On the women’s side, Charline Picon, of France, takes home top honors in the RS:X. For the US Sailing Team, the windsurfing classes are both a struggle, with neither Pedro Pascual nor Marion Lepert qualifying for medal races.
Rio is also the Olympic debut of the mixed multihull platform, and the Nacra racing does not disappoint. In a high-speed, physical class that favors the young and athletic, it’s 54-year-old Santiago Lange and his crew, Cecilia Carranza Saroli, of Argentina, who win gold. The light-air regatta plays to the tactical strengths of six-time Olympian Lange, who, despite losing half a lung to cancer in 2015, is able to fight his way up in a regatta of chutes and ladders. His personal saga is the feel-good story of the Games, but Lange prefers to focus on the sailing, calling his health scare “just a stone in the road.” Despite two penalties in the final race, Lange and Carranza finish a surprising sixth, with enough points to win gold.
Rio serves its share of surprises, from underdog medalists to unpredictable weather, but the 49er gold medal is the only sure thing: Nobody was going to beat the Kiwis, and no one came close. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke top the class with two races to spare and a 43-point margin over silver medalists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, of Australia.