Britain’s resolute Sonar team ended a tricky day two of their London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta on a high and looking forward to building on their solid start to the event at Weymouth and Portland (Sunday 2 September).
For the second evening running the trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas found themselves in the protest room at the end of racing, this time alleging a right of way infringement by the Australian boat in the opening race of today – race three overall – had impeded their progress.
The Brits had originally finished that race in fifth, while the Australians, who had led overnight, were third. But the jury found in favour of the Brits’ protest, moving Robertson’s team up a place in that race while the Aussies were disqualified.
A gritty fifth in their second race of the day – during which they moved up from ninth at mark one to fifth on the final run to the line – means that the Brits lay fifth overall heading into day three but tied on level points with American boat in fourth.
Stodel explains: “We felt the Australians tacked and didn’t keep clear of us so we protested them and as such they have been disqualified from that race. Every point counts at this stage so we will keep fighting until the end.
“We had a bit of bad luck in the second race, we think we had a plastic bag caught around our rudder or something ridiculous because we were so slow up the first beat. But we fought to the bitter end and came back with a fifth so we can’t argue with that and there is all to play for now.
“This is certainly going to shake the points up a little bit overnight so we will just see what happens tomorrow. We will be trying to keep it consistent, keep it cool and we’re ready.”
The Sonar fleet is living up to its reputation as being one of the fiercely competitive of all the Olympic and Paralympic classes, with the all top teams posting a mixed bag of results so far and just seconds separating the main contenders at the marks.
The disqualification of the Aussies from race three saw them drop to sixth at close of play while only 10 points separates the top five boats. After the next race – race five overall – the sailors can eliminate their worst score of the regatta, which is guaranteed to once again have big implications for the leading pack.
Robertson admits that while his team aren’t unhappy with their start to the regatta they are ready to up the ante for the second half.
Robertson said: “To be fifth is ok but obviously we can do a lot better tomorrow so we look forward to that. There are certain areas we are just not quite firing on all cylinders on for whatever reason so if we can get those things sorted tomorrow it will be all glamour. The competition is really fierce so it is just who can make the least mistakes and get round the course the cleanest.
“The wind is swinging all the time, and the pressure is up and down so you have got to keep on top of it all the time and maximise every little advantage, which is what we did in the last race.
“It is only day two, we’ve got a long way to go really and the fleet’s still spread out. There are a couple of guys who have got a few less points but by the end of the week it could be all upside down again. There is nothing to retrieve for us yet, it is just a regatta and like always you keep fighting to the end. It is simple as that.”
The London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta runs from Saturday 1 September and Thursday 6 September.