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Danes win Olympic 49er sailing gold

Danes win Olympic 49er sailing gold

Denmark's Jonas Warrer and Martin Kirketerp Ibsen were awarded the gold medal in the 49er skiff class Monday after a jury rejected a protest over a broken mast, a borrowed boat and capsized vessels in rough waters of the Yellow Sea.
"This is surreal. What a drama," Ibsen, 26, said after Sunday's victory was confirmed. "I couldn't have written a greater thriller." It was their best-ever placing in any international regatta.
The silver medal goes to Spain's Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez, who won the title in Athens four years ago, and the bronze to German brothers Jan-Peter Peckolt and Hannes Peckolt.
Three protests were filed: the race started too late, after a 4:30 p.m. deadline; that the conditions were too rough for racing; and that the Danes illegally changed boats when they borrowed a Croatian skiff.
"We sailed really well, we won gold out on the water, and then we had to wait in the protest room," said Warrer, 29. "It turned out the right way. The right decision."
The first two protests were dismissed Sunday. When deliberations on the boat change dragged into the early hours of Monday, the jury took a break, leaving the Danes not knowing if they had won the gold.
Silver medalist Martinez said Spain protested because they did know that they were racing the Danes, since their boat was marked CRO for Croatia. But he said he accepted the jury's ruling.
"You're down, you're up, you're down," Ibsen said. "You think you win, you lose. In my heart I hoped for it, but that's one thing. Another thing is what will happen in the jury room."
The Danes had an 11-point lead in overall points after 12 races over Italian brothers Pietro Sibello and Gianfranco Sibello, with Australian world champions Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin third overall. The Aussies were three points further back and just one ahead of Martinez and Fernandez and the German brothers.
The Danes needed to finish seventh in the 10-boat fleet in the medal race to win. But wind that had failed Qingdao in previous days picked up with a vengeance on Sunday, churning the waters of the Yellow Sea. During the practice ahead of the start, the Danes were horrified to see their mast break and their prospects for Olympic gold seemingly vanished.
"Right when the mast broke, I thought it was all over," Ibsen said. "But never give up."
The team raced back into port and borrowed a boat from Croatian's Pavle Kostov and Petar Cupac, who had failed to make it to the 10-boat final. They rigged the boat quickly and rushed back out, crossing the line after the rest of the fleet and just seconds before a start deadline ran out.
That swap took quick thinking and a little luck by the Danish team. The Dane's press officer Christian Malthe Borch was standing next to Croatian sports reporter Zrinka Granaric when they saw the Danish mast break.
"He asked if I had the number of the Danish team. I did," she told the AP. "It was just by chance that it was the Croatian boat they used."
The Croatian pair had been in their room, watching the race when the mast broke. The Danish call for help came moments later.
"We saw they broke the mast. The journalist called. We ran down and started to rig the boat," said Kostov, adding lightheartedly _ like much of the Croatian news media _ that "half the gold medal is ours."
Ibsen said the time between the mast breaking and them setting off in the Croats' boat "was completely wild. I don't know how long it took."
"We worked fast, fast, fast. Maximum speed. It's unbelievable," said Ibsen.
"We snapped the mast, we go in, we take the Croatian boat," Ibsen said. "We make the start with four seconds (to spare). If we had been four seconds later we wouldn't have been Olympic champions. And then the protest and the postponement of the protest. Everything is just unreal."
The wind and the waves turned so wild that every boat in the fleet capsized at least once. Warrer and Ibsen were fighting the weather in a boat they had never sailed.
"Everything was different, and it was set up for light winds," said Ibsen about the borrowed skiff. "It's amazing we even finished."
The lead changed constantly as the light, manta-ray like 49ers cart-wheeled and capsized in the wind. The Danes capsized about 100 meters (yards) from the finish, stood on their boat's keel in the rough water, and managed to right it.
They took seventh for an overall win.


Updated : 2021-10-18 20:00 GMT+08:00