Sailing: France wins RS:X women's title, Scott locks up Finn gold
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - France's Charline Picon claimed Olympic gold in the women's RS:X sailboard competition in a fiercely contested medal race that pushed Italy's Flavia Tartaglini, the leader before the medal round, out of the podium positions.
With only six points separating the top six of 10 sailors qualified for the medal round after 12 preliminary races, the gold, silver and bronze were mathematically attainable by most of the final-round sailboarders.
Sailed in nearly perfect firm and lightly shifting winds, the test allowed Picon to jump from fourth overall to the top of the podium in one of the closest and most dramatic Olympic medal round races ever.
China's Chen Peina won silver and Russia's Stefaniya Elfutina took bronze. Standing third and second before the medal race they had to fight from behind to survive.
Chen used impressive downwind power to grind back from a poor start and sixth position at the upwind gate. Her third-place finish left her two points shy of gold.
Elfutina, at 19 the youngest sailor at the Games and Russian's first sailing medalist in 20 years, made the first mark in last place after taking a penalty turn.
"I stopped thinking about my position there," she said. "The only thing I could do was pump."
The pumping, a board sailing action where the sailor repeatedly pulls and eases back the sail to drive the bard forward, worked. Continued...