Olympic Sailing: Brits strike gold on a grey day

British Blondes win Gold Medal
It was a magnificent performance on a miserable day. Rain and 18 knot easterlies blew off Qingdao harbour to turn everything greyer than city suits, but through it all shone the sparkling performance of the blonde bombshells from Britain, Yngling Team Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, and gold was theirs at the end of the rainbow.

They knew just how they had to achieve their objective and set about it in a workmanlike manner with four minutes to go to the start, trailing their Dutch rivals in the menacing manner of a match race. They harried and sent the Dutch girls outside the committee boat and then set themselves up for a clear mid-line start.

The Dutch came in higher up the line and the drag race began. Mandy Mulder was the first to blink, and tacked away. Ayton covered and a long port tack ensued. After six minutes, the virtual graphics showed the Dutch were a metre ahead, but Ayton was sailing slightly higher by managing the waves better and therefore having a slight speed edge. When the Dutch tacked, Ayton was able to tack on their bow. From there on the tacks were fierce and frequent and although the British boat was ahead, Sally Barkow of the USA was coming into the picture.

It was Barkow, in an unintentional 'hands across the sea' effort that put the seal on the British girls’ efforts. As Ayton rounded the windward mark, Barkow came in to leeward of Mulder and as she tried to squeeze up and shoot the mark, effectively slowed Mulder. While Mulder did get round cleanly, a bigger gap had opened between her and Ayton. Barkow didn’t make it, fouled the mark and Mulder, re-rounded and did a 720 degree penalty turn before resuming the chase of the Greek boat in her bronze medal race.

Briefly the German trio led by Ulli Schumann did lead the race but by the windward mark the second time the British team was right on the German’s stern and Schumann was no match for Ayton downwind. The delight was evident on the British girls faces as they hauled a large Union flag out of the spinnaker locker and held it aloft for the cameras. Job done.

Yngling - Women - Overall Results
POSCountrySkipper/Crew
12345678Medal RaceTotalNet
1GBRSarah Ayton234-7422523124
Sarah Webb
Pippa Wilson
2NEDMandy Mulder912-13154184431
Annemieke Bes
Merel Witteveen
3GRESofia Bekatorou1012932-163366448
Sofia PapadopoulouOCS
Virginia Kravarioti
4GERUlrike Schuemann877111135-1346956
Ute Hoepfner
Julia Bleck
5FRAAnne Le Helley4-15114510102107156
Catherine Lepesant
Julie Gerecht
6RUSEkaterina Skudina381210-15166107156
Diana Krutskikh
Natalia Ivanova
7USASally Barkow-14285611110187561
Carolyn Howe
Deborah Capozzi
8CHNXiaqun Song75-16413684167963
Yanli YuDSQ
Xiaoni Li
9NORSiren Sundby12-13513131211128269
Lise Birgitte Fredriksen
Alexandra Koefoed
10AUSKrystal Weir1116-127798228371
Karyn GojnichDSQ
Angela Farrell
11FINSilja Lehtinen663810-1615127660
Maria KlemetzOCS
Livia Varesmaa
12RSADominique Provoyeur-13101121281377663
Kim Rew
Penny Alison
13CANJennifer Provan5410-1591211158166
Martha Henderson
Katie Abbott
14ESPMonica Azon119-1461441498167
Sandra Azon
Graciela Pisonero
15ITAChiara Calligaris-1514139897148974
Francesca Scognamillo
Giulia Pignolo