More Medals Secured at Rio Games

Published on August 13th, 2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 13, 2016) – A host of Olympic medals have been secured on day six of the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition giving Croatia their first ever sailing medal.

Tonci Stipanovic is assured of at least a silver medal in the Men’s One Person Dinghy (Laser), with a strong chance of gold. Australia is certain of a medal too in the same class as well as the Netherlands in the Women’s One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial).

France’s Billy Besson was nursing a back injury in the lead up to Rio 2016 but the Besson everyone knows and loves was back today. After a horrible start for Besson and his crew mate Marie Riou, they have shot back up the scoreboard after an amazing day on the ocean and remain back in contention for a podium finish.

Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) has secured Croatia’s first ever medal in Olympic sailing, with the silver guaranteed. The only sailor who can threaten Croatian gold in Monday’s Medal Race is Tom Burton (AUS) who sits 10 points behind Stipanovic and is assured of a medal.

It was a tense day on the water for the Men’s Laser fleet, with one race on the Niterói course and the last qualifying race on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) course. Stipanovic kept his nerve to score 7,3 and Burton also sailed consistently for a 11,4. Sam Meech’s victory in the last race has lifted the New Zealander to third overall, but it was not a good outing for Robert Scheidt (BRA) who tumbled from second overall to fifth after failing to get to grips with the day, his scores 26,11.

The reigning World Champion Nick Thompson (GBR) started well with a sixth but tailed off with a 22nd and sits on equal points with the Brazilian. Meanwhile Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) has elevated himself to fourth overall and a point in front of Brazil and Britain. The best any of these three can hope for is to attack Meech for the bronze medal.

Stipanovic was understandably emotional at what he had achieved for his proud nation. “It is a nice feeling. It was a long journey from the first day. I don’t want to celebrate totally, but I know I have sailed a really good series, and it feels really good. It’s huge, this result is really huge. I think that I don’t fully understand what I have achieved yet, but it will sink in. There are a lot of people at home watching this day, I think it will be crazy when I come back home.”

Scheidt was disappointed with his day but not dejected. “I think I’m going to wait till tomorrow to think how to attack the Medal Race. I think it’s a race where you have to be more aggressive, because there are a lot of points in the game and there are some guys who have the same points as me, and so the same perspective. I think it’s going to be quite an interesting race, because a few guys behind have nothing to lose, while the top two guys are fighting for the gold. It will be interesting.”

Charlie Buckingham (USA) submitted two excellent scores in the Men’s Laser fleet on Saturday, with a 10, 6, the latter race being his best of the regatta. However, the two-time College Sailor of the Year for Georgetown University and Laser North American Champion finished Race 10 tied on points for 10th place overall with Dutch athlete Rutger van Schaardenburg, and Buckingham came out on the wrong side of the tiebreaker scoring system. By finishing 11th, Buckingham will miss the medal race, which is reserved for the top ten sailors overall. “I didn’t start great in [either] of the races, but felt like I sailed pretty well and put up good scores,” said Buckingham. “I did what I could, and it turned out I was close making the medal race.”

“The level in the Laser class is unbelievably high,” continued Buckingham. “It was fun mixing it up with some of the best sailors in the world. I think there are just so many guys fighting at the top of the leaderboard that you had to take opportunities to have good races [when they appeared]. I think that early in the regatta, I missed a couple of opportunities that would have been valuable points, but towards the end of the week I did a better job of having more consistent top finishes.” Buckingham said that his first career U.S. Olympic Team appearance was a positive experience overall. “I was proud to represent Team USA, and be out there flying the American flag. I ended on a good note, and I’m looking forward to cheering on my team for the rest of the week.”

Lee Parkhill (CAN) had his best race so far in the regatta, finishing 4th in the first race today. After a 13th in the second race, his overall points are 172 and he is in 23rd place. Parkhill had a tough start to his event, posting high scores that left him clawing his way back through the fleet. “I am happy that I improved every day from a bad start. There are 45 other guys out there that also trained for 4 years. They aren’t going to wait for you if you have a bad day.” Parkhill placed 5th overall at the 2015 Olympic Test Event.

