The winds were still on a sunny, 70 degree Olympic Day 9 on Guanabara Bay. And due to the wind, or lack thereof, Netherlands' Dorian Van Rijsselberghe and France's Charline Picon, racing in each of their respective RS:X classes, waited patiently for the breeze to pick up as the one and a half hour weather delay was lifted. They became the first Olympic sailing champions crowned at the Rio Games.
Meanwhile, all American crews that raced on Sunday have advanced to medal races or are in the top-10 overall standings heading into their respective medal races.
Van Rijsselberghe cued the crowd to cheer as the Netherlands' national anthem echoed throughout Marina da Gloria with a picturesque Sugarloaf Mountain in the background of the victory ceremony. He is the first Dutch sailor to successfully defend an Olympic windsurfing gold medal.
The men's RS:X gold and silver medalist were already determined before Sunday afternoon's medal race started and all they had to do was show up and finish.
Van Rijsselberghe finished with 23 points after winning seven of the 12 opening series races (the lower the points, the better). With Britain's Nick Dempsey at 44 net points after the opening series, no competitor could score lower than Van Rijsselberghe, which secured him as the Olympic champion. With Van Rijsselberghe’s win, Netherlands now has three men’s windsurfing gold medals, more than any other nation; Netherlands was previously tied with New Zealand with two gold medals each.
In a similar situation to the Dutchman, Dempsey was a lock for the silver medal. Besides Van Rijsselberghe, no other sailor in the men’s RS:X could score lower to take silver from Dempsey. He becomes Britain's most decorated male windsurfer in Olympic history. Dempsey's silver medal in Rio is his third Olympic windsurfing medal, after bronze in 2004 and silver in 2012.
The battle for bronze, however, was a pressure cooker. France’s Pierre Le Coq and Greece’s Vyron Kokkalanis were within eight points of Poland’s Piotr Myszka (77 net points).
The 20-minute race proved successful for Le Coq, who was two points behind Myszka entering the medal race. Le Coq took the lead after finishing in seventh place in the medal race. Points are doubled in the medal race, so Le Coq finished with 86 net points and took home the bronze.
Myszka finished ninth in the medal race and finished fourth overall with 88 net points.
Tears of joy fell from France's Charline Picon as she fell to her board in emotion and disbelief after crossing the finish line. Picon is now the women's RS:X Olympic champion.
Heading into the medal race, Picon was in a three-way tie for third overall with Peina Chen from China and Maayan Davidovich of Israel, all with 60 net points. Russia’s Stefaniya Elfutina and Italy’s Flavia Tartaglini, who were tied for first overall with 55 net points, headed into the medal race as favorites.
The bronze medal favorite, Spain's Marina Alabau (61 net points), trailed closely and was not looking for bronze, but to defend her Olympic gold medal from the 2012 London Games.
Gold was within every woman's reach.
In the end, Russia, Italy, Spain and Israel could not venture ahead of France, China or the Netherlands.
Although the Netherlands' Lilian De Geus won the race, it wasn't enough to top the nail-biting battle between Chen and Picon for gold, where Picon finished victorious.
Americans Pedro Pascual and Marion Lepert did not advance to the medal race.
Americans Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee didn't have the best start to the Rio Games; they had double digit finishes in four of the first five races and capsized in one of them. However, they quickly turned that around and are now heading to the medal race on Tuesday. They persevered and managed single digit finishes in their last six races.
Heading into the medal race, Argentina's Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza top the leader board with 65 net points. In second place, Italy's Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri have 70 net points, only two points ahead of third place.
The Americans keep on rising and strive for the podium.
Sunday proved to be a great day of racing for American men and women of the 470 class.
Team USA's Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes climbed two more spots and rose from eighth overall to sixth overall with 42 net points. They are 28 points behind leaders Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic of Croatia.
Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha of Team USA are ranked second overall and are only four points behind Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who have 20 net points. Gold medal favorites Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie from New Zealand are in seventh overall with 42 net points.
On Monday, Americans are scheduled to compete in the final three races of the opening series, and with continued success, Team USA will contend for a spot on the podium on Wednesday's medal race in both 470 classes.
All Scott Giles has to do is participate and finish the medal race on Tuesday. He is 22 points ahead of second-place overall, Slovenia’s Vasilij Zogbar, who has 56 net points. Giles of Britain has clinched the gold medal, as no contender can score lower after the conclusion of the medal race.
American Caleb Paine's disqualification was overturned and his second place finish in race six held ground. New video evidence revealed that Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic stretched the truth after he filed protest against Paine in race six. Paine is now in medal contention in fourth-place overall heading into the medal race.