WATCH: Golds for Team GB in nail-biting Olympic medal races
In one of the most exciting medal races in Olympic history, Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell won gold after a tense finish in the men’s skiff 49er, while Giles Scott successfully defended his Olympic title in the space of a nail-biting hour in Enoshima Yacht Harbour. John Gimson and Anna Burnet also won silver in the mixed Nacra 17 class.
In the 49ers, Fletcher and Bithell required a perfect race to deliver gold after heading into the final medal race in second, four points adrift of New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. The British pair needed to finish two places ahead of their rivals to take gold.
Despite a good start for the British duo, Germany moved just ahead of Great Britain in the middle section of the race, meaning that the gap to New Zealand had been reduced to one place and Team GB was back in silver.
In an extraordinary nip-and-tuck final leg as they approached the finishing line, Fletcher & Bithell executed the perfect gybe edging ahead of Germany in a photo finish on the line to put a decisive extra boat between themselves and New Zealand.
Speaking after the race, Bithell told The Telegraph: “I’ve certainly never seen that in the Olympics. I think the exact moment I knew was the very last gybe at the end. They gybed and we gybed almost simultaneously and I could just see the bow coming out – we were on a little bit of a wave and we got a little bit of a surge on – and it popped us over.”
In the heavyweight Finn class, Scott secured his gold medal after recovering from a nightmare start. Scott left himself a mountain to climb after fearing he had gone too early and deciding turn full circle and go back across the start line.
As reported on Sky News, Scott says: “I don’t think I was over at the start but I played it super safe because that was the only way I could mess things up. I made the call to go quick and then I had quite a lot on.”
Scott follows Iain Percy and Sir Ben Ainslie to secure Britain’s sixth successive triumph in the heavyweight Finn class.
Silver medallists Gimson and Burnet were guaranteed a medal going into the final mixed Nacra 17 class race and finished fifth to stay in second place behind Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti.
The sailing medal hauls took GB to 13 golds for the Games and four sailing medals after Emma Wilson’s bronze in windsurfing.