRONZE
The match racing final had kicked off with the battle for Bronze between the Russians and the Finish team. The ‘first to three win’ series turned out to be a very close affair with the result going down to a red flag protest and a hearing afloat after the race to decide the Bronze medal.
Superb conditions, with a breeze in the high teens from the southeast produced a big sea state as the breeze swept into the bay off the Nothe spectator area.
The racing got under way with a win apiece. Then in the third race the Finns fought back from behind onthe last leg and surfed past the Russians to go 2:1 up. The next match was crucial for the both teams with the Finns just one win away from Bronze.
The start was extremely close with both boats precariously close to the line. In fact so close that the Russians were dealt a penalty folowing a collision. From there on the Finns led the race and despite a last minute charge from the Russians it was the Finns who took the deciding race. But the Russians were flying a red protest flag at the finish claiming that both boats were over the line at the start. An on the water jury hearing was held which went in favour of the Finns – Bronze was secured.
Womens’ Match Racing
Gold – ESP – Tamara Echegoyen, Sofia Toro, Angela Pumariega
Silver – AUS – Olivia Price, Nina Curtis, Lucinda Whitty
Bronze – FIN – Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva, Mikaela Wulff