Two Olympic medals is a nice result for any sailmaker. And yet, it was so close of getting even better…
In the Finn Medal Race at the last gate mark and only 50 m before the finish, the Dutch Peter-Jan Postma was 2nd and going strongly for gold when his boom hit the video camera pod at the stern of of the NZL boat. He did a penalty turn and lost not only the gold but a medal altogether. He finished 5th, 3 points from Bronze.
Ironically, he didn’t even have to do his 360… In the Medal Race, there is on-water umpiring, and you cannot protest after the finish. So no matter how much the NZL Dan Slater shouted at him, he didn’t have to do a penalty unless the Jury showed him the yellow flag. And they didn’t. But PJ is a gentleman, and the issue will certainly give him new incentive towards a re-match in Rio. Dan Slater commented: “I didn’t luff him at all, I went up, but I didn’t do a hard luff at all. His boom hit the back of my camera mount. He did a penalty turn. He is a very, very good friend, and I am sorry for him.”
In the Finn Medal Race, 4 out of 10 boats sailed with WB-Sails. And we feel that we were unlucky with the weather conditions we got for Weymouth. It was mostly medium airs, especially for the beginning of the series, when Jonas Christensen from Denmark dominated. Our gear was targeted towards very light airs, and then heavy airs, as this was what Weymouth was bidding. This showed in the only heavy air race (5th race), where Tapio Nirkko was leading until he capsized, with Jon Lobert and Daniel Birgmark right behind. Clearly our sails were the fastest in more than 15 kn of wind.
Interestingly, the targeting of your gear for different winds goes as mentioned above. You can be fast in very light airs and in heavy airs, but then you will suffer in the medium. The reason for this is that light airs and heavy airs both benefit from “soft leech”, more easily twisting sails. In the medium you want a closed leech, otherwise you will feel underpowered and cannot point.
At the Olympic level, the differences are naturally very subtle, but we have learned how to control this aspect of performance very well.