Rio de Janiero – Worldsailin – Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) have won gold after a heart-stopping Medal Race in the Nacra 17 Mixed Multihull. Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) took silver and bronze goes to Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT).
The Argentineans made hard work of the Medal Race, picking up a penalty early on to round the first mark at the back. But they fought back to third by the top of the final lap, only to incur another penalty for sailing too close to the Austrians. After dropping the gennaker and taking their 360 penalty turn, Lange and Saroli rallied to cross the finish in sixth place, just seven seconds ahead of the Italians.
It was a crucial seven seconds that gave gold to the Argentineans by a single point from Australia. The young Aussies crossed the finish behind the New Zealand team of Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL), but more importantly finished 10 seconds ahead of the Austrians who crossed for third place. Australia and Austria were tied on points, but silver goes to Waterhouse and Darmanin for their superior finish in the Medal Race.
It has been an extraordinary Games for Lange, at 54 the oldest competitor in the sailing at Rio 2016. He has had the pleasure of watching his sons, Yago and Klaus, represent the nation in the 49er skiff, and he has survived cancer in the past year.
Lange says the rigours of his sport helped to save his life and return to competition after he lost a lung to cancer just a year ago. His hectic schedule led to diagnosis of the disease, he said, while the experience of five Olympic campaigns, winning two medals along the way, was key in keeping him positive through his ordeal and returning for a sixth challenge.
Lange, with crewmate Carlos Espinola, won bronzes for Argentina at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 in the now discontinued two-person Tornado class event before combining with Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) in 2014 in the Nacra 17 mixed class, a new addition to the Olympic sailing schedule at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
But plans were suddenly placed on hold in 2015 when Lange was diagnosed with cancer and eventually had his left lung removed. “The six months I was dealing with that, I was so positive,” Lange said. “Now when I look back it was a good experience, difficult but I learned a lot. I was operated on in Barcelona and after five days I was cycling, in a month I was back sailing.
“I was very lucky to find it (the cancer). Probably if I wasn’t travelling so much and wasn’t so tired it wouldn’t have been found. I see myself as very lucky.
“For sure my philosophy and what I learned through the sport helped me a lot. With sailing you learn to suffer in a certain way, to go through hard times and stand up and keep pushing.”
By Andy Rice – World Sailing