Croatia wins first ever sailing gold in Men’s 470, Australia silver, Greece bronze
All photos c Sailing Energy / World Sailing
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) have won Croatia’s first ever gold medal in Olympic sailing. The Croatians sailed a controlled race, making sure they stayed ahead of their rivals Australia and Greece. However Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) were much concerned about protecting the silver medal and engaged Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) in a match race before the start.
With the race underway, the Swiss team streaked off into the lead, but the three medal contenders were much more interested in covering each other’s moves at the back of the fleet. With the Aussies and Greeks caught up in their own duel, Croatia’s job of defending gold became straightforward.
Meanwhile, Belcher mostly had the best of Mantis until the top of the final windward leg when Ryan lost his footing and briefly fell overboard. The Greeks seized the moment and moved into the lead, but the Australians attacked again on the final run to the finish. They pressured the Greek boat into making a small mistake on a gybe, and the 2012 Olympic Champion steered the Aussie boat for the finish, crossing the line just six seconds before their rivals to secure silver for Australia. Despite missing out to the Australians, the Greek crew was still very happy with bronze after a tough series at Rio 2016.
Fantela and Marenic’s victory crowns a stunning week for Croatia, the 470 Men’s gold going alongside Tonci Stipanovic’s Laser Men’s silver just two days ago. Croatia had never won an Olympic medal in sailing, now it has two.