Tokyo Olympics sailing in review: British, Australian sailors cruise

Posted at 1:09 AM, Aug 08, 2021

The weather cooperated, at least most of the time.

British and Australian sailors won, much of the time.

But the gold medals were distributed to nearly every corner of the globe, with China and Brazil also winning at Enoshima Yacht Harbor.

One country that did not win a medal of any kind was the United States, which came into Tokyo with the all-time lead in the sport with 59 total medals. Britain trailed with 52 but earned five here to narrow that gap. The USA has only taken one medal in the last three Games.

Windsurfing classes

Kiran Badloe of the Netherlands cast a blue streak through the waves, with his distinctive partial buzzcut and dye job making him stand out as he all but wrapped up the gold before the medal race in the men's RS:X competition. Thomas Coyard also had a big lead for silver that stood up despite a penalty in the medal race, while China's Bi Yun managed to finish fourth in the medal race to take bronze.

The women's competition had more suspense, with defending champion Charline Pincon charging in the medal race to try to move up from bronze to gold. She won it, but China's Lu Yunxia was close enough to claim the gold.


Gold - Kiran Badloe (NED)
Silver - Thomas Coyard (FRA)
Bronze - Bi Yun (CHN)

RESULTS: women's RS:X

Gold - Lu Yunxia (CHN)
Silver - Charline Pincon (FRA)
Bronze - Emma Wilson (GBR)

SEE MORE: Kiran Badloe impresses in windsurfer medal race, wins gold

Single-sailor events

Legendary British sailor Ben Ainslie long ruled the men's Finn (one-person heavyweight dinghy) class winning it three straight times. Giles Scott, who has sailed with Ainslie in America's Cup action, has kept the gold in the country, winning his second straight. Add in Iain Percy's win back in 2000, and Great Britain hasn't been beaten in this class in the 21st century, whether you think it started in 2001 or 2000.

Anne-Marie Rindom had gold in the women's Laser Radial, a type of one-woman dinghy, all wrapped up. Then she didn't. Then she did. On the penultimate day of racing, Rindom had a 26th-place finish and a disqualification through a misunderstanding. She didn't do all that well in the medal race, either, finishing seventh out of 10. But she was close enough to defending champion Marit Bouwmeester to avoid being overtaken in the standings. Bouwmeester saw silver slip away when Josefin Olsson won the medal race.

The men's Laser class, also a one-person dinghy event, also had little suspense at the top, with Australia's Matt Wearn in that "just get around the course safely" position. The excitement in the medal race was when Tonci Stipanovic finished fourth and moved up to silver.


Gold - Giles Scott (GBR)
Silver - Zsombor Berecz (HUN)
Bronze - Joan Cardona (ESP)

RESULTS: Laser Radial

Gold - Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN)
Silver - Josefin Olsson (SWE)
Bronze - Marit Bouwmeester (NED)


Gold - Matt Wearn (AUS)
Silver - Tonci Stipanovic (CRO)
Bronze - Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR)

SEE MORE: GBR's Scott bounces back to win sailing gold in men's Finn

Two-sailor boats

You think track and field has thrilling finishes? Maybe swimming? How about the men's 49er class? Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell found themselves on a collision course with Germany's Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel at the finish line. The British got a nose across the line for the medal race win. The German boat moved up to bronze and, to the British sailors' eternal gratitude, finished one boat ahead of defending champions/America's Cup winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand, helping Great Britain take the win.

Brazil's Martine Grael took her second gold medal in the women's 49er FX, adding to the family total. Her father, Torben Grael, has five medals.

French sailors were a little miffed when the Polish boat slipped past the British boat in the women's 470 final. Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Eildih McIntyre already had the gold, but the swapped positions in the medal race meant Poland edged France for silver. A protest didn't change the standings. Mills also took gold in Rio and silver in 2012.

Australia's Mat Belcher and Will Ryan won the men's 470, moving up from silver in 2016. Belcher also took gold in 2012.

The ever-entertaining multihull boats in the mixed-gender Nacra class, where everyone always seems to be on the ragged edge of disaster, came to a close with little suspense, as 2018 world champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti kept their healthy lead.


Gold - Tita/Banti (ITA)
Silver - Gimson/Burnet (GBR)
Bronze - Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer (GER)

RESULTS: men's 49er

Gold - Fletcher/Bishell (GBR)
Silver - Burling/Tuke (NZL)
Bronze - Heil/Plossel (GER)

RESULTS: women's 49er FX

Gold - Grael/Kunze (BRA)
Silver - Lutz/Beucke (GER)
Bronze - Bekkering/Duetz (NED)

RESULTS: men's 470

Gold - Belcher/Ryan (AUS)
Silver - Dahlberg/Bergstrom (SWE)
Bronze - Xammar/Rodriguez (ESP)

RESULTS: women's 470

Gold - Mills/McIntyre (GBR)
Silver - Skrzypulec/Ogar (POL)
Bronze - Lecointre/Retornaz (FRA)

SEE MORE: Inside the cockpit: Tokyo's epic sailing moments