Olympic Logbook. Day thirteenth

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

Yesterday, Friday, all Russian sailing fans were looking forward to the most important event of the sailing part of the Olympics: the semi-final match between the teams of by Ekaterina Skudina and the Spaniards Tamara Eichegoyen. The match would decide whether Katya Skudina would compete for the Olympic gold or at best could claim a bronze medal. At the same time she was to choose the second semi-final (or first, actually, from the formal point of view of the lot) - between the Australian and Finnish crews. The forecast was unfavourable - weak easterly wind at 5-8 knots. Some websites, however, gave the strengthening by 16 o'clock GMT, but these forecasts, as it turned out afterwards, didn't prove to be true.
Australian and Finnish crews were the first to start. The Finnish crew (reigning world champions) was on fire and easily won their flytest, giving the Australian team a good lead. Then it was time for our female riders to go on start. Russian yachtswomen were holding their first fly in this race. Having aggressively conducted the pre-start procedure Ekaterina managed to push her rival to the false start. Having won the start, she controlled the Spaniards all the way and quietly won the race.

The margin at the finish line was around four lengths - this success gave everyone a certain confidence.

However, our second fly went according to a completely different scenario. In the beginning, a few seconds before the start, both yachts went for a false start. They had to come back, and Katya did it later than her rival who successfully started the race at the left end of the starting line. In the gradually weakening wind, the Russian crew's attempts to catch up with the rivals on the tack did not have any success, nor did the full course, which the day before yesterday was so good to get the British in the decisive fifth flyteam. Our girls could win back the initial gap on fordak but only just. It was obvious that Katya was starting to get nervous, while the Spanish boat again got in front. In the end, the Spaniards crossed the finish line first, with a very large gap of about six lengths. Meanwhile, in their second heat, the Aussies tied the score at 1-1 in both games against the Finnish racers.

Almost immediately after the finish, the wind was completely turned off. An excruciating wait began «by the sea of weather». At one point, there was even hope that the race would be cancelled altogether, in which case our crew automatically qualified for the final with an individual victory over the Spaniards in the round-robin. The crew of judges announced: «thelast signal to start will be given no later than 17.30 on 10 August, and if there is no wind, the results of round-robin»will be taken into account to reach the final. But after a while the judges decided to move the course from the open part of Weymouth Bay to the closed Portland Bay, bounded by breakwaters, where at least some wind was expected.

After about an hour and a half this light breeze did pull, and it was decided to give the start to the last race of the day, limiting it to just three flies instead of five. Now the results of these flights would qualify the crews for the final, and no one had a right to make a mistake anymore.
«The start was again a success for Katya - she managed to get» from her opponents on the false start and went into the course first with a good margin. The first tack stayed with us. Further on, however, things got worse - Ekaterina decided not to» keep «rivals, and go to the wind. She was not very successful at it - on the first fordak Spaniards caught a lucky gust and went ahead and ended up on the inside of the sign. Now our crew was in the catching-up position.

Nerves failed, Katya was very nervous and her crew was jerking, which could not do any good.

And here on the second tack the problem, which first became apparent in the quarter-final against the British, came to the fore again: the Russian crew was losing the tack. Both boats were searching for their wind after the lowest mark, but the Spaniards found it so well that they could turn the penalty corner and still go to the top mark first. On the last fordak our girls fought hard and almost reduced the gap to zero - but could not get opponents. One poorly executed turn immediately threw our boat almost two lengths back. We could not regain this gap and finished a length behind by about a hull. With a score of 2-1, the Spanish crew made it to the final.

It was impossible to expect that. Of course, the scoreline is a scoreboard, and all the talk is in favour of beggars, but we cannot not say that Ekaterina Skudina's crew came to the final of the Olympics at the peak of form, going round robins with a minimum of losses. Only Aussies who have not lost a single round-robin race have had better results. Our girls deserved to get to the final to the full extent but to all appearances it was their nerves that got them down. «They just burned out in the windless waiting». Katya's crew got nervous and that may have contributed to the unsuccessful turn. Of course, «everyone imagines himself a strategist, seeing the battle from the side», but still just from the side - some things are very well visible.

The editorial team of itBoat is ready to offer another explanation for what happened: simply yesterday was Friday, the 13th day of the Olympics.

The Finns, in turn, had a good chance to win the third fleet: shortly before the finish they led their rivals by nearly two lengths, but! One unlucky turn, when Buckovaya hesitated with a spinnaker-geek- and that was it. The boats finish close to each other but the crew from the green continent is only centimeters ahead. The Australian team moves into the final while the Finnish yachtswomen will be fighting with our girls for the third place. And, no matter how you look at it, but still our country for the first time in 16 years (Atlanta, George Shaidukosilver in the class Soling) has a real chance at an Olympic medal in sailing. (Let us remind you that at the previous Olympics in China, the crew of Ekaterina Skudina took sixth place in the Yngling class).
On the background of these events, the men's and women's medal races in class 470 were almost unnoticed by our fans. The results were as follows: the Australian crew of Matthew Belcher took gold for the men (again, these were Viktor Kovalenko's students!), silver went to the British crew of Luke Patins, and the bronze went to Lucas Calabrese's team from Argentina. Jo Ale from New Zealand got the first place, Hannah Mills from Great Britain got the second place, and the third was crew of Lise Westerhof from the Netherlands.

Live broadcasts of the sailing races (although without commentary) can be found on Sportbox,all the races and results on the ISAF website and a daily report on the Russian team performance on the Russian Sailing Federationwebsite.

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