Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

London Olympics 2012—Starlight but not bright on North America tonight

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 4 Aug 2012
Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn (CAN), competing in the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
Today was a day of reckoning for Star sailors, with the top ten teams in this hyper-competitive, extremely cerebral class progressing to Sunday’s medal race. Sadly, today was also the day that some sailors flaked their sails for the last time of this Olympiad. Given the Star’s current exclusion from the 2016 Games, this could well be the last day of serious Olympic competition that some of these athletes will experience…at least in their current class.

North American medal prospects twinkled softer today after the Canadian team of Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn earned a proud a fifth-place finish in the first race, followed by a 13th in race ten. While the fifth-place finish was the Canadian team’s best effort of the 2012 Games, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep them in the top-ten. Instead, Clarke and Bjorn had to settle with a twelfth-place finish, overall, thus ending their Olympic run.

'It just hasn’t been our week,' reported a disheartened Clarke in the mixed-media zone after today’s racing. 'We have struggled in conditions that have normally been our strength, lacking a bit of pace, particularly off the wind. It has really been a frustrating event for us. We got officially eliminated today from the medal race so our regatta is over.'

As far as preparation, the Canadians aren’t quite sure how or why the wheels came off of their medal dreams. '[We felt] really prepared,' said Clarke. 'Certainly before the event I felt very prepared. I still can’t put my finger on what exactly what went wrong or why it all went wrong. We’ve spent a lot of time here. We’ve spent a lot of time working with the Brits who are leading this regatta. Sometimes it’s just not your week and unfortunately for us this week hasn’t been ours.'



The American-flagged team of Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih faired much better than their northern neighbors, racking-up an impressive third-place finish (their second of this regatta) in the first race, followed by an eleventh in the day’s second contest. These results, coupled with their efforts throughout the week, leave the Americans sitting in sixth-place, overall. This keeps Mendelblatt and Fatih in the medal hunt, but—points wise—it doesn’t exactly make their lives easy going into Sunday’s medal race.

Interestingly, Mendelblatt began working with Robbie Doyle, of Doyle Sails, in 2008 to develop his own Star sails, rather than simply placing an order with North Sails (the majority of the Star fleet) or Quantum Sails. 'I've known [my sailmaker] Jud Smith for a long time through Etchells sailing and I've always respected his work,' reported Mendelblatt earlier this year. 'I started using his sails in 2008. Since then, we've made a lot of improvements and done a lot of testing, and I've had no reason to look back. It's been a really good experience.'

When queried about this decision a few days ago, Mendelblatt remained positive about his sail inventory. 'Judd at Doyle has done a great job for us,' reported Mendelblatt. 'We feel like our sails are as good if not better than anyone else out there.'

Today’s sailing was a case-in-point example of the hard yards that the team has logged to develop their sails, especially in the first race. 'The boat felt a little better upwind [than other days],' said the always-analytical Fatih about his team’s first race. '[But] for some reason the second race just wasn't feeling so good… We were a little sticky on the runs on race two.' Given that each sailor is provided a boat at the beginning of the Games there are obviously a lot of variables at play, but it’s clear that the team’s sail-development program was a smart move.


As far as angles, Fatih reported that it’s hit or miss, but that—on the whole—he and Mendelblatt feel as though their boatspeed is quicker upwind than off-the-breeze. He also admitted that he and Mendelblatt—like all sailors—are partial to certain windspeed windows. 'We seem to like it either from 8-11 [knots], or really breezy. It seems like that stuff in the middle—we’re just not getting it done.'

One interesting question pertains to how both of the North American teams approached the regatta from an urgency perspective, given that this could prove to be the Star’s last Olympiad, at least until a different sensibility returns to the Olympic class-selection process. 'I was pretty sure this was going to be my last Olympics,' said Clarke. 'The Star being in [the 2016 Games] or not—I don't think it really affected our preparation.'

For the Americans, however, the Star’s endangered legacy lent an extra air of urgency to their approach. 'We did feel that going into [the Games] a little bit,' said Fatih. 'We wanted to do well. It might be the last chance. Hopefully Brazil is able to make [the Star class] come back in one more time. We will see… We want to be in contention but we are not, so we don't feel that great but we are going to just go out and do the best we can.'

From an admittedly American perspective, us 'Seppos' (lighthearted Aussie rhyming slang for Americans…Yanks...septic tanks…) can only hope that the weather gods either deliver the light stuff or present a howling wind during Sunday’s medal race. Please stay tuned for the latest news from this class, as it unfurls.

Naiad/Oracle SupplierProtector - 660 x 82Mackay Boats

Related Articles

A Q&A with Charles Pessler, the regatta director of the legendary STIR
I corresponded with Charles Pessler, STIR’s regatta director, to learn about the event’s recent changes and evolutions. I recently corresponded via email with Charles “Chuck” Pessler, who is serving as the regatta director of the legendary STIR, to learn more about the changes and evolutions that have taken place at the event since my 2010 trip to racing paradise.
Posted on 22 Mar
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
A Q&A with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race
I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba. The 2017 Miami to Havana Race is set to begin on March 15 and promises high adventure-both sailing-related and cultural-for the sailors lucky enough to be participating in this historical-and for now legal-race. I talked with Chris Woolsey, regatta chair of the Miami to Havana Race and SORC race chairman, to learn more about this exciting race to Cuba.
Posted on 13 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
Caleb Paine on winning a US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award
I talked with Caleb Paine about his recent US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his Olympic plans. On August 16, Caleb Paine broke the longest-running medal ceremony dry spell for American-flagged Olympic sailors since the 1930s when he captured a bronze medal in the Finn class at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I recently caught up with Paine on the phone to talk about his proud US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and about his future sailing plans.
Posted on 10 Mar
A Q&A with Lloyd Thornburg about his love of fast boats and racing
I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore. Not too many world-class sailors hail from the high deserts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, but Lloyd Thornburg isn’t your average sailor. The 37-year old investor flies the New York Yacht Club’s burgee from his fleet of raceboats that have included a Gunboat 66, a MOD70, and a Farr 280. I recently caught up with Thornburg to learn more about his program, and to gain insight into racing MOD70s offshore.
Posted on 8 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar
A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb