by Dana Paxton
Day three of the Semaine Olympique Francaise was another windy one that nearly threatened to cancel racing, but with a very early morning start, some classes managed to squeeze in at least one race.
Clark and Lihan (USA)
The strong Mistral wind continued to excite the fleets with US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes improving scores as the week progresses. The Team holds five top-10 positions: Jen French and JP Creignou third in the SKUD-18; Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan third in Women’s 470; Mark LeBlanc is eighth in 2.4mR; Caleb Paine is ninth in the Finn; and Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Bradley Johnson are eighth in Sonar.
In Women’s Match Racing, Anna Tunnicliffe’s 'Team Maclaren' of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi continued to go undefeated and now find themselves up 8-0. Sally Barkow’s 'Team 7' of Alana O’Reilly and Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham extended their win-loss record, as well, and are at 8-1.
Finding the 'fast gear' are Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, who relished the 20-plus knot day, scoring a 2-4 in the Women’s 470. 'Speed in breeze has been one of our greatest strengths overall as a team,' said Lihan after racing. 'We were able to capitalize on that. Our racing philosophy has been that when we have our conditions we are out to get top three. So when conditions are less favorable we have maximized in wind. We have been quite quick and sailing smart tactically.'
With the early start, the team was at the boat park by 7am to begin the one-hour pre-race preparation before heading out to the racecourse. They wore the red ISAF leaders bibs and sported a red dot on their mainsail to signify an overall third place in the fleet. 'It’s always nice to wear the bibs,' said Lihan. 'We’ve had the red bibs before and nice to have them on again, and we are only a few points away from the blue bibs.'
While many classes did not race today due to too much wind, the 470 fleets – men’s and women’s – completed two races. 'One of the greatest things about the 470 is that it can race in 0-35 knots,' continued Lihan. 'Where we usually set our rake (mast setting) is huge gap to where it was today for the 25-28 knots. It is a massive difference. Let’s just say we sailed today in a setting we have never sailed before.'
Some of the conditions appeared to be survival weather, especially in the Paralympic 2.4mR, which sits very close to the water. With wind and waves comes a boat handling challenge. 'You get really wet and you constantly have to pump the boat out,' said Mark LeBlanc. 'And then you have to make decision while trying not to sink. The control lines are tailored, but some guys it’s harder for them to use a manual pump and steer at the same time.'
Racing continues through Friday, April 27.
Semaine Olympique Francaise website