by Matt Carter
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark now know that they have won at least a bronze medal - but the British 470 Women only have their eyes on gold as they head into their medal race showdown on Friday 10th August.
Mills and Clark, 470 - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
It was a topsy turvy afternoon for the Brits who scored an eighth and second from their two races at Weymouth and Portland today (Wednesday 8 August). But most tellingly in the overall standings, it was the 18th place collected by Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) in that second race that has left the Kiwis and Brits in a fight for gold.
In Olympic sailing the boats can discard their worst score of their series. This means the Kiwis now count their previous worst score of 10th to put Britain and New Zealand tied neck and neck on 33 points going into the final double points’ medal race.
To guarantee themselves at least silver the Brits simply have to sail a clean race on Friday and not get disqualified.
With the 470 Men also engaged in a Southern Hemisphere battle for gold against Australia tomorrow, the girls can’t wait to follow suit.
Saskia said: 'Head to head, we’re mad for it! We’ve got a day off tomorrow, we will watch the boys hopefully doing some Aussie bashing, see if we can learn anything from them and bring it on Friday against the Kiwis.'
Hannah said: 'It was a really tricky day; really shifty and no-one really knew what was going on with the wind. We got a bit unlucky in the first race but we pulled it together and luckily it swung our way and we got our points back on the Kiwis.'
The Women’s 470 medal race is scheduled for 1pm on Friday on the spectator Nothe course.
Positive Stevie Morrison declared 'Rio sounds lovely!' after the British 49er pair ended their London 2012 campaign in fifth position today.
Morrison and Ben Rhodes were left to rue mistakes made earlier in the regatta as they saw their hopes of a last-gasp bronze medal disappear despite a gritty final double points’ medal race performance. A fifth place in the medal race for Morrison and Rhodes saw them end the day in the position they started it.
Morrison said: 'There were two definitive instances during the week which cost us 24 points, which if you look at the points table would have made a big difference. In China [four years ago] we weren’t really good enough whereas here I think we were. It’s obviously pretty gutting but it’s done now and we’ve got to move on. The trouble with the Olympics is you either win a medal or you don’t. We haven’t and it sucks!'
August 3, 2012 - Weymouth, England - Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (GBR) on the penultimate leg of Race 11 of the 49er class
Rhodes said: 'It was always going to be tricky. We came out with the aim of sailing a good race today, that’s all we could really do. We’re reasonably pleased with how we sailed but this event for us was ultimately lost a lot longer ago. We were still in the hunt this morning, but didn’t quite get the hand that we wanted. We’re still good mates, still will be and you never know, maybe we will come and try again.'
Morrison added: 'I’d be up for it, Rio sounds lovely doesn’t it!'
Meanwhile there was disappointment for Britain’s Match Race Girls as they saw their hopes of London 2012 silverware ended at the quarter-final stage.
However, there was a controversial conclusion to their knock-out encounter against Russia after the British boat protested the decision of a photo finish in race four – the second race of today – a decision, which had it gone in their favour, would have seen Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor progress into the semi-finals.
With the scores tied at one-all after the first two races of their best of five quarter-final yesterday, the Brits got day two off to an immaculate start, claiming race three victory with a flawless performance to go 2 - 1 ahead.
After the Russian trio of Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Syuzeva and Elena Oblova had eked ahead of the British boat on the final downwind run of race four, it looked as though Macgregor had pulled off a tactical masterstroke in pushing the Russian boat wide before both boats made a dive for the line. The photo decision went in the Russians’ favour, levelling the scores at 2-2. After another close-fought battle in the fifth and deciding race it was Russia who got the final edge to hand them the overall win.
The British team decided to protest the outcome of race four. But after consideration the race committee ruled that the evidence was insufficient to overturn the original decision, rubber-stamping Russia’s spot in the last four.
Lucy said: 'We sailed well over the last two days and we are pleased with how we picked up our game, not that we ever had any doubt that we could do that. We put up a really good fight, as did the Russians and thought we had won that fourth race, hence why we protested, we wouldn’t have done otherwise. The race committee unfortunately didn’t take our evidence so the result stands and the Russians advance through to the semis and unfortunately that’s our medal hopes over.'
The result means Macgregor, Lush and Macgregor now progress through to the 5-8th Sail Off tomorrow (Thursday 9 August) where they will first of all face France, skippered by Claire Leroy, in a best of five match. The other sail off will see Anna Tunnicliffe’s USA team go head to head with the Renee Groeneveld-led Dutch team. The winner of each encounter will then compete for fifth and sixth place while the two losers will battle it out for seventh and eighth overall.
The Olympic Sailing Regatta runs from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 11 August.