Sail for Gold

U.S. representatives in the Finn and Elliott 6m classes won bronze medals at this ISAF World Cup event in Weymouth, England.

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Welcome to SW's Sail for Gold coverage. The event runs September 14 to 19. Check back throughout the week for photos, daily updates, and sailor interviews.

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US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics

Stu McNay/Graham Biehl 470 Men
Adam Roberts/Nick Martin 470 Men
Molly Carapiet/Briana Provancha (Briana is non USSTAG) 470 Women
Erik Storck/Trevor Moore 49er
Zach Railey Finn
Bryan Boyd Finn
Brad Funk Laser
Clay Johnson Laser
Rob Crane (Under 23 Team) Laser
Cameron Cullman (Under 23 Team) Laser
Sarah Lihan (Under 23 Team) Laser Radial
Ben Barger RS:X Men
Farrah Hall RS:X Women
Andrew Campbell/Brad Nichol Star
Anna Tunnicliffe/Molly Vandemoer/Alice Manard WMR
Genny Tulloch/Debbie Capozzi/Sally Barkow (Sally is non-USSTAG) WMR
Rick Doerr/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker/Hugh Freund Sonar
Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett SKUD
Mark LeBlanc 2.4mR

Other Americans attending:
Andrew MacDonald and Brian Fatih Star
Sara Fox and Lauren Sinclair Women's 470

Sept. 19

USA Wins Two Bronze, Two Gold Medals at Sail for Gold

USA's medal count doubled today at Sail for Gold when Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) won a bronze in the Finn class and Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), crew Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Alice Manard (Charleston, S.C.) won a bronze in the new Elliott 6 m. Today, the usual Southwesterly winds returned to Weymouth after a long postponement on shore, but only six classes were able to sail their double-point Medal Races to finish off the week-long International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup event.

Medal Races were cancelled in the Finn, Star and Men's and Women's RS:X classes, which frustrated some sailors who wanted one last showdown. "I would have liked to get a medal race in because you always want to have the opportunity to keep moving up and working harder," said Railey. "But I am happy with another podium finish this year." Railey won a bronze medal at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR and a silver at the Finn Gold Cup earlier this year.

"The conditions were difficult," said Railey, who explained the Finn race course was close to a cliff face, which allowed the wind to drop down and spread over the course. "Everyone sailed over different pressures and wind angles, and the shifts happened quickly. The races I did very well in this week, I tried to lead the fleet out to the side that was favored and capitalized along the shifts when they happened."

In the new Women's Match Racing Event, Tunnicliffe and her team battled France's Claire LeRoy in the petit-finals, ultimately winning 2-1. In the first race, the USSTAG team led to the second windward mark, but they got a penalty and LeRoy passed them. In the second race, they played the shifts and sailed smartly to barely win by a half boat's length. In the third and last race, the French boat got a penalty in the pre-start, but caught up to Tunnicliffe at the second windward mark. They had a close race downwind, and at the finish, LeRoy drew a second penalty and a black flag, and Tunnicliffe won the race (or flight).

"It was exciting. We made it much more difficult than it had to be, but we learned a lot out there," said Tunnicliffe. "We're slowing learning the boat more. We're happy with how we did."

"It's an awesome start to the new quad and for USA Women's Match Racing," said Vandemoer. "It was definitely a team effort to get the bronze. It wasn't just our boat; it was a group effort with our American teammates."

Sail for Gold is the seventh and final stop of the ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 series, and the leaders in the Sailing World Cup standings were also awarded today. Tunnicliffe won the Laser Radial class, and Stu McNay (Boston, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.) finished second in the Men's 470. Tunnicliffe won three Sailing World Cup events this year: Sail Melbourne, US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR and French Olympic Sailing Week. McNay and Biehl won silver at Sail Malbourne and US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR.

Yesterday, two more US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) boats won gold medals: and Sonar classes. Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Westchester, Pa./Boca Raton, Fla.) in the doublehanded SUKD-18 and Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Hugh Freund (So. Freeport, Me.) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) in the triplehanded Sonar. Whitman and Dorsett also won the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings in the SKUD-18, and Doerr's team finished second in the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings in the Sonar.

