by Craig Heydon
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Australia’s Women’s Match Racing crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty have claimed silver. The Aussies came up against Spain in a hard fought final in strong winds which included sailors overboard, comebacks, penalties and intense competition.
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty (AUS) who won the Silver Medal today, 11.08.12, in the Medal Race Women’s Match Racing (Elliott 6M) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Spain eventually came out on top three wins to two but the Australians won over a host of new fans with their determination to come from behind twice to send the best of five final into a decider.
'We really gave it our all and the Spanish sailed really well,' said Price. We took it to five races, it’s disappointing to not win gold but hey we got a silver medal.
'We came here with one goal, to win gold, unfortunately we didn’t reach it but we were just one step under so we’re really happy,' she said. 'I’ve had the most amazing experience, the most amazing four years with these girls. We’ve trained hard, we’ve given our all at all the regattas, we’ve been part of such an amazing sailing team who has supported us in everything that we’ve done.'
The Spanish got off to the better start, leading off the line in race one. The Australians chased hard, closing on each downwind but the Spanish took a one-nil lead. After a short delay while a protest was being heard from the bronze medal race, Price and crew controlled race two, getting the win to lock the series up at one-all.
As the breeze continued to increase with gusts up to 25 knots the third race got underway. Nothing separated the two crews on the first beat with the Spanish rounding the top mark just a boat length ahead.
Price, Curtis and Whitty closed the gap on the downwind with the boats flying downwind at 12 knots. The Australians were surfing down a wave and had just taken the lead when the boat broached, with Price being washed out the back.
Curtis and Whitty worked quickly to bring the boat back under control, coming around to pull Price out of the water. The trio regained their composure but the Spanish had opened up an unassailable lead.
'We rolled the Spanish in the third race and I decided that I wasn’t going to hold on and fell out of the boat,' said Price. It was a bit unfortunate but we came back and won the next race and then unfortunately couldn’t get the last one.'
Everything was on the line in race four, with the Spanish able to claim the gold with a win. The two crews engaged in an aggressive tacking duel as they came into the top mark, with Price, Curtis and Whitty rounding just ahead.
The Australians were able to extend their lead slightly on the downwind with the Spanish rounding the bottom mark just behind. Price and crew continued to push hard on the final beat, heading around the final mark a few seconds clear, the trio pulled ahead on the final run, taking the win to send the gold medal match into a decider.
In the final race the two crews got off the line well, engaging in another tacking duel up the first beat. The Spanish rounded just ahead and had a great run, leading downwind. Price and crew took the lead and while trying to gybe into the bottom mark received a penalty for a port-starboard incident. The Australians did their penalty turn immediately but the jury decided that it wasn’t completed correctly and the penalty flag continued to fly.
Price, Curtis and Whitty pushed hard on the final lap but were unable to close the gap, completing their penalty turn on the line and claiming the silver medal.
'We’re really happy with the silver, we really gave it our all,' said Price. 'The Spanish sailed really well today. The conditions were quite wild, yes I did get thrown overboard by a wave, which was quite a shock to the system but we didn’t give up, we just kept going the whole time and I’m really proud of how we sailed and we’ve come away with the silver medal.
Price, Curtis and Whitty’s silver medal capped off a successful regatta for Australia following three gold medals; Tom Slingsby winning in the Laser, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er and Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page in the 470 men.
Australian Sailing Team website