Afternoon Tea, 2012 Olympics, Day 7

The women's match racers and 470 team hold on to their medal hopes. For the rest of the U.S. team, however, it's about personal pride.

Sailing World

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Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan reach into the finish of Race 1 on Day 2 of their Olympic regatta.Stuart Streuli

How's this for an exciting set up for a medal race? The top four sailors in the Laser Radial class will enter the medal race on Monday in a virtual dead heat. Lijia Xu of China, Marit Bouvmeester of the Netherlands, Annalise Murphy of Ireland, and Evi Van Acker of Belgium have either 33 or 34 points after 10 races. Since the medal race is worth double points, and since no other sailor is within 17 points, the medals will be decided based on the finishes in that race, with one sailor getting left out. It's going to be an amazing race.

Unfortunately, while Paige Railey will be sailing in that race, she won't be contesting the hardware. After a ninth and an eighth, Railey will enter the medal race in ninth place, with a reasonable chance to move up to eighth.

For Rob Crane, the U.S. representative in the Laser, his regatta is finished. He scored a 33rd and a 44th today and finished the regatta in 29th position.

The lone U.S. medal contenders are the match racing team of Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi, and the Women's 470 team of Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan.

The match racing trio finished off the round robin on a strong note, beating Sweden and Great Britain. That leaves Team Tunnicliffe with an 8-3 record, and in fourth place. While the pairings have yet to be announced, I suspect they will face Finland in the quarterfinals and then, should they advance, the winner of the Australia-Netherlands match. Australia closed out an undefeated round robin with a win over Portugal. But the seeds matter little in this battle. The first team to win three races moves on.

The Women’s 470 duo was in position in both races today to finish in the top three. In each race they ran into trouble at the second windward mark. In the first race I was too far away to see the problem. In the second race, they delayed setting their spinnaker on the reach, allowing New Zealand to catch them and roll over the top and missing an opportunity to leg away from the chasing pack. Three more boats passed them on the run to relegate the American team to seventh. Still a fifth and a seventh is a solid day and leaves them in fourth overall, 3 points out of third and seven points out of first. They are clearly sailing well, but they can’t continue to leave points on the racecourse if they hope to contend for a medal.

After a solid day yesterday, the U.S. Men’s 470 struggled again today. In the first race, they appeared to fall victim to a bad shift, winning the pin, leading the fleet out to the right, but rounding the first mark in 20th, while boats that had bailed out to the right after bad starts rounded in the top group. They finished that race in 23rd. In the second race, they didn’t get the start they wanted and bailed out to the right. They faired a little better on the first few legs moving up to 12th, but the wheels came off on the last few legs as they dropped to 15th, then 21st, then 24th at the finish. Those finishes drop them to 19th in the regatta after six races. Making the medal race will require some serious work.

In the RS:X classes, neither American sailor had a day to remember. Bob Willis scored a 24th and a 33rd. He now sits in 22nd. Farrah Hall had a 23rd and an OCS, she's is 22nd, as well. They each have two more races remaining in their Olympic regatta.