London Olympics 2012 – The Finn Medal race: Here is what they said

London 2012 - Olympic Games - DAY 8 - Ben Ainslie and his Finn gold medal
Carlo Borlenghi/FIV - copyright
The most watched race of Olympic sailing history was sailed on the Nothe course in today’s Finn race. Bob Fisher and Mark Chisnell have commented on the race.

We bring you the detailed comments from the four sailors who were key players as history was made.'

Dan Slater (NZL)

How much of an influence do you think you had on the outcome?
‘Quite a bit in the end. I didn't meant to get involved. It was one of those things that... PJ (Postama) is a great friend and I didn't know the exact points.

‘We were coming down the run there and all I wanted to do was to protect the inside. He had a go and I said to him before he did it, don't do it. I am going to protect the inside. Just don't do it. You have got a medal and he did it and then he said himself that he mucked it up himself.

‘He dropped his mainsheet, boom; hit the back of my boat. The jury and everyone was there to see and probably 100 photo shots and everything else.

‘He had to do his penalty so I am sorry for him but that's yacht racing and it was a really big risk he took for not a lot of gain.

‘He had a silver medal sewn up at that point. I didn't want to get involved because they are all good friends but unfortunately I have still got to sail my race. I wasn't going to wave him through.'

Ben’s a big friend yes?
‘Yes. All the guys ...we have been sailing, this group in the medal race today we have all been sailing for eight years against each other. We have grown really good friends but Ben and I went to youth worlds against each other. We have been friends since we were 15 years old.

‘What an amazing effort. Four gold medals and silver. You have say he is the greatest sailor in the world without a shadow of a doubt.

‘This is the toughest sailing you can do and he has just turned on every time. He is an amazing athlete and it will be a long time, it has taken him until now to beat Paul Elvstrom’s record.

‘Robert Scheidt could have done it today as well, who is also a fantastic athlete, but what Ben has done goes down in the history books as probably the greatest of all time in sailing, that's for sure.’

What are his greatest strengths?
‘He is just cool. He just keeps a cool head under pressure. You didn't see him blow up today.

‘He didn't get a great start. He was stuck in the middle of the course. He just bought his time; made sure he stayed with Jonas and didn't let him get out of his sight.

‘Its the minimal risk for maximum gain and he does it every time. He is just really good at it.'

Dan Slater (NZL) competing today, 29.07.12, in the Men’s One Person Dinghy - heavy (Finn) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

‘Is the sport really going to miss him?
‘He is not gone. He goes to the America’s Cup and I am sure there will be a British challenge at some stage and other things but Olympic sport will be miss him but it is time to move on. He has been fantastic for British sailing.

'It’s not just him. It’s Iain Percy and those guys. This is an end of an era for a lot of Olympic sailors today and a lot of sailors that have come through altogether at the same time and time to move on for another generation.

Are you sticking around?
‘No I am done. I am 36 and I am not going to be 40 at the next Olympics. That's a young man’s game. Time to move on.’

Did you hear the crowd shouting Kiwi, Kiwi?
‘No to be honest you couldn’t hear it at all. The crowd was really amazing today. Sailing out there with all those sailors, all those people out there, the boats with the horns.

‘It was like going out to the start of the America’s Cup and when it was in New Zealand it was just fantastic and you only have to congratulate the public for getting in behind the Olympics down here because of a lot of the people down here really didn't have too much to do with sailing and now they are experts. They have done a fantastic job and the facilities are going to stay here forever.'

Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN)

‘Tough race. I did what I wanted to do. I knew he was going to come from me in the start. I caught him around the committee boat and put myself in a pretty good spot. I bailed when I wanted to bail.

‘Got into a good position in the starting line. I got a great start and I squeezed him off. Pushed him to the right. The left has been a stand- out here pretty much all week and in all the training we done here for the last two months. I wanted to send him right and keep going to the left. Unfortunately the right came in and that's sailing. It wasn't great.

‘Once I was behind it was very hard to catch back up. I took some chances trying to get by him and almost succeeded on the last beat. It wasn't to be. We both of us got quite lucky. PJ had the gold 50 metres before the bottom mark. I think looking back Ben might have gone a bit too far in the match racing because we didn't get to race our race.

'That's the way it is. Luckily for Ben PJ got a penalty flag and he ended up winning the Gold.'

Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN) who won the Silver Medal, Ben Ainslie (GBR) the Gold and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) who won the Bronze Medal today, 05.08.12, in the Medal Race Men’s One Person Dinghy - heavy (Finn) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Ben Ainslie (GBR)

Are they a few tears you are wiping away there?
‘Yes, it was quite emotional with my sister and her kids. They have been fantastic.'

How does it feel to be the world’s best?
'I can’t really believe it to be honest. You know I have never sailed in such a nerve wracking race in my life on that course. It was so hard.'

You do like living on the edge though?
‘Yes it is interesting that way. I can tell you it wasn't on purpose this week. Jonas in particular sailed one of the best series I had ever seen and kudos by him and also PJ Postma.’

'‘Yes it was close. That was the nature of the conditions. All I could do is try and stay ahead of Jonas and it was up to PJ if he could get through to the gold or not because the conditions were so variable it was impossible to keep a tab on two guys at once.'

‘Coming down to the final mark PJ sort of gets a little bit of desperation, tried to get round the New Zealand sailor and he wasn't in a very good position.’