Results, Laser Men – Top 5 (10 races; 1 discard)
Tonci Stipanović (CRO) 57 points
Tom Burton (AUS) 67
Sam Meech (NZL) 77
Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) 86
Robert Scheidt (BRA) 87

Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) has moved back to the top of the leaderboard in the Laser Radial fleet and holds a useful eight-point buffer on second placed Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) for Monday’s Medal Race. The London 2012 silver medalist is assured of another medal and is strongly positioned to win the gold that was so nearly hers four years ago.

The Laser Radials contested one race on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) course and one on Niterói, and Bouwmeester proved very adaptable to the different conditions, scoring 5,2. Annalise Murphy (IRL) also sailed superbly to score a sixth and seventh which puts her just two points behind Rindom.

However best performer of the day was Evi Van Acker (BEL) whose first and fifth has brought her back into medal contention after a shaky start to the regatta, compounded by the effects of an intestinal infection. She and fifth-placed Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) will have to sail a very good Medal Race to have a chance at silver or bronze, but it’s possible.

For Bouwmeester the Olympic Medal Race is familiar territory, after taking silver in the tightest of contests four years ago in London. “I think this time the difference is I have a few points on second and I’m certain of a medal, but the similarity is I still have to do a good Medal Race on Monday. We like the Medal Race course, it’s challenging, but I’m quite confident there even though you never quite know what’s going to happen on that course.”

Evi van Acker was looking forward to another period of rest before Monday’s showdown. “I still need to rest, after today. I’m pretty tired. I had my best day so far, and I’m so happy with the way I recovered after the bad three days at the beginning. For me the 36 hours of treatment and rest in the middle of the week was very important to have more energy and keep fighting. I made sure I had a lot of rest, a lot of food and a lot of smiling.”

The bronze medalist from 2012 will have to fight hard and sail well to be assured of another medal in Rio. “It feels like London all over again, pretty much the same people and same situation except this this time I’m a bit behind. So I’ll have to sail well in the Medal Race. But I’ll be ready to go.”

Paige Railey (USA) had a better day today, posting a 4th in race 10. Railey entered Saturday’s racing with a battle on her hands for a medal race berth, and the result came down to the final leg of Race 10. Heading into that race, Railey needed to make up at least 12 points and pass the three boats immediately ahead of her in the overall standings.

This was a tall order, but Railey’s deep experience gave her a considerable boost. Opting for a conservative mid-line start, Railey calmly identified beneficial wind shifts, leaned on her superb downwind speed, and finished 4th. After all the points were tallied, Railey had improved from 14th to 10th, and earned a place in the medal race.

“It’s a shock,” said Railey, who explained that after three consecutive tough races on Friday and Saturday, hope for a medal race appearance seemed nearly lost. While Railey has been mathematically eliminated from medal contention, the five-time World Championship medalist said she would compete as hard as possible in Monday’s final contest, in the spirit of the Olympic Games. “I’m happy for the team, and my coach, and that the American flag will be in the medal race. I probably have the least pressure on me of anybody [who qualified]. I’m going to go out there and see if I can climb a few places.”

Brenda Bowskill (CAN) wrapped up her Olympic regatta in 16th overall, a top Olympic finish for a Canadian Radial sailor. Her coach, Lisa Ross, finished 17th at the Beijing Olympic Games. “I am happy with certain aspects of my sailing this week. My speed was really good and I’m happy that’s coming together. I know I’m headed in the right direction and I plan to sail to 2020.”

Results, Radial Women – Top 5 (10 races; 1 discard)
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 47 points
Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 55
Annalise Murphy (IRL) 57
Evi Van Acker (BEL) 66
Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) 68.6

Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Before today’s three races on the Copacabana course, the prospect of a medal looked very distant for the pre-event favorites, Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA). But scores of 2,1,1 have shot the French out of the teens and into seventh overall. What is also playing into their favour is how no one else has managed to find much consistency across the series.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) hold on to the lead but only by three points from the next two teams tied on equal points, Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) and Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR). Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT) have made some good moves up the table to fifth overall after a solid set of scores on Copacabana.

