by Dana Paxton
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta - On the final day of the 2012 London Olympic Test Event, the US Team took to the spectator-friendly Nothe Course for the medal races.
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih sail in from the Star medal race - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
In the Star medal race Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih finished in seventh for an overall 10th. That race was followed by the Finn medal race in which Zach Railey finished in ninth for an overall ninth place. With the medal races completed, so is the 2011 Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the only Pre-Olympic test event prior to the 2012 Games. Full results, photos, video and audio interviews of the US Team are online.
Star Medal Race
All of the medal races were held on the Nothe course, the spectator-friendly area that will host live race tracking and commentary during the Games. As all medal races are quicker than the races held in the 10-race series, with a target time of 30 minutes, the race can be over before it begins, especially on the complicated Weymouth Bay where the Nothe course is located. Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.) and Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.) got off the start line late. As Mark described, they went left, but then had a few tactical errors and found themselves rounding the windward mark in fifth.
'We did a decent job working up the center left of the beat and the right filled in,' said Mendelblatt, a 2004 Olympian.
'We rounded in fifth; we jibed set at the top mark, which was a good move. Then, we made a little mistake not jibing back early enough and lost some boat lengths. We had a bad leeward mark rounding. That set us up in a bad lane exiting out at the leeward mark and we dropped a bit more back. The final run wasn’t very good either, so it wasn’t a good race.' From there they fought hard to recover, but ran out of racecourse and finished the race in sixth.
Finn medal race
Next up was the Finn medal race. The wind continued to shift dramatically as in the Star medal race. Going into the medal race in ninth overall, Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) went into the race looking to improve on his series score.
According to the 2008 Olympic Silver Mealist, the conditions were a challenge. 'On the first leg, we all rounded together,' he said. 'I hit the first leeward mark in second place. We were planning for the wind to do on the second beat, what it did on the first. I was dead wrong and I lost a lot of boats. To drop from second to ninth is not good. The lesson is I need to adapt quicker. I recognized what was happening on the racecourse and I tried to react too late. I lost too many boats and finished ninth in the race.
'It’s a very shifty course. We’re right up against the shoreline. For people who haven’t been to Weymouth and don’t know, we’re 50 yards off the sea wall. There is a high mound on both sides and the wind is coming off the land. The wind is very shifty and we’re going to spend a lot of time trying to learn what we can. It’s good to go out and get some time in here.
'We’ll be spending a lot of time here getting ready for the Games. The first thing I have to do is put my weight up. Going into the 2012 season, the ISAF Combined Worlds, in Perth, I’d like to have a few extra kilos on. I haven’t done well enough yet, but I will in the fututre.'
During the fortnight, US won two bronze medals: in Laser Radial, won by Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)and in Women’s Match Racing, won by Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Alana O’Reilly (Charleston, S.C.) and Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham (Miami Beach, Fla.).
From here, the US Team will move onto Australia to train before the ISAF Combined World Championships, December 3-18, which serves as the final selection event for the U.S. Olympic Team – Sailing.
US Team overall results:
Finn – 9th, Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
Women’s 470 – 9th, Erin Maxwell (Wilton,Conn.) and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar (Fishers Island, N.Y.)
Men’s 470 – 11th, Stuart McNay (Boston,Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.)
Laser – 14th, Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.)
Laser Radial – 3rd, Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
49er – 22nd, Erik Storck (Huntinton, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (N. Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.)*
*withdrew due to injury
Women’s Match Racing- 3rd, Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Alana O’Reilly (Charleston, S.C.) and Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham (Miami Beach, Fla.)
Men’s RS:X – 23rd, Robert Willis (Chicago, Ill.)
Women’s RS:X – 24th, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.)
Star – 9th, Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.) and Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.)
US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics website