Mettle on Trial in OCR Medal Races

U.S. sailors made the medal races in all but two of the 11 Olympic classes racing in the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR. Two teams took home gold.

OCRDay5
Dan Nerney/rolex

Team 7 SailingSally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi, and Carrie HoweYnglingWhen we won the Gold Medal in the Yngling Class at the US Sailing Rolex Olympic Classes Regatta on Biscayne Bay today, there were more spectator boats in attendance than I've ever seen.It wasn't easy. At the top of the first spinnaker run we were the last of ten boats. We were staring at the transom of Sarah Ayton's British boat Mirabaud, knowing that if she finished ahead of us, the best we could expect was the silver medal. But, training and preparation paid off as we matched-raced our British rival around all four legs of the course to finish fourth, three places ahead of her, and take the Gold.This was a 30-minute, very short, college-style race, in an 8- to 9-knot, shifty, patchy easterly and flat water stirred up by the wakes of Miami's weekend warriors out to enjoy a sunny winter day. It was really tricky, seat-of-the-pants fun.We had a plan to start at the pin, to leeward of our competition because we could see more favorable left numbers than right but, maneuvering a Yngling in light conditions is tough. Instead, we found ourselves to windward of the Brits and the Finns and barely hanging on as we coaxed a little extra windward ability out of our boat. We slowly lifted off them but any header would have left us looking at their sterns.Trying to match race two boats at once is tough but we managed to control both boats as the rest of the fleet sailed clear. Rounding the weather mark Finland was eighth, we were 9th and Sarah was last. That was until we had to sail around the Russian boat that had momentarily hooked the weather mark. She got free in time for Sarah to jibe inside the Russian's stern and take the lead.It's not a good feeling to look up from a spinnaker set and see your competitor's stern and know that she's between you and a Gold Medal. We went back into match-race attack mode, staying on her wind all down the run. We were able to split at the bottom of the run and go to the left-hand gate while she went right. A little puff of fresh air boosted our speed and suddenly we were ahead again and covering her all the way up the last beat. We even managed to pick up a couple of boats on the run, finishing fourth while Sarah finished seventh.I can't close this series of reports without saying thank you to all our supporters and sponsors, family and friends, who made it possible for us to maintain our intense training and racing regimen. This medal is yours too.That's it from the OCR. You can get full race results for the series at Rolex Miami OCR. We'll have more reports for you from the Yngling Women's North American Championship, which starts in Miami next Thursday. Be sure to visit our new website at www.team7sailing.com.Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and David HughesMen's 470We have done it! We have retained our #1 rank on the US sailing team. That is 3 years running-a great accomplishment for Team USA1734. Day 4: Brrrrr!It started out as an unassuming day, 80 degrees and light air. Yet the day would not end that way. Within an hour the sky turned black, the temperature dropped and the breeze came up. And it came up hard 18 to 20+ knots. The first race of the day started out great. We had a game plan; we executed the plan around the racecourse, and finished the race in 4th . A great result. The second race of the day was not as fortunate for us. We had a great start and rounded the top mark in 5th , and did a great job on the reach and downwind. But the second beat was a shocker, as we sailed every header possible and it hurt. We lost a lot of boats. Unfortunately we would have to keep that race. With the poor result in the last race the picture was not as clear and we were going to have to fight hard to make the medal race. Day 5: Last DayThe stage was set! There were 4 teams all within 3 points of each other fighting for spots in the medal race. The pressure was on. We came into the day knowing the points and they were defiantly on our mind. Yet the second we hit the racecourse we forgot about the points and raced. We went out onto the water treating each race as if it was our last, and it paid off. We sailed to a 6, 12, 2 and put ourselves securely in the medal race. A great result for us! We are very stoked with our performance and can't wait to get back to the drawing board. Day 6: Medal RaceAs the sole North Americans in the Men's 470 medal race, we knew we were going to have to perform and represent the USA well. We had a comfortable gap behind us and a manageable gap in front of us. We went out on the course knowing what was at stake, yet the conditions did not make our task easy. It was extremely choppy due to all the boat wake and the breeze was not all that steady. We had a great start, sailed up the beat but found ourselves on the wrong side of a few shifts. We rounded the weather mark in second to last and our main competition was leading. Definitely not looking good. We did not give up and we ground back to 5th only inches from 3rd. A great end to a great event. We finished in 7th overall, another top 10 finish at a Grade 1 event. For more on Mikee and Dave's campaign, www.teamusa1734.orgAnna TunnicliffeLaser RadialI finished third today in the ten-boat medal race for Laser Radials at the US SAILING Rolex Miami OCR to pick up one place in the overall standings and score fourth for the event. This was college-style racing--four short legs, really close to shore, less than half an hour's racing. It was very puffy and shifty, with flat water, but the small boat traffic on Biscayne Bay just kept increasing, and of course building the chop. I had a great start at the pin end and hooked into a nice shift at first and then came back the other way and sailed into oblivion. It was one of those shifty seesaw races where you had to hang on and see what cards fate dealt you. I was sixth at the top mark and then had a good run and picked up two boats to be fourth at the lee mark. I started catching Sweden's Karin Soderstrom on the next beat and she began match racing me. I broke free, but at the cost of being on the wrong side of a shift. I was back to sixth at the weather mark but it was close, a tight-packed rounding. My last run was rock solid and I moved up to third. I was on my way to a Bronze Medal and a place on the podium, because there were enough boats between me and Evi Van Acker from Belgium, until another competitor was flagged for kinetics and the finishing order altered. Finland's Sari Multala won the Gold Medal. Gintare Volungeviciute from Lithuania took the Silver and Evi the Bronze. I'm happy in general with how I sailed. I had one bad day and a couple of unfortunate incidents but my strengths far outweighed my weaknesses. I know what I've got to work on. I learned a lot from this regatta and that is