August 06, 2012

Olympic Sailing - Day 9 - Video Observations

By Doug
For those who were unable to watch this video, there were 2 very tactical Laser races. The women were in a virtual 4-way tie for the gold and XU Lijia (CHN) made a great move that helped her win. With the men, Tom Slingsby (AUS) was well ahead of Pavlos Kontides (CYP) going into the final race and made sure Pavlos was never in close to the front of the fleet.

Laser Radial Gold Medal Race: Pin favored, clean start:

Like Ben Ainslie yesterday, CHN did not have the best start and ducked a few boats to go right close to shore, and then came back in first place:

 CHN led on the run:

 But was flagged and dropped back to third:

 Near the bottom of the run, CHN catches up and then luffs suddenly:

And takes the lead - great move!

CHN leading tacks and again chooses to go right. Gutsy move:

Things looked pretty even on the second beat:

But again the right paid:

And with the lead XU Lijia goes on to win the gold medal:

So from what I saw in the video, CHN picked the correct side on both beats, got aggressive at just the right moment, and had good speed. Well done!

Laser Gold Medal Race: CYP had to beat AUS by 7 boats in the 10-boat fleet to win gold, so Tom Slingsby's job was to hold CYP back. AUS stayed close to CYP before the start well back from the line:

AUS went below:

The start was clean:

CYP took sterns to go right, AUS followed:

When they converged, they were even. AUS lee-bowed CYP:

Going right again, AUS got a slight inside lift. This was to me a key moment in the race:

AUS now clear ahead and the fun begins:

Lots more tacking:

Approaching the first mark, CYP foots to get clear air, so AUS also foots to cover:

AUS and CYP were well back at the first mark:

Not sure what CYP was doing, the commentator said this was to get separation from AUS:

CYP and AUS way off to the side on the run:

At the bottom of the run, AUS still leads:

CYP tacks to goes right, AUS keeps the tight cover:

AUS has managed to keep CYP in last place:

CYP footing to get clear air, AUS following:

View of AUS from above:

AUS still covering:

CYP well back on the final run:

The bronze medal may have been determined here - CRO was flagged and does its 360:

Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus wins silver, its first Olympic medal. Well done!

Tom Slingsby wins gold. Well done!!


  1. Interesting photo in the men's race showing AUS getting the inside lift (what you describe as a key moment in that race). What should CYP have done when he saw this happening - tack over onto starboard and cut his losses or keep going and hope for a right shift?

  2. What was the flag against SWE all about? It resulted in DPI, but still bronze for SWE

  3. I read the following regarding SWE: "Also of interest was a protest that was lodged against Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren by the Olympic Equipment Inspection Committee (EIC). According to the protest, lodged under Equipment Inspection Rules 3.2 and 3.3, no sailor shall modify, alter or repair Olympic equipment without the written approval of the EIC. Once the sailors returned ashore, Myrgren, however, was cleared of the alleged offense."

  4. SWE was protested, believe it or not, for straightening his mast. Something every Laser sailor does almost every time we go sailing.

    He lost the protest, hence the DPI, but the discretionary penalty applied was zero points. Thankfully someone had some good sense.

  5. MJ - there wasn't really anything CYP could do... his only chance was to get separation from AUS and there was no way Tom was going to allow that.

    My view, FWIW, is that CYP should have stayed with the fleet rather than sailing away into cornersville - he made it too easy for AUS to match race him. He was obviously sailing fast all week so he should have gone for the race win and hoped for the best. A long shot but probably the best he could have done.

    Again FWIW, I think the pivotal moment was just after the start. Pavlos had managed to get a boat between them off the line and he had freedom to tack to port - Tom didn't. When Pavlos tacked to port, Tom had to stop and wait for the other boat to pass before he could follow. This was the moment of Pavlos' maximum advantage - he should have tacked back to starboard as soon as Tom had completed his tack, then sailed the shifts up the beat like a normal race. Tom would have then had a much harder time getting past.

  6. Thanks for the series of video analyses - much appreciated.

  7. Great photos and analysis. Thanks.

    By the way, in that overhead shot of Slingsby why is he hiking pigeon-toed (feet pointing inwards)? Is that fast for some reason?

  8. Thanks for all the comments.

    MJ: in my opinion, CYP had to tack. They were at the edge of the right side of the course which was paying all day but he was running out of room for the wind to shift back again. AUS was not going to give CRO the separation needed, so the only option was to at least stay in front of AUS. He lost this option at this moment in the race. Had CRO tacked, he would have been on a starboard tack lift. I've written an article about how sailing angles work for me and will update and republish it ASAP. IMHO, angles are more important than boatspeed.

    Anonymous: I've looked at the video again and CRO was flagged for pumping and did it's 360 (I've added another photo showing this). This permitted GUA to pass and moved CRO back enough so that there was no chance to catch SWE for the bronze. SWE being penalized for straightening the mast was separate and was crazy. We can all be thankful that it did not affect the results.

    Tillerman: I've looked at some videos (including the ones at the master worlds) and everyone including me hikes with legs and feet together. In this picture, Tom hikes with is legs apart and feet coming together (hence pigeon-toed). Perhaps his legs apart makes his fore-aft movement more connected to the boat. It's also interesting that he is not at the front of the cockpit in these smooth-water conditions. It's also interesting that he was playing his mainsheet and footing in smooth-water conditions. So much to learn!

  9. Yes, I noticed that he was back in the boat and assumed he was sailing in waves. It's hard to tell from photos sometimes how wavy it really is.

  10. What an amazing share! Thank you so much! I keep my eyes on the Olympics... :)

  11. Updates on things said here: the thing CYP did at the top mark was a result of AUS luffing him in a classic match racing move. Had CYP sat there, AUS would have held him there for a long long time, making recovery and gold impossible. This was the only way he could make Tom break from the luff. Also, the area they are sailing in is surprisingly choppy although it may appear flat (I've sailed there) and the chop is relatively steep, so footing in this breeze and keeping further back works pretty well. Cheers

    1. Great comment, thanks. There was a lot to be learned from this fantastic race.


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