The news from the women’s match racing course on Day 3 of the Olympic Regatta was good for U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. But only just. Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi won both of their races by a combined seven seconds, or about a boatlength in sum. They beat Finland, a regular training partner, by 2 seconds, and the French team, led by former world champion Claire Leroy, by 5 seconds. One false step and the U.S. team would’ve found itself on the hot seat with five races remaining in the round robin.
As it stands, they’re tied for fourth with Great Britain, one point behind Spain and Russia, and two behind Australia, which is the only undefeated team after six flights in the Women’s Match Racing competition.
There were patches of joy elsewhere in the Olympic Regatta, but few that seem to indicate any hardware coming the way of the Stars & Stripes.
Erik Storck and Trevor Moore won their second race, which was a great sign, but offset by the 16th in Race 1. As usual, the 49er class provided a lot of inconsistency in regards to individual results. Storck and Moore are ninth overall, but just 9 points out of silver. Tomorrow should be a crucial day for this class as the throwout comes into play after and the breeze is expected to be quite strong.
Zach Railey finally found his rhythm, finished second in Race 1 and then eighth in Race 2, executing the sort of comeback that eluded him earlier in the regatta. That’s a medal contending scoreline, if carried over multiple days. But Railey’s dug himself a deep hole with four double-digit finishes and knows that even sailing as well as he did today will not lift him into medal contention. He’s 12th, 25 points off the bronze medal. He needs to make up much of that in the next four races, and he’ll need some sailors to make some missteps to do so. The medal race counts double, but there’s a limit on how much can be gained there since only 10 boats compete.
The surprise of the day for the American team was Bob Willis in the Men’s RS:X class. I can’t remember the last time a U.S. sailor scored top-10 results in a top international regatta (the Rolex OCR rarely draws in enough talent in the boards to qualify), and Willis brought home two of them today. He’s in seventh place overall, and more breeze, his favored condition, is on tap for tomorrow. The U.S. Women’s RS:X representative, Farrah Hall, also had a solid day, though not as good as Willis. She’s 21st of 26 after a 22nd and an 18th.
Paige Railey struggled today. A 12th and a 17th leaves her in ninth, and with some ground to make up. She needs a couple of strong races tomorrow to push back into the medal picture.
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih are well within striking distance of the medals, despite two races with which they were disappointed. They had an eighth and a ninth and are now sixth, with 30 points, and 13 points out of bronze. The Stars are off tomorrow and back in action on Thursday. Lighter breeze might benefit the U.S. team.
Finally Rob Crane had another difficult day in the Laser, a 30th and 28th leaves him in 36th of 49.
Quotes of the Day:
“Honestly, it’s like any other race. It’s always a thrill to win a race. And our mentality is going to be the same going forward: just taking it one race at a time, one start at a time. Hopefully by the end of it we’re right there fighting for a medal.”
—U.S. 49er crew Trevor Moore on winning an Olympic race
“I know I’m in a tough spot. I’m in a very tough spot with those first four races. All I can do is worry about the race that’s in front of me. We’ve got six races in the book, I’m going to worry about Race 7, and go on from there.”
—U.S. Finn sailor Zach Railey
“Yeah, it’s not that easy. Because you know most of the guys in the fleet including myself have had one average race, so you can’t just, you know, ignore the rest of the fleet. You know, my focus, as it has been the whole way through, has been on my own game, and trying to do the best job I can, and that’s all I can really do right now.”
—Defending Finn world champion Ben Ainslie (GBR) on whether it’s time to start focusing on hurting regatta leader Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark.
“We’ve done a lot of racing here. It’s tricky; sometimes the wind can be 10-degrees further left, and it’s like a shifty course from the hill, and it can be a bit further right, and it’s a righthand track. Today it was just in the right direction to get massive lifts on port coming into the top. But I was watching, and there are a lot of gains to be made on the righthand side at times. It was going back and forward a bit. But typically if you’re at the front, the safest option was to go left and everyone in the fleet knows that.”
—49er world champion Nathan Outteridge (AUS) on the wind on the Portland Harbour course today.