A tough day to wake up toAndy Beadsworth woke up in Sydney on Sunday and for 15 seconds it seemed like a normal day. Then he remembered that, for the second time in a row, he will be leaving the Olympics without a medal to show for all his efforts.
"You bury your head in the pillow and think, 'shit, shit, shit ...' and it's a feeling that's not going to go away quickly," said Britain's vanquished Soling skipper. These things take a long time to sink in and coming to terms with them can take months, as Beadsworth found out after Savannah.
"One of the hardest things about not winning a medal is all the things I've not done to maximise the chances of winning and minimise the chances of losing. Over the years I've put a lot of eggs in one basket ... and that's probably the hardest part of not winning here," he added.
For Beadsworth this defeat - he was knocked out in the first round robin of the match-racing on Saturday - is likely to become a watershed in his career. If he does another Soling campaign, it will have to fit into other sailing commitments from now on - he may look for work in an America's Cup team or with a Volvo Ocean Race crew - rather than concentrating purely on the Games. For bowman Barry Parkin, this may well be the end of his Olympic sailing, while middleman Richard Sydenham plans to helm his own boat at the next Games.
Beadsworth did not sail particularly badly and, in fact, believes he was on good form. It was just a day when results did not go his way, and several of his rivals were surprised (and relieved) to see him go out so early, along with the French and the Ukrainians. "I wouldn't have changed anything about the way we prepared," he said. "I still feel confident we could have won here - we were good enough but not on the day - we didn't make it happen."
Putting his finger on the key moments, Beadsworth accepts he got the wrong side of the first shift in three races and found himself in catch-up mode almost immediately. On two occasions he got tangled up in boats sailing in separate heats and his one big mistake came in a crucial match-up with Jochen Schumann of Germany, who he fouled when leading at the second windward mark.
But even so, Beadsworth believes he did not let himself down. "I keep asking myself, 'did we choke, were we not up to it mentally or was there anything we could have done to make a difference' and I'll be asking these questions for a long time. But I don't think there were any glaring holes in our preparation or performance." he added.
After another session of duelling at Farm Cove below Sydney Opera House, the next three Soling skippers to pack their boats away on Sunday were Hans Wallen of Sweden, Neville Wittey of Australia and Jeff Madrigali of the USA. Those who go through to the quarter-finals are Jesper Bank of Denmark, Schumann and Georgy Shayduko of Russia. Awaiting them are the three seeded skippers, Herman Johannessen of Norway, Rod Davis of New Zealand and Roy Heiner of Holland.
Elsewhere, it was an unremarkable day for Britain with Hugh Styles and Adam May rounding off their Tornado campaign, finishing sixth overall. After a promising start, they were never going to recover from a terrible day on Saturday when they went OCS, DSQ and tenth. In Men's 470s, Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield continued to slip from their highpoint of second overall. On Sunday they dropped in their third finish in the high teens (19th) and were sixth in the second race and are now fifth overall with three races to come. They are 11 points off the Argentinians in fourth place, but only one ahead of defending Olympic champions, Ivan Braslavets and Igor Matvienko of Ukraine.
Medals were decided in the Men's and Women's windsurfers with Alessandra Sensini of Italy just holding off Amelie Lux of Germany on the last leg of the last race to take the gold. The bronze went to Barbara Kendall of New Zealand, who now has a medal of each colour in this class in successive Games. Britain's Christine Johnston was never in contention and finished 18th.
In the men's fleet it was a second gold medal for Austria in sailing when Christoph Sieber held on to beat Carlos Espinola of Argentina, who was runner-up in Savannah as well. Third was Aaron MacIntosh of New Zealand, who just missed out on the medals four years ago. After a good start, Britain's Nick Demspey faded and was 16th overall.
The first week of Olympic sailing is over but the best week in recent British Olympic sailing history could be about to begin ...