Five years ago, Santiago Lange and Cecilia Caranza Saroli (ARG) set the Games alight with their victory in the Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 event at Rio 2016.
First was the fact that Lange was 54 years old competing in one of the fastest, most athletically challenging events in Olympic sailing. The second was that the Argentinean had scarcely recovered from lung cancer, having had 80% of his left lung removed less than a year earlier.
Just a few weeks short of his 60th birthday will Santiago Lange and Carranza Saroli, repeat their gold medal winning heroics of Rio 2016? The Argentineans are certainly ranked among the favourites. But there are many other favourites too in a technical class where new breakthroughs are arriving month after month. No one quite knows who’s going to show up at Tokyo 2020 with a new technique that could be the winning difference.
The Nacra 17 broke new ground in Olympic sailing when it was launched in time for the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle. It was the first event in Olympic Sailing that required mixed gender teams. Since this high-performance 17ft catamaran burst on to the scene eight years ago, crews have been experimenting with which way round works best: male helm/ female crew or female helm/ male crew. Both combinations have proven successful so maybe it doesn’t seem to make that much difference. What is vital is that the helm and crew work in complete harmony, keeping this tricky twin-hulled seesaw in balance at all times. When the Nacra 17 was launched for the four-year cycle leading up to Rio, it was already extremely challenging as a ‘semi-foiler’.