What a difference a day makes. If yesterday was all about performing in glamour conditions, today was about hanging on in the tricky, light winds wisping through Sagami Bay.
It was hot, humid and cloudy, with the wind hovering around 6-8 knots. Not classic sailing conditions, but it’s the Olympics and the show must go on.
Sailing is a sport of ever-changing conditions and you don’t always get what you want.
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre had supreme focus in the women’s 470 and are showing their all-around skillset. Two third places has them sitting in second overall heading into their rest day – just four points off the top Polish team.
Luke Patience and Chris Grube are keeping things ticking over nicely. They are the first to admit the lead up preparation hasn’t been showing in the regatta results – but as Luke says – “they weren’t doing it to win in the spring, they are doing it to win an Olympics”.
They also sit second overall with another two top ten races for the day.
“Things get tight when it’s light” – that’s what Dylan Fletcher says of the 49er fleet. And he is right. Dylan and Stu Bithell are still top of the fleet, but it’s starting to bunch up.
The top four are separated by just five points after the pair came ashore with a second, a third and a 16th place finish.
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey have excelled in the strong winds, but today presented more of a challenge. Three mid-teen results has them in fourth overall but they are more than in with a shout of a podium with one more day of fleet racing to go.
The Laser Radial race on Sunday will feature Ali Young who held on to a top ten spot despite two mid-fleet finishes to her fleet racing.
Unfortunately it was heartbreak for Elliot Hanson who had given himself a real shot with a second place in the first Laser race of the day. However, a disqualification in the final race meant he had dropped out of the top ten finishing his Olympic debut in 12th overall.
Tomorrow the excitement builds to see what colour medal windsurfer Emma Wilson can bring home after guaranteeing herself a podium spot yesterday.
The race begins at 6.33am BST.
Tom Squires will also be in medal race action – at 7.33am BST – hoping to sneak a place on to the Olympic podium.
Elsewhere, the 470s take a break and the Finns and Nacra 17 join the 49er and 49erFXs on the water.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Dylan Fletcher, 33, from Thames Ditton, Surrey, said:
“I think the 49er class is always super tight when it becomes a bit lighter. It becomes about a clear lane and a bit of management. We said it was going to be a bit higher scoring and I definitely think we saw. Unfortunately we picked up a big one in the second race which we probably didn’t need.
“We were a bit sticky off the line and I didn’t make the best decision on the first beat. We clawed our way back in to nicely, just unfortunate we picked the wrong side of the run on the final downwind.
“I find it quite a difficult venue to see the breeze and I just got that wrong. It was about eight places I think we lost down that run.
“I don’t think we had a good one at all last Games. I think the highest we place we got to was fourth and after day two we were 14th so it’s quite different to be in with the hunt. If we had been told at the start of the week we would have been in this position going into the last day of fleet racing we would have been super happy.
“I’m really proud of how we have been sailing. I think its nice racing out there. Pete and Blair, we’ve had some tight crosses, they’ve had some tight crosses with us and there’s a lot of respect and it feels good fun in that sort of racing.”
Stu Bithell, 34, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said:
“Lighter winds today with three races. Naturally it becomes more higher scoring in the 49er for some reason. We had two good ones and a terrible one to be honest but we are still in the mix for the overall. Happy and pushing forwards.
“We’ve got one more fleet racing day left and we need to get out and have three solid results and be in the mix going into the medal race. We would be so happy with that.
“I don’t think it’s going to be like some of the other classes where you are like 20 points clear of fourth. It’s unlikely. We have essentially five races left. Three and a double pointer, so a lot of racing still to go and we are just focussed on the job in hand.
“The mood is good. It was a bit testing today for sure but we’re happy with how we are working together and bouncing back from harder races and that is the important thing really.
“It’s only going to get harder and hopefully our competitors feel the heat and me and Dylan stay strong. We’re prepared.”
Hannah Mills, 33, from Cardiff, Wales, said:
“The wind was really light and it was really hard to see, so it just made managing and making decisions really difficult. We had some good battles with the Japanese crew today which was great and I think we both came away with some good results so yeah just really happy to get through the day.
“I was completely overwhelmed, just unbelievably proud to have been given that honour and to have been chosen from all the incredible athletes in Team GB [to carry the flag], so yeah I couldn’t quite believe they had picked me, so I was just really, really proud.
