Turkey’s Alican Kaynar enjoyed a dream start to Tokyo 2020, the Turkish sailor, SSL Team Turkey Captain, winning both races in the Finn on the first day of their competition. “I think the two races were quite difficult, different from each other,” said Kaynar. “The first race was more to focus on the shifts and to see the wind and the second race was about good downwind speed, so I had a good time.”
One of the favourites for gold, Zsombor Berecz, also SSL Team Captain of Hungay, sailed an excellent couple of races, the Hungarian coming second in both behind Kaynar. The youngest sailor in the fleet, Spain’s 23-year-old Joan Cardona, was leading the second race in the early stages before falling to third, to go along with his third place in race one, putting the Spaniard in third overall.
“One year ago maybe I wasn’t even thinking I could make it to the Olympic Games,” explained Cardona, who is also the 2020 eSailing World Champion. “I made a big improvement in the last year. I’m happy that I’m sitting in third, but still a long way to go.”
The 23-year-old is surrounded by far more experienced competitors. “I obviously have a lot of respect for them, but I want to beat them. I will give my best and try to beat them with a lot of respect, because I know they are good sailors.”
Among those good sailors is Giles Scott (GBR) who struggled across both finish lines in ninth place, putting the defending Olympic Champion in ninth overall.
The bad news for Pavlos Kontides fans is that the Cypriot superstar finished 20th in the middle of today’s three Laser races. The good news for Kontides fans was that he won the first race and the last race of the afternoon.
This has launched the double World Champion into first place with a nine-point cushion on second place, which is occupied by Matt Wearn who has bounced back from a terrible start to the regatta with an incredible afternoon of consistency – 4,2,2 were the Australian’s scores.
Six points further back in third place is the oldest man in the fleet, Brazil’s five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt, SSL Team Brazil Captain. No matter how many medals he’s won in the past, 48-year-olds aren’t meant to be able to beat 20-something athletes at the peak of fitness, but Scheidt is no ordinary 48-year-old.
The first race eventually got away after 16:00 JST in a 10-12 knot breeze which kept the teams on their toes throughout. Eventually, a pattern emerged and it was Ireland’s Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove that came to the fore, hounded by Dylan Fletcher & Stu Bithell (GBR). The young Irish crew misjudged the finish line opening the door for Great Britain to steal the win, but in a photo finish, it was the Irish who took the gun.
“We came here with not too many expectations,” said Dickson. “This is our first Olympics. So we didn’t have any real results or goals coming into this – just to go and deal with what we have on the water, the conditions and do our best. We have 11 races to go, anything can change. You’ve just got to be ready for everything.”
Rio 2016 bronze medallists Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel took third. Reigning Olympic Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL), SSL Ranking leaders, started poorly and recovered slightly to 12th place.
The Nacra 17, Men’s 470 and Women’s 470 will sail their first races. The 49er, 49erFX and the Finn continue their schedule while the Men’s and Women’s RS:X return to the water. The Laser and Laser Radial fleets will enjoy a day of rest before competition resume on 28 July.
Full results: https://tokyo2020.sailing.org/results-centre/