Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Floaters

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.

Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82Ancasta Ker 33 660x82PredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

The Great Dane dies at 88 + Video
One of the heroes of sailing, Paul Elvstrøm (DEN) has died at the age of 88 years. One of the heroes of sailing, Paul Elvstrøm (DEN) has died at the age of 88 years. Known as the Great Dane, and winner of four Olympic Gold Medals, and many world championships in multiple classes from dinghies to keelboats, Elvstrøm put a footprint on the sport like no other.
Posted on 7 Dec
A Q&A with Olympic champ Malcolm Page about his new job at US Sailing
I recently talked with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s newly hired Chief of Olympic Sailing, to learn more about his new job. Malcolm Page (AUS; 44) is a hyper-talented Men’s 470 sailor who won two Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) sailing with two different skippers, as well as seven World Championship titles, and who has long studied under the legendary Ukrainian coach Victor Kovalenko. I recently talked with Page, who was just hired as US Sailing’s new Chief of Olympic Sailing, to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 5 Dec
America's Cup - Kiwi lodges Appeal against Jury in San Francisco Cup
Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case taken against the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. On October 28, 2016, US District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed Mitchell's claim against the five-person International Jury on the basis that it was lodged too late.
Posted on 2 Dec
A Q&A with Nick Bice about the recent changes for the 2017/2018 VOR
I caught up with Nick Bice, the VOR’s director of boats and maintenance, to learn more about the VOR’s new directions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s director of boats and maintenance, deliver a keynote speech to an audience of marine-industry professionals and official Volvo Ocean Race suppliers at the 2016 METS trade show in Amsterdam. I caught up with Bice after his presentation to learn more about the new directions that the race is taking for its thirteenth edition.
Posted on 28 Nov
A Q&A with Sharon Green about the prep work that ensures great images
I talked with ace photographer Sharon Green to learn more about the prep work that goes into each image that she snaps. I caught up with ace photographer Sharon Green at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn more about the behind-the-scenes preparation work that goes into each image that she snaps. While some of Green’s tips are specific to professional shooters (e.g., helicopter time or juggling multiple camera bodies), plenty of amateur lensmen will be well served to consider Green’s racecourse-proven tips.
Posted on 23 Nov
Dockside with CQS - radical, revamped supermaxi up close
The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday - the White Island Race which will double as Rolex Sydney Hobart Qualifier. Originally the 90ft Nicorette designed by South African Alex Simonis, the new project to upgrade to a 100ft supermaxi has been led by Brett Bakewell-White (NZ) and Bakewell-White Yacht Design.
Posted on 22 Nov
Gladwell's Line - President Croce caught at helm in Perfect Storm
No real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way an eight-year term After a year or more punctuated with issues that should not have happened, it is no real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way through what should have been an eight-year term. Also gone is one of his lieutenants, Chris Atkins (GBR) as Vice President, who remarkably polled 13th out of the 15 candidates.
Posted on 15 Nov
Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep