Afternoon Tea, 2012 Olympics, Day 4

A quick look back at Day 4 of the 2012 Olympic Regatta, and the performance of the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.

Sailing World

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Farrah Hall enjoys a quick ride downwind during RS:X racing at the 2012 Olympics.Daniel Forster

When Anna Tunnicliffe and her team jibed to starboard about halfway down the run, I was sure the trailing Russians would pounce. But Ekaterine Skudina and her crew, despite holding perfect position for a covering jibe, didn't. Instead they carried on and jibed a few lengths after the two boats crossed paths.

At first I didn’t understand the move, but it was soon apparent as the Russian team jibed, surged forward, and was then able to hold Tunnicliffe and her team out past the leeward mark. It was a bold move that required both guts and downwind speed but then again so do many race-winning moves. The Russian team rounded the leeward mark first, protected the favored right side on the second beat and went on to comfortably win a match that could serve as a preview of something further on down the line, possibly with a medal riding on the outcome.

The loss leaves Tunnicliffe (along with Debbie Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer) at 5-3 in the Women's Match Racing round robin, and all alone in fourth place. One more win will all but lock up a spot in the quarterfinals where the round robin records serve only to seed the competitors. Still three losses in a round robin is approximately two more than this team averages.

If Team Tunnicliffe can win their final three matches they will at least face a lower seeded team in the first round, though this competition is quite tight and there’s little difference between first and last, as evidenced by Australia (currently undefeated) needing a last second comeback to beat Sweden (which has yet to win a race) earlier today.

Elsewhere on the waters off Portland, it was a glass-half-full day for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.

The 49er team of Erik Storck and Trevor Moore started off well, winning the pin end in the first start and then rounding the top mark in first. However a bit of bad luck—a trapeze bungee came untied and they were forced to retie it on the fly, costing them precious seconds on the first downwind leg—and some tactical miscues turned what could've been another race win into a seventh. An OCS start in Race 2 put Storck and Moore into damage control, which they did effectively, finishing 12th.

Those results actually moved them up in the standings, from ninth to seventh, and they are just seven points from bronze with 9 full-fleet races left. But they left some points on the table today, and that’s something they’ll be regretting this evening.

Paige Railey left points on the water as well. She was leading Race 1 at the top mark and finished fourth. In Race 2, she battled back from 13th to take ninth. A solid day, but she's now in seventh overall and 18 points out of bronze. A day off and a change in the weather could be very useful, especially since two of the leaders, Allison Young of Great Britain and Annalise Murphy of Ireland, are best in heavy air. Murphy, in particular, struggled today with an 8th and a 19th, and those cracks could widen in shiftier, lighter conditions where she struggles a bit relative to the top competitors. Murphy will need to right that ship quickly or watch Evi van Acker of Belgium and Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands (2 and 7 points behind respectively) slip past her in the overall standings.

Rob Crane had his best race of the regatta, a 14th, but in the mixed zone he said he's struggling to find his form in wind conditions with which he's usually quite comfortable and isn't sure what's wrong. He finished 26th in the second race and is 32nd overall.

Bob Willis couldn't duplicate his impressive start to the regatta. An 11th and a 25th have moved him outside the top 10 to 13th. But tomorrow brings breeze and the Portland Harbour Course for the Men's RS:X, a perfect combo, he says, for his strengths on the RS:X.

Farrah Hall had a pair of 18ths today in Women's RS:X racing. She lamented some disappointing starts and is looking forward to some light winds later in the week.

The Stars and Finns will be back at it tomorrow, and the Men’s 470 will see their first official action of the regatta, leaving only the Women’s 470 yet to start. They will do that on Friday.

Full results can be found here.