Sometimes there are good days out on the water, and then sometimes there are great days. With a string of race wins, overall fleet leaders and a host of top fives, today was a great day for the Team GB sailors.
Anyone up early to watch the action live would not have been disappointed!
Emma Wilson started the day with a convincing win in the RS:X to continue her brilliant push for a medal in her first Olympic Games. Yep – her first Olympics. At 22 years old. And she is taking everything in her stride.
Emma followed it up with another race win but then blotted her copy book by starting a little bit too early in the final race and got disqualified. Even then though, Emma just shrugged it off with a ‘I don’t know, I’m happy though.’
With Emma siting top of the women’s fleet it was over to male counterpart Tom. Again at his first Games, Tom is doing well and even notched up a race win of his own. Two more solid results and he is sitting in the top five of the RS:X fleet.
From Olympic newbies to experienced campaigners… Giles Scott has been there and done it but was disappointed with his first day which left him in ninth overall. He promised to come out swinging – and true to his word he did. Out of two races on offer he won both. A few more swings like that and we could be seeing Giles on an Olympic podium again.
In their first Olympics together – Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell are using their past individual experiences to come together and put in a solid start. Yet another British race win helped the duo to the top of the 49er fleet – a fleet which remember contains the impressive Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
They are still only four races into a 12-race series but they are enjoying their sailing and off to a great start.
Finishing off the morning session were Luke Patience and Chris Grube. They got together at late notice before Rio 2016 when original crew Elliot Willis was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and finished with a respectable top ten. This time out they have had a full (+1 year) campaign and determined to crack the podium.
With a third and an eighth they are sitting fourth overall in the 470 – certainly a step in the right direction – although they did have a bit of a fright when a part of their mast failed and they had a quick dash to shore to fix it between races. The seasoned campaigners kept calm using all their experience.
The afternoon session saw Team GB flag bearer, Hannah Mills, take to the water for her first taste of Tokyo 2020 racing. While Hannah is looking to retain her gold, partner Eilidh is in her first Olympic Games.
A third and a fourth will certainly help settle the nerves – that’s if there were any – for the debutant. Although, the pair are world champions and been sailing together for a while now, sitting third after the first day we are sure will be pleasing.
The final fleet to hit the water at Tokyo 2020 were the Nacra 17 team of John Gimson and Anna Burnet. Again, a first Olympic appearance, but a team with a world title to their names and bags of experience.
John and Anna are fourth after the first three races with a score card of (7)-5-2.
Taking the 49erFX fleet by storm on the first day of racing, Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey consolidated their place at the top with three solid top five finishes. At the halfway mark the pair haven’t scored lower than sixth so are on course for something special.
They will get a break tomorrow while the Laser and Radial take their place for another mega day of Olympic racing. Dylan and Stu have to come out on their original rest day to make up for the races they are behind on the schedule.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Charlotte Dobson, 35, from Rhu, Scotland, said:
“These boats are just epic to sail in in those big waves and when you delete from your brain the fact that it’s the Olympics and these are big waves and capsizes are expensive, they’re just the most phenomenal boats to sail. I think what we did quite well today was just focussing on doing all of our little processes.
“We call Sas the air hostess as we’re going down the massive waves because she’s in charge of the kite control. So it was quite a good day on Tidey Airlines today.
“There were times where it was definitely not boring, but I think we managed to keep doing our basics pretty well. And on a day like that with the big sea state, having three good counters is a really good day so we’re pretty happy.
“We’re feeling good. I think what’s really played out over the last couple of days for us is we’ve put so much work in the previous years to this of being really pernickety with the processes. Sometimes at the time they felt a bit over the top and a bit noisy, but what we’re feeling now is that we are ourselves on the water. We’re sailing the same boat that we’ve sailed for the last four years, we’re the same team, the same processes so it does feel really comfy. We’re leaning and playing on that a little bit at the moment.
“Looking forward to a rest tomorrow and then we’ll be back at it the next day.”
