by Dana Paxton
As the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games countdown continues, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes are foregoing the traditional American Memorial Day holiday to mark the start of summer. Instead, they are focusing on strengthening their preparation for the Games. Most Olympic class world championships took place in May, while June will bring the final World Cup at the Olympic Sailing Venue and the Women’s Match Racing Worlds.
US Sailing Team logo
'With 60 days until the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, every day of training and competition counts for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes,' said Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.), Chairman, Olympic Sailing Committee and the US Olympic Sailing Team Leader. 'Over the past four years, our athletes and coaches have broken down their individual training plans to examine every detail required to perform at a high level. Now is when those plans come together and start to pay off. It’s exciting to see America’s brightest sailors compete against the world’s best in each class. Come July and August, we’ll be ready and prepared.'
The first European ISAF World Cup event, Princess Sofia Trophy in early April, brought gold and silver to US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. Anna Tunnicliffe’s 'Team Maclaren' of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi, who won the final match against Claire Leroy (FRA) to win the gold medal in women’s match racing.
Zach Railey won a silver medal in the Finn after leading the fleet throughout the 10-race series. With a gold medal at US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Miami OCR, this is clearly a direction Railey has been working toward.
'I went out and executed the plan that Kenneth had for us that day,' he said. 'We have two months until the Olympics start and we’re going to keep getting better and better.'
Next up was French Olympic Sailing Week, held April 21-27, where gold was collected in Women’s Match Racing by Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi.
Women’s 470 team of Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan won a silver medal in Women’s 470. 'We’re really excited; it was a great week of strong wind,' said Clark. 'We’ve been practicing a lot in strong wind and it shows. To finish up second really helps our confidence as we go into the Games this summer.'
Jen French and JP Creignou finished in third overall in the SKUD-18, and were awarded a bronze medal. As members of the US Paralympic Sailing Team, the duo is poised for a podium this summer.
April also brought the official partnership of Sperry Top-Sider and the US Sailing Team. On April 24, Sperry Top-Sider®, the leading global nautical performance and lifestyle brand, announced its title sponsorship and with it, the newly named US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider was born.
Highlights in May competition included the US Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta in Women’s Match Racing. In a thrilling conclusion to four days of racing, Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi won by defeating their US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider team mates and world #3 ranked Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham and Alana O’Reilly. They won the 'first-to-six-wins' final match-up, which was held in Weymouth and Portland, site of the 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta. With the win, Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi were selected for the 2012 US Olympic Team – Sailing, pending confirmation from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
At the Laser Radial World Championships, Paige Railey finished in ninth place overall with US Sailing Development Team member Erika Reineke in eighth. Railey will count the Summer Games as her debut on the Olympic Team, and is looking forward to sharing the experience with her brother Zach Railey. This will be Railey’s second Games. In 2008 he finished second overall and has been working toward an improved podium position. At the recent Finn World Championship, he finished in 10th overall.
May concluded with the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, NED. Considered a warm-up regatta for June’s Sail for Gold, the ISAF Sailing World Cup event held at the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Venue. US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athlete Caleb Paine won a gold medal in the in the Finn class. It was a long, 10-race series for the young sailor, who regularly trains with Railey and US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen.
For Paine, this win was a milestone in his 2016 Games campaign, as he beat some of the Finn class stalwarts, including hometown Dutch favorite Pieter-Jan Postma.
'Winning the medal race was sweet,' said Paine moments after the regatta concluded. 'I usually get really nervous before a medal race. My Dad sent me an email the day before I went sailing. He said ‘You’ve already set the goals. You now need to let them flow out of you.’ That really comforted me. The points were super close. If Bjorn (Allanson, Sweden) had beat me with one boat between us, he would have won the regatta. It’s not that I walked away with the gold. It all came together for me.
'For 2016, this event is a huge breakthrough for me. I was able to perform when the pressure is on.'
Next up for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider is Sail for Gold. Held June 4-9, 2012 in Weymouth and Portland, U.K., the ISAF Sailing World Cup event is held at the site of the Olympic Sailing Regatta. From June 25-30, the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden. Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi will look to retain their 2011 title.
US Sailing Team website