London 2012 sailing day 4 report
There was a certain battening down of hatches going into the fourth day of London 2012 racing today in Weymouth with the forecast indicating the arrival of a front and wind gusting up to 25 knots mid-afternoon. In the end, while the sky was grey and threatening and there were occasional light showers, the wind had shifted left into the S-SSW but remained benign and in fact lighter than we have so far seen in these Games.
With no Stars or Finns racing today, the guys having their feet upon their layday, many of the Brits apparently following the exploits of Bradley Wiggins, so we got to see whether Ireland’s Annalise Murphy could continue her string of bullets in the Laser Radial, whether Britain’s rising star Ali Young could maintain her outstanding performance from yesterday and, particularly, whether Paul Goodison was on strong enough painkillers not only to get through the day on the water but to post good enough results to keep him on track for some metalware come next Monday’s medal race for the Lasers.
With a depression hovering off the west coast of Ireland at present, due to ease east over the weekend, the forecast until early next week has plenty of wind in it with conditions expected to be consistently in the 18 knots, gusting to 25 knots, region, from the southwest. So we can probably expect to see those who did well on days one to three continue their performance and this would suggest golds for Jonas Høgh-Christensen in the Finn (unless Ben Ainslie can pull something out of the hat) and strong wind Irish rockship Annalise Murphy in the Radials.
While there has been much talk of Jonas Høgh-Christensen consistently picking the shifts well in the first three days of Finn racing, to the extent that he is making Ben Ainslie look somewhat pedestrian in comparison, it is coming to light that the Dane also has a technical advantage in a new mast and sail set-up he is using aboard his Finn for the Games, which he hasn’t used at previous events. But the mast he has has already snapped once and given the forecast one wonders if it will make it through the regatta...
However RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park warns that Ainslie is certain to come out guns blazing tomorrow. “In the second half of the regatta at the Olympics, the rings do strange things to people when the pressure comes on. But if there is anyone you can bank on to perform well in that situation it is Ben and he has done it plenty of time before.”
The Lasers held their fifth and sixth races of their series on the Weymouth Bay West course today.
In race one it was Kiwi Andrew Murdoch who made the best of the first beat along with Austria’s Andreas Geritzer and Estonian Karl-Martin Rammo. But by the top mark Murdoch had been caught by Guatemala’s impressive Juan Ignacio Maegli Aguero, winner of the first race of this series, with Rammo holding third and with Goodison’s medication clearly working, the British ace holding fifth with series leader Australia’s Tom Slingsby buried down in 18th.
But yesterday’s double bullet winner, Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides had his steam up and powered through to move into second place on the second downwind. Kontides was unable to catch Murdoch and had to settle for second at the finish line, with Croat Tonci Stipanović into third, Goodison fourth and Slingsby also having risen through the ranks to finish ninth, his worst result yet and now his discard.
Race two and it was the turn of Hungarian outsider Zsombor Berecz to show the fleet the way up the first beat as the left came good in a big way. He reached the top mark ahead of Stipanović and Kontides with Slingsby 10th and on this occasion Goodison down in 23rd.
Berecz was dispatched by Stipanović on the run and then by Slingby with Goodison also on a charge, rising to 14th. The Croat made a good job of the second beat to put a little distance between himself and the slippery Aussie while Goodison pulled back yet more places to round the top mark in 12th.
Slingsby powered through to take the lead on the second run, which he maintained until the third and final run when he was briefly overhauled by Norway’s Kristian Ruth, before regaining the lead to finish ahead of Stipanović and Kontides, with Goodison ending up ninth.
Following his two bullets yesterday, Kontides' 2-4 today was enough for the unthinkable to happen and for him to overhaul the usually dominant Tom Slingsby and take the lead overall with a slender one point margin (both have 9ths as discards). With Stipanović in third, this trio has started to put some distance on behind them on the leaderboard with Goodison, for example, now 29 points off the lead.
