Editorial- Mind games in Qingdao

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. 49er. Star spangled banner.
Welcome to Sail-World.Com's Olympic newsletter for Day 2 of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta.

Great Britain's three shoo-ins for Gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Regatta are in fine form after two days of racing. In the 49er and Yngling classes, the 2012 Olympic Hosts are leading their class, and five times World Champion, Ben Ainslie is lying in second place in the Finn class.

Today was pretty much a slow action replay of yesterday, with the Qingdao Doctor shifting five degrees to the south and flicking the anemometer at 4-8 knots.

Many believe the wind strengths are being enthusiastically reported. Certainly we would have expected to see the crews working a little harder on Course E today, the outermost of the five courses, had there been a consistent eight knots. The 49ers sailing in Course A, outside the Media Centre were treated to a six knot breeze in the official records, but more like 3-4kts according to observers.

GBR leaves Olympic Harbour for the first race in the 49er class

Whatever, the racing today was as close and exasperating as it was yesterday.

One who will certainly be exasperated is Greek Finn sailor Emilious Papathanasiou, who picked up his second 'go-home' from the International Jury for infringing Rule 42(a), which for those not entirely familiar with the nuances of the Racing Rules of sailing, means that he pulled a little too often on his mainsheet in the light conditions, and was considered by the on the water jury to have infringed.

Emilious Papathanasiou (GRE) leads Zach Railey (USA) across the finsh line in Race 3 of the Finn class.

Lest some consider that a particular judge has a vendetta against the #15 ISAF ranked sailor, the on the water judges are being rotated, and there is a fair chance that Papathanasiou has been yellow flagged by two different judges and possible three. So it is a fair cop.

No doubt to his chagrin, Papathanasiou has a first and a fifth placing, which without the two DNF's, he would probably be in the top three overall. Certainly the 35yr old who finished in 5th place in the 2004 Olympics has shown a remarkable comeback ability in this regatta. His most stellar performance was recovering from a 25th place around the first mark in the first race of the regatta, to take the winner's hooter three legs later.

Similarly today recovering from 25th to finish 5th overall.

Dan Slater and coach sort out the issues between Races 3 and 4

New Zealand's Dan Slater, who just seven months ago was presented with the silver medal at the Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne broke a dreadful run of late teens placings, to finish fourth in today's Race 4.

Kiwi sailors are known for their Gallows Humour in times of adversity, and their Olympic Director, Rod Davis, was running true to form when he quipped after Slater had returned to the Olympic Harbour, 'I think it will be all right now, we've taken the belt and shoelaces out of his room!'

The surprise packet of this regatta, so far has been the performance of US Finn sailor Zach Railey who leads Ben Ainslie (GBR) by a healthy five point margin. Railey has three second places to his score from four races (his other score being a fifth) - a remarkably consistent record in these conditions which have ankle tapped many of the more fancied competitors.

In the Yngling class, the British crew of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson hold a seven point lead over Finland, with the Netherlands in third overall. The Canadian crew who held second place overnight, dropped back to 12th overall after placing 10th and 15th in the 15 strong fleet today.

Start of the 49er class, Race 1 2008 Olympic regatta, Qingdao

The advent of the 49er class provided some much needed spectacle to the Olympic regatta with their sail plan designed to reflect the graphics of their national flag. However the fickleness of Qingdao was underlined on the class points table with the British crew of Ben Rhodes and Stevie Morrison, who hold a narrow one point lead after three races, having finished in the top three only once today.

The two points of contention in the event so far continued apace today. There was no change to the stand-off between on the water media and the event organisation over camera boat positioning, with photographers having to work over 100 metres away from the competition, and often being expected to take images of what is supposed to the the leading event in world sailing from behind a line of coach boats.

Where this one will end is anyone's guess, however tempers were very frayed again today.

Dutch training partners USA trialling their upwind gennaker.
Troels Lykke

As Bob Fisher 'The Fish ' writes today, deciding which spinnaker to measure has turned into game of Cold War proportions in the Tornado class. with several electing to measure in the revolutionary small spinnaker, now with the moniker of 'Code Zero' after its equivalent in the America's Cup.

Use of the sail will allow crews to fly a spinnaker to windward, greatly increasing power, as reported by some on the water observers - with one Tornado crew twin wiring upwind in the 6-8kt breeze while three-sailing, while a conventionally rigged Tornado in two-sail configuration was struggling to get one crewmember on the trapeze.

With the first race in the Tornado event not due to get underway until next Saturday, there are plenty of mind games to come on this particular innovation.

Good Sailing!

Richard Gladwell
Sail-World Olympic Editor
http://www.sail-world.com/47525