Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

London Olympics- That Finn Race - How the Bronze was Lost and Won

by Richard Gladwell on 9 Aug 2012
Dan Slater - Medal Race - Finn class 2012 Olympic Regatta. The offending camera mount of the stern of his Finn can be plainly seen © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

The Medal Race for the Mens Heavyweight Singlehander (Finn) was probably the most watched race in Olympic sailing history.

A crowd estimated at over 30,000 were gathered on the Nothe, a natural horse-shoe shaped amphitheatre, just outside the seawall at Weymouth.

It s often said the top level sport is a study of people under stress, and this key race in the 2012 Olympic Regatta was no exception, from a number of perspectives.

The Main Event was a bout between three times Olympic Gold medalist, and the home-town hero, Ben Ainslie, and Jonas Hogh-Christensen (Denmark) who had been top of the leaderboard all week.

Ainslie went into the double scoring Medal Race, trailing the Dane by two points – meaning he had to finish one place ahead.

Behind the Main Event, the battle was all on for the Bronze Medal, with it being mathematically possible for one of the main protagonists to drop back, but unlikely.

Just one point separated two sailors J-P Postma (NED) and Ivan Gaspic (CRO) with Jonathan Lobert (FRA) in with an outside chance, but five points or three places in double points scoring Medal race terms. Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) was another place adrift.

Dan Slater (NZL) was at the front of the next bracket, and mathematically was an option for seventh at best. A position he wanted to retain.

In the end Slater became something of an unintended King-Maker for the Bronze medal.

In the Mixed Zone after the Medal Race had concluded, Slater reflected on a three Olympics career in the 49ers and two in Finns. A former ISAF Youth Champion in the Laser, Slater has campaigned a Finn since 2004.

'I made a lot of friends in the fleet and probably lost a couple as well,' was his opening line in the Mixed Zone, after probably sailing his last serious race in the 50 year old classic.

'The last thing I wanted to was to get involved in the race. I just wanted to be clear and let them do their own thing', he said referring to the duel between Ainslie and Hogh-Christensen.

Then he switched to the Battle for the Bronze. Slater was in second place approaching the sixth mark of the race, sailing downwind, with just a mark rounding to be done, and then head on a short reach to the finish line. P-J Postma was in third place with the Bronze Medal secure by one point – even with the Jonathan Lobert (FRA) gone for all money.

But the Medal race is about placings not margins.

All Jan-Pieter Postma, Silver Medalist at the 2011 ISAF Worlds had to do was protect his third place position, and let Slater go.

'What P-J did was super high-risk for very little gain,' explained Slater.

'He had a Bronze medal sewn up and he tossed away.'

'I knew the French had to win the race – he was gone - I couldn’t catch him. We could close up a bit but I couldn’t catch him.

'I just wanted to cross the line in second place. I had Rafa (Rafael Trujillo (ESP) ) just behind me. I had to beat him as we were on equal points. Daniel Birgmark (SWE) was close as well, and I had to beat him by a boat as well.

'We were in a race for second, and that was my goal.'

A few boatlengths from the final mark, the Bronze looked to be J-P’s.

'I had protected the starboard rights on him, and stayed on the inside of the mark, and he dived down the outside,' says Slater.

'I said to him 'Don’t have a go up at the mark, because I will take you out. Don’t do it because you have got a Medal.'

'He was red in the face, and it was going through his head as to what he was going to do, but he didn’t execute it properly. I didn’t luff him at all, I went up, but I didn’t do a hard luff at all. His boom hit the back of my camera mount. The whole world saw it.

'He did a penalty turn. We were well outside the three boat length circle. He went up to get inside me, by the mark.

'I pushed him up so I could gybe back into the three boats lengths and protect my position from there.

'He is a very, very good friend, and I am sorry for him.'

Postma’s error and subsequent penalty dropped him back to fifth place, with Lobert (FRA) winning and taking the Bronze medal, for the 2012 Olympics, by three points.

Zhik ZKG 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82Barz Optics - Kids range

Related Articles

A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Sydney Hobart Race-Dark and stormy, well because it is Dark and Stormy
Proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart Well it is now dark and the rain 'storms' have passed, but proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart, the custom Murray 37, Dark & Stormy had a wonderful exchange on the radio. Quite possibly it was co-owner and Navigator Terry Courts on the VHF in the super-frank exchange with Hobart Race Control at around 1928hrs on 29/12/16.
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Wicked
ather and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery Father and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery, but Mark is out on the water, approaching Hobart. From on board he said, 'Amazing race. Barely any windward work. Just does not get better than this. Bit of gear damage cost us early, and we had to sail a little conservatively.'
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Accepting the Challenge
When you buy a boat like the late Lou Abrahma's Sydney 38, Challenge, you're almost obliged to keep taking her South When you buy a boat like the late Lou Abrahma's Sydney 38, Challenge, you're almost obliged to keep taking her South at Christmas time. Luckily this has not been a problem for Chris Mrakas and his new crew, which includes Bruce Reidy
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – 67 out of 70
It's a pretty awesome score in anybody’s language. When it is the number of hours you spend under kite It's a pretty awesome score in anybody’s language. When it is the number of hours you spend under kite in the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race so far, then it is more than A+++. Anto Sweetapple from on board the Jones 40, Quetzalcoatl, reports in from at sea for us.
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2016 - The 60 Hour report card
60 hours into the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart race. 16 boats finished,five boats retired and 67 boats at sea. The state of play 60 hours into the 72nd running of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. At 0100hrs Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time this morning, 16 boats had finished the 2016 race. Five boats had retired, and 67 boats were still on the water.
Posted on 28 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – the second step for CQS and 2017
It was a frustrating end to a frustrating race for the newest supermaxi in the 2016 Rolex Sydney to Hobart race It was a frustrating end to a frustrating race for the newest supermaxi to compete in the 2016 Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. It was just her second ever race, with her first, the White Island Race in New Zealand, producing a line honours win. While Ludde Ingvall’s radical new 98-footer CQS had a very slow passage across an almost windless Storm Bay and River Derwent.
Posted on 28 Dec 2016