Embracing last call on outgoing events
Published on August 3rd, 2021
Sailing has been an Olympic sport since the first Olympiad in 1896, and over that span the only elements of the competition that has remained the same are the wind and water. Overall, 57 variations of boats have competed in the Olympics through Tokyo 2020.
Change happens… get over it.
The Sailing Program for Rio 2016 was new again, and while it stayed the same for Tokyo 2020, changes will occur for Paris 2024. While new formats bring interest, the maximum of ten events means other events get cut.
For the next Olympics, the two oldest boats in the current program – 470 and Finn – are feeling the blade. The Men’s and Women’s Two Person Dinghy events (470) become one mixed event, and the Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy (Finn) is eliminated.
For perennial powerhouse Australian Sailing, they are embracing this last call as best they can.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan are on the cusp of greatness, as they will take an almost unassailable 20-point lead into the Men’s 470 Medal Race on August 4. If they contest the race and avoid any false start penalties, they will be crowned Olympic Champions.
The pair are not celebrating yet, but the win would make Belcher Australia’s most decorated Olympic sailor with two Gold and one silver medal (he won Gold with Malcolm Page at London 2012 and Silver with Ryan at Rio 2016).
“Tomorrow is the last race for the Men’s 470 as a class at the Olympics, so I don’t know if that means you are a gold medalist for eternity but that’s the plan,” said Ryan.
As for Finn sailor Jake Lilley’s seventh overall finish, his Olympic dream seemed shattered just six weeks ago when he had torn his meniscus in a training mishap and spent four of the last six weeks of his Olympic preparation in a straight leg cast with limited mobility.
The fact that he was on the start line at all was a minor miracle, but the elimination of his event gave him the motivation to compete.
“It’s hard to put all of my emotions into words on the spot right now,” Lilley continued. “I’ve been involved in this team for a very long time and am very grateful for all of the support and the time I’ve had with everyone.”
Race schedule is staggered for the ten sailing events from July 25 to August 4.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021
Source: Australian Sailing, Scuttlebutt