While the wind gods came close to shutting down the medal-race party in the Women’s 470 class today, which was held on the Nothe course just off of the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, situated in here in Portland, UK, some smart fore-thinking on the part of the RC enabled the ladies to get in a proper contest, thus determining the class' podium positions. As was previously reported, the battle for Gold and Silver was a predetermined tussle between New Zealand and Team Great Britain, while Bronze was up for grabs.
Aleh and Powrie took Gold in the Women’s 470 class at the London Olympics 2012
Both Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) sailed brilliant regattas heading into today’s medal race. This essentially morphed today into a winner-takes-all sprint to the finishing line, as well as a battle for Bronze. Given today's wispy wind conditions, the term 'sprint' is a stretch, but there was no denying that both teams put their best efforts forward in this final race.
The starting gun sounded and Aleh and Price pounced, taking an early lead and commanding the fleet around the buoys, never once relinquishing the pole position. By the top of the first windward leg, the Kiwi ladies had established a lead of thirteen seconds over the Italian-fagged team of Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol; Mills and Clark rounded in the penultimate position, some one minute and thirteen seconds astern of the Kiwis. (Sadly for us Seppos, Americans Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, who have historically struggled in light air, rounded last—a position they held until they crossed the finishing line.)
Mills and Clark, 470 - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
Noticing that the breeze was rapidly dwindling, the RC wisely shortened the course, guaranteeing a complete medal race but seriously truncating Mills’ and Clark’s runway of opportunity. At the top of the second beat, the Kiwis found themselves ahead of the Italians by 21 seconds and two minutes and twenty-nine seconds ahead of their British rivals. The Kiwis sailed a smart downhill leg, earning both the bullet and their first Olympic Gold. Conti and Micol finished 41 seconds later—a strong finish, but not enough to bolster their event results higher than seventh in class.
Mills and Clark maintained their penultimate position in the light-air dinghy parade, cementing their Silver medal but certainly not ending their Games on the golden note that they had been seeking. The Dutch team of Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout sealed-up Olympic Bronze by finishing their medal race in sixth place, thus rounding-out the Women’s 470 podium.
Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED 11) - 470 World Championship 2012
Please stay tuned for more news from the Women’s 470 class, including quotes from the medal winners and plenty of racecourse images from today’s medal-race contest.