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Posted by on Aug 5, 2012 in Sailboat Racing, US | 1 comment

First 2012 Olympic sailing medals decided in Weymouth

The Star and Finn medals for the 2012 Olympic Games were decided by razor thin margins in the first medal races of the two week event.

If today’s two medal races were anything to go by, we are set for another amazing week… although I’m not sure my nerves can take eight more races filled with so much drama!

“It was certainly the most nerve-wracking experience of my life,” said a relieved Ben Ainslie as he celebrated winning gold. I felt exactly the same!

2012 Olympics Ainslie sails by spectators

Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie sailed by the spectators after winning his fourth consecutive gold medal, making him the most successful Olympic sailor ever. Photo credit: Onedition

The day dawned with perfect conditions. A beautiful 10-12 knot southwesterly breeze, blue skies and brilliant sunshine. The ticketed spectator area on the Nothe was packed, as was every space of waterfront within view. The helicopters hovered overhead, and we were in a prime position right on the starting line to watch the drama unfold.

The show opened with the Star class. GBR’s Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson were in gold medal position, but behind them, ready to pounce on any weakness, was Brazil’s team of Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada, and Sweden’s Freddy Loof/Max Salminen. Any of the top three could win gold.

The Nothe’s small course area and fickle breeze delivered an edge-of-your-seat kind of experience more usually associated with a 100 metre sprint. It was nip and tuck the entire thirty minute race, right up to the last run when a puff of breeze put two more boats between the Swedes and the Brits—giving the Swedes gold. The smaller course gave us the best overview we’d had all week, and by the end of it I didn’t have a nail left to bite—and there was still the drama of Ben Ainslie’s race in the Finn to come!

Ainslie’s race was no less tense – and when he won the crowds erupted: “To have the opportunity to race in front of a home crowd like that and win an Olympic gold medal… well it can never get any better!” A jubilant Ainslie pronounced.

We are now into medal racing every day this week. The highs for the USA look to be in the women’s 470 and women’s match racing. Stay tuned!

Photos courtesy of Onedition

- Gael Pawson

Editors’ Note: Gael is providing special reports on the US Sailing Team throughout the events in Weymouth. For previous posts, see below:

1 Comment

  1. Hey Gael

    How strange – i was looking for a pic of the Nothe on google and spotted the one at the top of the page – the link led me to the article and then i saw your name – that was a surprise! Great article!

    I work on the Accenture sponsorship of Skandia Team GBR…

    Hope you are happy and well!

    Kishi