Olympic Logbook. Day Eight

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All 2 weeks of the sailing Olympics itBoat maintains «logbook», reporting on the main events and achievements of each day.

The first week of sailing competitions at the Olympics is over. And it ended in such a way that it will be remembered for many years to come. And the main event of yesterday, of course, was the medal race in the Finn.
Two points separated the leaders of the regatta, with Denmark's Jonas Hoig-Christensen in the lead and the famous Briton Ben Eisley in second. Either of them would need only to be ahead of the other to become Olympic champion. However, provided that the third-placed Dutchman Pieter-Jan Postma did not come first - then both leaders had to be placed no lower than seventh.

Postm's own challenge was one of two things: to defend third place quietly, or to fight for medals of a higher ranking: there was a good chance that the two leaders would not be at the head of the fleet. Experience tells us that when two riders struggle with each other, they inevitably lose their stride and the others have a chance to slip ahead of them. With Postma finishing third, he had room for three other riders, so it wasn't an easy task for him either. However, we discussed possible tactics of the yachtsmen yesterday.

And now - the start. He was seemingly in the best possible position to leeward of Ainslie who was flanked on the right by Postma. The situation for Big Ben was a total loss, and he had either to wait for the Dane's mistake, or take some action. As a result, Ainslie was forced to turn early and go to the right side of the course, and experience throughout the past week had told him that this side was a disadvantage, with only «left-handers winning at Weymouth». However, either Ainslie knew the magic word, or he prepared well, or he just got lucky.

But as Gleb Zheglov used to say: «He who is lucky will have his cock blown off!»

In a word, when the riders met again on the counter-gauges, the Briton was already ahead of the Dane. But! But the Frenchman and the Croatian were at the sign first - both are contenders for the bronze medal. The desperate pumping on a full course in a weak wind started: the racers «flapped» sails as they could - in these conditions, the experienced Ainslie was able to move to second place, and the Dane was not even visible - he was not even seventh or eighth. The wind died down and after retreating to second tack, Hoig-Christensen, desperate and determined to try his luck on the right hand side of the course. However, this time his luck ran out - lucky at this point was the left side, all the riders went ahead, and Ainslie began to quietly control the Dane, trying not to take risks and be between him and the main part of the fleet. Such a layout clearly demoralised Hoig-Christensen - he began to make small mistakes.
It was the end of the Danish hope - but at the same time a real chance for Postm to fight for the title. And in the last third of the course he began to make titanic efforts, passing one opponent after another. He had a dramatic situation: The two leaders were in the last two places and if the Dutch paddler came first or second he would be the champion. «However, the Dutchman, going third, was so keen on» swinging his mainsail at full throttle that he hit the New Zealand boat, which was going second. Penalty, a 360° U-turn and Pieter-Jan Postma lost not only his hopes for gold, but also a very real bronze medal, which was less than a cable length away!

As you know, if you're chasing two birds, you can't get both, and that's what we saw at Weymouth's course.

Ainslie crossed the finish line penultimate, knowing that he was a four-time Olympic champion. Last was a totally demoralised Hoig-Christensen.
Thus ended this fantastic race which will go down in sailing history and be remembered for many years to come. Ben Ainslie had lived up to the high honour of being the flag bearer for the national team and the man who lit the Olympic flame. He was the first sailor to win five Olympic medals, including four golds. (And three gold medals each was - how can we not remember? - (Three gold medals - can you think of it?) belonged to two yachtsmen: Johan Schuman and Valentin Mankin, now the coach of the Italian national team. Mankin was the only yachtsman who won three Olympic gold medals in three different classes).
Another curious point: last Thursday, Ben Ainslie accused Hoig-Christensen and Postma of conspiring against him. There is no unequivocal evidence as to whether or not Ben piled on the sign. But here's what happened.

Both of his abusers lost yesterday what they could absolutely count on: one was left without gold and the other lost his medal altogether.

Don't believe in higher justice after that!
The second important race yesterday was a medal race in the Star class. It had to be the swan song of the class: it is excluded from the Olympic cycle and there is almost no chance that it returns there again. In Zvezdnik before the medal race, Ian Percy's strong British crew led unchallenged - all he had to do was come in sixth and that was it. Before the race Ian had no doubt at all that he would win another gold medal for Britain, but on the course he behaved like a novice. He was so engaged in a competition with the Brazilian crew that he let almost the whole fleet ahead of him, including those who (being in the tail) was impossible to let pass. In the end the gold medal went to Sweden's Fredrik Luf and Max Salminen, Percy took second place, while Brazilian Robert Scheit's crew took bronze.
In addition, yesterday ended the main part of the regatta in the RS:X class in men and women. No sensation - Dmytro Polishchuk, who took 20th place, and Tatiana Bazyuk, who took 25th place, leave the Olympics.
Only two Russian crews remain in the race: Ekaterina Skudina and Sheremetev brothers.

You can watch the broadcasts of the sailing races (though without commentary) on Sportbox, the schedule of all the races and results on the ISAF website, and a daily report on the performance of the Russian team on the website of the Russian Sailing Federation.

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