Exmouth Olympic duo sets sights on Rio medal bid
15:34 10 August 2012
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes were quick to plot a course for the Rio Olympics after the disappointment of their medal bid at Weymouth.
Positive Stevie Morrison declared “Rio sounds lovely!” after the British 49er pair ended their London 2012 campaign in fifth position at Weymouth and Portland.
Morrison and Ben Rhodes were left to rue mistakes made earlier in the regatta as they saw their hopes of a last-gasp bronze medal disappear despite a gritty final double points’ medal race performance.
With Australia and New Zealand having already secured the gold and silver medals, no fewer than five nations were in the hunt for bronze in today’s medal race, with the Brits in fifth place overnight, six points behind Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN) in bronze medal position.
But a third place in the medal race consolidated the Danes’ position overall, while fifth place for Morrison and Rhodes saw them end the day in the position they started it.
Morrison said: “There were two definitive instances during the week which cost us 24 points, which if you look at the points table would have made a big difference. You could say that is the reason we haven’t won a medal. I don’t think we weren’t good enough. I think we are good enough, we made a couple of mistakes which makes it hurt more. In China we weren’t really good enough whereas here I think we were. It’s obviously pretty gutting but it’s done now and we’ve got to move on. The trouble with the Olympics is you either win a medal or you don’t. We haven’t and it sucks!”
Rhodes said: “It was always going to be tricky today. Austria sailed a pretty epic race, then unfortunately for them Denmark got a good shift up the left on that last beat and got back to bronze. We came out with the aim of sailing a good race today, that’s all we could really do. We’re reasonably pleased with how we sailed today but this event for us was ultimately lost a lot longer ago. We were still in the hunt this morning, but didn’t quite get the hand that we wanted.”
In light, unstable airs, the Brits got off to a cracking start, picking to go up the right hand side of the course and rounded the top mark handily-placed in second behind the Austrian team of Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch, who themselves were scrapping for bronze.
With Denmark looking safely out of the picture towards the back of the fleet, the race looked like it was unfolding as a straight battle between the Brits and Austrians for the bronze. But the game started changing when Danes began to ominously move through the pack, and Britain dropped a place heading into the third mark.
By mark five the Danes were fourth in the race to edge themselves back into the bronze medal position, having taken a risk on the last upwind leg and picked up a puff of breeze to power to the mark. With the momentum now in their favour, Denmark continued their charge downwind to finish both third in the race and overall.
Morrison continued: “We have an awful lot to be proud of over the last three months, putting together a really fast boat and Ben and I working well together. We’ve done eight races on the Nothe course, which is very shifty and gusty and we’ve not done ourselves justice on this particular course, on some of the bigger courses we’ve really sailed a good week.”
Rhodes said: “We’re still good mates, still will be and you never know, maybe we will come and try again.”
Morrison added: “I’d be up for it, Rio sounds lovely doesn’t it!”
So how did the series of racing at Weymouth 2012 unravel?
Despite a glorious Thursday (day four of the racing) when the pair had two first place finishes after which they ended the day sat comfortably in the silver medal berth, they fell away in the next seven races with four of them seeing the pair finishing 13th or lower in the fleet of twenty boats.
The Morrison and Rhodes day by day chart.
In brackets is the highest position they had sailed into in each race before their finishing position.
Race 1; 12th (11th)
Race 2; 12th (5th)
Race 3; 3rd (2nd)
Race 4; 18th (4th)
Race 5; 4th
Race 6; 2nd
Race 7; 1st (led all way)
Race 8; 1st
Race 9; 17th (15)
Race 10; 4th (7th)
Race 11; 20th (12th)
Race 12 13th (13th)
Race 13; 3rd
Race 14; 17th (7th)
Race 15; 7th
Medal Race; 5th
The key was consistency of top ten finishes.
In the first 15 races prior to the medal race, the gold medal boat (Australians) managed five first places, two seconds and one third and had no finishes outside the first ten boats over the line.
The silver boat (New Zealand) had two firsts, one second and one third, but they had just two finishes outside the top ten.
That was when Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes lost their medal for they actually had more top three finishes than the New Zealand crew with two firsts, one second and two thirds. However, in their first 15 races they had no fewer than seven finishes outside the top ten.