by Dana Paxton
Day three of the London Olympic Sailing Competition was eventful and windy for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team who yielded strong results in Weymouth.
Paige Railey (USA), Laser Radial
Overall after six races: Zach Railey, 12th (Finn); Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih, sixth (Star). After four races: Erik Storck and Trevor Moore, seventh (49er); Paige Railey, fifth (Laser Radial) and Rob Crane, 39th (Laser). The windsurfing events began today with two races, and Bob Willis is in seventh, while Farrah Hall is in 21st.
Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi extended their match racing record to four wins, two losses. Racing continues in all of these events on August 1, except for the Star and Finn, which will have a reserve day.
Erik Storck and Trevor Moore completed two more races in their 15-race series, with today’s races held on Portland Harbour. With finishes of a 16th and a first, they now find themselves in ninth overall. The conditions were clearly to their liking. 'We were happy with conditions both days,' said Storck. 'We had a good game plan for the fourth race that we executed. We like flat water and breeze, and expect to have more the next few days.'
Winning a race at the Olympic Games isn’t as simple as the two make it sound. 'It’s always a thrill to win a race,' said Moore. 'I think our mentality is going to be the same, taking one race at a time, one start at a time. Hopefully by the end of it we’ll be there fighting for a medal.'
The 49er event is scheduled for 15 races in the series, with the medal race set for August 8.
Another solid day for Laser Radial sailor Paige Railey, who holds onto ninth overall. Two races were held inside Portland Harbour, within viewing distance of those onshore, for both the Laser and Laser Radial classes. Railey finished in 12th and 17th, while Rob Crane finished 30th and 28th. Crane is in 36th overall.
Racing continues on Aug. 1, with the medal race set for August 6.
Zach Railey was back on form today in the men’s one person dinghy heavy event (Finn). The first two days of racing, July 29-30, did not produce the results he wanted. Today’s races 5 and 6 produced a second and eighth. This brings Railey up to 12th overall. 'The decisions I made in the first couple of races in this regatta, I still feel like they were good decisions based on our training,' said Railey. 'The wind didn’t go my way and that’s part of sailboat racing.'
For today’s racing, held in similar conditions but on Weymouth Bay, Railey explained he stuck with the plan he and his coach Kenneth Andreasen put together. 'I was very confident the left hand was going to pay on the upwind in the first race,' he said. 'I had a great start at the pin, went out left with Jonas and rounded in third at the top mark. I was able to pass a boat and get a second. I feel very good about that race.'
The Finn takes a reserve day on Aug. 1 and resumes on Aug. 2 with two scheduled races. The series continues through Aug. 3 with the medal race scheduled for Aug. 5.
Miami’s Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih added eighth and ninth race finishes to their scoreline in the men’s keelboat (Star class). They are in sixth overall in the 16-boat event.
'Today’s wasn’t a great day,' said Mendelblatt. 'We sort of made comebacks, but the final finishing positions weren’t great. I didn’t sail a good day tactically. I felt like I was having a hard time getting into phase. The shifts are very quick, 15 degrees, and they don’t last more than a minute or two. Sometimes it pays to tack on them and sometimes it doesn’t, so you don’t know whether to tack on them or not.'
After four races, Mendelblatt is not counting them out for a medal. 'We don’t consider ourselves out,' he said. 'We had a talk on the way in. We said ‘we got to come out here and get some top three races and try and get into medal contention. Regardless of what happens we are going to give it our all every race and try to finish strong.'
The Star takes a reserve day on Aug. 1 and resumes on Aug. 2 with two scheduled races. The series continues through Aug. 3 with the medal race scheduled for Aug. 5.
In Women’s Match Racing, Team USA continued to add wins to their results in the round robin. Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi defeated teams representing Portugal and France. The round robin continues on Aug. 1.
'The race against Finland was fantastic,' said Capozzi. 'They got the start we wanted, and it was a grind fest up the first beat. We were able to pass them on the first downwind, hold them off to the second upwind mark. I cannot tell you how many times the lead changed on the last downwind. I think we beat them by an inch. It’s always fun to race against them. We train against them all the time.'
Bob Willis made his debut at the Olympic Games in the men’s RS:X Windsurfer. Willis’s many months of training in Weymouth Bay and on the Great Lakes near his home in Chicago paid off today with two top-10 results. In the first two races of the 10-race series, he scored a seventh and 10th. 'The past few days we were going really fast,' said Willis. 'Today’s focus was to get off the line and be one of the first guys to the left side. I executed and was in top six at the weather mark. We’re very happy with it.'
How does someone who has never competed in an Olympic Games approach the first race? 'Peter, my coach, and I were talking about it,' said Willis. 'To me it felt like any other regatta here in Weymouth, other than we have pink sails. I’m very comfortable sailing here.'
Another debut Olympian for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team began their competition today. Farrah Hall collected a 22nd and 18th to establish an overall 22nd place in the 26-boat fleet.
'My first race I had an unlucky start so I didn’t finish so well,' said Hall. 'That means I was in a group of people down by the pin end of the line and I didn’t get away from the fleet. The second race was better. We had a racetrack today, which means one side is favored, so you have to get to that side and to the mark fast. It’s simple and all about speed. The first 5-10 seconds after the start can make or break the race.
Racing continues on Aug. 1, with the medal race scheduled for Aug. 7.
Results to Date
Women’s Match Racing, four wins, two losses, Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Stanford, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) – defeated FIN and FRA on July 31
13th, Finn (Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy), Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) 10-15-13-17-2-8
6th, Star (Men’s Keelboat), Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (both Miami, Fla.) 5-14-5-3-8-9
9th, Laser Radial, Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) 8-5-12-17
36th, Laser, Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.) 35-42-30-28
7th, 49er, Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (Naples, Fla./N. Pomfret, Vt.) 6-10-16-1
22nd, Women’s RS:X Windsurfing, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) 22-18
7th, RS:X Windsurfing, Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.) 7-10
US Sailing website