Yachting Australia Principal Partner
Yachting Australia Corporate Partner
Two more classes concluded overnight at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Sailing Regatta. In more light wind tricky conditions sailors in the Europe and Laser classes were forced to wait till minutes before the deadline for the start time for the final race, until racing finally began.
All Australian eyes were focused on the final race of the Europe class, where Australia’s Sarah Blanck was in medal contention.
The light and tricky conditions have played havoc on the Star and Tornado classes. Both events were aiming to complete their 3rd and 4th races today. Some of the biggest names are floundering in both classes, giving others the chance to realise their Olympic dreams. But with seven races to go the only certainly is that nothing is certain.
Australia's Sarah Blanck (AIS/VIS) missed out on the Olympic Bronze Medal by only one point overnight on the Saronic Gulf off Athens. Blanck went into the day in fourth place and was well positioned for a medal, only three points behind third place, Signe Livbjerg (DEN).
After lengthy delays waiting for the breeze to fill in, racing finally got underway only five minutes before the latest start time of 4pm. In a light southerly of 7-8 knots, and determined to get the Bronze, Livbjerg match-raced Blanck to the back of the fleet, knowing that a last placing would see Blanck finish just one point behind her.
The gold medal was won by Norway's current world champion, Siren Sundby, who did not let a disqualification in race three interfere with her quest for gold. The silver medal went to the Czech Republic, who had to finish first and hope Sundby finished out of the top 20 to claim the gold. The real battle was who would claim the Bronze.
On location, ISAF media reports, 'Rounding mark 1 in 21, with Signe in one place ahead in 20, Sarah was holding the bronze. All change come the downwind gate with Sarah dropping down two places to 23 and Signe gaining one place to 19, and place her hands on the bronze medal. Sarah’s goal was to finish in front and with a boat between herself and Signe. In light winds they battled together and covered each other, putting themselves further and further behind the fleet.'
Into the next downwind leg, Signe and Sarah continued their battle. Signe in second last and Sarah last, Signe still had the bronze, but Sarah would not give up, trying to get up past Signe – and even if they finished on equal points, Sarah would claim the medal on countback. Out to the wing mark, and their places remained the same, 24 and 25, with Signe still holding the advantage.
All attention was now focused at the rear of the fleet, where Sarah had managed to pass her rival, but having sailed so far behind the rest of the fleet, it was impossible to catch up and put that much needed boat between herself and Signe.
'The Danish girl sailed very well today,' said Blanck once ashore. 'I was in the group at the top mark and she covered me from there and sailed me right off the course. She sailed a very good race tactically.'
Blanck continued 'Coming to the Olympic Games is a dream for me. It's been a great experience and I've learnt a lot. No matter how much training you do, nothing can prepare you for this.'
The final and deciding race in the Laser Class was initially postponed as the fleet waited for the sea breeze to pick up. After an attempt to start, the race was abandoned. With just minutes to go until racing time expired, the fleet got under way.
Inconsistent results during the regatta made it unlikely that Australia's Michael Blackburn (AIS/NSWIS) would medal. In his final race Blackburn crossed the finish line in 32nd to end his third Olympic appearance in 9th overall.
Having claimed the Bronze in Sydney, Blackburn had gone on to match up to the top Laser sailors in major championships around the world. Unfortunately for Blackburn the light conditions were hard to excel in.
Seven-time world championship Brazil's Robert Scheidt picked up his second Olympic gold medal. Austria took the Silver and Slovenia the Bronze.
Some great news for Australia today in the 49er class. The Lake Macquarie crew of Chris Nicholson (AIS/NSWIS) and Gary Boyd (AIS/NSWIS) finished their first race of the day in 3rd. Adding to this the pair secured their third bullet of the series in the second of today's two races. No other crew has achieved this.
With the second race drop coming into play after twelve races the 49er fleet were eager to compete. The race was started, but soon abandoned, the Aussies were in second place at this stage.
'Today was a better day for us,' said Nicholson. 'It was very wavy out there, and we managed those conditions really well. I think in these conditions, our experience really helps.'
After 11 races Nicholson and Boyd are currently lying 7th overall and are well positioned with five races remaining. Despite a bullet in race 10, current world champions Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez (ESP) have lost the number one spot to Ukrainian’s Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk.
