A boat length from podium
Yes, it all went down to the wire, the final double counting medal race deciding the podium.
Neva River in St. Petersburg presented itself from the very calm side and most of the day had races in 4-6 knots with puffs in the 10’s, which means no foiling. It also shows upwind since all teams deploys all sails including the reaching headsail. This is essentially because speed through the water is much more important in these light conditions than wind angles.
Going into the last race the top two boats, Oman Air and Alinghi were on equal points and SAP Extreme Sailing were trailing 3rd place Red Bull by a single point. After finishing race 23, the race Director decided to call Race 24 the last and final race of the day and after a slight postponement of 10 minutes the fleet got going. SAP started at the pin end with Alinghi in flying fashion, but only to run into a lull and get rolled by windward boats and a tack was necessary.
Except for Alinghi being ahead almost all the time, all other positions saw changes through the whole race and at a time Oman Air found themselves on last place, risking the podium. Needless to say it was nailbiting and at the last beat, Oman, Red Bull and SAP rounded at the same time heading for the finish line. Unfortunately SAP fell short and lost to Red Bull with a boat length, falling just outside the podium in Act5 in St. Petersburg. Just watch the stats from last race on SAP Sailing Analytics and see that SAP was the fastest boat in the entire race 24 with and average of 7.7 knots. Results can be seen here.
Tactician Rasmus Køstner put it very simple: “We knew from the start that it was a matter of staying on top of Red Bull. We had a game plan of staying on the left side but the start made us have to change that since we got rolled by the windward boats. Despite that we were on their heels the whole race and it was just a matter of that single right puff and we could have turned the fortune. Hats of to Red Bull for holding us behind…”.
Helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen followed up: “Oman and Alinghi are just hard to beat, so our mindset was going for 3rd and stay ahead of Red Bull. That didn’t pay off the way we had hoped…”.