Back ashore, Besson found it hard to walk and remain standing while talking to the media, due to his back injury. “It has been a good day, but we go step by step. Today has been a good day, but tomorrow will be another different day. Physically it’s quite tough. It feels like someone’s sticking daggers in you.”

Riou didn’t want to talk about Besson’s injury but commented about their performance on the water. “Today we found the good feelings with the boat and the speed. The first two days have been quite difficult for us, so it’s been good to find again the joy and the good feeling on board. We had 8-12 knots of wind and we were able to make the boat go fast, to do good starts, to enjoy it, and to get three good results. Sometimes you get days like this, when the sun is shining in the sky. We are trying and we are going to keep on trying. The adventure continues.”

Lange, aged 57, is the oldest athlete in the Olympic sailing competition and has won two Olympic medals in his long career. That experience is serving him well this week. “We have to be very calm, because the fleet is very competitive and the race course so difficult. There are still three races and the Medal Race ahead. We are very happy because we are in the fight, we came here to fight for a medal and we are doing it.

“The gold is always an option, we are confident on our preparation, but we are also aware that all is very open. I think that the one who is tenth in the overall results today can still win the gold. We have to be very calm and race well tomorrow.

“Billy Besson had an excellent day today, and that changes the overall results completely. We never counted him out of the fight [because of the injury]. He is the only one that can do what he is doing, he is a very good athlete and has a very good crew in Marie.”

Jason Waterhouse looked a little incredulous when he said, “We are still on top. It’s a strange day, it’s a surprise that we are still leading.” Lisa Darmanin was pleased to see the French back at full speed. “It’s really great to see Billy performing well, he’s the best out there and we want him to race the Olympics.”

Bori Gulari and Louisa Chafee (USA) enjoyed their best day yet at Rio 2016, securing three single-digit scores of 9, 2, 8 to move up to 12th, and within just one point of 10th and medal race position. “We had really good starts, and I’d say that in general our speed was on par with the top teams,” said Chafee. “Today we had some stronger breeze, over 15 knots, which has not been our strongest condition in the past. It was exciting to see a situation where in the past we struggled become something where we excelled.”

Results, Nacra 17 Mixed – Top 5 (9 races, 1 discard)
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 46 points
Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) 49
Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR) 49
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL) 51
Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT) 53

Men’s Skiff – 49er
Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) were flying in the medium winds on the Aeroporto course on a day that demanded four tiring races from the Men’s 49er crews. A race win at the start of the day combined with some other top five scores has brought the Germans to just three points off the lead, still held by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL). Heil and Ploessel have a 15-point lead over the chasing pack who are tightly bunched on points, with the best of the rest being third-placed Danish team of Jonas Warrer and Christian Peter Lübeck who won the third race of the day.

Defending Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) started the day well with a second place but are still struggling to fire on all cylinders and sit in sixth overall at the halfway point of the qualifying series.

Burling commented, “We didn’t feel like we sailed that well but to come away with four low scores was good. You only had one shot to get it right today and if you didn’t, it was hard to fight back through,” Tuke added, “It’s already the halfway stage of the fleet racing and with four races today it was a big chunk of the fleet racing. The results aren’t as pretty as yesterday but we’re really happy with things.”

Heil was happy to be in second place but did not consider the 15-point gap to third to be significant, not in Rio. “These are the most difficult conditions in the world. We saw in the Laser class they had 25 knots with three-meter waves, and then shifty races in light wind on the Sugarloaf course. It can’t be more difficult than here in Rio, but we love the challenge.”

Thomas Barrows III and Joseph Morris (USA) were disqualified from race 5, leaving them with finishes today of 14, 14, (21 DSQ, their discard) and 11. The team is in 19th overall. In race number 5 SUI on starboard was on a collision course with USA, who was on port, both beating to windward, USA was clear ahead of IRL by a boat length and 1.5 boat lengths to leeward. SUI bore away when 1 boat length from USA As SUI passed within a meter of USA’s stern, the crew on SUI reached over and pushed the tiller extension out of the way.