"The USSTAG has a lot of talent, and they're working extremely hard," said USSTAG High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.). "We came here representing all the classes and with a full team of coaches to learn and experience being in Weymouth."

Held at the venue of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Weymouth/Portland, England, this event was also a critical fact finding mission about the conditions and facility. Sailors experienced a wide range of conditions this week, including gusts that ranged from 5 to 30 knots.

"We're taking it as a challenge," said Andreasen. "We're going to train hard at home and in Weymouth, and this time next year we'll show we've made some great improvements."

Sept. 18

The wind is blowing today in Weymouth, and the USSTAG is off to a successful start at Sail for Gold in Weymouth, England! USSTAG's Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett won their race today to clinch the gold medal in the SKUD-18 class. Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer and Alice Manard won all three of their races in the Women's Match Racing quarterfinals. More to come

-Marni Lane

Sept. 17

Weymouth's wind calmed down today to 6 to 18 knots, allowing the 10 Olympic and 3 Paralympic classes to make up for yesterday's lack of racing and get two or three races under their belts at the 2009 Sail for Gold. Team USA raced in shifty breeze that oscillated in pressure, resulting in constant boat tuning. With only one day of fleet racing left, the Olympic classes will battle it out tomorrow to ensure top ten positions and spots in Saturday's medal races. Tomorrow is the last day of racing for the three Paralympic classes, when the medals will be decided. US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Hugh Freund (So. Freeport, Me.) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) are currently leading the Sonar class with a picket fence of wins, while Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Westchester, Pa./Boca Raton, Fla.) lead the SKUD-18 fleet with three wins and a second place after one drop. USSTAG's Women's Match Racers Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Alice Manard (Charleston, S.C.) won their round today in the new Elliott 6m, earning them a place in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

Photos: Day 4

Sept. 16

It was a "blowing dogs off chains day" in Weymouth. Winds of up to 30 knots postponed racing for all but two classes today. Winds dipped to 15-20 knots in the afternoon, long enough for the 49ers and Men's RS:X to get a few races in inside the port. Outside the sea wall, the conditions were unmanageable. In addition to the offshore breeze, the waves were coming in from two directions, like a washing machine, according to Team Meteorologist Doug Charko. The rest of the classes waited on-shore, monitoring the notice board for race postponements. Tomorrow's predictions are more promising, and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics athletes are ready to race.

-Marni Lane

Photos: For the latest images from the event, click here.

Sept. 15

Interview with Zach Railey

Today marked the second day of racing at Sail for Gold in Weymouth, England. Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey scored a one and a two today in the Finn class, after a tough day on the water yesterday.

You've been in Weymouth for a week, training before Sail for Gold started. Describe the sailing conditions so far.
It's actually really difficult sailing here. There are pretty large shifts on the race course and it's pretty windy. The wind is coming off the cliff face and drops onto the race courses, causing the wind to go back and forth from side to side, like a cat's paw puff. Each side gains and loses, so you'll hopefully be on a side that gets the last shift coming into the mark.

What surprised you about the conditions in Weymouth?
I was surprised by how cold the water is and how cold it is sailing. Coming from Florida, I expected it to be cold but not THIS cold. That changes how I select my gear and what I wear on the water. It's good to figure this out now before 2012.

Why is Sail for Gold important this year?
Since this is the venue for the 2012 Olympic Regatta, it's important we see the venue and look at the conditions now to prepare. We're not going to see all of the conditions Weymouth can offer on this trip, but if we come often enough, we will eventually see all the conditions we could potentially sail in at the Olympic Games.

What lessons have you learned from the last 2 days?
It's important to trust your instincts and try to trust the decisions you're making. Sometimes it's going to backfire, and you have to learn from your experiences and move on to the next race. And that's why we're here in Weymouth.

