Team GB’s dramatic double-gold sailing triumph: 2021’s top ‘I was there’ sporting moments

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Some 50 miles outside of Tokyo, lies Enoshima Yacht Harbour, an outpost of last summer’s Olympic Games devoid of quite the same stringent Covid regulations that had overshadowed the rest of Tokyo 2020.

And it was here on August 3 that Team GB celebrated its sailing golden hour – or 57 minutes to be precise – and two races which can hardly better define the small margins between gold and silver at Olympic level.

There can have been few better moments to sell Olympic sailing than the British double gold which ensued.

First came Dylan Fletcher in the 49er class at the regatta with Stuart Bithell. Fletcher is no stranger to drama on a big stage – his parents were both dancers with the Royal Ballet while his father appeared as Mr Mistoffelees in the musical Cats.

Facing the pair, regarded as the best sailing duo in the world, were Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who had recently won the America’s Cup for Team New Zealand with the British pairing having to finish with a boat between them.

And yet they did took home the gold by a matter of a mere few centimetres in their final race as they edged past German pairing Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel with the final wave of the entire week of racing.

For Bithell, it was particularly sweet having won Olympic silver at London 2012 and then missed out on Olympic selection altogether four years later.

No less dramatic was the medal race for Giles Scott moments later as he defended his Olympic title in the Finn class, having also come fresh from the America’s Cup like Burling and Tuke.

Fearing he had crossed the startline too early, he went to the back of the field to ensure he avoided any sort of penalty or disqualification, a move which left him dead last.

 (AP)
(AP)

The gold had looked to have fallen by the wayside in his final Olympic sailing race before turning his attention back to the America’s Cup.

Needing to finish within five places of Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz, he was up to seventh down the home straight but snuck fourth in a blanket finish as Bercez won the race.

It was, in Scott’s own words, “the greatest performance of my career and I made it by the skin of my teeth”. So slight is the difference between Olympic gold and silver.

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