Did you have some kind of plan going on? How close to that to what happened?
‘I had done a bit of tuning up before the race so I was reasonably confident of the right hand side. At the start I was trying to get into Jonas but he just did a good job at sailing round and round the committee boat so that was a bit boring but a good tactic and I got out to the right hand side and it worked ... just. It’s a fine line in any sport so sailing in those conditions it could have gone either way but it went my way and I made it work.'

Were you aware of the Star result early on and if so was that unsettling?
‘I was really upset because I know how much work those guys had put in to it, how much they deserved it. I watched as much as I could of that race but I was preparing myself.'

‘I spoke to my coach and we were both a bit upset about that but then we said we have just got to focus on this race and do the best I can. It was the most nerve wracking experience of my life In terms of the opportunity to race in front of a home crowd like that for an Olympic gold medal.'

‘We had never had that before in the Olympics and to have that crowd there willing you on certainly made a difference.'

Was it possible for you to ignore all the press and you are going to get gold and be the greatest sailor in history?
‘It was hard because the expectations going in was so high and no matter how many times I had said to them that was not necessarily the case and then I started off on the back foot and then of course people were upset that I wasn't winning. That is hard as a competitor but that is the nature of the position I was in and I just had to fight back in the medal race.'

Do you have a lot of support?
'I have been through a lot of scrapes in my career and come through most of them and thankfully I came through most of them. It has been really hard the last 18 months obviously I had issues over the winter with my back and I had to have some surgery on that. Slowly things start falling apart as you get older. And it is really tough. You can have seen those races out there especially downwind. You are pushing yourself to the limit. Your body doesn’t always like it and thankfully it got through this week. I have got some fantastic physio support within our team and they really did a great job to keep me patched up and get through the week.'

Ben Ainslie (GBR), who won the Gold Medal today, 05.08.12, in the Medal Race Men’s One Person Dinghy - heavy (Finn) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Where do you go from here?
‘I don't really have that much time. I am off to San Francisco with the America’s Cup with this British new team BA World Series so that is another really exciting thing. It is going to take me a while to get over this for sure.'

And is this the last Olympics for you?
‘You never say never do you, but it will be impossible to experience anything better than this so I doubt it, not in a Finn.'

What about Rita? (his Finn)
‘Rita, well maybe Rita has to be scuttled or maybe she has to go back to the museum. I don't know.'

What do you think about British sailing as a whole? Your efforts and everyone else’s efforts?
‘It has been a phenomenal team effort. The Star guys so close to gold and the rest of the team is still to come and they are all fighting their hearts out to do the best job they can and it has been great.'

‘It has been an honour to be a part of this Olympic team over the years. This one in particular has been our best team and I hope that those still racing, we are going to sit around; we are not going to disappear. We are going to stay around and support those guys and hopefully they can bring home a few more medals.'

Are there more Ben Ainslie’s out there?
‘Well when I started sailing in Cornwall as an eight year old in my duffel coat and wellies I never imagined I would be standing here 28 years later.'

'So to any kids - you never quite know what is going to happen and that's life.'

On getting angry Ainslie said
‘I was angry at the mark rounding situation and after six races I was on the back foot and something had to change so thankfully it did. I clawed those points back. Today was a strategy race. It was light, it was fickle. It was about making the right tactical decisions.'

‘This evening I will catch up with my family and friends. There are so many people here who have supported all of us and so it would be great to say thanks.’

Mark Chisnell story
Bob Fisher story

Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) competing today, 02.08.12, in the Men’s One Person Dinghy - heavy (Finn) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

1GBRBen Ainslie 226(yes12)yes4313611858.046.0
2DENJonas Hogh-Christensen 112712(yes8)yes4532054.046.0
3FRAJonathan Lobert 9442675(yes10)yes37259.049.0
4NEDPieter-Jan Postma 51034(yes20)yes1322121072.052.0
5CROIvan Kljakovic Gaspic 337956374(yes10)yes865.055.0
6SLOVasilij Zbogar 865385(yes9)yes6261472.063.0
7NZLDan Slater 71116(yes17)yes116158144100.083.0
8ESPRafa Trujillo Villar 121212(yes23)yes741511346109.086.0
9SWEDaniel Birgmark (yes17)yes514199101210812107.090.0
10FINTapio Nirkko 1113853124515(yes17)yes16109.092.0
11ESTDeniss Karpak (yes14)yes91111111713111199.085.0
12USAZach Railey 101513172812812(yes19)yes116.097.0
13AUSBrendan Casey (yes25)yesDNF716DPI14101719995131.0106.0
14GREIoannis Mitakis 421108(yes25)yesOCS10201979133.0108.0
15CANGregory Douglas 16(yes23)yes1613121813172012160.0137.0
16POLPiotr Kula (yes25)yesDSQ161716132025OCS111416173.0148.0
17RUSEduard Skornyakov 138(yes22)yes15192216162222175.0153.0
18TURAlican Kaynar 1814181825DNE1411(yes22)yes1620176.0154.0
19UKROlexsiy Borysov 21RDG18.6RDG19191519(yes23)yes141718183.6160.6
20BRAJorge João Zarif 1520152016(yes24)yes14211921185.0161.0
21CZEMichael Maier 1918211018(yes23)yes18202315185.0162.0
22ITAFilippo Baldassari 2022(yes24)yes21142117181813188.0164.0
23AUTFlorian Raudaschl 6192324(yes25)yesOCS1521242423204.0179.0
24CHNLei Gong (yes25)yesOCS17202225OCS1622232124215.0190.0