New Zealand sailors Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox went agonisingly close to a medal on the final day of 470 racing, but in the end had to settle for fourth place.

Entering today’s medal race, worth double points, the New Zealanders were fourth, behind Australia, Sweden and Spain.

The Australians, Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan, as good as had the gold medal sewn up, but Snow-Hansen and Willcox were hopeful of slipping past Sweden and Spain and getting among the medals.

The race, sailed in a steady breeze, was on a knife edge all the way. The Australians justified their place at the top of the table by winning it, just 0.08s ahead of Sweden, with New Zealand third, only 0.17s behind the Australians.

In the hectic finish the focus was on the Spaniards and New Zealand were desperately trying to put as many boats as possible between themselves and the Spaniards.

In the end, the Spaniards got over the line 7th, which was just good enough to secure them the bronze.

Australia finished on 23 points, Sweden 45, Spain 55 and New Zealand 57.

“We went out swinging today,” Willcox said. “We’re proud of the way we fought for that medal. But not quite being able to get across the line is a bitter pill to swallow. I think it’ll fester away and sink in over time.”

Snow-Hansen said that with only two points in it at the end, it was a case of “close but no cigar”.

He said they had prepared as well as possible for the event. “We did our homework and came here with a purpose. It wouldn’t have taken much for us to get over the line.”

The race marks the end of an era for Olympic 470 sailing. In 2024 the 470 will be a mixed event.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox have raced together for nine years, since they were fresh-faced young men just out of school. Looking back on their partnership today, they agreed today they had had a lot of fun, had some great races and visited some great places.

But they wouldn’t have mind finishing one place further up the fleet today and earning themselves an Olympic medal.  

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games
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