The British Sonar team is refusing to give up on their Rio medal dream after a race disqualification dented their podium hopes yesterday.
After the previous day’s three race win heroics propelled them towards the upper echelons of the Sonar leaderboard, provisional fifth and sixth place finishes on the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) course then moved them into the medal spots.
But John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas quickly saw their hope turn to despair, when after learning there were two protests against them, from the USA and the Equipment Inspection Committee, in the first race of the day, they were ultimately disqualified from that race having a big impact on the overall positions.
The Brits were left on 43 points, in eighth place overall – eight points behind Canada’s Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes who currently occupy the final podium spot.
Stodel insists now they have to just try to replicate that form in the final three races today and Saturday and see where it leaves them.
She said: ‘All we can do is go and pull another day like yesterday and climb back up the leaderboard as much as we can and salvage the rest of the regatta.
‘It wasn’t the best outcome to our day unfortunately, adding a DSQ to our series score, which is going to hurt. It could have gone either way in the room but unfortunately it didn’t go in our favour. I don’t mind accepting when we’re wrong, but this one is a little hard to swallow as we don’t believe we are.’
The infringement that led to their disqualification occurred as they completed penalty turns for impeding the German boat at the first windward mark of what was race seven in the overall series.
In the other protest from that race, the jury also awarded a discretionary penalty of 20% of the number of boats in the fleet (14) against the Brits after they were found to have been in breach of the official Equipment Regulations regarding the placement of the boat hatch cover during racing.
The Regulations state that the mandatory hatch cover shall be in place while sailing. The International Jury found that the hatch cover had been in place at the start of race seven but it was not at the end if the race. The jury ruled it had not been removed intentionally and did not provide a competitive advantage, but a penalty, reduced from 50% to 20%, was imposed on safety grounds.
It was a frustrating end to what had been a tough but otherwise reasonably satisfying day on the water, as skipper Robertson described after racing.
‘It was tough, a Southwesterly coming out the features of Rio city, it was pretty shifty, very puffy and anywhere between 9-15 knots,’ he said. ‘You just had to stay in the pressure and I think we did a pretty stellar job of keeping in the fight.
‘Mentally you have just got to keep plugging away, keep your mind open and keep looking because you will see it and be able to get something from it, keep punching and never give up. We have just got to maintain our solid team ethic.’
Two races per class were scheduled to get under way from 5pm this evening, before one final showdown of the scheduled 11-race series tomorrow, 17 September, after which the medals will be awarded.
Going into today’s races defending 2.4mR champion Helena Lucas was still firmly in contention for gold with just a point separating her and Matthew Bugg (AUS), who sits at the top of the standings, after she scored 1, 4 2 yesterday. Athens 2004 gold and Beijing 2008 silver medallist, Damien Seguin, is in third overall six points behind Lucas.
Meanwhile Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell currently sit in bronze medal position in the SKUD18.
Breaking news: Australia’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have extended their overall lead to 15 points. However with only six points covering second to fourth the London 2012 bronze medal winning Brits are still in contention for silver or bronze.
Channel 4 is the exclusive UK Paralympic Broadcaster. However, like London 2012, there is no live TV feed available from sailing and eight others of the 22 Paralympic sports – action will be broadcast as discretionary highlights only.
This is a decision from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the host broadcaster and Channel 4 can’t show what isn’t provided to them. Unfortunately this is not a decision the RYA is able to influence.