It must have been a bitter sweet feeling for Peter O’Leary and David Burrows at the conclusion of the Medal Race at Weymouth today. They had in fact produced Ireland’s best ever Olympic performance in this most prestigious class when they placed tenth but in fact had commenced the competition with every expectation of achieving a medal. Few could blame them for this considering it is just such a short few weeks since they achieved gold under exactly the same scoring conditions against the same world beating fleet at Sail for Gold Weymouth pre Olympic regatta. By finishing tenth overall today O’Leary topped Mark Mansfield’s twelfth at the Atlanta Games in 1996 at which event he was also crewed by David Burrows.
It is a sad fact that as it celebrates its 100 year anniversary the well loved and much envied Star Class will not appear on the Olympic circuit again having been voted against by some who feel it represents an aging profile and the sport could be better represented by something that would have more appeal for television. For all those watching this week I doubt they would have found anything more exciting or more skillful sailing.
The due were in ninth place starting the Medal race this afternoon but due to their points on the leader board were not on contention for a medal. However, they were sailing in ninth position but scored tenth. I did hear David Burrows in a television interview later say they had received a yellow flag but had no idea what this was for.
It was a very tight race and surprisingly the favourites, Britain and Brazil, both took their eyes of the ball when concentrating on one another and as a result of this lost out badly. Frederik Loof and Max Salminen of Sweden kept their head through all this and reaped their reward taking the gold leaving Percy and Simpson (GBR)with silver and Scheidt and Prada (BRA) with bronze.
Tomorrow (Mon) will see the Medal Race for the Laser Radial Class in which all Irish eyes will be on Annalise Murphy. As all the medal races are being sailed within the harbour and are shorter races with shorter legs it can make it harder to get and keep ahead. On paper there are really only four contenders for the gold tomorrow. China and Holland on 33 points and Belgium and Ireland on 34 points each. In fact this means they are all equal. If a sailor on 33 points wins their score will be 35. If a sailor on 34 wins their score will be 36 and so on down the placings. In effect there are three medals with four contenders so one will lose out. Hopefully, Annalise will make it and the whole of Ireland will be willing her on tomorrow. Her race will commence at 13.00hrs and will be broadcast live on RTE 2