After bearing away behind USA, SUI was on a collision course with IRL. IRL continued to sail a straight course. SUI then bore away at one boat length from IRL to avoid her and passed astern. USA on port failed to keep clear of SUI on starboard, as required by rule 10. When SUI bore away to avoid USA, IRL’s best option to keep clear was to continue sailing straight. By bearing away SUI gave IRL room to keep clear.

Results, 49er Men – Top 5 (6 races, 1 discard)
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) 15 points
Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) 17
Lukasz Pryzbytek and Pawel Kolodzinski (POL) 32.6
Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern (IRL) 34
Yukio Makino and Kenji Takahashi (JPN) 36

Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
It was an inauspicious start to the Danish campaign for a medal in the Women’s Skiff in the first race on the previous day, when Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen were UFD disqualified for breaking the start line too soon. However, they have since made amends with four second places and a fourth, catapulting the Danes to the top of the 49erFX tree.

Tied in second overall are two former World Champion teams, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL). Meech will be buoyed by having seen her brother move into third place overall before the Laser Men’s Medal Race in two days’ time. The 2016 and 2015 World Champions, representing Spain and Italy respectively, hold fourth and fifth overall at the halfway stage of the 49erFX qualifying series.

Grael commented, “It has been a very good day. The Danish also sailed very well, really consistent. We are happy to be in the fight. We know that we have a good speed and we can recover when we don’t start well. Now we are looking forward to a rest day and we’re looking forward to racing outside with the wind and the waves.”

Paris Henken and Helena Scutt (USA) had a standout day in the high-performance 49erFX Women’s Skiff, with scores of 14, 5, 1, 4 over four races. “We wanted to be in the top ten after today, and we hope to just keep moving up from here,” said Henken. Greatly aiding in that effort was a win in Race 5, which was broadcast live on NBC Olympics. “We had a pretty good start, and had good boatspeed,” said Henken. “We were punched out from the start [of the race], and from there it was pretty simple.” Henken and Scutt are now in 9th overall.

Results, 49erFX Women – Top 5 (6 races, 1 discard)
Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) 12 points
Martine Soffiatti Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) 19
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) 19
Tamara Echegoyen Dominguez and Berta Betanzos Moro (ESP) 24
Giulia Conte and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) 31

Heavyweight Men’s One Person Dinghy – Finn
Giles Scott (GBR) has pulled out a 16-point lead after scoring 1,3 in races seven and eight of the qualifying series in the Finn fleet. Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) has consolidated his position in second overall while Jake Lilley’s good day on Ponte course has lifted the Australian to third overall. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and Ivan Gaspic (CRO) are clawing their way into medal contention and sit on equal points.

Caleb Paine (USA) had a 17, 7 in the two races today. In race 6, Paine had been disqualified based on a decision where CRO protested Paine for failing to keep clear. In a hearing this afternoon, after racing, the jury reheard the case. A video was presented by USA. 20 knots and 3 meters waves. At about 15 seconds before the start, CRO was on starboard tack on the leeward of most of the fleet, tight on the lay line to the pin end boat.

Three boats, USA, AUS and NZL were approaching the pin end boat on port tack. AUS and NZL were unable to cross ahead of CRO and passed astern. CRO heading was just above the bow of the pin end boat. CRO luffed slightly, aiming at the aft starboard side quarter of USA. USA on port passed ahead of CRO, CRO bore away slightly and tacked to clear the pin end boat anchor line. Neither boat took a penalty turn.

The jury concluded that Paine kept clear on CRO on starboard, so no rule was broken. The protest was dismissed, and Paine was reinstated to his finishing position of 2nd place in Race 6. Paine is in 7th place overall.

Tom Ramshaw (CAN) had a 22, 20 today, and is in 20th overall.

Results, Finn – Top 5 (8 races, 1 discard)
Giles Scott (GBR) 22 points
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) 39
Jake Lilley (AUS) 48
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) 54
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) 54

The racing resumes on Sunday 14 August at 13:00 local time. The RS:X fleets will contest the first Medal Race of the Olympic Sailing Competition as the fleet racing continues with the Finn, Men’s and Women’s 470 and the Nacra 17.

How to follow the Olympics… click here.

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Source: World Sailing

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