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London Olympics 2012 - Final day for the Canadian Olympic Sailing Team

by John Curtis on 8 Aug 2012
Women’s RSX fleet onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
London Olympics 2012, Weymouth and Portland. Sailing competition day 10.

We had wind again today but also rain. It was typical English rain - on an off again. Just enough to get wet but not really enough to wear rain gear. Today was the final day for Canadian Sailors at the 2012 Olympic Games. Zachary Plavsic of Vancouver BC has secured the top Canadian result here with an eighth overall in the Men's RSX Windsurfing class.


Today's medal race was a chance for Zac to move up from eighth place to possibly fifth overall. If he could beat the Greek, the French and his New Zealand training partner, JP Tobin. Zac was actually tied on points with his Kiwi friend going into today but the tie breaking rule had him eighth.

Zac got an ok start. It was clean but he was a little behind. A short way into the race he was well ahead of the New Zealander and within striking distance of the Greek. The Frenchman had gone to the left on the first leg and was challenging for the lead. By 1/2 way down the second leg Zac had left the Kiwi well behind (maybe 300 Meters - a big gap at this level). He was gaining on the Greek. Sixth place overall was in his sights. Then - just seconds before rounding the gate at the bottom of leg 2, Zac's boom fell apart.

I could see there was a problem with the boom from shore but it was not clear if it had broken or something else was wrong. As Zac's coach, Kevin Stittle, later explained to me it was the clamping mechanism (a giant buckle) that connects the boom to the mast by means of a plastic lever that tightens a rope that goes around the mast. The rope has a knot at one end and somehow the knot had come undone. Neither Zac or Kevin had ever seen this happen before. No one was suggesting any foul play but they were dumbfounded as to how this could have happened.


In any case, the boards behind Zac quickly passed him. In true 'Zac style' he 'MacGyvered' the boom and got back to racing. He was a whole lap behind at this point but the crowd was going wild cheering for Canada. It was amazing. Most people would have just quit and got their coach to take them in on the coach boat. Not Zac. This guy does not know how to give up. Apparently it was still broken but he somehow managed to make it work. What a show he put on.

Ironically, because Zac was so far behind the race Committee had to leave the old windward mark in place longer than usual. There had been a wind shift and the spare windward mark had been moved to the right on the third leg. The Dutch sailor was so far ahead he kept going for the old windward mark that Zac was headed for - allowing the French sailor to pass him before he noticed the new windward mark. It would not have made a difference anyway as the Dutch sailor had already secured the Gold yesterday and merely needed to finish the medal race to collect his prize. Impressively, he caught up to and passed the French guy on the last leg to finish second in the final race and win the Gold Medal with a near perfect score card of 6-1st's, 3-2nd's and a third. WOW! Better than Ben Ainslie!

We are all very proud of Zac and will be toasting him tonight at the Canadian Sailing Team BBQ.

Medals:

Gold - Netherlands - Dorian VanRijsselberge
Silver - Great Britain - Nick Dempsey (Local Weymouth Boy)
Bronze - Polland -Premyslaw Mirarczynski

We also had Nikola Girke in the women's RSX Class Medal Race. Nikola was ranked 10th going in with an outside shot at moving up to eighth, but it was not to be. The wind was not sub-planing conditions but it was not ideal for Nikola. She was ninth at the first Mark and lost a spot on the second downwind to finish 10th in the race and 10th overall. I will say she seemed to be working harder in this race for that 10th than she did in some of the earlier races in which not as much pumping was required. We are also very proud of Nikola's performance. Well Done Nikola!


This Women's RSX race was quite an exciting race at the top of the fleet. Going into the final it was Spain, Israel and Finland in first, second and third.

The Israeli sailor had a tough race finishing ninth, just ahead of Nikola. This took her out of the medals. It was also an indication of just how well Nikola is going despite finishing 10th to be duking it out with the Israeli girl who had been third going into today. She had a close battle with the Israeli woman all around the Course.

The Finnish girl had a strong result finishing fourth and the Polish woman who was sitting in fifth going in managed a third in the medal race to clinch the Bronze. They carry their scores from the first 10 races into the medal race and points in the medal race are doubled so big upsets are possible in this final race.

Medals:

Gold - Spain - Marina Alabau
Silver - Finland - Tuuli Petaja
Bronze - Polland - Zofia Noceti-klepacka

We also had the Men's 470 team on the water for race 9 and 10 of their series.

The 470 Men have had a tough event, performing below their own expectations which may have been a little high for two guys who essentially just started sailing double-handed in 2010. In my view they have done extraordinarily well just to qualify to be here. I am sure that is not what they want to hear because these guys believe in themselves and felt they could do better. With another two years of sailing under their belts, I have no doubt they would have performed much better. The conditions here were puffy and shifty - some of the most challenging conditions to sail for any type of boat. Their performance here is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.


Race 9 saw the 470 pair finish a disappointing 26th (last) after what looked like a promising start with a first mark rounding of 14th. I was not there to watch it closely, but by the look of the mark rounding positions they just slipped back a little each leg.

In race 10 they were again showing improvement over performances earlier this week rounding the first mark in 14th. They quickly slipped back to 23rd but showed their mettle battling back in the last two legs to finish 19th. These guys never give up!

Mike and Luke ended up 25th overall.

The medal race for the 470 fleet will be on Thursday.

Currently there is a two way race for Gold/Silver between the Australians and Brits. They are only separated by four points. There is a four way race for the Bronze with Argentina currently sitting third with 57 points. Ireland, New Zealand and France are all within striking distance of the Argentinians.

Final Thoughts: I am sure many of you are asking what it would take to see better performances by Canada in the future. Have no doubt this is the question all the sailors and coaching staff are asking themselves and each other every day. I don't have any answers today but collectively we will be working hard to figure this out in the coming months.

http://www.windathletes.ca/

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