After the first day of the 2012 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider holds six top-10 positions across 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes, plus its women’s match racing team stands with two wins and four losses in the beginning flights of the round robin.
After a long day of waiting for the wind to reach a suitable speed for racing, organizers kept the fleets out on the water until the early evening hours. Racing continues through June 9 at the venue selected for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In the Finn class, Caleb Paine won the lone Finn class race of the day, besting a fleet of 44 skippers. Fresh off a gold medal at Delta Lloyd Regatta, Paine explained that he won by picking the correct side of the course throughout the long race.
'It was fairly close after the first weather leg, and the distance (on the fleet) stayed the same on the first reach,' he explained of the moment capturing the race lead.
'It was all in the first downwind. I stayed with all the boats and sailed in the pressure. There was an opportunity for me to either to stay with boats on right, looking downwind, or go to the guys on the left. I jibed over and took the pressure on the left side, and after rounding the mark it was a pretty easy beat by hitting the right side and I just extended.'
Paine has become more comfortable sailing against the top international Finn sailors. 'It was a matter of looking at where the pressure was,' he said. 'It’s more of being where the wind is. I’m happy I’ve been working on getting all these pieces together.'
Exlusive audio interview with Paine where he talks about the 2016 Games in Rio:
Before he went sailing, Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), who is in fourth overall, talked about the atmosphere at Sail for Gold, which is down in number of competitors compared to previous years.
'The atmosphere is very different than last year,' said Railey. 'The selections have been made for all the classes and we know, pretty much, who is going to the Olympics. For the Finn class, we have all of the representatives who will be at the Olympic Games minus two competitors. It will be a very good test here at the Olympic venue to where we’re at with just under two months to go.'
Exclusive video with Railey discussing lessons learned from Worlds, training in Weymouth, bringing experience from’08 Games and what it means to be elected Team Captain:
Women’s 470 duo Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Lihan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) put in a strong opening day performance and find themselves in 10th overall in the 32-boat fleet. With a ninth and a 14th in the light-wind conditions, they’re poised to continue building their overall series score.
Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl won the Mens’ 470 race 2 after finishing eighth in race 1. With a combined total points score, they hold fifth place overall.
'We started toward the committee boat end and thought there might be some more pressure on the right hand side,' said McNay. 'We went right and got a bit of the gain we were expecting, and were able to cross the fleet when we met again.'
A strong opener gives the team a boost. 'We find that having a good opening round, the first day, let’s you breathe and get those first day jitters out of the way,' said Biehl. 'We had a really long day today. We had a first race at 11am and got towed back in between racing and then went back out for race 2, finishing up around 6:30pm.'
The Paralympic class courses were also plagued with light wind, which prevented a full schedule of racing. The 2.4mR, SKUD-18 and Sonar classes completed one race apiece.
For Jen French and JP Creignou (both St. Petersburg, Fla.), the consistent performance they’ve displayed all year continued in the single SKUD-18 race. They finished in fourth with nine races remaining in the 10-race series.
Before Sail for Gold got underway, Kenneth Andreasen, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider High Performance Director/Head Coach, discussed the goals for Sail for Gold and what this event means for sailors.
'Having this regatta here is huge for us,' he said. 'We’re trying to run this the way we will the Olympics and Paralympics. We have a really good plan in place. For our sailors to come here a few weeks before the Games is a huge opportunity. This regatta is not really a sign of what we’ll see at the Games. There are other factors coming in during the Games. It’s a pressure-filled event. Some sailors will not be able to handle the pressure, such as some sailors not being able to handle the home-field advantage. But our team is well-prepared for the pressure.'