Being that this is Britain, it’s no surprise that Queen’s power-rock anthem “We Are the Champions” was playing during yesterday’s medal ceremonies. For the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, today’s theme music is decidedly less triumphant. Though also by Queen. Try, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Today it was the Women’s 470 team. Mathematically, Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan are still alive for a medal. Realistically, however, they needed to chomp into the 20-point gap standing between them and the podium. They sailed well, grinding back from terrible first-mark roundings to finish third and ninth in today’s two races. But with the top three teams dominating today’s races, the gap to bronze only grew from 20 points to 25 points.
For the Women’s Match Racing trio of Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi, the news was similarly disappointing. They lost two straight to Silja Lehtinen and company of Finland in the quarterfinals and now have their backs against the wall. It’s the first to three wins that moves into the semifinals. Tomorrow, Finland will come out for the match with a 2-0 lead. In match racing, it’s entirely possible to run off three straight wins, but the Finnish team is sailing well, coming off a world championship a few weeks ago. It will take some flawless sailing from Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer, and Capozzi.
The U.S. trio led the first race from the start, but just when it seemed as if the race was in the bag, Finland surged back on a gust of wind and nipped the U.S. team at the finish. In the second race, the start was fairly even, and it remained that way for most of the first beat, with Finland protecting the right side. Toward the top, a right shift came in and that immediately put the American team on the back foot. They closed nicely down the run, and then nailed the leeward mark rounding to head upwind nearly on the transom of the Finnish boat. Again Lehtinen protected the right side, and again it worked. The U.S. team was once again able to close the gap on the run, but not able to get close enough to make the pass.
The best day on the water, from an American perspective, belonged to the U.S. Men’s 470 team. With little chance of making the medal race. Stu McNay and Graham Biehl had their best day of the regatta with a seventh and a fourth in the final two full-fleet races. It moved them up to 14th, but still left them 5 points shy of qualifying for the medal race.
With McNay and Biehl’s regatta now finished, just the Match Racing team and the Women’s 470 team remain in action for the U.S. Sailing Team, and in each case, the medal chances are hanging by a thread.