by Bob Fisher
It was a magnificent performance on a miserable day. Rain and 18 knot easterlies blew off Qingdao harbour to turn everything greyer than city suits, but through it all shone the sparkling performance of the blonde bombshells from Britain, Yngling Team Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, and gold was theirs at the end of the rainbow.
British Blondes win Gold Medal
They knew just how they had to achieve their objective and set about it in a workmanlike manner with four minutes to go to the start, trailing their Dutch rivals in the menacing manner of a match race. They harried and sent the Dutch girls outside the committee boat and then set themselves up for a clear mid-line start.
The Dutch came in higher up the line and the drag race began. Mandy Mulder was the first to blink, and tacked away. Ayton covered and a long port tack ensued. After six minutes, the virtual graphics showed the Dutch were a metre ahead, but Ayton was sailing slightly higher by managing the waves better and therefore having a slight speed edge. When the Dutch tacked, Ayton was able to tack on their bow. From there on the tacks were fierce and frequent and although the British boat was ahead, Sally Barkow of the USA was coming into the picture.
It was Barkow, in an unintentional 'hands across the sea' effort that put the seal on the British girls’ efforts. As Ayton rounded the windward mark, Barkow came in to leeward of Mulder and as she tried to squeeze up and shoot the mark, effectively slowed Mulder. While Mulder did get round cleanly, a bigger gap had opened between her and Ayton. Barkow didn’t make it, fouled the mark and Mulder, re-rounded and did a 720 degree penalty turn before resuming the chase of the Greek boat in her bronze medal race.
Briefly the German trio led by Ulli Schumann did lead the race but by the windward mark the second time the British team was right on the German’s stern and Schumann was no match for Ayton downwind. The delight was evident on the British girls faces as they hauled a large Union flag out of the spinnaker locker and held it aloft for the cameras. Job done.
|Yngling - Women - Overall Results|
|5||FRA||Anne Le Helley||4||-15||1||14||5||10||10||2||10||71||56|
|Lise Birgitte Fredriksen|