By Andy Rice via World Sailing; Photos by Sailing Energy
Great weather returned to Enoshima for Sunday, with sunshine and moderate winds for the sailors to really stretch their legs and put some physicality back into their racing after the light-wind stress of the past two days.
Although Matt Wearn had already secured the gold medal, the Men’s One-Person Dinghy Medal Race was packed with drama as the pendulum of fortune swung one way and then another. Multiple sailors had a shot at the silver and bronze and it wasn’t until the very end that the medals were decided.
The same was true but even more so in the Women’s One-Person Dinghy Medal Race, never certain until the fleet had crossed the finish line.
Men’s One-Person Dinghy
Matt Wearn (AUS) won gold in the Men’s One-Person Dinghy with Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) taking silver and Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) bronze.
Wearn had already wrapped up the gold medal before the Medal Race but was obliged to compete in order to complete the regatta.
It was a clean start off the line, and quite even too. Jean-Baptise Bernaz (FRA) took up the lead, making the most of a mathematical but unlikely chance of a medal.
Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) rounded the first mark in eighth, not far back from the ten-boat fleet, but over the next lap the Norwegian sailed through to fifth, making his intentions clear for the silver medal.
However, Stipanovic fought back hard on the final lap, overtaking Tomasgaard and moving into silver medal position.
At the finish, Bernaz won the race, Wearn was second, but more importantly Stipanovic’s fourth place got him the silver medal to go with the one he secured at Rio 2016. Tomasgaard (NOR) was still happy to get the bronze.
Matt Wearn’s gold medal makes it three golds in a row for Australia in the Laser, following on from Tom Slingsby at London 2012 and Tom Burton at Rio 2016.
“It’s a special thing to be able to continue that Australian legacy in the Laser,” said Wearn. “After my first day when things hadn’t gone so well, I really had to dig deep, to work on my mental strength to get me back up there again. It’s amazing to have this moment and thank you to the people of Japan for making this happen.”
Following a glittering Olympic career that spans quarter of a century, today’s Medal Race was the last time we’ll see Robert Scheidt competing at the Olympic Games. His story began at Atlanta 1996 when the Brazilian won gold in the Laser. Now aged 48, with five Olympic medals from seven Games, Scheidt bows out as one of the greatest of all time.
See full results here.
Women’s One-Person Dinghy
Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) won gold in the Women’s One-Person Dinghy with Josefin Olsson (SWE) taking silver and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) bronze.
At the start the individual recall flag went up. Two boats were over and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) was one of them. The Dutch sailor returned to start correctly, immediately putting her to the back of the 10-boat fleet and playing catch-up for the medals.
However, Silvia Zennaro (ITA) was also over at start time and didn’t return. She was later pulled out of the race further up the first leg.
At the top of the first upwind leg, Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) briefly moved into the medal zone but on the first downwind leg, Emma Plasschaert (BEL) surfed from fourth into the lead, moving her into silver position.
However, Bouwmeester’s recovery was even more impressive, moving in on the pack on the downwind and opting for the right-hand gate when most of the fleet had gone left. From being left for dead at the start, the comeback queen was back into silver medal position.
Next it was the turn of Josefin Olsson (SWE) to have her say, having climbed from seventh in the early stages to third at the end of the first lap and up to the lead by the final windward mark. Now the Swede was in medal contention, threatening the Netherlands for silver.
Olsson crossed the finish line a fraction in front of Plasschaert. Behind her Bouwmeester had dropped a critical place and slipped back to bronze, leaving Sweden to take silver by the slimmest of margins, just three points behind Rindom who somehow clung on to gold.
Rindom and Bouwmeester are now multiple medallists. In Rio 2016 Bouwmeester won gold and Rindom bronze. Today they won the same medals the other way round. This is now Bouwmeester’s third Olympic medal, having also won silver at London 2012. However, Bouwmeester commented, “The way I race, I race for only one medal. For me, there is only one medal, and I didn’t win it. I’ve let down my team, I’ve let down my brother [Roelof, her coach].”
She said she would be back for the only medal that matters to her in three years’ time, at Paris 2024.
Asked how it felt to be Olympic champion, Rindom grinned, “Well, so far, it’s pretty great!”
It didn’t feel so great during the Medal Race though. “After the start, it was going kind of easy, but then it kind of crumbled beneath me. I just lost everything on downwind leg. And then my self-bailer didn’t work because there was so much seaweed stuck in it and we had never sailed in so much seaweed out there as I saw today.
“The boat was filling up with water. So many things went wrong but I just kept fighting. I told myself to just keep breathing, take a deep breath and keep working hard until the end.”
See full results here.