The French expression, “jamais deux, sans trois,” signified Charline Picon’s hopes for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition after the french windsurfer won Women’s RS:X gold at sailing’s Olympic test event for the second time.
Directly translated to ‘never two without three’, the saying can be used both positively and negatively and that if something has happened twice, it is likely to happen for a third time.
After winning gold at the 2014 Aquece Rio and backing it up this year, Picon said through a shy smile, “jamais deux, sans trois.” If the saying goes, that third time will be at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Picon ventured into the day tied on points with Poland’s Malgorzata Bialecka and Spain’s Blanca Manchon two points behind in the Women’s RS:X. It was to be a three way shoot out.
Stress levels were at their absolute highest with neither sailor fully grasping the 8-12 knot southerly breeze that was consistent throughout the afternoon.
British Sailing Team member Bryony Shaw ran away with the race victory as the leading trio exchanged positions but Picon battled hard to remain in front of her rivals, finishing fifth to claim gold. “I was able to imagine the pressure at the Olympics,” commented Picon on the high stress situation, “so it was good for me to sail in a Medal Race like that. It’s important to test this. I would have preferred a good advantage, like I had in Santander [2014 ISAF Worlds], but you have to know how to manage yourself when it’s close.
“I’m very happy because this morning, it was so close with second and third. We were on the same points and Blanca was two points behind so I could have got gold, silver or bronze but I wanted to win.”
Both Bialecka and Manchon finished at the back of the pack claiming silver and bronze respectively. However, it could have been a different story after Russia’s Stefania Elfutina received a six point scoring penalty that result in her missing out on third.
But as Picon explained, it’s important to get in the habit and remove the errors now, rather than in one year, “It was a very good test event. We learnt a lot of things. We have to respect the rules, this is very important. This morning two girls took six points for being late to measurement so it’s very important to learn that this year so no one makes that mistake next year.”
For China’s Aichen Wang, the writing was on the wall, all he needed to do was finish in the top eight and gold would be his. Anything lower, then his rivals would have had to win to overthrow the pace setting Chinese sailor.
Going in with a 17 point lead Wang knew what had to be done but didn’t make things easy for himself as his Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medal winning coach Tom Ashley (NZL) explained, “He made it very difficult for himself today to be honest. He didn’t have a whole lot to do because the point’s gap was pretty big.
“In the first part of the race he made a couple of mistakes and fell off as he got a big gust that slammed him. That didn’t make life easy. After that he sailed back through the fleet pretty well and finished fourth so it was alright.”
Ashley knows a good performance when he sees it; he’s put together the results required for glory himself and described Wang’s performance as one of the best he’s seen the day prior.
After racing Ashley summed things up, “I am unbelievably pleased. It’s been really good. We needed to lift our game about now. It probably came a little bit sooner than I expected but that’s great. It’s a nice step up and puts us in a good place a year before the Games.”
Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) and Pierre Le Coq (FRA) were well positioned in the leading spots heading into the day. Le Coq occupied second with Kokkalanis six points behind in third.
The Greek racer sailed his own race, coming through in second and had a short wait to see how things would play out behind him. As Le Coq came through in seventh it was silver to Kokkalanis who made amends for missing out on a podium place at the 2014 test event.
“I really wanted a medal,” exclaimed Kokkalanis, “and a silver makes me really happy. I had to defend my position and think about my tactics and get a good result. I managed to do that. I was leading at one point but came second to secure a podium.
“It’s good motivation having a good result in Rio this year. If you get a great result then you’re in a good position but the main thing today was putting in a good Medal Race.”