Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Gold fleet racing for Laser, Men’s RS:X and 49er classes was held today, Thursday 15th December, in Fremantle, Australia.
Anna Tunnicliffe’s Team Maclaren of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi advanced to the Women’s Match Racing Final match after defeating Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) in the semi finals.
The event serves as the second and final US Olympic Team Selection Event in the nine Olympic fleet racing events. It is also the country qualification regatta where USA will look to secure an Olympic berth in all 10 Olympic events.
Although the wind was not 'Doctor strength' as promised, conditions were 12-16 knots under sunny skies for the good part of the day. Women’s Match Racing made its debut on the Centre Course, the spectator friendly bay that is lined with beach and rock jetties, perfect for spectating from shore.
In the 'first to three wins' match up against Skudina, Tunnicliffe’s team won the first two matches fairly easily. However, the new course area played into the
'The conditions were really tricky,' said Tunnicliffe after racing. 'We came off the line with the end we wanted in the first two races, but ended up being slightly behind at the top mark, but close enough to make a pass. Both of those races we were playing it close, keeping it safe and defending when we’re ahead and attacking when behind.'
In the third race, Team Maclaren wasn’t as lucky. 'Going into the third race, it was the same idea,' explained Tunnicliffe. 'We wanted the right hand side and made a mistake up the first beat of not tacking sooner towards the right. It ended up her being ahead at the top mark.
'Coming down to the bottom of the course, we got overlapped with her at the bottom mark and there was difference in opinion with us and the umpires. They thought she gave us enough room. I didn’t stick our bow between her and the mark because I didn’t think there was enough room. The call ended up green. If I’d have stuck it in there maybe it would have been a penalty and a different story. It’s a high risk move on our part and we didn’t take it. The course was pretty one-sided; it shifted hard right and we followed her around the track and couldn’t get it back.'
Tunnicliffe lost that match and went into the fourth match determined to win.
'After that (loss), we regrouped refocused, took a deep breath,' said Tunnicliffe. 'We had to really focus on a new race. The same idea: We knew she was fast and we had to go out and not think about the scores. And that’s what we did.'
The final match was one of the more exciting matches. Skudina was given a red flag penalty, meaning she had to take her penalty immediately.
Tunnicliffe explained the incident. 'We were ahead of her at the top mark,' she said. 'We came downwind and we jibed first. She got a little bit of pressure and soaked in and surfed in underneath us, but didn’t have luffing rights on us. She tried doing a double jibe to gain luffing rights. As she jibed her first one, we jibed to match and when she jibed back her kite hit us. That resulted in her penalty. We were only 3-4 (boat) lengths from the mark when this happened.
'As we rounded the mark she was ahead of us, the umpires felt she shouldn’t have been ahead of us, she should have been behind us, and so they gave her the red flag as soon as she cleared the zone for the mark.
To listen to the full audio, click here
On Friday, Tunnicliffe will face current world champion Lucy MacGregor (GBR). 'We’ve raced Lucy before,' said Tunnicliffe. 'She’s a great competitor and we know they’re going to be really good. We are just going to keep focusing on what we’ve been doing all week. One race at a time and keeping it simple.'
In the 49ers, only one race was held for the gold fleet. Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (North Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.) finished 14th and are in 13th overall.
Clay Johnson (Toms River, N.J.) struggled a bit in the gold fleet, adding a 13th to his scoreline and dropping a 43rd in race 8. He is in 17th overall.
In Men’s RS:X, Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.) finished 33-40and is now in 37th overall.
World Championship racing in the Women’s RS:X, Laser Radial, Men’s 470 and Finn classes were completed on Dec. 11. The Olympic Trials Tracker has been updated showing final points for all American competitors in those classes.
To follow the live blog from event organizers and link to live tracking, please visit the event website
. For class results click here
. US Sailing Team website