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London Olympics 2012: Sailing Olympics News - Day 8
The first Medals have been presented at the 2012 Olympics, in the Finn and Star classes, or more correctly in the Mens Heavyweight Singlehander and the Mens Keelboat.
Both had their controversies.
In the Star, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) had pretty well led the event all week. Certainly they had dominated it - as would be expected of current Olympic Champions.
The permutations were reasonably well known - the Brits had to finish within four places of Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) to be sure of the title. They had to be within six places of Freddie Loof and Max Salminen (SWE), who were in third place.
Fans cheer Ben Ainslie as he tows past on the way back to Weymouth Richard Gladwell
Not a big ask, you might think for a crew who had finished no worse than 4th in all their nine previous counting races.
Right to the end they had the medal under control, sitting in fifth place, with Loof leading. But right on the line, a shift in the breeze saw the British lose three places - just like that, and with it went their Gold Medal.
Had the race not been held on the fickle winds of the Nothe, there is a fair chance we would have seen a different result.
But sadly for the British who were poised for a double win in the Star and Finn classes, it was not to be, and instead it was the Swedish crew who sat in the centre of the table at the Media Conference tonight.
There the conversation turned to the fact that, as things stand, this will be the Star's last race in an Olympics.
The hope was raised that there may be a way for the Star to stage its fourth comeback as an Olympic class. That seems to be by virtue of the Star's long history in the next host country, Brazil - first with the legendary Torben Grael and now with Robert Scheidt, who along with crew Bruno Prada won the Bronze medal today.
Few in the media here would argue that the Star needs to go. Numbers and popularity aside, the class has been one of the spectacles on Weymouth Bay with their shaking, shuddering tacks and towering rigs. They look a handful, and the point was made yet again, that the Star provides a way for top Olympic talent to have a second Olympic career.
But all that is an argument for another time.
Gold Medalist - Freddie Loof and Max Salminen (SWE) celebrate and line up for the ubiquitous OBS Media and a TV interview Richard Gladwell
Right now, Freddy Loof said he was bowing out, of the class. Crew Max Slminen is looking to move across the the Finn. Iain Percy is off the the America's Cup with Artemis Racing, and the remaining three shrugged their shoulders as to what the future held. Percy and Simpson will race in the English Nationals to be held on the River Thames.
In the Finn class, the equation was a little different from the Star, which preceded it.
Ben Ainslie had been running second, and south of that mark, in the points standings all week. Yes, he was close to the Gold Medal, but the edge that he had enjoyed earlier this year and for the previous Olympiads, seemed to have been answered by Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN).
August 5, 2012 - Weymouth, England - Star class Medal race Ian Percy (GBR) trails round the leeward mark for the last time in the Medal Race Richard Gladwell
Ainslie seemed to have matters well under control early on in the Medal Race. But then seemed to be content to rely on his considerable matchracing skills if he got into a one on one with the Dane.
A windshift that went the wrong way on the second beat, dropped Ainslie into matchracing mode, and he proceeded to deal to Hogh-Christensen for the remaining five legs, while hoping that Jan-Pieter Postma (NED) would not progress beyond seven places in front.
In the end the pressure got to J-P, who clipped the tracking device on Dan Slater's transom, near the windward mark, when lying third. He was penalised, and the turns were enough to drop him out of Gold medal contention.
Ainslie returns to dock to be greeted by members of the British team Richard Gladwell
From there Ainslie played a calculated game through to the finish - nail-biting as it may have been for the thousands of spectators - both paying and freeloading around the Nothe. They saw sailing history created, and witnessed a race they will never forget.
In this edition of Sail-World's Olympic newsletter we have all the background and reports on today's racing, along with some great images from some of the world's top photographers.