Everywhere you look around the Portland Sailing Academy, you see the red US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics' Atlantis WeatherGear jackets. How is the team working together?
Everyone has a common goal to be the best sailing country in the world, and we're all working towards that goal. You can feed off that energy, no matter where you are in your Olympic campaign. Sailors on our Under 23 team are here sailing with Olympic veterans, and we all have the same goal.

-Marni Lane

Sept. 14

The 2012 Olympic sailing venue at Weymouth and Portland is the host for the final event of the 2008-09 ISAF Sailing World Cup series where the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta launched into action today.

Over 700 sailors representing 38 nations have gathered at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy for the 2009 edition of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, where racing starts today and continues through until the Medal Races this Saturday 19 September. Following on from stops in, Australia, the USA, Spain, France, The Netherlands and Germany, the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup series reaches its conclusion in Great Britain this week, with World Cup honours up for grabs in the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic sailing events.

Amongst the star names lining up is man of the moment Paul Goodison (GBR), who will be looking to continue his run of unbroken regatta wins which has seen him take gold in Beijing, both the European and World Laser titles as well as victory at the last three World Cup events. Chief amongst Goodison's challengers will be fellow Brit Nick Thompson, who despite playing second fiddle to his team mate in recent months, still holds the lead in the World Cup Standings after making a stunning start to the season.

Other strong home challengers are Beijing Olympic gold medal winners Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) who line up in a Star fleet packed full of Olympic and World Championship medallists. Another of the British Beijing gold medallists Pippa Wilson competes in the 470 fleet with new crew Saskia Clark. Britain's newest World Champion Nick Dempsey (GBR) misses out however, after straining a hamstring in Weymouth last week on his way to winning the RS:X World title.

Also eagerly anticipated is the Women's Match Racing event, which will make its debut Olympic appearance at London 2012. Weymouth hosts a fascinating line up of skippers which includes 2007 and 2008 World Champion Claire Leroy (FRA) competing at her first World Cup event, Beijing silver medallist in the Yngling Mandy Mulder (NED) and Olympic gold medallist in the one-person Laser Radial dinghy Anna Tunnicliffe (USA).

Other names to look out for across the fleets include recently crowned World Champion Sari Multala (FIN) in the Laser Radial, Finn Europeans winner Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Women's RS:X World and European silver medallist Blanca Manchon (ESP). The Australian team looks very strong, featuring 49er World Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) and 470 Olympic gold medallists Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson in the women's fleet and Malcolm Page and his new helm Mathew Belcher in the men's.

In the battle for World Cup success, 20 points are up for grabs for the winner of each event, with 19 going to second place, down to 1 point for a finish of 20th. Scores for the World Cup are added up grand-prix style, with Weymouth the seventh and final scoring opportunity where the winners of the 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup will be decided. The World Cup prizegiving will follow on from the Medal Races on Saturday, with ISAF President Goran Petersson in attendance to offer his congratulations to the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup winners.

The battle for the Star World Cup title promises to go right to the wire with Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) currently top of the standings on 50 points, but another seven teams within seven points of them. In contrast, Americans Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl have a commanding 18-point lead in the Men's 470 Standings so any finish of 18th or better will secure them the title of 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup winners. This is an honour already guaranteed to the Danish pair of Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer, who have an unbeatable 22-point advantage in the Women's 470 Standings. It's much closer in the 49er Standings with Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith (GBR) holding a 10-point advantage. However, added to the pressure of fighting off the chasing Spaniards Federico Alonso and Arturo Alonso, for this event, Campbell-James also has the challenge of teaming up with new crew member Nick Hutton.

Amongst the one-person events, Nick Thompson (GBR) has a 14-point lead in the Laser Standings, whilst Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) is 16 points ahead in the Laser Radial. However, as the US skipper is competing in the match racing event, she is vulnerable to attack from second-placed Tina Mihelic (CRO), who will grab the World Cup title if she can finish fourth or better. There are no such worries for Ed Wright (GBR) in the Finn, who is already assured as the World Cup title with an unassailable 24-point lead in the Standings. Great Britain also has another world Cup title wrapped up in the Women's Match Racing event, where Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Ally Martin (GBR) are 22 points clear of the chasing pack.

