Qingdao offered a mixed bag of breezes for today's packed schedule. 470 Men and Women were able to fully catch up to their ten-race program, with eight knots in their first races dying to a subsequent five or six knots. However, all nine other events were unable to keep up with their allotted races.
49ers may have seen the worst racing today with a 120 degree shift in their first race. Despite the tricky day, Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.) and Chris Rast (San Diego, Calif.) managed a third place. Rast said, 'We hoisted the chute halfway up the second beat and then no one knew where the finish was. But we saw 270 degrees displayed at the course change, so we just made progress toward 270.' They sailed most of the final leg without the finish line in sight, but their blind progress was perfectly directed, and they passed from 8th to third on that leg. Today's results were 3, 8, 4, thus putting them in sixth place overall and qualifying them for tomorrow's medal race.
The fleet has only completed 12 races of the planned 15, but they have met the six-race requirement to proceed to the medal race. Wadlow and Rast now sit six points out of a bronze medal and nine points out of silver. The top ten boats in the 49er fleet are all close in points for tomorrow's double-points medal race, especially third, fourth and fifth, who are only one point apart.
In the Star class, John Dane (Gulfport, Miss.) and Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.) finished in second and fourth in today's two races. They currently lead the Star fleet, one point ahead of Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams of New Zealand. Though only yesterday Dane said he was here to have fun, he reminded the media that he and Sperry have a 92-boat Bacardi Cup win under their belt from 2006, and that they finished third in this year's 114-boat Bacardi Cup.
Dane and Sperry were in second place in the second race when they were caught in a Star/Tornado traffic jam right at the finish, dropping them to fourth by the time they crossed the line. Perhaps most impressive was their move from ninth to second in the first race. In a fleet packed with champions it is an achievement to pick off so many boats.
Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) sailed another keeper in the Laser Radial, finishing sixth in her 28-boat class. Now that the fleet has completed five races, the discard score is into play. This means Tunnicliffe with her consistent scores has dropped to third place overall. It is still early in the event, and having that race to spare has proven quite useful for sailors like Railey, so Tunnicliffe is not feeling too bad about her position.
The Tornado duo of John Lovell (New Orleans, La.) and Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Texas) used their new gennaker on most upwind legs today, and it proved most useful once the wind started to die as predicted. The sailors finished in 12th and seventh in their two races today. Ogletree said not all of it was the sail. He said a lot of it was just tactics.
But, he did say he wasn't sure if they had properly prepared for using this new sail at the Olympics. 'In hindsight we didn't spend enough time racing with it. We tried to be secretive so we kept it out of regattas and maybe should've tried it, because you see situations and angles in racing you don't see in two-boat testing.'
Both the USA 470 Men and Women have finished their regattas after missing the top ten for the medal race. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.) finished their event in 12th place out of 19 boats after scores of 17, 7 today.
After a commemorative photo shoot in their team gear, they tried to think about what it felt like to finish their first Olympic regatta. But Mergenthaler explained, 'We've been so into the racing that we haven't had much time to think about it.' Clark added, 'When we go to Beijing and see all the other athletes it might start to sink in and then we can reflect.'
The 470 Men's team of Stu McNay (Lincoln, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.) came in 13th place of their 29-boat fleet. Biehl explained that they were in ninth place going into the last race. McNay said, 'The current was going diagonal to the line and we started in the wrong place. If we had been closer to an end we could have known better where the line was. Then we were too far back to catch up.' Though McNay and Biehl are disappointed in their finish, they have two Olympic race wins to remember.
In the Laser, Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.) had a rough day and finished today's single race in 32nd place, which is now his throwout score. He, too, was disappointed in his finish, but eager to hear of his teammates' scores to keep his mind off of his own. With the 49er comeback and the exciting Finn race to recount, there was plenty of material to feed Campbell's need for distraction.
Finns, Ynglings, RS:X Men and Women were all unable to race today, though the Finns tried and sailed the first lap of their medal race. After two attempts were blown off on the prestart, the Finns finally got going on the third try.
For almost the whole prestart, the USA's Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) was engaged with gold medal defender Ben Ainslie of Great Britain. At thirty seconds to the start they separated and were free to accelerate on their own. None of the ten Finns were near being over the line as they were all conservative, but Railey was well-positioned with a clear start in the lower third of the starting line.
Seconds later Railey dipped back down below the line, confusing spectators as there was no flag to signal an Individual Recall. Railey later explained he had heard a horn and went to clear himself figuring he was over early. (He was not over).
Though Railey had a better start than Ainslie, that move allowed Ainslie the opportunity to cover Railey, which he did-hard. By the top mark, Ainslie and Railey were five minutes back in deep ninth and tenth, and that distance only grew on the downwind. As boats rounded the leeward mark the wind had died substantially such that the sailors were barely making progress upwind. The race was called off and rescheduled for tomorrow. When asked if he was used to this sort of match racing, Railey replied, 'We've been preparing for this and I think I showed that pretty effectively yesterday.'
As Ynglings were to follow the Finns on the same course, they were canceled and sent in just before 4:00 p.m. Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) will have to wait until tomorrow for their final race. Bronze is the only available medal for the USA's taking, but eight boats could conceivably be in that hunt for bronze. This may lead to less of a match-race-style fight for bronze and more of a fleet race.
The lonely RS:X Men and Women were unable to get off any races today and so will sail tomorrow, which was initially scheduled as a reserve day. Nancy Rios (Miami, Fla.) and Ben Barger (St. Petersburg, Fla.) are eager to get going.
Tomorrow's schedule is as follows: Yngling medal race at 1:00 p.m. Finn medal race not before 2:00 p.m. 49er medal race not before 3:00 p.m. As the medal race was made for TV, it's only appropriate that tomorrow's schedule should be as well. In this case, Ynglings are first so that there will be time for onboard cameras to be switched to the 49ers. RS:X Men and Women, Laser, Laser Radial, Star and Tornado will all shoot for three races tomorrow starting at noon. The forecast is for more breeze tomorrow with an approaching storm system. Current Standings for U.S. Sailors Star: 16 boats 1.
John Dane (Gulfport, Miss.) and Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.), 8, 2, 4; 14 2.
Pepper and Williams (NZL), 4, 9, 2; 15 3.
Domingos and Santos (POR), 3, 3, 10; 16 Finn: 26 bo