Saskia Tidey, 28, from Portland, Dorset, said:
“Today was a big day for everyone on the racecourse. It feels really really long and the conditions here are really challenging, so every race you have to regroup, start from scratch and figure out what you’re about to get into. So it’s a good day, but right now we’re pretty knackered so we’ll need a few hours to settle into relaxing.”
Dylan Fletcher, 33, from Thames Ditton, Surrey, said:
“It started alright. We got out of the blocks, not quite as well as we wanted, but we battled for every point and I think still came away with a counter in the first and just built throughout the day with a bullet in the last.
“I think with the difficult build up and the uncertainty we’ve had over the last 18 months to be in this position, although it’s really early, it provides a good layer of confidence. But ultimately, we’ve still got eight races and the medal race to go so we’re just taking every race as it comes, trying to keep that solid base, solid comms and hopefully we’ll be where we want to be at the end.”
Stu Bithell, 34, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said:
“Conditions were really nice actually. It was fully powered up, probably 12 to 15 knots, bit of sea way which is perfect really for the 49er.
“There were snippets of the breeze picking up a bit more than that and it was starting to get a little bit fruity shall we say downwind. But yeah, it was really nice for us. I think the girls out there just now might have the short straw and might have more of a big day out. It’s the reverse of yesterday.
“I think there’s good breeze again tomorrow, in the mid-teens. Like Dyl’s saying we just go out there for some other solid results. It takes just a bit more attacking if we’re two races, throw the boat around a little bit and just see what happens.”
Giles Scott, 34, from Huntingdon, Cambs, said:
“Much better day. We had a bit of a change in weather and the conditions changed. Yesterday I came off the water frustrated with the way I had fallen out on a few of the big moments in the races which resulted in two nines which wasn’t ideal. Today fortunately was different so I will try and do more to repeat what I did today and forget about yesterday.
“I got is right today. I set the boat up well, I was quick and I put it in the race place. You know, all the simple stuff. It came together today.
“Every race is so important. These Olympics are historically won and lost on a matter of inches and you have to fight for every one of those. So tomorrow is no different and I will try and do the same, well I will try to at least.”
Emma Wilson, 22, from Christchurch, Dorset, said:
“It was really good today, I had two really good races but I was just a bit over the line in the last one. I don’t know, I’m happy.
“I’m just trying to focus on my thing and go around inflatable masts fast and that’s all I can do. just keep smiling.
“I was going quickly. I wasn’t really expecting to go that fast but I know me and the Danish girl have been training really hard in Weymouth with the group of boys at home and we have been fast there so it was a bit like Weymouth out here today.
“What did I do on my day off? Sleep. Eat. I watched a lot of the Olympics actually. Watching the British swimming and winning the gold medal. I mean I’m just a massive sports fan so it’s pretty cool. I think the Olympics just inspires anyone to do what they are doing, so I’m just going to keep trying to push hard and enjoy it.
“I like every condition but today was really, really nice. Perfect windsurfing conditions.”
Tom Squires, 27, from Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, said:
“It was good to have some breeze on the racecourse. When I launched, I had to launch really early and get my settings set. I had no time to prepare before this regatta in venue because we had no breeze so to get out there early was super important for me.
“Just a basic day and tried to be as simple as possible. The risk for me is always the start but luckily for me I found some space, and as soon as I find some space on the racecourse I can let rip.
“You get a bit nervous leaving the boat, approaching the start, the five-minute gun goes and then people come past you whooping and it settles the nerves actually because everyone is just having a good time. Even people that struggle in that breeze know its proper windsurfing and love it.
“I go into the next few days with exactly the same mindset. My coach stresses me out with a ‘let’s go get three firsts’ but it doesn’t really resonate with me. I’m more of a ‘don’t make an idiot of myself’ and I did that today so I feel good. That’s how I need to continue this regatta, every time I start thinking about the outcome I know it’s going to mess with me so I don’t.”
Hannah Mills, 33, from Cardiff, Wales, said:
“I was really nervous today; I think the first day is always the worst. You’re just waiting and waiting and waiting. We were the last to start out of all of the sailing and not on until 14:30.
