So close to a medal – 4th on countback for Kiwi Gold Sailing Team in Rio


New Zealand’s Paralympic sailing crew has finished Rio 2016 agonisingly close to the podium, drawn on points for third, but separated on count-back to close the regatta in 4th place.

In today’s final race the kiwi crew of Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp put in a brilliant performance to cross the line in 2nd place, and were left watching the rest of the fleet come across the finish line knowing that the order in which they placed would determine their fate.

In the end, Canada came through to pass France on the final short leg which was just enough to ensure equal points with New Zealand in the overall standings, and the Canadian’s took the bronze on countback.

Skipper Rick Dodson spoke after racing; “So after yesterday, which wasn’t that great, Andrew our coach sat us down and said ‘what are we going to do today?’ And I said, just try to win, get one out of the bag, win.”

“Then we went left on the first beat and we were about 8th, and then we went right on the next beat and got up to the lead and then we carried on racing and we got second, so it was a good day.”

“We didn’t win a medal, we got 4th, but for me I think that’s good. You know, I’m happy because we have never been here before. It’s good to come here to see all the Para-athletes – the runners and the swimmers and more. It’s a great event.”

Asked to think retrospectively and whether there is anything they would have done differently, Dodson said, “There are. There are races where we could have done better, and we lost the medal in that last race but the things about regatta, always at the end of the day there are things you could do better, but we’re happy with 4th, we’re happy with what we’ve got.”

“It would have been nice to medal, it would have been fun, but we didn’t and that’s that. We got 4th and so you live with that. You’ve just got to live with what you’ve got.

Dodson spoke about the fact that sailing won’t be included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and his desire to build this discipline of the sport back in New Zealand.

“For us, for our team, for us to carry on sailing you can do it, but there won’t be Para-sailing in Japan. So I think we can do it in Auckland, we can do a regatta, get everyone down to Auckland. Personally I want to build it, we don’t have many young people doing it at the moment and we should have. We’re not number one in the world, and we should be up the top there with all the other sports I was talking about.”

Dodson, talked about the quality of the competition and the level of talent in the Sonar fleet in Rio.

“You would think when they’re para-sailors they’re not that great – but they are good. We’ve had a lot of fun. They are very, very competitive.”

“I’ve been lucky, I’ve sailed America’s Cups and the World Series’ and these guys are as good as they are, so these guys are good.”

“Once you get in the boat you forget that [we are para-sailors]. If I’m annoyed, or they’re annoyed with me, we say it. We can forget everything on the boat, we can all be normal and very competitive, good sailors and so are the guys we race against.”

Known as Kiwi Gold Sailing Team, the combination of Rick Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp have had an outstanding week in Rio.

Competing in the notoriously tricky conditions of Rio’s close-in courses, the team finished day one lying second, dipping to fourth after day two, back up into third after day 3 at the mid-way mark.  Lying sixth after day’s four and five required an all-out final push from the kiwis, and they delivered that today with a great final race.

The Sonar three-person keelboat has provided incredibly tight racing with switching positions among the fleet thought the six day regatta, and the Kiwi team came into the last race on day six only five points off bronze and six off silver, with seven boats fighting for the last two podium positions.

Support from New Zealand, for the popular team has been overwhelming with messages flooding in.

“Such a close finish is hard,” says Celia Sneddon, part of the Kiwi Gold Support Team in Rio, “however the team is happy with the way they finished the regatta.”

“The support from you and the New Zealand yachting community has been what has kept the team’s fighting spirit high this week.  From the start of the campaign four years ago our friends, family and sailing community have showed their faith in this team.”

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Sonar Event Top Five

Gold AUS – Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris – 26 points

Silver USA – Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Bradley Kendell – 44 points

Bronze CAN – Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes – 51 points

4th NZL- Richard Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp – 51 points

5thNOR  – Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg, Per Eugen Kristiansen – 54 points

Full results here:

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Image © Richard Langdon

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