Spain wins dramatic Olympic sailing gold
Sun, 12 Aug 2012 5:40a.m.
By Bernie Wilson
Spain's sailors won the Olympic gold medal in women's match racing, thanks in part to a boat-handling error by Australia that swept its skipper into the water.
With the best-of-5 match tied at 1, the boats were sailing nearly side-by-side downwind in the third race in big waves on Weymouth Bay when the Australian crew lost control and its boat rolled on its side. Skipper Olivia Price was swept out of the back of the boat and her crew had to pick her up before continuing.
Spain won that race by 1 minute, 1 second, but the 20-year-old Price and her crew won the fourth race to force a deciding match.
In another mistake, Price was assessed a penalty in Race 5 for a right-of-way violation and Spain sailed ahead to win the gold, leaving the Australians.
The most dramatic moment came in the third race.
The Australian boat became overpowered sailing downwind, its spinnaker wrapped around the forestay and the boat broached. Price disappeared into a wave and Curtis and Whitty not only had to get the boat under control, but slow down to pick up their skipper, who began swimming toward the boat.
After tying the match 2-2, the Australians made another mistake in the final race. Surfing across the waves on the downwind second leg, the Australians nearly overtook the Spanish crew but Price didn't give Dominguez the right of way. The umpire boat flew a penalty flag and Price did a penalty turn, but apparently didn't complete it properly because the umpire boat continued to fly the penalty flag.
The Spanish boat sailed into the lead and held it across the finish line.
Price did another penalty turn just before the finish line.
Finland won the bronze medal after prevailing in an on-the-water protest hearing.
The Finnish crew of Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff won the petit final 3-1, barely holding off the Russians at the finish line of Race 4.
The Russian crew of Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Siuzeva and Elena Oblova raised a protest flag during Race 4, apparently believing both boats were over the starting line early.
When the race ended, the two skippers, Lehtinen and Skudina, went to an umpire boat. After about a half hour of discussion, they returned to their boats while the umpires deliberated. The decision was relayed a few minutes later. The Finnish crew jumped up and down and waved a flag. The Russians sat dejectedly.
Protests usually are heard on shore, but this one had to be decided quickly in case Race 4 needed to be rerun.
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