Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- A 21 years old newcomer to the Finn, argentinian Facundo Olezza, sailed and won in style race one of the Rio 2016 Olympics, that means also race one of his still undisclosed olympic career. Are you kidding me? No, that’s true and this is the story of the day at Marina da Gloria, where Facundo led the pack and went for a surprising first. Not bad for a young gaucho that started to sail only 18 months ago at Luca Devoti’s Dinghy Academy in Valencia after a fast Optimist, 420 and 49er sailing startup.
Winning the first race at the Olympics as a rookie is something that Facundo will remember for years, getting the best from his new experience. Giles Scott, Jonathan Lobert and Jonas behind, all the other guys behind. Tomorrow is another day and we will see… but Olezza backed up the first in race 1 with a consistent ninth in race 2 to stay in a strong third overall. “As soon as I crossed the finish, there was no celebration, only focus on the next race. And tonight there will be nothing special. I am just taking it day by day, race by race.”, was the commentary of Olezza.
What’s more on the Finn Pao de Azucar course? Luca Devoti reports from the Guanabara Bay:
“First day of racing, we finally started. All coaches moored behind two black marks some eighty meters leeward of the starting line. Weather forecast expecting a left shift and increase, and so a lot of hot shots there, but instead the wind went 30 degrees right in the first race. My young argentinian was there and capitalized, though with three windward/leeward and with estonian Karpak being the early leader he had to sail really well to bring home one really remarcable victory. At twenty one and after only 18 months he has done something he will never forget: he has won the first race at the Olympics.
Vasilij Zbogar sailed consistently, no mistakes and had a third and won the second one, also because the hungarian Szombor Berecz trashed the fleet finding out, crossing the finish line, that he started early and so did Foglia, that finished third. Before the start I warned my sailors as two couple of female judges showed up and I had never seen them before at a Finn regatta. None of my boys got flagged, but the active judges inserted one unexpected factor in the olympic tale, as they flagged quite a lot all they could, and so Giles Scott has one and so Jonas Hoegh Christiansen. The poor greek had two and had to go home, and several more incurred in the flagging. I am not suggesting that they did anything wrong, in general the Finn was used to a more relaxed approach and so, with more light days to come, the second half of the week all is getting even more unpredictable as a flag can cost the medal to Gilles or to Jonas.
Tomorrow strong winds are expected and with free pumping sailors will be able to fight without having to fear the penalty, but after the next two day it should be light again. Here really I think for the future we should think through, if we want to make our sport more understandable to the pubblic, the impact of judging should diminish, though today the rules are there and if endorsed severely all can happen. It was a really tough day mentally for all, more for some than others as light shifty winds made racing on three laps a real test of mental strenght. Tomorrow will be about horse power and technic. All will be possible, even those who are behind today still have a chance, but no one can make many more mistakes”. (Luca Devoti)
World Sailing release about the other classes:
Men’s Windsurfer – RS:X
Nick Dempsey (GBR) continues to lead the Men’s Windsurfer competition after another good day on the water, marred only by a 14th place in Race 6. Currently the London 2012 silver medallist leads by a point from the reigning Olympic Champion, Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED), who has the added benefit of a fifth place as his discard, to Dempsey’s 14th. That could be a critical difference later on in the regatta.
“Good day today, with a four and two firsts,” said van Rijsselberghe. “I’ve been lucky! Sometimes lucky and sometimes good. Everything is going well, we have done six races so we are not at the halfway point yet. But I’m feeling good, I’m happy about today and just need to try to keep going like this.” With the wind dropping throughout the afternoon, it was physical day of pumping the sail to keep the board moving. “The last race was almost unraceable. But it is what it is.”
The reigning World Champion Piotr Myszka (POL) moves up third place ahead of Byron Kokkalanis (GRE).
Women’s Windsurfer – RS:X
It was Flavia Tartaglini’s (ITA) turn to rip up the race course in the Women’s Windsurfer on day two of competition, the Italian running away with a 1,1,4 scoreline and deposing yesterday’s winner, Charline Picon (FRA), from the top of the leaderboard. The French sailor still had a very respectable day in difficult conditions to sit just a point behind the leader.
Tartaglini commented, “I was not expecting these good results, to tell you the truth. I was feeling ready, but in others regattas I have also felt ready and then things have not gone so well. I’m trying to go day by day and race by race. We still have more than the half of the races to finish the Olympics, but at least this evening I’m going back home very happy.”
As to her growing rivalry with the French sailor, Tartaglini observed, “Charline was leading yesterday and today she was behind me in all three races. But that means just that today I have had a good day. She’s one of the strong contenders, so maybe I’m also one of them. Today was my best day, I hope I will continue in this way. I have the speed and I have the training, and we are all there in the fight.”
Stefania Elfutina (RUS) sits just five points back in third overall, and is having the regatta of her young life. “I’m young, yes, I’m 19 years old,” said the Russian. “But I think that’s not a problem to be able to fight for the medals together with the most experienced women. Nobody expects anything from me, so I just do what I love, and sometimes I can do it well and be in the fight.”
Maybe the challenging nature of the Rio race courses are playing to Elfutina’s strengths. “Today the racing conditions were very complicated, with the currents and the wind, but it was hard for everybody. In the last race the wind dropped and we had to pump a lot. I feel tired, that’s for sure. We had three hard races today, so it’s nice to have a rest day tomorrow to charge some new energy.”
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Last night Lijia Xu (CHN) was disqualified from Race 2 after a successful protest by Paige Railey (USA). But the reigning Olympic Champion bounced back even stronger on day two of competition, scoring 3,1 to retake the overall lead. The Chinese sailor is currently able to discard her disqualification from her scores, but it still means she has to be careful for the rest of the competition. “I was very sad last night,” said Xu. “But when I saw the TV footage I accepted that I could have taken my penalty turn sooner. Today though I am very happy with how things have gone. With injuries I have not spent as much time sailing as I would have liked, so now I am so happy to be back together, me and my boat.”
Annalise Murphy (IRL) was by far the strongest sailor in strong winds four years ago at London 2012, but her Achilles’ heel was her light airs performance. Not any more if the Irish sailor’s results are anything to go by. Scores of 4,7 combined with her victory in the opening race yesterday put Murphy in second overall, just five points behind Xu. Even more consistent than the two sailors ahead of her, however, is Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), who is the only sailor to have kept all of her scores inside the top 10. That level of consistency could play into the Danish sailor’s hands further down the track. Rindom sits just a point behind Murphy and just a point in front of Marit Bouwmeester (NED), the London 2012 silver medallist who is having a quiet but steady regatta.
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Victory for Julio Alsogaray (ARG) in Race 4 has lifted the Argentinean to the top of the leaderboard in the Laser, displacing Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) who now sits in second overall. Sam Meech (NZL) had a very solid day with scores of 5,6 to rise to third overall, just a point behind the Croatian. Best performer of Day 2, however, was Juan Ignacio Maegli (GUA), whose scores of 3,7 lift the Guatemalan to sixth overall.
Robert Scheidt (BRA) is giving his Brazilian fans something to worry about with inconsistent scores of 27,4 to put the five-time Olympic medallist in eighth overall, yet the 43-year-old veteran seems unperturbed and continues to believe he can get on to the podium. With just four of the ten races completed before the Medal Race, there’s little reason to doubt his optimism. “The first day’s racing was much harder today,” said Scheidt. “Today was more straightforward. Still tricky, but I think what we have seen over the first two days is very typical for Rio.”