Draper and Hiscocks lift Britain's medal drive

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The Independent Online

Britain's fourth sailing medal was secured yesterday when Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks put in a hard day's work over three races to establish themselves in third place overall in the 49er high performance dinghy.

Britain's fourth sailing medal was secured yesterday when Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks put in a hard day's work over three races to establish themselves in third place overall in the 49er high performance dinghy.

They cannot be beaten for the bronze. The silver, at present in the hands of Rodion Luka and George Leonchik, of Ukraine, as the fleet sits out racing today, is a very realistic target with a gap of just two points between the two. But the overall leaders, Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez, of Spain, would have to sail uncharacteristically badly or be disqualified from the final race tomorrow to lose their 11-point grip on the gold.

Their position is, however, no cause for celebration by Draper. "It might be the case that we have a medal, but the gold medal was what we wanted," he said, adding that the pair would go out and do everything they could to improve in the last race. Hiscocks had also had his eyes set only on gold after winning silver, with Ian Barker, in the same class in Sydney.

For Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, who carried such great expectations of going one better than Ian Walker and Mark Covell's silver in Sydney, the Star keelboat class gold seems to be disappearing in the wake of Brazil's Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira.

There was some justice for second-placed Ross MacDonald and Mike Wolfs, whose foresail was wrecked in a pre-start collision with Peter Bromby and Lee White, of Bermuda. MacDonald and Wolfs were given the average of their results so far after their sail "blew into 400 pieces". Three points cover the next five places and, with the 15- to 20-knot Meltemi wind forecast to continue today for the seventh and eighth races, the British pair will be optimistic about setting up a platform for what could be Britain's sixth medal on Saturday. That would make Britain the top sailing nation for two Olympics in succession.

Today's hopes rest with the windsurfer Nick Dempsey. Mathematically, he could still grab bronze or even silver in the men's event as he lies fourth overall going into the final race. But such an outcome would require the overall leader, another Brazilian, Ricardo Santos, to have a shocking day, perhaps some sort of disqualification or breakdown, and the same applies even more to the third-placed local hero, Nikolaos Kaklamanakis, who enjoys stronger winds. Second-placed Gal Fridman, of Israel, is assured of a medal.

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