Rio 2016 Gold Medallists Secure Victory at Tokyo2020 Test Event
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have stamped their authority on the 49er class – again – 12 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Finishing 8th in the double-points medal race today was enough to secure victory for Burling and Tuke. The Kiwis spent the entire medal race matching the Polish team of Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski who was the only team that could catch them, disregarding their own finishing position.
Spain’s Diego Botin & Iago Lopez Marra took the race victory with great pace on the last downwind leg, passing Germany’s Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme who lead for the first three legs of the race.
Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher & Stuart Bithell crossed the line in third place which was enough to leapfrog the early regatta leaders of Przybytek & Kolodzinski for the silver. The British were much further down the fleet at the first weather mark after being forced to the unfavoured side of the course, and were mathematically out of the medals until the second half of the race. After a clean leeward mark rounding they banked hard on the right-hand side of the course to make multiple critical passes.
The Polish team, who had wrestled for the lead for much of the regatta, had to settle for third overall. Their medal race was compromised from the start when then they had to return after being over early and never recovered. Having to settle for a ninth-place finish in the medal race and a Bronze medal, Przybytek & Kolodzinski are aware that they had greater opportunities over the course of the regatta.
Getting bounced out of the medals into a close fourth place were Ben Bildstein and David Hussl (AUT). Rounding the first windward mark in the leading group, their decision to perform a gybeset rounding turned out to be the wrong one, shuffling them back in the pack.
With a gold medal in Rio 2016 and a silver in London 2012, four 49er World Championships and an America’s Cup victory thrown in for good measure, the New Zealand duo of Burling and Tuke already have a results sheets to retire on. With an 11 point victory at the Tokyo 2020 test event this week, they are without a shadow of a doubt the form boat heading into the final stretch of this Olympic cycle. If they can win the next Olympic Games and defend the America’s Cup, they will fall into legend category before their thirtieth birthdays.
After a break from the class to win the America’s Cup in 2017 and complete the Volvo Ocean Race in 2018, Burling & Tuke stepped back into the class in early 2019, going on to win the Open European Championship at Weymouth in May. Great Britain’s Fletcher and Bithell are also hitting their stride at the perfect time. Juggling a 49er Olympic campaign and the British SailGP program, they won the European Championship and the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma.
The Ready Steady Tokyo teams will now be joined by the extensive 49er fleet for the Sailing World Cup, which begins on Sunday. This will be the last major hit out on the Olympic waters before the games in August 2020. Next up on the calendar is the 2019 World Championships to be sailed in Auckland, New Zealand. With Olympic qualification spots up for grabs and teams looking to secure their countries nomination for Tokyo 2020, the summer down under will be one to watch.
1st Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 53pts
2nd Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 64pts
3rd Lukasz Przybytek / Pawel Kolodzinski (POL) 68pts
4th Ben Bildstein / David Hussl (AUT) 71pts
5th Justus Schmidt / Max Boehme (GER) 77pts
Full results can be found at 49er.org/event/2019-test-event
The double-points medal race was brought in to Olympic sailing to add excitement, drama and spectacle to the end of a sailing regatta. And at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic test event, it delivered!
Regatta leaders from race one, Great Britain’s Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey, held a slender one-point lead over Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze. With four boats capable of winning overall, the mathematically game of chess was set for fireworks.
In a steady sea breeze off Enoshima, the 2016 Rio Gold medallists Grael & Kunze sailed smart and safe to finish third in the medal race, three places ahead of Dobson & Tidey. This was enough to secure another win for their already impressive trophy cabinet, having won the Open European Championship & Pan American Games, and numerous World Cups in 2019.
Norway’s Helene Næss and Marie Rønningen took the medal race win to claim second on the podium ahead of Dobson & Tidey. The Norwegians are one of the few teams to emerge this cycle to become contenders in the elite field. After missing out on Rio selection, they trained continuously while many teams took a break and now have a Silver medal at Ready Steady Tokyo, along with consecutive bronze medals at the 2018 and 2019 European Championships. Training partners with the Brazilian and Kiwi teams, they are well placed to keep improving prior to Tokyo 2020.
Dobson & Tidey found themselves crossing the line in sixth place, and with the double points factored in, dropped to third overall. In some ways, this might have been a somewhat disappointing end after leading for the entire regatta, but a medal at the Olympic Test Event is likely to have secured their nomination to Tokyo in the British system, which, if confirmed, would mask any sort of disappointment.
The Ready Steady Tokyo teams will now be joined by the remainder of the 49erFX fleet for the Sailing World Cup, which begins on Sunday. This will be the last major hit out on the Olympic waters before the games in August 2020. Next up on the calendar is the 2019 World Championships to be sailed in Auckland, New Zealand. With Olympic qualification spots up for grabs and teams looking to secure their countries nomination for Tokyo 2020, the summer down under will be one to watch.
1st Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) 57pts
2nd Helene Næss / Marie Rønningen (NOR) 62pts
3rd Charlotte Dobson / Saskia Tidey (GBR) 62pts
4th Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) 67pts
5th Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Barcelo (ESP) 86pts