Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 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.

Zhik Yachting 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82PredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

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
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
A Q&A with Shawn Macking about the StPYC’s Sailing Center and OD fleet
I talked with Shawn Macking, the StPYC’s waterfront director, to learn how the club is getting more people out sailing. I caught up with Shawn Macking, waterfront director of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, via email to learn more about the club’s Sailing Center, its hefty investment in a new fleet of ten J/70s, and how the StPYC is using this infrastructure to expose more people to the sport we all love.
Posted on 13 Feb
A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba
I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event. If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, imagine racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls. I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures it affords.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Anna Tunnicliffe about her return to competitive sailing
I talked with Anna Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing. Anna Tunnicliffe won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the Laser Radial before shifting her sights to the Women’s Match Racing event for the London 2012 Olympics. Here, she came up shy of expectation and left sailing for the CrossFit Games, but now she is returning to her roots. I talked with Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016