Blanca Manchon of Spain is similarly assured of World Cup glory in the Women's RS:X event thanks to her massive 34-point lead, but in the men's fleet it's much closer and Portugal Olympic veteran Joao Rodrigues will have to draw on all of his experience as he defends his two-point advantage.

In the Paralympic events, Britain's Megan Pascoe is five points clear in the 2.4mR. Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett (USA) lead the SKUD18 and John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR) the Sonar both by a single point.

Racing in Weymouth begins today, with the series continuing through until the final Medal Races on Saturday 19 September, when Weymouth is opening its doors with free entry to the public.

-ISAF

Preview:

Team USA is gearing up to grab medals at next week's Sail for Gold, the seventh and final stop of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 series. Held at the venue of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Weymouth/Portland, England, this world-class event attracts top international sailors. Organizers of Sail for Gold expect more than 500 boats to compete in all 10 Olympic Classes-including the new women's match racing class-plus the three Paralympic Classes selected for the 2012 Games. Racing is scheduled to start on Monday, September 14, with Medal Racing on Saturday, September 19.

Thirty-six Americans, including 27 members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) and three members of the US Sailing Team - Under 23, are ready to race, after competing in a USSTAG training camp to test out their boat skills and the venue's conditions prior to next week's regatta. Three 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Medalists will compete against their top international rivals, including Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantations, Fla.), Olympic Silver Medalist Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) and Paralympic Gold medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.).

Three USSTAG sailors/teams are currently leading the ISAF SWC standings in their respective classes: Tunnicliffe in the Laser Radial, Stu McNay (Lincoln, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.) in the Men's 470 and Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Westchester, Pa./Boca Raton, Fla.) in the SKUD-18. Four additional USSTAG teams are ranked in the top 10, and this is their last chance to move up or solidify their position for this year's series.

Keep your eye on the new Women's Match Racing event, which makes its Olympic debut in 2012. 2008 US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe is testing the waters in the new Elliott 6m with crew Molly Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Alice Manard (Charleston, S.C.). Skipper Genny Tulloch (San Francisco, Calif.) and her crew, Olympic sailors Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.) and Deb Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.), will also team up in the Elliott 6m, after training together last week with Coach Dave Perry (Southport, Conn.) at the US Sailing Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Tulloch is ranked second in the SWC standings.

Another new USSTAG team to watch is Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif./Washington, D.C.) and Brad Nichol (Miami, Fla.) in the competitive Star class. Campbell competed in the Laser at the 2008 Olympic Games, and has now made the jump to the doublehanded Star with veteran Nichol. Campbell finished an impressive fifth at the 2009 Star World Championship with 2000 Olympic gold medalist Magnus Liljedahl.

Paralympic Gold Medalist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker will team up with Sonar Skipper and Paralympian Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and fellow crew Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Me.) at Sail for Gold, their first international event together. They are currently ranked third in the SWC standings in the Sonar class.

Also competing at Sail for Gold are three up-and-comers and members of the US Sailing Team - Under 23, the Olympic Sailing Program's development team: Sarah Lihan (Ft Lauderdale, Fla.) in the Laser Radial and Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.) and Cam Cullman (Rye, NY) in the Laser.

Joining the team in Weymouth are Olympic Sailing Program Chairman Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.), Olympic Director Katie Kelly (Barrington, R.I.), High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.), Commercial Director Dan Cooney (Marion, Mass.), Communications Director Marni Lane (Norwalk, Conn.), Coaches Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), Mitch Brindley (Smithfield, Va.), Luther Carpenter (Laporte, Texas), Marko Dahlberg (Ylojarvi, Finland), Jonathan Farrar (New York, N.Y.) Mark Ivey (Tiburon, Calif.), Dave Perry (Southport, Conn.) and Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.), PET Scott Weiss (New York, NY), Team Meteorologist Doug Charko (Auckland, N.Z.) and OSC Members Bob Billingham (Grass Valley, Calif.) and Josh Adams (Essex, Mass.).