by Dana Paxton
Practice racing in three sailing events, the Star, Finn and Women’s Match Racing, took place on the day before the Olympic Sailing competition in Weymouth and Portland, U.K.
US Womens Match racing Team - Daniel Forster/www.go4image.com
It was a chance to review the racecourse area, have a look at the complete fleet and have a run-through of the game-day process.
For Finn sailor Zach Railey, the past four years have been spent in preparation for this coming week. 'We have spent a considerable amount of time here,' said the 2008 Olympic silver medalist. 'This is really a second home to us and we feel comfortable here.'
Railey and his coach Kenneth Andreasen, who was with him in Qingdao and is now US Sailing’s high performance director, have looked over every possible detail of the campaign.
Today’s practice gave them a look at the 24-boat fleet. 'It was a chance to get a little bit of racing in before the real racing tomorrow,' said Railey. '..get some experience on the Nothe course, which is always good as it’s one of the most difficult of the courses. It’s going to be fantastic. I think there are 10-12 guys in the Finn class who are on form right now and it will be a very interesting week to see who ends up on top.'
Star: Mark Mendelblatt & Brian Fatih
In the 16-boat Star class, Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih utilized the day to review their boat’s settings as well as get time on the West Course, site of the majority of the fleet’s upcoming racing.
'It’s very choppy and tough sailing out there,' said Mendelblatt, a 2004 Olympian. 'It’s going to be windy the first few days. Today was nice breeze and we worked on our settings to make sure we’re tuned right for the breeze. We’ve had a week or two of light air and it’s a bit of a shock to get back into this breeze in cold weather, but it (today’s practice race) was pretty much about checking in with our heavy-air settings and that we have everything dialed in.'
Women’s Match Racing: Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer, Debbie Capozzi
An abbreviated round of practice was held for the 12 women’s match racing teams on the Portland Harbour course. Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi raced against the teams from New Zealand and Portugal. They have held the #1 ranking from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) since September 2011.
Practice races in the Laser, Laser Radial and 49er classes will be held on July 29.
The entire U.S. Olympic Sailing Team – 16 athletes – along with Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen joined along with their Team USA team mates in the Opening Ceremony in London. 'It was such an exciting night!' said Amanda Clark. 'Sarah and I with the US Sailing Team made our way to the front of the USA procession. It was absolutely incredible to see the stars and stripes leading the way.Singing along with Paul McCartney with all of the athletes as we walked out of the stadium also was a memorable moment!'
U.S. Olympic Sailing Team<
Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Lihan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – 470 (Women’s Two Person Dinghy) Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Stanford, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) – Elliott 6m (Women’s Match Racing)
Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.)—RS:X (Men’s Windsurfer)
Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.)—49er (Men’s Two Person Dinghy High Performance)
Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) – RS:X (Women’s Windsurfer)
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (both Miami, Fla.) – Star (Men’s Keelboat)
Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Laser Radial (Women’s One Person Dinghy)
Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.)—Laser (Men’s One Person Dinghy)
Stu McNay (Boston, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.)—470 (Men’s Two Person Dinghy)
Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Finn (Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy)
News and results, photos and interviews here
Video interviews with the Team on YouTube channel here