Our complex sport - how do you explain this to a layman?

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At the end of 10 qualifying races in the Finn class at the Rio Olympics, Australian Jake Lilley was tied for 10th place with the Greek sailor Ionnis Mitakis. Both had 88 points.

Only 10 boats can sail in the medal race so a tie- breaker is used. Because Mitakis had a best result of 2nd across the 10 races and Lilley's best was 3rd, Mitakis was placed 10th and Lilley 11th. The Greek would sail in the medal race and the Australian wouldn't.

Then, in a protest totally unrelated to either sailor, Dutchman PJ Postma was disqualified from Race 10 because the bow of his boat touched the Argentinian Facundo Alezza in the pre-start. There was no damage or injury. However, the Argentinian protested (as he should have), the protest was upheld and Postma was disqualified from that race. 

His DSQ did not affect the score of Mitakis because Mitakis had finished third in that race, ahead of Postma. But it did affect the score of Lilley, who had finished behind Postma and now moved up from 17th to 16th.

As a result his total score was lowered by that single point to 87 and instead of being 11th, he was tied for 8th with Postma and Alezza. So he qualified for the medal race and Mitakis missed out.

All this is perfectly normal and within the rules. But try telling a non-sailor that is fair. The bottom line is that the sailor who got 3rd in the final race was shunted out of the medal race by a sailor who got 16th, because that sailor benefitted from someone who beat him being disqualified.

I'm pleased for Jake because he's made the medal race at his first Olympics and has a great Finn career ahead of him. But I can't help feeling sorry for Ionnis. And I don't want to have to explain it to any of the mainstream journalists who are here at the sailing for the first time.

As my mate Tom Fitzgerald from the San Francisco Chronicle kept saying to me at the America's Cup, "Roger, your sport is stupid but the people who do it aren't."

- Roger McMillan in Rio

Footnote: A Rule 69 (unsportsmanlike conduct) hearing is taking place which could change these results again, and result in Mitakis being elevated into the medal race. It does not involve Jake Lilley.

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