Day four in the Sonar class competition got underway with five boats dreaming of Paralympic glory.
However, by the end of the day, only Israel and their Dutch rivals can still flirt with the ‘golden bride’, as Germany, USA and especially Sydney winners Australia saw their dreams for the Gold medal crumble.
However, the battle is still on for Silver and Gold and whilst the Silver also looks distant to the Australian crew of Jamie Dunross, Jeff Milligan and Colin Harrison, a Bronze is not an impossibility. The three, from Perth, are currently in fifth place, only seven points separating them from Germany and USA who each have 30 points.
Dunross and co. did not do enough in yesterday’s two races, having two of their worst results so far in their desparate efforts to cling onto a chance for Gold.
The first race of the day started with a light southwesterly that eventually became a south to southeast ten-knot breeze.
Led by skipper Vasileios CHRISTOFOROU (GRE), the relatively inexperienced Greek team enjoyed a great start and sailed their way towards a comfortable win, their first in the Regatta, which has them now closer to achieving their goal of a top eight finishing.
Eleven seconds adrift of the jubilant locals finished the Dutch team who had another top-notch performance, while overnight leader Israel bounced back from an eighth place rounding at the second upwind mark to overtake Canada and Norway in the final beat and eventually finish in third.
Germany suffered from an abysmal start that had the Sydney Bronze medallists passing the top mark in the back of the fleet. Even though they gained six places to cross the finish line in seventh, they cannot be satisfied with their performance.
Australia, on the other hand, set off well to round the upwind mark in fourth place but soon after they had a disastrous second windward leg and finished ninth. A similar scenario developed for the US crew who after challenging Greece early in the race, eventually sunk to eighth.
Race 8 began with the wind blowing from 170 degrees and the USA boat accelerating fast ahead of the rest of the fleet. Once again though, they failed to hang on to their lead and finished fifth.
The Netherlands sailed another efficient race to claim second place. Indicative of the 2003 World Champion's brilliant form during the Regatta is that their worst finish is a sixth place which they discard.
This time, Israel, perhaps the most dominant team of the competition, managed to finish ahead of their main rivals for the gold and to capture their third Athens 2004 win.
Race 7 heroes Greece were forced to make a 720 penalty turn so they only managed an eighth, one place behind the Germans.
Canada finally lived up to their reputation with a fourth and a third placing but it’s too late to even think of grabbing a medal.
With only the final race left, Israel has 18 net points, four less than the Netherlands, whereas Germany and the USA lie in third with 30. Australia and Canada with 37 and 42 points respectively have still minor chances to take the Bronze home.
HESSELS said of today’s races, ‘it was a difficult day but we sailed consistently and I am happy we got two second places. The Israelis did extremely well today.’
On the ultimate race, he had this to say, ‘even if we get disqualified we cannot lose the silver medal, so what we’ll try to do is to grab the gold medal from Israel.’
Results with one race remaining:
1 COHEN Dror S ISR 1 (16) 4 1 4 4 3 1 34 - 18
EFRATI Arnon C1 DSQ
VEXLER Benni C2
2 HESSELS Udo S NED (6) 4 5 4 2 3 2 2 - 22
van de VEEN Marcel C1
ROSSEN Mischa C2
3 KROKER Jens S GER (9) 8 2 2 3 1 7 7 - 30
REICHL Peter C1
JACOBS Olaf C2
4 ROSS DUGGAN John S USA 3 1 3 6 6 6 (8) 5 - 30
CREIGNOU Jean Paul C1
JOHNSON Bradley C2
5 DUNROSS Jamie S AUS 2 6 6 5 7 2 9 (10) - 37
MILLIGAN Jeff C1
HARRISON Colin C2