It was so close yet so far for Scottish-Irish combination Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey who narrowly missed out on winning the World 49erFX championships in Australia today.
Spanish sailors Tamara Echegoyen, a world match racing champion and the 2016 49erFX world champion with a different crew, with Barcelo (ESP) and Dobson with Tidey (GBR) locked horns throughout the medal race. Each team was well clear of any competition and only had to beat the other to secure the gold medal.
“We are so so happy,” Echegoyen said on-water once the world championship result was clear. “You know this kind, of course, is shifting all the time, you have to think about what is the best plan. We tried just to be close to her (GBR); you have to be calm and keep going. If you do a split, you can lose control.
“Because of the Volvo Race, Paula and I started this campaign a little late; it’s a short time to try and get to the high level of this fleet. At the last worlds in Auckland, we had to abandon [due to an injury to Paula]. Here we just tried to focus every day,” the beaming skipper added.
“Every moment it was so close and so stressful and finally we get the gold,” Barcelo said as the pair enjoyed some celebratory champagne, having beaten Dobson/Tidey.
On the second upwind beat of the medal race, the British team made significant gains on the Spanish before tacking underneath. Echegoyen, the 2012 match racing world champion, tacked immediately on their line and Dobson/Tidey reacted. The Brits were locked in and made gains, but the layline forced both to tack back with the Spanish directly ahead into the windward mark.
The British looked to have a slightly better hoist going but capsized when their kite filled with water halfway up. The Spanish sped away, only looking back moments later to realize the pressure valve had been released.
The eventual silver medallists will be replaying the capsize in their heads for some time. “Our first reaction is we are a little disappointed,” Dobson admitted. “We could have taken it to the Spanish a little better in the medal race, but on the whole we have sailed a really good regatta.”