by Dana Paxton
US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee has now selected eight additional members for the 2012 US Olympic Team. The eight additional members were selected based on performance at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, Dec. 3-18, in Perth, Australia.
Rob Crane of the USA competes on day 15 during the Laser - Men’s One Person Dinghy Gold Fleet Race of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships on December 17, 2011 in Perth, Australia.
As the top-scoring eligible American athletes in their respective Olympic sailing classes, Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.), Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.), Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) Trevor Moore (Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.), Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.), Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.), Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Lihan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) have successfully completed qualification.
US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee will officially nominate the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team - Sailing, pending approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee. The full US Olympic Team – Sailing will compete at the 2012 Olympic Games, scheduled for July 27- August 12, 2012 in Weymouth/Portland, England.
'These additional eight athletes have shown they have the dedication and commitment required to win Olympic medals,' said Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.). 'Over the past three and a half years they have worked tirelessly to achieve the dream. This is the next step in that journey. We are all proud to call them members of the US Olympic Team.'
Rob Crane stunned the international Laser fleet on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Championships by winning the 9th race and finishing a close second in the 10th. His commanding final day’s performance earned him the top American position (14th) in the Laser and with it, the selection to the US Olympic Team. “We put in so much effort trying to do this and I’m so proud that I accomplished my goal,” said Crane the day after selection. “Without the support of my family I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Rob Crane was born into a family that is passionate about sailing and was introduced to sailing at a very young age at the Noroton Yacht Club. Rob’s competitive sailing began in the Optimist class, where he competed in the local Long Island Sound events and he also traveled to some of major events. In 1998 he won the Optimist North American Championship and soon after he advanced to the Laser Radial and won the JSA of Long Island Sound Championship in 2000. Rob “graduated” to the Olympic Laser in 2001 and has raced competitively in the class ever since. Unlike many of the serious youth sailors who compete today, Rob pursued other athletic endeavors during the school year, including hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Once at Hobart College he began to sail almost year round, primarily as Hobart’s singlehanded sailor where he was the first Hobart team member to qualify for the men’s Intercollegiate Sailing Associations Singlehanded Championship. In 2008 he finished third in the event. Rob is a full time athlete, traveling and training in pursuit of his Olympic dreams. His schedule includes the major international events such as the ISAF Sailing World Cup, world and continental championships. This will be Rob’s first Olympic Games. He is currently ranked #26 in the world and a member of Noroton Yacht Club. A first-time Olympian as well, Bob Willis qualified the USA for an Olympic Games berth when he made the cut for gold fleet at the ISAF Sailing World Championships “It still hasn't settled in yet,” said Willis. “It is an unbelievable feeling and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Ben (Barger) is a relentless competitor and pushed me so hard over the past few years. I found out from Dean and Kenneth as I completed recovery with our physio. I've had a constant smile on my face since!” Chicago native Bob Willis learned to sail when he was 8-years-old at the Columbia Yacht Club (in downtown Chicago). During his years at Francis W. Parker High School he began to windsurf and shortly after graduation he qualified for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. As the top-ranked U.S. windsurfer, Bob represented the USA at the Pre-Olympic Test Event in Weymouth, U.K., in August, at the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. An avid Chicago Bulls fan, Bob rates Chicago as his favorite city in the world and proudly represented his hometown and the USA at the 2011 Pan American Games where he finished 7th. He is ranked #75 in the world and is a member of Columbia Yacht Club. On the final day at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (Naples, Fla./Pomfret, Vt.) went into the 49er medal race with a chance at a bronze medal. Standing in 5th overall in the 10-boat fleet their goal was to secure a medal. But, the medal wasn’t to be. On the fifth leg, the rudder pintle broke and the high performance skiff stalled, then capsized. “It was going great there,” said Moore on the dock shortly after coming ashore. “We ended up attacking our plan. We got a port-tack start, hipped up on the fleet, and we were heading out right where there was decent pressure. We were winning the race going onto our third and final lap. “We were cruising upwind, and the rudder started to hydroplane and Erik didn’t have any steering. We went to windward and flipped. Our rudder pintle ended up snapping off. We couldn’t finish the race. After taking a look at where we rounded the second top mark, we were medaling. It was a crushing blow to have a breakdown at that point. If only the pintle would have lasted 15 minutes more we might have been sitting in a different spot.” The entire week was strong for Storck and Moore, who have been together as a team for less than three years. They have seen their performance strengthen at every event, and this world championship was yet another increase in their standings. They are currently ranked #12 in the world. Storck is a member of New York Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, while Moore is a member of New York Yacht Club. In an exciting finale to the Star class’s world championship, Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.) and Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.) won a bronze medal. “We’ve been working hard and training hard, and it’s all coming together,” said Fatih soon after arriving back at the dock. Mark and Brian teamed up in the Star during this Olympic quadrennium and have consistently found themselves in the top 10 at international events. Mendelblatt, a member of St. Petersburg Yacht Club, is a 1999 silver medalist at the Pan American Games (Laser) and a 2004 Olympian where he finished 8th in the Laser class. Fatih is a member of Shake A Leg Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club. This will be his first Olympic Games. They are ranked #17 in the world. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan teamed up in February, 2011 to compete in the Women’s 470 class. They have steadily climbed the ranks and steep learning curve of the technical two-person dingy. It’s been such a year for me,” said Clark, referring to her change in crews. Her former crew and partner in the 2008 Olympic Games, Sarah Mergenthaler Chin, retired from USSTAG in January. “It’s been an incredible year of change. The goals I set out for myself four years ago; this is the next step in achieving those goals. And to be a two-time Olympian? I just can’t believe it. I’m excited to have this moment to share with Sarah as it’s her first Olympics.” With only a handful of events in which they competed in 2011, their best performance, to date, is a bronze medal at the 2011 Sail Melbourne, in Australia, the first event of the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup. The team is ranked #9 in the world. Clark is a member of Shelter Island YC/New York YC/Seawanhaka Corinthian YC and Lihan is a member of Lauderdale Yacht Club.
Women’s Match Racing Olympic Team selection did not take place at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. The two events used to select the U.S. Olympic Team representatives are the U. S. Olympic Team Qualifying Regattas, held in October, 2011 and May, 2012.
To read the press release announcing the first five members selected for the US Olympic Team – Sailing, please click here.
To read the press release announcing the selection procedures, please click here. To read the details of the selection procedures, please click here.