“We talked a lot this morning about what mentality we needed for today and we executed exactly what we wanted to in terms of getting clean starts off the line on the front row and from there we just sailed as best we could in very tricky positions and we’re so relieved to come in with two good results.
“It honestly does feel like you’re a millisecond away from suddenly ten boats cross you and you’re back in the pack street fighting. To be honest, even at the front of the fleet we felt like that a bit, especially on the downwards the breeze would fill in a little bit from behind and everything would close up and the pressure would come back on, so yeah you could never, never relax today.
“Sailing is just the most complex sport and I think that what’s important is being able to make mistakes but being able to reset as quickly as you possibly can and get the next thing right – particularly in this environment at the Games, so turning a tenth into an eighth or an eighth into a sixth is so important right now.
“We don’t tend to put too much emphasis on the forecast, because it’s likely to change and so we just roll with what we get out there when we get out there.”
Eilidh McIntyre, 27, from Hayling Island, Hants, said:
“We’re had really good races with really good starts, really stressful races – it was a difficult day.
“Ultimately we’re here to win. We really want to battle it out and be there at the end to see what we can do. Right now we’re in the hunt and hopefully we stay there.
“I one hundred per cent preferred yesterday’s conditions. Today was really stressful. It feels less in your control – it could go either way up some of those beats and the wind was really hard to see today, so we’re just guessing. At least yesterday you could try and get a bit of physicality into the boat and use some of your energy to get the boat moving a bit faster.
“One of the big things in sailing is being able to get your mentality right each day and to flip between them. It’s so easy to allow the momentum to get away from you if you don’t get your head in the right space. We’ve spent a lot of time this morning going over how we wanted to attack the day and, you know, I’m just really pleased we got ourselves there and we made it happen.”
Luke Patience, 34, from Rhu, Scotland, said:
“We were never doing this to win the Worlds in the Spring, we’re doing it to try and win the Olympic Games. We designed a programme that was to be ready for this regatta so I’m not surprised we’re doing well.
“Some people prefer to always be there, be there, be there but we’ve designed a programme that was always going to be ready for when it mattered. So we got here with more fight, more passion and more prepared with the boat more ready, so we’re not surprised to be in this position but I appreciate that it sometimes can look a bit rocky maybe 18 months out.
“There have been a few laughs around the racecourse. We always really enjoy racing guys like the Aussies and the Kiwis; we’ve had a good relationship with them for last 15 years.
“You’d be surprised but there’s often the odd little bit of banter type moment round the racecourse and a bit of gentlemen’s code at times as well, so yeah it is enjoyable and I think that we’re pleased to still be in this position before the lay day.
“We can kind of reflect on what we do to stay and maintain and this flow with this sort of energy and yeah, bring on race day four.”
Chris Grube, 36, from Chester, Cheshire, said:
“Of course, you’ve got your best equipment [out here]. It’s been quite tricky this year because we sent our boats out really early thinking that we’re going to have the opportunity to use it out here, but it turns out that we had a World Championships with a really old boat, and the Europeans with a really old boat, and we come here and we’ve finally got a new boat and we’ve found some wheels.
“So it’s not really surprising that we’re doing a bit better, well a lot better. It feels like we’ve got a lot of fight between the two of us and we’re fighting for every single place on the racecourse. We’re super energetic and we feel like we are ready for this and yeah, we’re actually enjoying it a lot.”
Ali Young, 34, from Bewdley, Worcestershire, said:
“Change of conditions today, some light airs, patchy pressure, very tight racing in a tense fleet.
“In the first race I executed my start well and gave myself a chance, second race didn’t start so well and didn’t find the avenues back through.
“It’s a tough, tight fleet and the girls at the front thoroughly deserve to be there, I’ve just not been good enough, but there’s still a medal race to take on.”
Elliot Hanson, 27, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, said:
“I’m gutted – I got two yellow flags supposedly body pumping upwind which I don’t agree with.
“After a second in the first race of the day, and a decent position in the second one, if I hadn’t have been penalised I would have been in a good place for the medal race. I might even have been in with a shot at a medal, which after the week I’ve had would have been incredible. It’s been one of those weeks.”