“I tried to sail good, sail fast and have a good start," said Kontides of his day. “In the first race I didn’t have such a good start, but I managed to take good shifts and good decisions. The course was three upwinds, so there was lots of opportunities through the race in the tricky conditions, because there were the clouds and the left side was paying, but we knew that when it cleared the right hand shift would hit, but that didn’t happen until the end of the day.
“In second race I had a better start, I managed to round the first mark second, but I was on the wrong side on the first downwind, so I lost out without pressure and I went to 4th and then I had chances, but I made a few mistakes on the upwinds and I was pushing more on the left side when the right was better and then I gave the chance to the group behind to catch me. So I still had to keep the concentration and work hard until the end, so I could keep that fourth place.”
The performance of the 22-year-old Cypriot has really come from nowhere, his most recent results being a 16th at Skandia Sail for Gold and a 22nd at the Worlds in Germany. However he points out that he was the only person to have won two ISAF Youth Worlds titles in the Laser and in 2009 he finished second at Sail for Gold here in Weymouth.
Kontides has been training with Croatian ace, Tonci Stipanović for the past four years. “We were preparing really hard for this and spending lots of time on the water and in the gym and always when you have good opportunity at your level, pushing each other I think that is the key to success. In sailing you need someone to compare if you are going fast or not or someone to push you.”
Significantly for him, if he gets a medal of any description it will be the first medal Cyprus has won in any sport at the Olympic Games, although they have won one in the Paralympics. “This means a lot but we are still not finished, so at the moment it means nothing,” he says.
When he came ashore today Paul Goodison was looking better than he was yesterday, when he was literally in tears from the pain he was suffering in his back.
“When you are quite static it is fine,” he said. “As soon as you start moving around and bouncing you are loading up the disc and there is obviously some nerve around there that isn’t happy and every time you bounce it fires and it is quite an intense pain. When you are sat there it is not so bad which is fine in the lighter stuff, but as soon as it gets choppier and windier you have got to throw yourself around a lot more and that’s when the problems occur.”
Last night Goodison spent the evening with having a session with the physio, followed by an hour lying on his bed, followed by another session with the physio until the doctor gave him some pills to knock him out so he could sleep. “The tablets were pretty amazing and I woke up almost a little bit hungover this morning. So that seemed to take away most of the pain and today on the water although I didn’t feel 100% physically right, my mind was focussed on the decision making than it as on the pain. Although I didn’t feel that fast upwind, I still could make the decisions and give myself a bit of a chance to attack downwind.”
Fortunately tomorrow is a layday for the Lasers and it will provide the defending Olympic Laser Gold medallist with vital time to get his back in shape. “I need to piece myself back together and get closer to 100% so that for the second half of the regatta I can fire on all cylinder and see what we can get out of this. If you are not 100% you are a long way behind these guys – there are a lot of talented sailors out there. I think I have done a good job of hanging in there the best I could when things aren’t perfect, so we have to try and attack the second half of the regatta. If we are fighting for a bronze at the end of the day then we’ll fight as hard as we can. If we can fight for a gold then fantastic.”
As to whether he ever contemplated pulling out, Goodison says a decisive ‘no’: “Any other regatta I’d definitely be on the sofa watching it on TV. But you only get one chance at this every four years and if it means that I am in a lot of pain for a couple of months afterwards, then so be it. You only get one shot and you’ve got to give it your all and I’ve got to do that to be happy with myself.”
|5||GUA||Juan Ignacio Maegli Aguero||1||10||7||13||5||-20||56||36|
|9||FRA||Jean Baptiste Bernaz||3||-21||6||9||19||11||69||48|
|12||NED||Rutger van Schaardenburg||-33||11||14||7||11||14||90||57|
|26||CHI||Matias Del Solar||16||32||25||-43||20||17||153||110|
|31||BEL||Wannes Van Laer||19||26||29||26||29||-38||167||129|
|41||VEN||Jose Miguel Ruiz||45||-46||34||37||41||36||239||193|
|48||MAS||Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy||42||47||-48||47||47||44||275||227|