ENOSHIMA (Japan): Brazil’s reigning Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze won the women’s 49er FX event, while Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell scored a sensational victory in the men’s 49er class medal race to take gold on Tuesday.
The British duo edged out 2016 Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand, who took the silver, with Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel taking the bronze.
In the women’s race Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke came in second to secure the silver for Germany, with Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz bringing home the bronze for the Netherlands.
In second place in the overall standings coming into the medal race, Fletcher and Bithell crossed the finish line a mere two seconds ahead of the Germans.
That left them on 58 points – the same number as the Kiwis – but their better showing in the medal race saw them snatch gold.
“It was close. I guess gold medals are often won on fine margins and so to do it there, I think it was fantastic, hopefully a good race for the fans … very stressful but amazing,” Fletcher told reporters.
In second place coming into the women’s medal race, the Brazilians kept their cool as the field battled for position, with the Dutch pairing, who started the race first in the overall standings, slipping down the field.
With the lowest total points winning the competition, Grael and Kunze finished the medal race in third behind the Argentinian and Norwegian crews for a total of 76 points to beat the Germans (83 points) and the Dutch (88 points) to take the gold.
“There was a lot of close points and we knew we just needed a clear lane to sail fast, and we managed to get that after the start and we’re very glad that it worked out,” Grael told reporters.
The two 49er medal races were among those postponed from Monday due to a lack of wind at the harbour, and competitors were glad to get out on the water after a day of inactivity as winds picked up on Tuesday.
A weather forecast from governing body World Sailing predicts winds of 10 to 12 knots in the middle of the day.
World Sailing has previously said winds of at least six knots would be necessary to ensure fair competition.