actually a blessing. I've got the rest of the year and a good regatta season coming up to let me refine all the skills I'll need to win a Gold Medal in Qingdao. This is my last report in this series but I'll have more news for you when the Radial North American Championship starts in Fort Lauderdale next Tuesday. Be sure to visit my new website at www.annatunnicliffe.com Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast49erChris and I just wrapped up the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, and we are pleased to report that we finished 4th!We have had an exceptional week of sailing, and have shown the world just how quickly our teamwork and skills are developing. We did a great job preparing for this event, and it showed in our performance on the water. We had great starts, speed and boat handling which helped us deal with some challenging conditions during the week. As I mentioned in the previous email, we had a super deep fleet at this event, with 23 of the top 25 49er teams competing. Placing fourth was huge confidence boost for Chris and me, demonstrating that as a team we have what it takes to achieve our ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal in Beijing, China. We have now been sailing together for just 9 months, and we are only going to get better from here. Pushing us to perform well all week was the strong performance of the American 49er team of Morgan Larson/Peter Spaulding. All week we battled hard with these guys, and 3 separate times we finished races overlapped with each other. Through the event our scores were never more than a few points apart, but in the end they just edged us out, and managed to win the event. For the American 49er group, finishing 1st and 4th against such a strong international fleet is one of our best performances we have ever had. Clearly the intense competition between our teams is pushing each of us raise our game and get better. Full results can be found online at www.rolexmiamiocr.org/results/49er_06.htm. Excellent internet video report from Gary Jobson, including high speed 49er wipe outs: www.jobsonsailing.com/ We only have a short break because on Thursday of this week we start racing in the 49er North Americans, which we expect to have 30+ boats entered, and continued great racing. We are looking to post another solid final result at this event by continuing to sail smart and fast.Geoff EwensonFinnMiami OCR is now in the books, and the event was a great success. On a personal level I was very happy with some aspects of my game and I found other areas I will work on improving. Some things that had been weaknesses have become better, and my overall speed is competitive. I was very pleased with my starting in most races but as always it is still an area that can be refined. My final result was 15th overall, and that puts me second overall in the U.S. Sailing Team Rankings. We have one more regatta to go and then the U.S. Team will officially be announced. [Sunday] was a day off from sailing, but we had a mandatory U.S. Team meeting to attend. Tomorrow I start sailing again and will be working with James Lyne for the next week through the Finn Midwinter Championships. I will be home for a couple of weeks between now and the end of March, and my main goal while at home will be to lock in my funding and travel plans. Don't be surprised if you get a call from me to inquire about your frequent flier miles accounts. I am planning three separate trips to Europe and need all the help I can muster. If you can help me please let me know. I'll be sending out more updates over the next week and will try to have some recent pictures on the website. Thanks for all your encouragement. Team CroninCarol Cronin, Kim Couranz, and Margaret PodlichYnglingThe first challenge [Friday] was putting on enough clothing to match the drastic temperature drop that occurred overnight. Though 50 degrees sounds pretty balmy to those in the frigid northeast, for us it meant digging deep into our duffle bags. Fortunately we have great Kokatat gear and we were very toasty all day.We had three races today and sailed better than we have all week. With the exception of the first race we started well, we set the boat up well for the puffy, shifty conditions, and stayed in clean lanes to pass boats downwind. Unfortunately our closest competitor, Sharon Ferris from New Zealand, had a great day and jumped ahead of us in points. That means that instead of sailing the medal race tomorrow with the top ten finishers, we finish eleventh overall and will have the day off.We knew going into this event that we were a bit behind the group on time spent in the boat since last year's Worlds. But we were still surprised by how much the group has improved around us. We're psyched that we have another event next week, the Women's Keelboat North Americans, so we can build on what we learned the last five days. Thanks for all your nice emails and thoughts! And a BIG thanks to Coach Paul who patiently worked with us to improve every day. For more, www.teamcronin.orgVince Brun and Brad NicholStar(ed.'s note: Brun is sailing as a last-minute replacement for regular skipper Andy Horton, who was unable to escape from his duties with the Luna Rossa America's Cup challenge.)After posting two OCSs in the qualifying series, Vince and I were relegated to the silver fleet at the split. While many people give up if they do not qualify for the gold fleet, Vince and I decided to continue racing since we were both here to learn and improve.Thursday brought uncertain weather with a cold front forecasted to bring high winds, thunderstorms and cold weather. The race committee decided to hold the sailors on shore until the front passed but after a quick look at the radar, Vince and I decided we had time to take some pictures of a test sail. We snuck the quick sail in and made it back onto the trailer before the storm hit, and after it passed we were back out to race.It was cold with gusty winds out of the WNW at 22-27 knots. We had good speed but kept getting caught in traffic and posted a 7th place. After the first race the race committee had trouble getting the line set in the strong winds and sent us in after 30 minutes of attempts to anchor. We slogged home in 25 knots of breeze, upwind, with temperatures in the low 50s. It took almost two hours to get in and we were all spent.[Friday] brought sun and cool temps with nice wind out of the north. Conditions were very puffy and shift with the offshore breeze and we saw 40-degree shifts with large changes in velocity. Vince and I worked on putting ourselves in tough positions on the racecourse and digging ourselves out to continue to get better. We posted a 4th and a second and finished second to Colin Beashel in the silver fleet.Overall, it was a difficult week for us but we both learned a lot and were able to test a number of sails and see how they worked in a wide range of conditions. As great as it was to sail with Vince, I can't wait until Andy and I are back in the boat together ripping it up!For more, www.hortonnichol2008.com