Hannah Mills and her crew, Eilidh McIntyre took the gold in the Women's 470 at Tokyo 2020 in a controversial medal race
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) have won gold in the 470 Women. Along with an Olympic Sailing silver from London 2012 and gold from Rio 2016, gold at Tokyo 2020 makes Hannah Mills the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time. Eilidh McIntyre’s gold matches the achievement of her father Mike McIntyre who won Star keelboat gold for Great Britain in 1988.
Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar (POL) took silver while Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) secured the bronze – a repeat of the bronze Lecointre took in Rio in 2016.
The race was not without its controversy, however, as the Brits, who had looked strong all race lost a handful of places down the final leg. One of the boats to get past the British pairing was the Polish team of Skrzypulec and Ogar, which moved them into the silver medal position leapfrogging the French who followed Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre over the finish line.
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre went into the day with a significant lead of 14 points, meaning the French team of Lecointre and Retornaz could only beat them if they won and the Brits were a long way back. The fight between Poland and France was much closer, with the Poles only needing to finish one position ahead of the French to steal silver.
It was, then, something of a surprise to see the French team taking the fight to the British sailors at the start, the pair locked closely together near the committee boat end of the startline as Lecointre and Retornaz tried to get a controlling position just below the Brits.
The jostling for position saw all three lead teams failing to get the best start all slightly bow-back from the rest of the fleet. Skrzypulec and Ogar and the French team tacked onto port tack as both boats made an early break to the right.
Great Britain tacked over towards the other two boats and were ahead. Mills and McIntyre at times put a close cover on Lecointre and Retornaz to stop the French breaking through to the front of the fleet. Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) and Luise Wanser Anastasiya Winkel (GER) were going fast and took the early lead.
Around the first mark Switzerland were ahead, with Great Britain in second and France back in sixth, one place ahead of Poland.
Halfway up the final leg, Poland moved up to fourth and were two places in front of France, equal on points. As it stood, the Polish team had displaced the French for silver.
Around the final windward mark, the Swiss held the lead while Great Britain were in second.
Fahrni and Siegenthaler won the Medal Race, taking fourth overall. Meanwhile Great Britain had been overtaken on the final run by Germany. In their position on the right of the course – looking downwind – the Brits would be coming into the final leeward mark on port without rights, while Israel and Poland were on starboard and both looked to have got the inside overlap at the mark.
Clearly wary of picking up any infringement in the closing stages of the race, the Brits luffed to take the transom of both boats, following them round the final mark to sail across the finish line in fifth.
Crucially, with Poland in fourth and the French in sixth the silver went to Poland, with Lecointre and Retornaz slipping back into silver.
However, immediately after the race the jury were informed that the French team were protesting Great Britain.
In what might politely be termed an optimistic protest, it appears the French team claimed the Brits and Polish had conspired to team race the French into bronze – though the full details of the exact nature of the protest are not available as we publish this, we will update this story when full details are available.
Fortunately for Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre, their celebrations at having secured the gold medal were not delayed for long. The protest was heard ashore and the case quickly dismissed. It had been a brief delay to the medal celebrations, but at last Great Britain could celebrate the gold.
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