So the theme for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider on Day 2 of the 2012 Olympic regatta has to be, “OK, let’s try this again.” It did not go as planned for the team, with all three sailors/teams participating in the opening day of the 2012 Olympic Regatta having one poor race.
For Zach Railey it was a 15th in Race 2. He made a good decision to bail out of a very crowded pin end and appeared to reestablish himself halfway up the line, but he didn’t emerge from the start with a good lane and was quickly bounced right. That almost worked out for him, but playing the top left didn’t and he rounded the top mark with just two boats behind him. Fighting back to 15th is worthy of notice, but Zach hopes that’s his last double-digit score of the regatta. And if he hopes to win a medal, it may have to be. Jonas Hogh-Christensen leads the Finn class after two impressive bullets. Ben Ainslie is hot on his heels after a pair of seconds.
Some big shifts in Race 1 of the Star class created something of a fleet inversion. The French team of Xavier Rohart and Alexis-Pierre Ponsot was last around the first mark and then won the race. They then followed up their first with a 13th in Race 2. Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih were among the boats that benefitted from a big left shift on the second beat of the first race, finishing fifth, though their progression through the fleet was more steady. In the second race, however, they missed the big shift and finished 14th. All but two sailors finished ninth or worse in a race, so consistency will be key in this fleet. The winning team may even count a double digit score or two. The fleet is just that tight.
I didn’t see any of the women’s match racing and when I spoke with middle crew Molly Vandemoer, I focused more on her Olympic experience. Anna Tunnicliffe’s team won one and lost one. While a little surprising to see Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer, and Capozzi drop a race, at this stage of the match racing, it’s hardly tragic. I’m sure they’re have spent plenty of time reviewing it, dissecting it, and know exactly what went wrong. While it lowers their margin for error, there’s still nothing significant standing between that team and gold.
On Tap For Today:
Finn: Races 3 and 4 on the Weymouth Bay West Course, starting at 1400
Stars: Races 3 and 4 on the Weymouth Bay West Course, starting at 1400
Laser: Races 1 and 2 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at noon
Radial: Races 1 and 2 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at noon
49er: Races 1 and 2 on the Nothe Course, starting at noon
Women’s Match Racing: Round Robin Racing, Day 2, on the Nothe Course, starting at 1330
RS:X Men and Women: Practice racing on the Portland Harbour course, starting at noon (men) with the women starting no earlier than 1300.
What to Watch For:
How will Zach Railey respond to yesterday’s tough start? Railey sailed such a smart regatta in Qingdao, but a lot of that was dependant on his outstanding start. He had a second and a fifth on the opening day, was one of the few sailors without a bad results, and was able to sail conservatively while other sailors we taking chances. Now he’s in the opposite position. He needs strong results, probably a string for top-5 finishes, to put himself back into medal contention. Another poor race will all but decimate his medal hopes. He seemed a little down in yesterday’s media session, but determined.
Will Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih make a move. The breeze is expected to build over the next few days, which means the Stars could be looking at a heavy air Olympic regatta. If today’s breeze is lighter (moderate Southwesterly winds are expected) then this will be a day for the U.S. team, and their Folli boat, which is rumored to be better in lighter air, to post a couple of keeper scores.
How will Paige Railey start her Olympic regatta. She is a more emotional person than her brother. If she can harness that energy and put down two good finishes, it will really bode well for her medal chances. I’ll be on the Laser course, so check out our live feed to see how everything is going for the younger Railey.
The 49ers on the Nothe Course. Expect some up and down finishes. Puffy, shifty conditions make for challenging sailing for the skiffs and there is likely to be a lot of lead changes and inconsistency in the results. Any team that pulls out two top-five or even two single-digit scores should find themselves at the top of the standings and potentially with a solid lead on some key rivals. U.S. sailors have traditionally been better in shifty conditions due to their college sailing background. College sailing in the U.S. places a premium on short-course tactics and quick thinking. Both Erik Storck and Trevor Moore were top college sailors. Will this play to their advantage on Day 1 of their Olympic regatta.