When Brazilians are good, they’re stunning. First it was Schiedt who demonstrated his dominance in the laser fleet, now it’s Torben Grael and his crew Marcelo Ferreira in the Star class.
Adding another Olympic gold to his list of impressive victories makes Grael the most successful Olympic sailor in history. Today saw him and his crew take the gold with a day to spare in the Star class and add a fifth medal to the gold, silver and two bronze medals that he already has. Only Paul Elvestrom’s record of four gold medals betters this achievement.
During the week, Grael and his crew were rarely out of the frame, even in the flukiest of conditions their worst result was 11th. Before that they hadn’t been further down the pan than 5th.
“He can see the invisible,” said British Star sailor Iain Percy, commenting on a day when the breeze was difficult to read. “He’s just incredible, a great guy and a very popular sailor.”
Tomorrow is a lay day for the Star class before the final race on Saturday which will see Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France, Ross Macdonald and Mike Wolfs of Canada and Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter of USA fight it out for the remaining two medals.
Sadly for the Brits, today’s performance ruled out any chance of Percy and Mitchell getting a medal.
“I’m gutted. I honestly didn’t believe that we wouldn’t get a medal, at least until that last race,” he said shortly after the race. “We’ve had some pretty tough days over the last year but that one takes the biscuit.”
“A bad start and over-standing the lay line at the weather mark were two schoolboy errors and I blame myself for that,” he continued. “I can’t blame our performance on the breeze.”
But if Percy was unhappy and it was it was easy to see why, it might have been more difficult to see what Hiscocks and Draper had to worry about with their bronze secured earlier in the day.
“I’m sure in the morning our achievement will have sunk in and we’ll feel better and proud about wining a medal,” said Hiscocks. “But we really wanted a Gold.”
“We’ve worked really hard for four years and it’s bee tough trying to get Simon to take days off,” added Draper with a smile.
But it was the last smile we saw on his face for the rest of the afternoon as the reality of the situation and the pressure of the last few months started to sink in and take it’s toll.
“We knew the Spanish were good and the Ukranians have sailed their hearts out this week, so it’s congratulations to both of them,” continued Draper.
On the Tornado course Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher continue to lead the fleet overall and threaten to deny the Americans of a gold in this class. For any medal counting Brit supporter this’ll add to the only good news from the Star course where Grael’s lead prevented an American gold here too. So if you’re counting, it’s two gold to Britain one to the USA.
A lay day tomorrow and then one more day on the race course on Saturday and it’s all over.