Race Day 1 - Sonar Report
Upbeat Sonars Refuse to Dwell on Opening Day Frustration
The British Sonar team insisted they will “live to fight another day” following a frustrating end to day one of their London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta at Weymouth and Portland today (Saturday 1 September).
The trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas enjoyed a solid start to the day, picking up a fourth place in the first race of the regatta. But it was an incident at the start of race two, which, ultimately unsuccessfully, saw the Brits in the protest room, claiming they had been disadvantaged by a race committee error.
The Australian team clearly jumped the gun at the start of race two, and returned to re-start as permitted by the rules. However the race team failed to remove the recall flag, causing the Brits to believe that they too had started too early.
Yet as they were on their way back to the line the flag was lowered, suggesting there were no other boats that had jumped the gun asides from the Aussies, costing the Brits precious seconds.
The race committee admitted there had been a delay in lowering the recall flag but the jury ruled that the race committee's error, combined with the Brits delaying their own response to the flag, had not made Britain’s finishing position significantly worse.
Robertson’s team recovered from last in the race to finish eighth, which, when added to their opening race fourth, left them sitting in sixth overall overnight. But the trio admit although they were disappointed not to have their request for redress accepted in the protest room they will not dwell on it as they look ahead to the rest of the regatta.
Stodel said: “As we were quite punchy on the start line we thought it was best to play it safe and go back but as we were sailing back they took the flag down so we got a bit of a disadvantage and a late start and were about 30 seconds behind the fleet at that point so had a bit on. We managed to pull back to eighth but it was disappointing not have got it overturned in the protest room but we live to fight another day.”
Robertson said: “Potentially redress would have given us average points or time back, and that could make quite a big difference at the end of the week, so we’re fighting for every point where we can. But tomorrow is just another day’s racing. Spirits were high today, even when it was at times a bit sketchy, because that’s racing.”
Thomas said: “It’s been a mixed bag of results so obviously we will be looking to improve on that tomorrow. There is a long way to go, there are 11 races and we treat every race the same.”
The trio were keen to avoid a repeat of four years ago when scores of ninth and third on day one in Beijing knocked them off kilter early in the regatta and they struggled to come back to pose a genuine threat to the medals, only finding their best form towards the end of the week.
Robertson admits that despite the disappointment in race two today his team had sailed well to give them plenty of optimism.
He added: “It was good to get started which was the main thing. After Beijing’s pretty average start today was a lot better but there is still a lot to be improved on. The first race was okay, second race not ideal. There were a huge number of place changes throughout the racing. In that second race we obviously went back, were tail-end Charlies, and got back to about third or fourth on the third beat. Then there was a big 30 degree left wind shift so all those places we had gained, and actually got to the front of the fleet, they disappeared in 30 seconds. But we go again tomorrow and we look forward to it.”
The first Paralympic sailing demonstration event took place at Atlanta 1996 in the Sonar three-person keelboat (plus reserve). The British crew of Andy Cassell, Kevin Curtis, Tony Downs and Ian Harrison won gold. But a Paralympic medal has eluded Britain since sailing joined the full Paralympic Games programme at Sydney 2000.
The London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta runs from Saturday 1 September and Thursday 6 September.
Racing is scheduled to resume at 11am tomorrow. Two races are scheduled per day for each class except on the final day when there will be one race.