'We cannot afford to have any more bad days so I am satisfied that we got a third and a first place today' Boyd wrapped up.
The first race started in six knots and built steadily over the course of the race to an unstable ten knots by the finish.
Gold medal favourites, current Europe and World Champions Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE) continued along their disastrous path, awarded an OCS (start line disqualification) in race three.
Australia's Colin Beashel (AIS/NSWIS) and crewman David Giles (AIS/NSWIS) had a tough start to the day as well. Beashel and Giles were also handed an OCS in their first race of the day. Beashel and Giles have protested against their disqualification and will now need to wait until 9:30am (Athens time) to hear of their fate.
For the second race of the day Beashel and Giles pushed aside their disappointment to obtain their best result out of four races sailed - a 5th. They are now placed 10th overall.
With the drop coming in after tomorrow’s race five, the Australian’s should move up the leader board.
It was also a tough day on the water for Australia's Tornado boys. Darren Bundock (AIS/NSWIS) and John Forbes (AIS/NSWIS) are currently lying 11th overall after a 12th and an 11th in today's two races.
In a light wind and tricky conditions Bundock and Forbes were penalised in race three, costing them valuable placings. The Aussies were stranded in a path of no wind, unable to do more than just float along. The pair could not get out of the way when a rival crew came through on a puff and called starboard. As a result the Australia’s were faced with the challenge of completing penalty turns in no breeze, a slow frustrating task.
The Sydney 2000 silver medallists are seeking redress, with a protest to be heard in Athens tonight.
At the top of the table, Sydney 2000 gold medallists Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher (AUT) has been overtaken by American duo Charlie Ogletree and John Lovell in the overall point score.
Final Results - Europe (11 races/1 drop)
1. Siren SUNDBY (NOR) (1,3,(26-DSQ),1,19,4,4,1,1,1,12) 47pts
2. Lenka SMIDOVACZE (CZE)(10,13,1,13,1,(26-DSQ),1,6,3,7,10) 65pts
3. Signe LIVBJERG (DEN) (4,6,7,15,8,6,10,3,11,4,(25)) 74pts
4. Sarah BLANCK (AUS) (3 7 2 11 9 2 13 8 12 8 (24) 75pts
Full list of Europe results here.
Final Results - Laser (11 races/1 drop)
1.Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) (3,8,1,3,8,4,(19),12,7,3,6) 55pts
2.Andreas GERITZER(AUT) (4,1,(34),7,1,2,12,15,12,4,10) 68pts
3.Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) ((21),13,3,8,4,1,14,1,14,5,13) 76pts
9. Michael BLACKBURN(AUS) (18,2,10,19,5,6,2,20,13,17,(32)) 112pts
Full list of Laser results here.
Day 6 - 49er (11 races/1 drop)
1.Rodion LUKA/George LEONCHUK (UKR) (4,(15),3,7,2,10,7,5,9,5,3) 55pts
2.Iker MARTINEZ/Xavier FERNANDEZ (ESP) (3,11,7,5,1,(12),2,6,12,1,9) 57pts
3.Chris DRAPER/Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) (8,5,6,3,10,8,1,(13),11,8,2) 62pts
7.Chris NICHOLSON/Gary BOYD (AUS) (13,6,15,1,17,(18),10,1,7,3,1) 74pts
Full list of 49er results here.
Day 2 - Tornado (4 races)
1.John LOVELL/Charlie OGLETREE (USA) (2,2,1,6) 11pts
2.Roman HAGARA/Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) (1,3,8,1) 13pts
3.Santiago LANGE/Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG) (7,1,6,5) 19pts
11.Darren BUNDOCK/John FORBES (AUS) (9,7,12,11) 39pts
Full list of Tornado results here.
Day 2 - Star (4 races)
1.Torben GRAEL/Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA) (5,4,1,1) 11pts
2.Nicklas HOLM/Claus OLESEN (DEN) (4,12,2,2) 20pts
3.Flavio MARAZZI/Enrico DE MARIA (SUI) (10,1,3,7) 21pts
10.Colin BEASHEL/David GILES (AUS) (9,7,18OCS,5) 39pts
Full list of Star results here.
Comprehensive results including competition status, daily results summary, and Jury protests can be found on the ISAF website.