First day out for the Lasers, second for the boards and the 470s, life feels better for the Brits. Matthew Sheahan reports
Had the Sailing Olympics been a team event, today would have been a big day for Britain. In the Laser and Laser Radials, Paul Goodison and Penny Clark each had a podium and a double figure result, albeit in opposite races. The boardsailing duo of Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw shared the same overall position, fifth as they headed back to base, while the 470 crews both enjoyed results no worse that fourth in each of their races. Rogers and Glanfield with a 1,4 and Bassadone and Clark with a 3,2.
Keen to acknowledge that there was still a long way to go, both were delighted to have converted wobbly starts to solid performances and it was clear to see the relief on their faces.
“Watch out world,” joked Saskia Clark after the race.
“We’ve always been slightly slow starters at regattas, so hopefully we can notch it up a gear or two all the way to the end,” added Bassadone.
Goodison and Clark [Penny] were also pleased with their performances, even though both had been buried in the fleet for one of their two races. Of the pair, Clark was the first to enjoy success during a hot light, sticky and tricky day in which she sailed a superb and smart race from the off. Nailing the pin end at speed provided her with the space to put her bow down with only one boat outside her and head out towards the left hand side of the course in clear air while her competitors fought among themselves.
At the leeward gate she chose the less popular right hand mark and once again sailed into clear air, while her opponents engaged in a floating bun fight. A move that launched her into second by the bottom of the following downwind leg.
“These are my conditions so long as it stays fairly constant. I know that I’m fast in those conditions and if we get some more I expect to be right up there,” she said shortly after stepping ashore.
Goodison’s fortunes came in reverse.
“It was really tricky out there with the wind flicking around all over the place. In the first race the breeze was really that solid,” he said. “Today was really about getting back into it. It’s been a long time waiting but I’m reasonably pleased with day one. From the position I was in I kept my head, fought back without picking up any flags [penalties] or letters [disqualifications] and have something to build on.”
If the sailors were content with their performances, the board sailors looked shattered. Both looked like they had run a marathon, both had finished the day in fifth place overall, yet their views of how the day went couldn’t have been more different.
“When you start talking of personal bests, that was probably mine,” said Dempsey. “A second and third was brilliant, it’s as good as you’re ever going to have, I’m very happy.”
“I know I’ve been going fast, I know I’ve been sailing well and I know I’m fitter than I’ve ever been and I feel great on the board and brilliant mentally, today was just a case of executing it. Which of course is the hard part normally.”
Women’s windsurfer Bryony Shaw felt completely differently, at least to start with.
“I’m a bit down about today, I think I sailed as good as I could,” she said, implying that she was confused at why things hadn’t panned out correctly for her before focussing on the positive aspects of her day.
“I chipped away at girls and kept the course as small as I could. But I’m in fifth and still very close to fourth. This week’s going to be all about consistency and staying level headed so I think I haven’t done too much damage to myself today. I’ve just got to keep sailing to my game plan and be confident that that’s going to pay off in the end.”
A strategy that you can hear echoed across the dinghy park among those with high expectations. If we’ve learned anything after four days of Olympic racing, it’s been that no one is that far away from a bad day.
Tomorrow is another bumper pack of racing with both 470 classes, the 49ers, both laser fleets and the Fin and Ynglings taking to the water.
BRITS IN A NUTSHELL (Overall results so far)
Yngling – 1st
Finn – 1st
49er – 9th
470 men – 5th
470 women – 8th
RSX Men – 5th
RSX Women – 5th
Laser – 6th
Laser Radial – 9th
UK Laser sailor Paul Goodison talks to Matthew Sheahan after his opening day at the 2008 Olympics
British 470 sailors Nic Rogers and Joe Glanfield describe their first day on the race track
Ben Ainslie after the second day of racing plus penalties
** USEFUL LINKS **
British Olympic Organisation website
Today’s video profile is for Laser Radial sailor Penny Clark