By Andy Rice via World Sailing; Photos by Sailing Energy
Matt Wearn has wrapped up the gold medal in the Men’s One-Person Dinghy at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic sailing competition, making him the third consecutive Australian to have achieved the feat.
Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom could have done the same in the Women’s One-Person Dinghy, but for a big misunderstanding.
It was very light and fluky conditions, not for the faint-hearted. Some adapted to the new breeze, and others have suffered as the breeze got harder to read.
Men’s One-Person Dinghy
Even light and fluky winds couldn’t hold up the relentless march of Matt Wearn who secured the gold medal for Australia this afternoon. With a 22-point advantage, Sunday’s Medal Race will be a formality for the jubilant Australian, who was met by his fiancée still in contention for a Laser Radial medal, Emma Plasschaert from Belgium.
“It’s an amazing feeling, and thanks to a great training group that we’ve had back in Australia for a while now,” said Wearn. “It probably won’t be until I’ve had a bit of solitude in my room that it will all hit me, all the emotions. After the start of the week there was a little bit of doubt I’d be able to get back to here. I put myself in a pretty big deficit. These guys out here are amazing sailors and they’re not going to relinquish a lead if they’ve got one. So I knew I had to fight. And yeah, that’s what we did.”
After leading for much of the week, Pavlos Kontides’ ability to climb back from bad situations eluded him in the final race this afternoon. Instead, one poor downwind run – which plummeted the Cypriot from seventh to 23rd – dropped him out of the medals but not out of contention.
The points are very close between Hermann Tomasgaard of Norway in second, Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) in third, and Kontides now in fourth. Germany’s Philipp Buhl and Brazilian legend Robert Scheidt still have an outside shot at the podium.
See full results here.
Women’s One-Person Dinghy
If Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) doesn’t win gold after Sunday’s Medal Race, the mistakes of today will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Much lighter wind conditions make for a lot more jeopardy in the Laser Radial. Not only is the wind hard to read when it’s in short supply, but the risk of being penalised for propelling the boat forward illegally through excessive body movement, fanning the sails or wagging the tiller to promote forward motion increases. The result can be a yellow flag from the on-water-jury. A first offence is a 720-degree penalty turn during the race and a second offence requires the sailor to retire from the race.
Rindom explained the nightmare scenario for her in the final race of the Laser Radial Opening Series, “I got a yellow flag in the first one for pumping up the downwind and then in the second start, I got the second yellow flag, which means that you have to retire from the race. And so I did.
“But then there was a general recall so there was a new start. I didn’t have enough time to talk to my coach if I could start or not. I simply didn’t know the rule that I could start in that race. I decided to start but then I decided to retire because I wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to get a DNE [non-discardable disqualification].
“Obviously that was wrong and I can only blame myself. I guess I should have known the rule. But I’ve never been in this situation in my whole career.”
For all that, Rindom still holds a seven-point advantage over arch-rival Marit Bouwmeester going into Sunday’s Medal Race. But today could have been the day that the Dane had put a padlock on the gold medal.
“I’m just devastated right now, it’s hard to be in my own body with so many emotions. But yeah, I just have to rise again and be ready for Sunday because nothing is over yet.”
Yesterday Bouwmeester’s hopes of the gold medal looked dead and buried, but Rindom’s pain is the defending Olympic Champion’s opportunity. It’s a huge momentum swing in favour of the Netherlands.
This is not as simple as a two-horse race, however. Josefin Olsson holds bronze medal position and the Swede, along with Canada, Belgium, Italy and Finland all have a shot at the podium this Sunday.
See full results here.
All but the top ten Laser and Laser Radial sailors will remain in the boat park for Sunday’s Medal Race as they also have a rest day.