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London Olympics 2012 day 6 for Canadian Sailing Team

by John Curtis on 4 Aug 2012
Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn (CAN), competing in the Men’s Keelboat (Star) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
London Olympics 2012, Weymouth and Portland. Sailing competition day 6.

In case anyone is confused by my subject line it is day six of racing but day seven of the Games because of the Opening Ceremony on day one which did not have any racing.


The only thing I forgot to pack was sun screen. Who would have guessed at the sunny weather we have been having. It’s not warm but it is sunny. The average daytime high is about 18 degrees. Apparently this is warm for Weymouth. The wind was again consistently between 12-15 knots with occasional gusts to 18.

Today Canada finished up in the Star Class and the Finn Class with some respectable results but not good enough to qualify for Race 11 - the Medal race.

The star team of Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn were predicted to be Canada's top medal hope in sailing. This has been a very difficult regatta for this pair, but they have handled themselves with great class - distinguishing themselves as true champions.

Today they finally put a race together finishing fifth in race 9. They actually rounded the first mark in ninth and managed to pass five boats on the downwind leg. This had been their nemesis all week. This just shows that they never gave up even when things were looking bleak. Race 10 was a 13th and not good enough to earn a spot in the medal race. This leaves them 12th overall so they moved up one place overall on the last day.

I am not sure what is in store for these guys going forward but you can bet it will involve sailing and it will be something impressive. They are already stars in a movie that is due out in about a month. You can watch the trailer here.


The Medals in the Star fleet are already sewn up. There are only three teams that can win medals - Great Britain, Brazil and Sweden. Fourth place is 23 points behind and will realistically not be able to catch the top three. This will be an interesting race.

All of them are past medalists and the Brits and the Brazilians have multiple medals. The Brits have an eight point lead so are clearly favored to win the Gold but anything can happen in race 11 because only the top ten teams sail this race, the race result has to be counted in your score (no discarding race 11) and each position counts for double points. A fifth by the Brit and first by the Brazilian would make a tie and the tie breaker would go to the team with the most number of first places, which would be Brazil because they both have three firsts each so far - Extremely close.

Our Canadian Finn sailor, Greg Douglas, has also finished his Olympic Regatta. He ends the event in 15th overall. Greg had a 20th and a 12th today. He did round third at the top mark in Race 10 but was not able to hang on. This regatta may be over form Greg, but he plans to keep sailing to qualify for the next Games in Rio in 2016. He will be 27 by then, just entering his prime as a Finn sailor. While I am sure Greg would have liked to do better than 15th, this was a very respectable result and I am sure you have not seen the last of him.

The 49'er team of Gordon Cook and Hunter Lowden had another up and down day but they are still in the hunt to qualify for the medal race. The 49er is known as a 'skiff' not sure what that means these days as the definition has changed so many times over the years. Basically they are light weight planing hulls with lots of sail area, narrow at the water line but wide at the gunwhale so they are fast and tippy. If you ask anyone on the beach what it’s the most exciting boat to watch here at the Olympics, they will tell you it’s the 49'er.

This is one of the few fleets that no one has dominated. Yesterday the Brits won both races and today they had a 17, 4 and a 20. Things happen very fast in the 49'er fleet. The team in third overall had a terrible first day with a 19 and an 18. This event is still wide open for who gets into the medal race.

Gord and Hunter are in 16th overall but only 10 points out of 10th. With four more races to go anything can happen. There is no question that Gordon and Hunter have the speed and boat handling to be in the top five. The conditions today were very unstable (puffy and shifty) which mean that it was not easy to know where to position the boat on the race course. The duo did have two decent races and one not so good but they were in the mix in every race finishing the day with a 11, 16 and a 7.

The Australians, who were favoured, got off to a slow start on day one but have now moved into the lead overall, followed not so closely by New Zealand and Finland.

The 49'ers have the day off tomorrow, so they will be checking over the boat and having a rest - maybe see family in the afternoon.


The other double-handed dinghy is the 470 sailed by Luke Ramsay and Mike Leigh of Vancouver. They were plagued by bad starts today and their pace off the wind was not where they wanted it to be. They finished the day with a frustrating pair of 21st's, to put them at 24th overall in the event. With six more races to go there is still time to make up ground but they will have to be on fire to make the top 10 now. There is little doubt that they are capable of sailing much better than this. They have a track record for inspired late event rallies so we are hoping for great things from them tomorrow.

One thing to remember about this team is that although they have had some excellent results this year (Eighth at the European Championships) they have only been sailing a double- handed boat for less than two years. They were both formerly top ranked Laser sailors who decided to sail the 470 late in the quadrennial because of Mike's injured back that would not allow him to hike, but would allow him to trapeze and Luke was just too small to race the Laser comfortably. So the fact that they even met the international standard to be here is a fantastic accomplishment in itself.

If they could stick it out for another four years, they would have a shot at a medal no question. This seems to be Canada's number on problem - we need more people who stick around for a second and third Olympics. It is a multifactorial sport that takes years to learn how to do really well.


David Wright had a very disappointing first race finishing 43rd in the Laser class. After rounding the first mark in 18th he managed to lose 17 boats on the run (second leg). I have not spoken with David, but I understand that he received a penalty flag for pumping the boat too hard and had to do a 360 turn to exonerate himself. He did not the this put him off his game and came back in the next race with a sixth! Wow! Must be doing something right Mr. Wright - Well done.

This just shows how close the racing is. David is sitting in 21st overall but can pick off a sixth place when it all comes together and I can tell you that there was not a lot of luck involved just good speed and hard work. The Laser is the most miserable of all the Olympic Classes to sail because it goes slowly and the sailor has to hike hard. For the non-sailors 'Hiking' is hanging over the side with your toes under a seatbelt strap in the boat. It is like doing sit-ups for a hour every race - miserable! But these guys are fit like you cannot believe.

With two more races to go David will not make the medal race but is looking to improve his overall result to be in the top 20 or even top 15 at a stretch. With two more sixth's he could do it in style.


Tom Slingsby of Australia is leading the Laser fleet with the Cypriot close behind him (three points back) and Croatia is in third with little chance of catching the top two. The Laser fleet will finish up the fleet racing tomorrow

In Laser Radial, Danialle Dube had a 25th and 17th today. This is very respectable. She was in the top 10 today in race 8 but I understand she had to do a 720 penalty turn because of a foul with another boat. I have not been able to speak with her or her coach yet. Danielle had taken a few years off of sailing after the 2008 trials, to focus on school. The fact that she is doing as well as she is has impressed everyone. Well Done! Danielle has two more races left to go and will be aiming to improve her overall standing.

The RSX Men's and Women's fleets had the day off today.

* Canadians will see live on-line coverage of all the sailing medal races, starting Sunday, August 5 through to final medal contest on Saturday, August. 11. On CTVolympics.ca, under Viewer schedule; the medal races are listed at ATN or World Feed.

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