by Marni Lane
Delta Lloyd Regatta update: US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics’ (USSTAG) Andy Horton (S. Burlington, Vt.) and James Lyne (Granville, Vt.) won a bronze medal in the 16-boat Star class at the Delta Lloyd Regatta, the fifth International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup event in the 2009-2010 series.
Andy Horton and James Lyne in action.
This was their second podium finish at a Sailing World Cup event in 2010: they also won a silver medal at US Sailing's 2010 Rolex Miami OCR in January. Three Medal Races were completed yesterday, while the other fleets battled for medals today. Sailors who did not make the top ten competed in consolation races to round out their scores today.
The Stars competed in their Medal Race last evening in light air conditions of three to six knots. The race was challenging before the start: the course was held under the town of Medemblik with the weather mark approximately 100 feet off the breakwater. In a tight-at-the-top fleet, Horton and Lyne went into the Medal Race in third position.
'The boat was really favored but there was pressure on the left. Basically nothing was going to make this race easy,' said Horton. After a troubling start and a quick tack to keep their breeze clear, a few other boats were under them on port side while the other half of the fleet was still sailing on starboard.
'About half way up the beat, things starting turning around for us,' Horton explained. 'As you can imagine, you cannot see the puffs on the water coming down above the course - unless you could magically read the leaves on the trees, so this race was a little more about dealing with what gets thrown at you the best you can.'
Despite challenging starts and some speed issues in the chop this week, the Vermont-based team felt they were able to '[make] it through those problems alright,' said Horton. 'We are good friends and passionate about sailing but both realize that in the big picture it's still just a sailboat race.' They plan to compete at the next two ISAF Sailing World Cup events: Kiel Week in Kiel, Germany, and Sail for Gold in Weymouth/Portland, England, which is the venue of the 2012 Olympic Games.
'Andy and James showed, once again, that they are making great progress,' said USSTAG’s High Performance Director and Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.). 'We have a very healthy Star program and the competition is heating up.'
Two other USSTAG boats competed in the Medal Races: 2008 Olympians Amanda Clark (Shelter Harbor, N.Y.) and Sarah Chin (Hoboken, N.J.) finished eighth overall among 46 Women’s 470 boats, while Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) finished fifth in the 62-boat Finn class.
After a slow start to the regatta, Clark and Chin made a huge comeback to ensure a spot in the Medal Race. Unfortunately, the Women’s 470 Medal Race was tough to control: After a pin end start, Clark and Chin weren't able to keep a clear lane and were bounced around on the first beat. Every chance they had on the small course was swallowed up by another competitor. They finished the race in eighth, and finished eighth overall.
While Railey accomplished his pre-regatta goal of finishing in the top five, he had a disappointing Medal Race today, after a solid week of two bullets and other single-digit finishes. 'After the first lap of the race, I was in second. We had a big right shift on the second upwind and unfortunately, I was caught on the left of fleet and went from second to 10th,' said Railey. 'I knew after I had gone around the weather mark in 10th the second time… I had to figure out how to make top five happen.'
Railey will spend the next few weeks before Kiel Week training with his USSTAG Finn teammates, specifically focusing on boat-handling and upwind boat-speed, as well as physical fitness. 'I’m ready to go for the next event,' he said.
'We are close, but not quite there. We are leaving too many points on the table and have to learn to tighten that up,' said Andreasen. 'Our sailors are putting in a big effort and I am convinced that we will begin seeing it all come together in the next few events. With a big training effort in the coming weeks, we will be looking for top results at the summer's World and European Championships and World Cup events.'
After light air plagued the last two Sailing World Cup events, Olympic class sailors enjoyed competing in stronger wind this week. USSTAG Meteorologist Doug Charko (Auckland, New Zealand) summed up the conditions: 'After taking a holiday in Palma and Hyères, the wind came to play in Medemblik. No days were lost during the regatta due to lack of wind and only a few races were postponed during a light patch on day two. The majority of racing was in five to 10 knots, but there were plenty of races in 15 knots or more as well. The sunny skies gave way to steel gray cloud with rain for much of the medal racing in a full range of three to 20 knots.'
USSTAG is made up of the United States’ top athletes in each of the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes who train together with the common goals of winning medals at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Weymouth, England. The US Sailing Development Team is a new youth pipeline team comprised of future Olympic hopefuls, who are learning the skills required to launch successful campaigns and compete at an elite level. The next ISAF Sailing World Cup event is Kiel Week, scheduled for June 19-23, 2010, in Kiel, Germany.