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Team Tunnicliffe into USSTAG Qualifier finals

by Anna Tunnicliffe on 14 May 2011
Team Tunnicliffe at USSTAG Qualifier 2011 © Dave Bronson
Anna Tunnicliffe on a cold, wet Sheboygan day that ended with Team Tunnicliffe reaching the finals in the USSTAG Qualifier.

Anna:

USSTAG Qualifier number two saw a cold and wind Sheboygan day. Seven races were sailed in the six hours we were out on the water. Team Tunnicliffe saw victory in all but one race in the round robins today ending with a 5-3 record, finishing the rounds second overall. We raced the semi-finals against Genny Tulloch, the third seed, and won the series 2-0 to advance to the finals tomorrow against Sally Barkow.

The day started foggy again. The fog was very thick, so much so that it was misting on us while we rigged the boats. The race committee held us ashore until we could see the end of the harbor. This happened around 11:45am, at which time we were told to head out for a 1pm start. We hit the water just after noon and got back to the dock at 6:30pm. The wind built through the day, building the sea state and making the wind chill kick in. But the races were held pretty quickly, with only one period of time where we sat around and got a bit chilly. Most of the racing was close which made us sail hard and forget about the cold.

The round robin series was cut short by one race at the end of the third round. The results were set and the last race of the round wasn't going to change who was in which pairing for the semi finals. So with all boats in agreement we moved on and started the semi's. The semis series was also changed from first to three points, to first to two, meaning that there was the potential to be wrapped up today leaving just the finals tomorrow. As it worked out, that is exactly what happened, and so the finals and petit-finals will be raced tomorrow. Racing for Sunday was cancelled this morning given that the current forecast has the winds blowing over 30kts.

Our closest races today were against Genny. We ended up racing her a total of four times, and two of them were really exciting.

The first close race was during the round robin series. We won the pin end of the line and led into the top mark by a couple lengths. On the downwind leg, she played two shifts correctly and caught right up to us by the leeward mark, rounding just feet behind us. Up the second upwind leg, we had an intense tacking dual with her, matching her tacks for most of the beat.

At the top of the beat, we hit a big wave on port tack just as we crossed her bow. We were now a length down from layline because of the wave and knew that she would 'have a piece of us' (meaning if both boats sailed straight without altering, they would hit us) when we tacked back, so we had to set up to try and do a maneuver at the top that would guarantee she would end up behind us. We succeeded in pulling it off, and we rounded her bow to our stern, with us slightly faster. Downwind, the waves were picking up and made for some nice surfing.

We pulled a little ahead and gybed for the finish line. She crossed over our line and gybed about four lengths to leeward of us but behind us. She worked her boat hard and managed to catch back up to us and get a leeward overlap. But they worked a little too hard and ended up getting a penalty for breaking rule 42. At this point we just had to get to the pin end of the line and stay out of trouble and we would win the race. As it worked out, we caught a couple nice waves, and stayed ahead to cross the line a length ahead of her and take the win.

The other close race was the first race of our semi finals. We didn't have the start that we wanted and ended up following her into the top mark by about a length and a half. Downwind, we worked to catch as many waves as we could, and gybed in a slightly better spot than her as we approached the leeward mark. We held our spinnaker up a little longer than we normally would have and managed to surf to an inside overlap and round the bottom mark ahead. From there, we were able to control where she went and extended our lead to a couple lengths by the top mark and surfed downwind to take the first win in the series.

Tomorrow we race the finals in a first to three point series. The forecast for tomorrow right now is big wind, which will mean big waves and exciting sailing. We are looking forward to the races and the conditions.

We would like to thank our gold level sponsor 11th Hour Racing, and our bronze level sponsors Carmeuse, Trinity Yachts, and Chicago Match Race Center for their continued support of our campaign for the 2012 Olympic Games. We would also like to thank US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) and its sponsors for their continued support. Also, thank you to our private donors. Please remember that any and all donations/contributions to our campaign should be made payable directly to either The Sailing Foundation of New York (tax deductible) memo'd Anna Tunnicliffe, or to Anna Tunnicliffe.

Team Tunnicliffe: Website
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