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Olympic Sailing: Brits strike gold on a grey day

'British Blondes win Gold Medal'    Guy Nowell ©    Click Here to view large photo

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.

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
POS Country Skipper/Crew
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Medal Race Total Net
1 GBR Sarah Ayton 2 3 4 -7 4 2 2 5 2 31 24
Sarah Webb
Pippa Wilson
2 NED Mandy Mulder 9 1 2 -13 1 5 4 1 8 44 31
Annemieke Bes
Merel Witteveen
3 GRE Sofia Bekatorou 10 12 9 3 2 -16 3 3 6 64 48
Sofia Papadopoulou OCS
Virginia Kravarioti
4 GER Ulrike Schuemann 8 7 7 11 11 3 5 -13 4 69 56
Ute Hoepfner
Julia Bleck
5 FRA Anne Le Helley 4 -15 1 14 5 10 10 2 10 71 56
Catherine Lepesant
Julie Gerecht
6 RUS Ekaterina Skudina 3 8 12 10 -15 1 6 6 10 71 56
Diana Krutskikh
Natalia Ivanova
7 USA Sally Barkow -14 2 8 5 6 11 1 10 18 75 61
Carolyn Howe
Deborah Capozzi
8 CHN Xiaqun Song 7 5 -16 4 13 6 8 4 16 79 63
Yanli Yu DSQ
Xiaoni Li
9 NOR Siren Sundby 12 -13 5 1 3 13 12 11 12 82 69
Lise Birgitte Fredriksen
Alexandra Koefoed
10 AUS Krystal Weir 1 11 6 -12 7 7 9 8 22 83 71
Karyn Gojnich DSQ
Angela Farrell
11 FIN Silja Lehtinen 6 6 3 8 10 -16 15 12 76 60
Maria Klemetz OCS
Livia Varesmaa
12 RSA Dominique Provoyeur -13 10 11 2 12 8 13 7 76 63
Kim Rew
Penny Alison
13 CAN Jennifer Provan 5 4 10 -15 9 12 11 15 81 66
Martha Henderson
Katie Abbott
14 ESP Monica Azon 11 9 -14 6 14 4 14 9 81 67
Sandra Azon
Graciela Pisonero
15 ITA Chiara Calligaris -15 14 13 9 8 9 7 14 89 74
Francesca Scognamillo
Giulia Pignolo

by Bob Fisher


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6:01 AM Sun 17 Aug 2008 GMT

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2008 Olympics Qingdao

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