U.S. Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta - Women's Match Racing day 1

Anna Tunnicliffe and crew in action
In the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta, racing got underway in Weymouth/Portland, UK with a significant portion of the Semi-final Round being completed. Although the day started out with grey skies and light wind, the conditions improved to allow the Race Committee to complete four races in Flight A and five in Flight B.

In the 'first-to-six wins' round, there are two pairings. The first, Flight A, completed four races. Anna Tunnicliffe’s 'Team Maclaren' with Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi leads Stephanie Roble’s team of Maggie Shea and Darby Smith with four wins, zero losses.

Tunnicliffe and Roble headed off the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy docks for the first races held in 5-7 knots. In the opening match up, Roble’s nerves may have gotten the best of her as she crossed the starting line early, and incurring a penalty to give Tunnicliffe an early lead and a relatively simple first win.

The second race was the most exciting of the series with Roble leading Tunnicliffe off the line and around the first windward mark. She extended her lead on the first downwind run to round ahead by almost one minute. But then, the wind shifted and went light, giving Tunnicliffe a chance to get into a more favorable wind, at almost halfway behind on the course. She gained speed and passed Roble, who was still waiting for the wind to find her. The second, third and fourth race wins went to Tunnicliffe.

In Flight B, five races were held. Genny Tulloch, Alice Manard Leonard and Jenn Chamberlin lead Sally Barkow’s team of Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham and Alana O’Reilly with three wins to Barkow’s two losses. The afternoon match up of the two teams was held in slightly stronger wind, 7-10 knots and building over the rest of the day to 15.

Racing in the Semifinal round continues on Saturday, May 5. The winner of each of the two Semifinal Knockout Series matches will advance to Stage 2 – the Final Knockout Series, which is also a 'first to win six matches' round. Tulloch handily won the first two matches, and then the wind built making the third match even more exciting.

Barkow and Tulloch got into a heavy tacking duel in the first upwind leg, with Barkow round the top mark with a slight three boat-length advantage. Tulloch tried hard to pass from behind downwind, but Barkow covered well to round the mark ahead. She held the advantage to cross the finish line by less than one boat length for the win.

With Tulloch up 2-1, she went into the fourth race looking for another win. She had a strong start and held the lead around the course. While Barkow fought hard to catch and tried many times to get into a position to pass, it wasn’t mean to be. Tulloch up with three wins, to Barkow’s one.

The fifth race – the last one of day one – was held as the sky was getting dark. Barkow got off the starting line with good speed and conveyed that into a controlling lead on the course. She continued to lead Tulloch to take another win. The series stands at three wins for Tulloch, two wins for Barkow.

Racing in the Semi-final round continues Saturday, May 5. The winner of each of the two Semifinal Knockout Series matches will advance to Stage 2 – the Final Knockout Series, which is also a 'first to win six matches' round. The winner will represent USA at the 2012 Olympic Games. The Olympic Sailing Regatta will be held July 27 – August 12, 2012, in Weymouth and Portland, located on the southern coast of England, approximately 120 miles southwest of London.

Women’s Match Racing Trials website