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Olympic Logbook. Day fourteenth

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All 2 weeks of the sailing Olympics itBoat kept «logbook», telling about the main events and achievements of each day. Today is the last issue of the logbook.

Saturday was supposed to be the day that would put an end to the question of who is the strongest in the women's match race. As you may recall, Spain and Australia qualified for Friday's final, while the girls from Russia and Finland were to battle it out for third place: for Russia it was a realistic chance to win the first Olympic medal in sailing since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
On Friday evening, however, lawyers for the Russian Olympic Committee filed a protest against the judges' decision to limit the semifinal matches to just three flutes instead of the three-win races required by the rules. As some of the participants of the events claimed in a personal conversation, the judges at that moment were concerned only with one thing - the result in the Australia-Finland semi-final (remember that Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the British Queen is formally the head of Australia). Perhaps this was some compensation for the defeat of the British crew Lucy McGregor, because as soon as the Australian team took a 2-1 lead, the judges decided to stop the race. Whether that was the case or not is no longer important.

The Russian team lodged a protest (demanding a race to three wins), and Saturday morning began with its consideration.

Unfortunately, we didn't manage to win on paper - literally 15 minutes before the start the protest was rejected, and at 12 pm GMT the Russian and Finnish crews got off for the first start of the small final. The wind was blowing gently and the waves were pretty rough - the boats were tossed around to expose the leading edge of their fins.
The start of the first fly our girls were not very successful: the opponents started at the left end of the starting line, taking the leeward position in relation to our boat. «Nevertheless, on the first tack our girls succeeded to pull» position: the port tack - and the Russian boat was already clear ahead of the Finnish one that was hanging on our transom. However Finns are ready for such way of proceeding and immediately come back to the former tack. Skudina's crew decides not to control them and continue on the same tack: the boats split up. «After a while Katya decides to hit the Finnish boat» on the right tack and go to it, but the Finnish crew dodges the attack twice by making a turn. Our girls round the top mark first with a break in the hull and keep the lead until the bottom mark. On the second tack the gap increases to three hulls and remains so until the top mark.
However, Katya is not able to keep the lead on the full course. Although during some moments the lead increases to five lengths, the Finnish yachtswomen, having accelerated, drift aside and catch the lead from our crew half a kilobelt before the finish line: the Russian girls don't have time to stop this attack. The second heat was just under our control; Skudina led the race from start to finish, not allowing the opponents to get ahead. The score is 1:1.
«The third fleet becomes a copy of the first one - the Russian yacht leads the race. But on the second half of the last flyby the Finnish crew once again takes the lead: the Russian crew makes a mistake when handling spinnaker after the turn and» quench it, after that Finnish girls pass our boat and finish first. With the score 1:2 in favor of the Finnish crew, the latter in the battle for the bronze medals now becomes sufficient to win just one flyteam. And the fourth flit becomes fatal: the Russian boat gets on the false start and has to come back to take the restart. The Finnish crew freely runs the course and wins, although the Russian yacht almost gets him at the finish. A protest follows.


According to the Russian side, the Finnish boat also had a false start.

The word is . Ekaterina Skudina: «We managed to find evidence that both boats were on false starts and we submitted them to the jury, but Charlie Cook, head of the jury, insisted that these decisions should be made on the water. This goes somewhat against what we heard from the jury on the water when we were sorting out the protest: we were told that if our video evidence was significant, it could be accepted on shore for review. The facts were found, but our protest was rejected. We are waiting for the official paper and depending on what they write, we will consider applying to a higher authority. We were very tired and gave up all our emotions and strength on the water, it was hard to tune in to the race for the bronze after such semifinals. I am absolutely devastated; it was the most difficult regatta of my 20-year career».
And in the match for the gold the Spaniards beat the Australians 3-2: Tamara Aichegoyen's crew became the Olympic champions. The results of Russian participation in the Olympics are the following: the best place was the fourth (E.Skudina), here we are at the same level with the Ukrainians having the same result.
And that was the best result of Russian yachtsmen since 1996. It was the first time we were literally one step away from a medal but we couldn't win it.
The situation sharply contrasts with the promises of the head coach and the President of the Russian Yachting Federation (VPSF) about the planned two medals. Moreover, if Katya Skudina really had all chances for a podium, in all other classes where we had a license, Russian athletes did not even get to the medal race, thus being outside the top ten. And the best results there were two 17th places (Finn and men's 470) with a very big difference in points from the top ten. It means there is no hint that our yachtsmen had any chance to be on podium at all. I wonder, how did the leaders of our sailplane imagine the real balance of power?



It is not even a flick on the nose - it is, as one book says, «a crushing boot to the balls».

And, mind you, with a forged boot on a triple sole. However, even it does not concern us now: undoubtedly, the Russian Yachting Federation and Russia national team will draw some conclusions from what happened. Let's hope that it will not turn out as in the famous joke, when they changed beds, but not girls.

It is clear that in the next Olympic cycle sailing will not be treated in the best way by the Ministry of Sport, which would be more correctly called the Ministry of Sports Medals. Its conclusions can already be predicted: «No medals?! That means no financing and no state support».
So why did Katya lose? «Our opinion (possibly, it's debatable) is that eventually it was her nerves that let her down, and she made some (probably, fundamental) tactical mistakes: our driver often» let rivals go, letting them feel free at the track. Skudina's crew «burned out» against Lucy McGregor and she didn't have any strength left to fight worthily in the semifinals and finals. This could be clearly seen if only because of the way Katya's crew was pulling in the semi-finals.

Of course, elite sport is not an institute for noble maidens, but still, it's not a smokehouse for dockers.

It was clearly seen at least by the fact that on the competing yachts reigned relative silence: such an abundance of strong words was not heard.
However, the time of Olympic debriefing is yet to come and probably specialists will have their say. And it is a pity that at the next Olympiad we will not see a match race as it is excluded from the programme. And it is really difficult to explain this decision of the ISAF in the acceptable expressions of decorum.

The broadcasts of the sailing races (although without commentary) are available on Sportbox, the results are on the ISAF website, and a daily report on the performances of the Russian national team was published on the VFSwebsite.

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