“There was an anticipation and also we thought it might be 20-25 knots so we were amped up for some big breeze and then it wasn’t quite that much but the waves were still really big.
“For a first day it was just really phenomenal conditions and it’s what we remember of sailing in Japan.
“My favourite moment [at the opening ceremony] was definitely walking in with the flag with Mo. It was so nice to do it with someone else and someone so humble and an incredible athlete. And to be the first male and female flag bearers together was really really special. It was definitely not something I ever thought I’d get asked to do or the opportunity to do, so I just felt really proud and overwhelmed. It was really emotional but amazing.
“It really is [as exciting as ever] and I think the extra year wait has definitely added to that excitement. I think Tokyo 2020 have done a phenomenal job of making everything look amazing and it looks very Olympic, it feels very Olympic and all the volunteers are incredible. It’s just a really nice buzz actually which makes it feel special.
“The competition is tough. We knew it was going to be – I don’t think our fleet has ever had as much depth as it has at the moment which is great to see but obviously it just means we’re going to have to battle all the more hard to be up there on the podium, but we feel in a good place.
“It’s a long old week. We’re happy with our start and we’ll see how we progress.”
Eilidh McIntyre, 27, from Hayling Island, Hants, said:
It’s been amazing. I was quite nervous this morning but happy to have pulled it off and feel like I attacked the day like I really wanted to so pleased with that and pleased I took it on.
“You’ve got to enjoy it. We got some wicked waves and they were pretty fun and you’ve just got to take in those moments and enjoy it. I mean it’s racing, it’s what we love to do. So when you get conditions like that it’s just phenomenal.
Luke Patience, 34, from Rhu, Scotland, said:
“We had a fairly severe gear failure that we had to come and check wasn’t about to demast us, but we couldn’t fix it. We were wounded soldiers in the second race, the boat was bleeding and we had to go harder.
“It was mostly ups today though really. We’ve done six beats, we had one that was a bit below par, that we didn’t pull through boats on but goodness, it’s easy to get honed in on one beat that didn’t go as well but we had five good beats. Always good runs. I mean we were on fire today.
“We had to deal with a bit of adversity that others didn’t and that’s sport. Hopefully that’s the bad luck out of the way.
“This will be our last regatta in the 470. It’s a bit emotional, a forced end to the journey and end of an era. We enjoy the big stage, we enjoy the regattas that mean more. So having something like this as the last one together in the 470 is just another bit of fuel in our fire to really go hell for leather. So we’re mad for it and we’ll drop the bow and rip our way around that ocean for the next week.”
Chris Grube, 36, from Chester, Cheshire, said:
“Credit to our coach, we made some good gains as well. The boat feels really good, we’re going quick, we really feel confident, we believe in ourselves and we’re excited for what we can do.
“We’re quick, we know we’re quick against the Olympic fleet so that’s one thing we’re going to take confidence from moving forwards. We’re racing well, the communication in the boat is awesome, better than it’s ever been and we’re quite happy.”
John Gimson, 38, from Congleton, Cheshire, said:
“It was wet and wild and right on the limit of the boat so it was good fun. It’s nice to push again after such a long time. Being back racing in the big fleet it’s why we do it, and we love doing it so it was nice to start.
“The Italians are always strong in that condition. I was happy that our training group seemed to be at the front of the fleet a lot of the time, it made us confident in the group we chose to train with for the last year.
“It’s all about chipping away and getting counters. We’d never be ones to say we’ve got this in the bag, but we know we just need to do the details well and chip away.”
Anna Burnet, 28, from Shandon, Scotland, said:
“I was pretty nervous but just really excited to get started, be able to breathe and to get into the normal routine of the sailing and forget about everything else.
“Everyone had the extra year, it’s just about how you used it. I think we used it wisely but because there were no competitions there wasn’t really any opportunity to check in with the rest of the fleet. And for a number of reasons with Brexit and COVID we weren’t able to mix in with other teams, so we were locked in with our own training group of five; the Italians, the Austrians and the Argentinians and I think luckily our group seems to be going quick.”