Planks on edge
Israel’s very first gold medal in any sport, a fifth medal in sailing for Great Britain and a silver medal for the home team here in Greece – all in one class. Despite the light breezes, windwhacking was were it was at today, as the final race turned into the kind of story PR consultants dream of. Apart from those acting for the Brazilian board sailing team, who suffered the cruellest of blows as their man Ricardo Santos plummeted out of the medal zone from pole position this morning to fourth, arguably the toughest position to finish an Olympics on.
To add to the hardship, minutes after the race, there appeared to be some confusion as to who had won gold. Santos was flying the Brazilian flag and was beaming, Despite winning the race Dempsey was a little dispirited believing he had remained in fourth. But as the numbers were crunched it became clear that Santos’ 17th in the last race had dealt him the cruellest blow. A blow that not only delivered Dempsey and the Greek sailor Nikolaos Kaklamakis with medals, but promises to launch the 28 year old gold medallist Gal Fridman into superstar status in his home country of Israel.
Israel has only ever won four medals at the Olympics and one of those was his at the Atlanta Games. To add to the achievement, this is the first time Israel has ever won a gold medal. You can imagine the rest.
Meanwhile the Greeks aren’t slow to celebrate a success and the news of another medal met with an eruption of celebrations afloat.
The womens’ series ended today as well with another tight battle for the medals. In the end it was Faustine Merret from France who took the gold from Jian Yin of China who had looked like taking the top slot until she scored a ninth in the second to last race. The pre-final favourite was Italian Alessandra Sensini who took bronze.
On the Star course the light and fluky winds were raising pulses as the unstable breeze shuffled the fleet back and fourth. If you thought you’d plotted the results so far and knew what each of the top group of sailors had to do today to thread their way to success, take another look at the results now.
Denmark, Canada, Britain and several others had shockers in at least one of the two races today. The result is to have mixed up the points between 2nd and 6th to open the overall spread from three to seven points. The race for silver is still on, but the chances of gold are slipping away, although not impossible.
In their own way, overall leaders Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira had a shocker today as well, with their worst result of the series so far a 7th, now their discard. While others struggled to find the lucky shift in the breeze, this pair seemed to be able to bounce back from the worst of positions at just the right time.
Suffering similar problems the Tornados had both hulls firmly in the water today and when the breeze went really light, made it easy to see why they’re nicknamed the rafts. After today’s two races the Austrian team Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher lead overall after knocking the American team off the top slot.
With two days of racing left it’s time to get angry for some.