by Dana Paxton
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta has reached its sixth day for U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and in sharp contrast to yesterday’s quiet morning, today’s start was on time in 20+knots of building wind. In addition, the courses were longer and the target time per race was longer, putting a premium on boat speed, boat handling, fitness and tactics.
Erin & Isabelle racing on Saturday - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.) and Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.) stole the show in race four, the second of the day, by dominating the course and taking the win. They added that to a sixth in race three and now stand in seventh overall. (photo right: Brian Fatih brings the Star into the dock)
Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) described the day as tough, as did most of the U.S. Team, based on the extreme (wind) shifts. 'It was breezy and still hard tactically,' she said. 'When we first got out there we thought maybe the current would have more of an impact than the shifts, but the shifts were more important. It was hard work especially in the second race when it picked up. We were doing three laps out there. You have to be prepared for this.'
Railey’s long-term goal is a US Olympic Team berth and explained that this regatta is good preparation. 'This is going to be a really good regatta for us to analyze the area. The conditions change all the time here; when we think it will be one thing it will change to the other.'
Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) held onto a top-10 spot despite today’s 26th in race three. He explained that the conditions were so unpredictable and the wind so shifty that his tactics didn’t pay off quite the way he wanted to, and he wound up being one of many Finn sailors to capsize. 'If you flip over once you can usually get it back over pretty quick,' he said. 'I was 11th at the first mark and caught back up to seventh, and then just lost it on a big wave. That race was done and I pretty much couldn’t get it back.'
After a quick break between races, he explained it was time to regroup. 'We wanted to be on the left hand side of the racecourse. I won the pin end and was leading the fleet out to the left. Then there was a big right-hand shift, and I rounded 23rd, 24th. Maybe there were two-three boats behind me.' He wound up making up distance on the fleet and finished in eighth. 'To finish eighth in that race was really good. I’m pretty satisfied with that second race and we’ll come back fighting tomorrow.'
Women’s 470: Erin Maxwell (Wilton, Con.) and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar (New York/Fishers Island, N.Y.) combined a ninth and fifth to hold a top-10 position, an eighth, after three days of racing. 'It definitely could have been a 5, 5 on the day,' said Maxwell. 'We had a few bloopers and we don’t have to go into the details. It was a solid day again. A little sharper and we could be up in the top three, we’re not that far off the mark. When it becomes heavy air, there’s a big difference in speed between the front and back of the fleet, and upwind boat speed is essential to play the game.'
'It should be pretty exciting, we’re on the inner harbor and yesterday we were on the outer course and it was almost an hour tow (in) at full speedz planing. It was pretty brutal. I’m pretty excited to only sail out to my course and sail in.'
The Schedule: Monday, Aug. 8 racing continues in the Finn, Star and RS:X fleets. Women’s Match Racing will sail for five-eight, which means a day off for Sally, Alana and Elizabeth, as well as Brad Funk (Laser), Paige Railey, Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar, and Stu McNay and Graham Biehl.
U.S. Sailing Team Alpha Graphics website