The closing day of racing at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta brought silver and bronze medals to the US Sailing Team. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan won silver in Women’s 470, while in Women’s Match Racing Anna Tunnicliffe with Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi won bronze.
Additional medal race finishes were Zach Railey, fourth overall in the Finn, and Charlie Buckingham 10th in Laser. The regatta was held in Weymouth and Portland, U.K. where racing in 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes took place in advance of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
'Sail for Gold is always a highlight on our schedule because of the practice it gives our athletes on the Olympic and Paralympic race course areas,' said Dean Brenner, chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee. 'We are full steam ahead on our Games’ goals, and this regatta gave us a clear picture of where we are. For the next 48 days everyone will be working toward our ultimate goal – Olympic and Paralympic medals.'
Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan started the day in sixth overall, with a chance at either silver or bronze medals. The three-lap windward-leeward course was set up on the Nothe Course, which will be the spectator course during the Games. The 10-boat 470 fleet started close together, but was soon out-paced by Clark and Lihan, the team Israel and a few other teams. By the second beat, Clark and Lihan were neck-and-neck with the Israeli team and kept close behind. Once they got to the second windward mark rounding, the two teams were clear ahead. Clark and Lihan won the medal race to clinch the silver medal.
'It feels great,' said Clark. 'We’re pretty excited to be racing at the front of the fleet. It’s going to be amazing competition. By no means does this say this is how it’s going to stack up (next month). This is why we do this, to sail against the best in the world and to challenge ourselves. Sarah and I have worked really hard for this. We’re psyched to take this into the Olympics.' Although the team has only been together for 15 months, they have seen their performance advance. 'I think we’re the strongest we’ve ever been,' said Lihan. 'Amanda is one of the most talented skippers in the world and I’m honored to sail with her.'
In Women’s Match Racing Anna Tunnicliffe with her ‘Team Maclaren’ of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi won two matches in the morning quarter-final match up against Silja Lehtinen (FIN). They advanced into the semi-final round against Claire Leroy and lost the 'first-to-two-wins' match up. In the petit-final match, where the third- and fourth-place teams compete for bronze, Tunnicliffe was paired against Ekaterina Skudina (RUS).
'Considering how this regatta started for us, we’re happy with our end results,' said Tunnicliffe. 'We didn’t have the smoothest regatta and sometimes you have those regattas. We are very happy to come away with the bronze. We would have been happy if we made the finals, but we did the best we can and we’re psyched about it.'
Next up for the team is the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championships at the end of the month. 'We’d love to defend the championship title,' said Tunnicliffe. 'It’s a good lead in regatta to the Olympics and the second biggest event of the year. We’re looking forward to having a good event and winning like we always do.'
The world number one match racers also collected two gold medals at ISAF World Cup events, Princess Sofia Trophy regatta and French Olympic Sailing Week. With the bronze medal at this event, they won an overall 2011-2012 ISAF World Cup gold medal.
With an assertive start, Railey was launched out to the left side of the course with an advantage over the fleet. Although the entire 10-boat fleet went to the left side, Railey tried to hold his top-three spot at the top mark. The fleet converged on the downwind and Railey soon found himself in the middle of the pack without a lot of options.
'Going into the start of the race we thought the left side would be favored,' he explained. 'We wanted to win the pin. I was in third and looking to have third place secured. The sailor I needed to beat (Postma, NED) rounded in 10th. There was a big change in pressure on the first downwind. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side and he actually wound up going from 10th to third. That’s sailboat racing.'
US Sailing Development Team member Charlie Buckingham finished in 10th overall in the Laser class. Buckingham explained that this regatta was one of the highlights on his summer competition schedule.
US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes competing at Sail for Gold
Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Stanford, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) – women’s match racing, bronze medal (3rd overall) Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Lihan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – Women’s 470, silver medal (second overall) Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.) – RS:X (Men’s Windsurfer), 29th Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) – Finn, 18th Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.) – 49er, 11th Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) — RS:X (Women’s Windsurfer), 27th Jen French and JP Creignou (both St. Petersburg, Fla.) – SKUD-18, fourth Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.) – 2.4mR, ninth Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (both Miami, Fla.) – Star, 13th Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Laser Radial, 13th Paul Callahan (Cape Coral, Fla./Newport R.I.), Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) – Sonar, eighth Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.) – Laser, 19th Stuart McNay (Boston, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.) — Men’s 470, 13th Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) – Finn, fourth
US Sailing Development Team members competing and results, to date:
Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) – Laser, 10th Carson Crain (Houston, Texas) – RS:X , 58th Zach Brown (San Diego, Calif.) and Fred Strammer (Nokomis, Fla.) – 49er, 33rd Gordon Lamphere (Lake Forest, Ill.) – Finn, 41st Greg Martinez (Houston, Texas) – Laser, 78th Solvig Sayre (Vineyard Haven, Mass.) – RS:X, 41st