Morning Toast, 2012 Olympics, Day 3
After a succession of serious and dour American sailors, it was a breath of fresh air to interview Paige Railey after her first two Olympic races. Railey was her same bubbly self. She mixed in a few clichés. But this is the Olympics after all, something she’s been focused intently on for the better part of eight years.
Railey had good reason to be upbeat, as well. While her finishes, an eighth and a fifth, were not spectacular, the fact that she was able to avoid a double-digit result was impressive.
In Race 1, Railey got a clump of weed on her daggerboard just as the gun sounded. She had to stop and pull up her board to clear it then fight through the pack to round the first mark in 13th. In the second race, she had a much better start, and was controlling the field on the left side of the course when a big shift rolled in from the right and put her at a big disadvantage. In both cases she battled back and scored finishes that will keep her in the running.
If she sails like that today, and gets a few breaks, expect some top three finishes.
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih were also battling back in the Star. They were 12th around the first mark in the day’s first race and 11th around the second mark in the second race. They wound up with finishes of fifth and third and find themselves squarely in the hunt for a medal. The Star class is shaping up to be a bit of a war of attrition. Mendelblatt and Fatih have one bad finish, if they can keep scoring in the top half, they should be in a strong position toward the bitter end of the regatta
The Men’s 49er team got off to a solid start. They were third and fourth at the first windward mark in the two races before dropping a few boats to finish sixth and 10th respectively. But they avoided any really tough finishes and on the super-shifty Nothe Course, that’s no small victory.
Of course, the news wasn’t all positive for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. Team Tunnicliffe dropped another race in the Women’s Match Racing round robin. This isn’t too much of a concern in and of itself. Eight of the 12 teams will qualify for the quarterfinals, where it’s simply best of five and the only bad thing about qualifying as one of the lower seeds is facing a team that’s on a roll after the round robin. However this team has been so dominant on the match racing circuit, the fact they’re 2-2 after four races is something to keep an eye on.
Zach Railey struggled again; two double-digit finishes have put his medal chances in dire straits. He said he made too many mistakes, but after watching Jonas Christensen grind from 21st to sixth in yesterday’s second race, it’s fair to wonder whether Railey is for some reason struggling to find the pace needed to score in the top 5.
Rob Crane had a disappointing day in the Laser, struggling off the line in Race 1 and downwind in Race 2. Based on his results this spring, Crane was a long shot to make the medal race. But he can, and should, do better than he did today.
On Tap For Today
Weather: Overcast, some sprinkles, low 60s, with wins from the southwest at 10 to 16 knots, gusts to 20, though it’s significantly lighter than that now.
Radial: Race 3 on the Nothe Course at noon, Race 4 on Portland Harbour Course at 1410 (approx.).
Laser: Races 3 and 4 on the Portland Harbour Course starting at 1400.
Women’s Match Racing: Round Robin racing on the Nothe Course starting no earlier than 1330.
49er: Races 3 and 4 on the Portland Harbour Course starting at noon
RS:X Men’s and Women’s: Races 1 and 2 on Weymouth Bay West Course. Men starting at noon, women no earlier than 1330.
Finn: Races 5 and 6 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at noon
Star: Races 5 and 6 on the Weymouth Bay South Course, starting at noon
What to Look For:
Race 3 for the Radials could be crucial. The Nothe Course, as we’ve said ad nauseum, is very shifty and this could produce some interesting results. The key for this race will be avoiding a very bad finish. This is especially true for Paige Railey who has traditionally favored courses that reward boatspeed over tactical prowess. This race could set the pecking order for the early part of the regatta.
The Lasers are inside the breakwater, which means flat water and shiftier winds. This could negate some of the boatspeed advantage Tom Slingsby has over the fleet and mix up the results a bit.
Third place is a fine position to be in 40-percent of the way through a regatta, provided your name isn’t Ben Ainslie. Jonas Christensen of Denmark has appeared almost unstoppable in this regatta. Can Ainslie start to reel him in?
There’s a low level of panic developing among the British fans and press. Goodison and the 49er team both had bad starts to their regatta. The RS:X starts today. The Brits are medal contenders in both classes. Bryony Shaw, a returning medalist from Qingdao, however, has struggled with her health this spring. The British press will be keeping a sharp eye on the results. Their dreams of beating Qingdao’s six medals are not looking so flash, as they say here, right now. The long knives are still in their sheathes, but the hands are on the hilt.
With two thirds of the 12-boat fleet moving on to the knockout round in the Women’s Match Racing, where everything starts from scratch, it’s been hard to get really interested in the round robin. But should Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi drop another race or two, they may find themselves in a battle for the final spots in the quarterfinals. Two wins today would put them at 4-2 and ease any concerns over their not moving forward from the round robin. Of course that’s easier said than done. On the schedule today is Finland, a team they’ve trained against extensively, and France, one of the top teams in the world.
Quote of Yesterday:
“This is still kind of warm compared to what we have had [here in the past]. I think we’re all broken into really cold Weymouth.”
—Paige Railey when asked about the cool temperatures. I wish I could say the same. It’s chilly on the water and only getting colder for the next few days.