Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti completed a dominant Olympic Sailing cycle in the mixed multihull to take gold in Tokyo 2020
The Italian pairing of Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti have been the standout performers in the Nacra 17 class since it transitioned to a full foiler after the 2016 Olympic Sailing competition and they have backed up that dominance with an incredibly impressive week in Tokyo 2020.
Such was the consistency of the top two teams across the week that it was only the second placed British team of John Gimson and Anna Burnet (2020 World Champions in the class) who could realistically challenge the Italians for the gold medal in the final medal race of the competition.
Uncharacteristically neither the Italians or the Brits had a good start, both well behind the line. Perhaps it was the occasion, perhaps the teams were focussed on each other but they were both forced to tack onto port shortly after the start to try to find some clear air.
To be in with a chance of gold, the Brits needed to beat the Italians with several boats between them and, by the first mark rounding, although the Brits just managed to squeeze ahead of the Italian pairing, gold was realistically out of their grasp unless they could somehow overtake most of the boats in front of them and have the Italians gain no places.
With the gold and silver all but concluded off the startline, attention could turn to the fight for bronze which proved to be where much of the action would take place.
Germany’s Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemmer went into the day in third place, but a windward/leeward foul off the start saw the German team penalised and by the time they set off on the first leg, they were at the back of the pack by some distance.
At the first make, Rio silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) went around in sixth and, with the Germans fighting to recover from the effects of that penalty back in 10th place, the Aussies were up into bronze medal position.
On the downwind Italy passed Great Britain and moved ahead, making the gold medal even more secure for Tita and Banti. Germany was still a long way back in last place, desperately needing to move up or the Australians to drop down the standings for that bronze medal.
Towards the top of the final windward leg Germany overtook Brazil, a critical move that put them back into bronze if things could just stay that way.
Winning the Medal Race, even if not retaining their Olympic title, were Lange and Saroli (ARG), a great way for this popular team to round off their campaign. Great Britain crossed in fifth, a place in front of the Italians who started celebrating the gold. Silver for GBR, bronze for Germany, with Denmark just edging out Australia for fourth place overall.
It was a truly impressive performance from the young German team who looked to have thrown away their chance of a medal out of the start. But they held their nerve and pulled back just enough to secure the final medal.
You can find a full list of results at the World Sailing website.
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