Olympics Daily Debrief, Day 2 — The Finns Get Shifty

Frustrating conditions on the inside shook up the Finn leaderboard. Further out into the bay, leaders are making themselves known.
Caleb Pain Team USA

The Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition

Caleb Paine’s major comeback in the first race and 10th place finish in the second race positions him well for the next four days of racing with the Finns. Sailing Energy/World Sailing

The Finn class certainly knows how to start with a bang. Just two races into the regatta and the level of intensity is already sky-high.

The first race was shifty, frustrating a number of class favorites including Denmarks’ Jonas Hogh-Christensen. “I felt that letting us continue to sail that race made a mockery of the sport,” says Hoghs-Christensen. The Dane failed in reading the shifts and after the first leg, where he went left with the majority of the fleet, he continued to fall back, finishing 13th. His redemption did come in the second race where, after the first four boats were scored UFD, he finished second.

USA’s Caleb Paine and Argentina’s Facundo Bazan read the shifts well in the first race. Bazan held the lead from the start and didn’t let up. Starting furthest right, he saw and got the lift first and took it all the way to the top. “From then, all the race was about was sailing in the pressure and not losing any boats,” he says.


Paine had an incredible comeback in the first race of the day; over the course of two legs he vaulted himself from 22nd to 7th and held that place through the finish. Paine started the race in a decent position, but at the first weather mark he chose the wrong side. “A huge righty came in and basically the whole fleet passed me,” says Paine. “But, I knew it was one of those times where the race wasn’t over and there were two laps to go.”

For Paine, his opportunity came when he spotted a left-hand shift that Brazilian sailor Jorge Zarif grabbed as well. “I took a major risk and I was able to carry that shift all the way up to the top mark,” he says. Following Zarif, who knows the course best according to Paine, was his opportunity to make his gains, passing 15 boats. Paine’s strategy going into today was to keep his “head out of the boat,” and with the whacky wind on the Pao course, his sharp eye brought him a solid starting performance.

The second Finn start was absolute chaos. Four sailors were called UFD, pushing them down to the bottom of the fleet. This opened up the opportunity for the oldest sailor in the class, Slovenia’s Vasilij Zbogar to get a bullet. “My goal for today was to have clean starts,” he says. “I have good boat speed in light conditions and I don’t have to push the starting line.”


Unfortunately for the Slovenian, he’s one of the lightest sailors in the fleet and the forecast for the next few days is for bigger breeze.

In the RS:X, Britain’s Nick Dempsey held his reign in the fleet, though Netherland’s Dorian van Rijsselberghe isn’t far behind. In the last race of the day, dying breeze put Dempsey in a pileup at the windward mark, while van Rijsselberghe was able to walk away with it. Dempsey finished 14th, his worst result so far, but his speed us only matched by van Rijsselberghe. When the fleet returns to the water on Thursday, the breeze is forecasted to be stronger which is Dempsey’s strength. He’s in good position to take his lead all the way through the regatta.

Mirroring the men, Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini and France’s Charline Picon are both sturdily at the top of the fleet with the rest needing to play catch-up. Tartaglini started the first race of the da near the back of the pack but as the breeze filled in she took off, eventually putting an impressive margin between her and second place race finisher, Russia’s Stefaniya Elfutina. She continued to have top of the fleet results to solidify her lead.


The Laser fleet is starting to shake out, with Argentina’s Julio Alsogaray in the lead, followed by Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic and New Zealand’s Sam Meech. Meech redeemed himself after a less-than-stellar performance in the first day of racing, posting a 5 and 6 today.

In the Laser Radial, China’s Lily Xu took back her lead after dropping to 23rd from a DSQ yesterday. She petitioned to reopen the case on Tuesday and was denied by the jury.

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Flash Quotes of the Day

“It’s about when you are in the water, there’s the instinct you follow. Sometimes you see something that somebody else doesn’t see and today was a good day for me, I saw good things in the water.” — Flavia Tartaglini, RS:X W, Italy, on her two bullets in day 2.

“I’m just used to these conditions. I like these conditions and when you like some conditions everything is much easier. At home in Slovenia we have these kinds of conditions, with small waves.” — Vasilij Zbogar, Finn, Slovenia, on the first day of conditions for Finn racing. Zbogar holds the lead in the class after two races.

“I have a different approach from the last two Games; I’m much more relaxed and can handle the pressure much better. I’m no longer that focused on the results, instead I want to widen my sailing career and Olympics is just part of it.” — Lily Xu, Laser Radial, China, on coming out of retirement for her third Olympics.

“It would be good to get some more breeze. Is it hard in the light (winds), not physically hard work but its mentally draining. I think the vast majority of people out today had a good and a bad race.” — Giles Scott, Finn, Great Britain, on the increased forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.