Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

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.

Schaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250T Clewring AC72Naiad

Related Articles

Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge - the retrospective -Part III
In Part III, the Question and Answer session, we will discover why Nathan’s nick name is George and why Tom is so fast Interview with Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby. In Part III, the Question and Answer session, we will discover why Nathan’s nick name is George and why Tom is so fast at post capsize recovery.
Posted on 9 Nov 2015
Blast from the past, do you remember this? Great Video!!
One particular race in the 2012 London Olympic Laser Radial regatta in Weymouth was one of most watched sailing events One particular race in the 2012 London Olympic Laser Radial regatta in Weymouth was one of the most watched sailing events of 2012. Watch it again to remember exactly why.
Posted on 8 Nov 2015
Lijia Xu ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012 - THAT Speech
Lijia Xu (CHN) was crowned ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012 at an awards night in Dublin, Ireland: Lijia Xu (CHN) was crowned ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012 at an awards night in Dublin, Ireland. The acceptance speech from the China sailor was one of the most eloquent ever heard. The acceptance speech from the China sailor was one of the most eloquent ever heard. If you have not heard it, you can catch it now.
Posted on 3 Nov 2013
Mat Belcher – 17 in a row - 'The harder I work, the luckier I get'
The harder I work the luckier I get, is a quotation attributed variously to Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain The harder I work the luckier I get, is a quotation attributed variously to Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain but perhaps of Amish origin, but regardless the sentiment is well understood. And it’s something that one of Australia´s most successful Olympic class regatta sailors and his coach understands very well.
Posted on 20 Aug 2013
Ainslie- Close to quitting sailing after Andrew 'Bart' Simpson's death
I came close to quitting sailing after Andrew 'Bart' Simpson's death, says Sir Ben Ainslie. British sailing great, Sir Ben Ainslie writes in The Daily Telegraph on after the funeral service for his close friend, Andrew Simpson, killed in San Francisco as a result of an AC72 break up, during a training session.
Posted on 3 Jun 2013
A Tribute to Bart
This video pays tribute to Andrew Simpson's many sailing achievements, His Service is to held on May 31, in England Andrew 'Bart' Simpson died in the capsize of the Artemis Racing AC72 on May 9, 2013. His service will be held on Friday May 31 in Sherborne Abbey, UK, followed by a celebration of his life at Sherborne Castle. This video pays tribute to Bart's many sailing achievements
Posted on 31 May 2013
Ainslie knighted in New Year Honours, five others recognised
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie has been Knighted in the New Year Honours list. British sailor and four-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie has capped a triumphant year of sailing with a Knighthood in the New Year Honours list. British Sailing has more cause for celebration, with honours also going to Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas, and to Ainslie’s coach David Howlett, who were both named as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Posted on 29 Dec 2012
2012 Paralympic Games a winner in global TV ratings
The London 2012 Paralympic Games were a TV ratings winner with pictures shown in more countries than ever before. The London 2012 Paralympic Games were a TV ratings winner with pictures shown in more countries than ever before and attracted their biggest ever international audience according to new figures published by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Posted on 28 Nov 2012
London Paralympic Games debrief to start in Rio
Paralympic Games committee will share their knowledge and experiences of London 2012 with future organising committees. The organising committee of what International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven defined as the best ever Paralympic Games, will share their knowledge and experiences of London 2012 with future organising committees and the 2020 candidate cities this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Posted on 21 Nov 2012
2012 Olympics- The Medalists thoughts on Kites and Windsurfers
The new Olympic Medalists were asked their thoughts on the decision to change the event from Windsurfing to Kiteboarding At the Medal Winners Media Conference held after the Medal Ceremony for the Mens and Womens Windsurfing Event at the 2012 Olympics, the new Olympic Medalists were asked their thoughts on the decision to change the event from Windsurfing to Kiteboarding the 2016 Olympics.
Posted on 2 Nov 2012