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Sonars vow to 'come back stronger' after tough Rio opener

by RYA on 13 Sep 2016
Sonar silver medallists John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas Richard Langdon/British Sailing Team
John Robertson insisted he and his Sonar teammates would 'come back stronger tomorrow' after a difficult start to their Rio 2016 Paralympics today (Monday 12 September).

Skipper Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas picked up scores of 11th and ninth from their two three-person keelboat races on the Escola Naval course in Guanabara Bay as Rio lived up to its reputation as a very tricky venue to master.

The three-time World champions put the disappointment of a tough opening race behind them to get a good clean start in the second race of the day, rounding the top mark in third position and moving into the lead on the first downwind run.

But with the sea breeze starting to influence conditions more and more, the Brits, who are competing at their fourth Paralympics, then got stranded on the wrong side of a big shift, dropping down to 10th at the bottom mark before making up one place.

Each of the three fleets competing in Rio can discard the biggest score of their series after five races, and as seen at the recent Olympics where many of the medallists ended up posting some high scores, consistency becomes key. This is the Sonar team’s focus for the rest of the event, starting from tomorrow Robertson says.

“Today hurts because our standards are so high. Having a bad day does happen during an event. You try to minimise it obviously, but we will come back stronger tomorrow and go for two bullets.

“Watching the guys a few weeks ago at the Olympics cemented what we've been finding out in training. It is a little bit wacky at times, the breeze does turn inside out and it did that in our two races today.

“In the second race it got very patchy, up from 10-11 knots and dropping to five - six. A bit of pressure comes through and the wind's up to nine knots, but if you're not in it then it makes it very difficult.

“As long as you're aware of that it changes the way you sail a little bit. You sail the percentages a bit more rather than just hit the corners. The boat was going well and we started well in the second race so we have to keep doing all those things and see what happens at the end. You sleep on it, have a debrief and come back stronger.”

The Australian boat, skippered by Colin Harrison who with fellow crewmate Russell Boaden won Sonar bronze at Beijing 2008, enjoyed the most fruitful day on Escola Naval, picking up a first and second place to take the early overall lead.

Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp (NZL) sit in second with Vasilis Christoforou, Anargyros Notaroglou and Thodoris Alexas in third.

But Robertson believes the Brits showed plenty of what they are about it race two and backed his teammates to show more of that form as the week goes on.

He added: “It was not an ideal start to the event. It was typical Rio; you think you've got it and then you haven't so it's a case of not thinking too far ahead. We've shown today you might make a mistake but then in the next race you can redeem yourself and keep fighting amongst it. So that's what we're going to do, just keep fighting.”

All results are subject to protest.

The Sonar class is scheduled to contest an 11 race series, with two races per day from Monday 12 – Friday 16 September before the final series race, after which the medals will be awarded, on Saturday 17 September.
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