U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 4 Report

More of the same from the Tornado trials while Wadlow and Rast jump out to a big lead in the 49er division with four wins in four races.

East Coast Report: Leaders Use Shifty Northeasterlies to Fuel Peak Performances Competitors at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials - Sailing grappled today with shifty northeasterly winds. Sizeable shifts turned the water into a patchwork of oscillations that racers navigated carefully, like a minefield. But there were some who definitely chose to travel the right route. Laser-class leader Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla) and Sonar skipper Albert Foster (Wayzata, Minn.) both sailed 1-1 days. For Foster, his top performance moves him to the head of his class. For Funk, it keeps him in the number-one spot in the 33-boat Laser fleet. Sailors gave different estimates of how big the oscillations were, but Laser Radial sailor Sarah Lihan (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) had her own gauge: "How big were the shifts? Big enough to make a difference." Lihan used those shifts as the ticket to her first race win in this series. In today's opening race, she led the 22-boat class to the first mark of the course. But the two sailors who stand 1-2 in the Laser Radials-Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) and Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)-are a hard pair to fend off. Although Lihan lost her lead, she regained it on the second windward leg, using a right-hand shift to position herself for a bullet at the finish line. Lihan may be the first Laser Radial sailor to break the winning streak of Tunnicliffe and Railey, who have won every other race to date; but the battle for the Laser Radial Olympic berth is shaping up to be a duel between these two rivals. The second race of the day was, as Tunnicliffe says, "one to remember." Railey had the lead at the weather mark; Tunnicliffe caught her on the run, but was yellow-flagged for pumping. Tunnicliffe did her two penalty turns and chased her opponent to eventually win her sixth race of the series. She now leads the class by five points. Racing in the Sonar class has evolved into a close battle for the berth to the Paralympic Games in China-and these triplehanded boats are close on the water, and in the point scores. In one race today, three boats finished one race within half a boat length. Foster, racing with David Burdette and Jim Thweatt (Lutherville, Md./W. Sacramento, Calif.), now has the class lead by a slim one point over Rick Doerr, Tim Angle, and Bill Donohue (Clifton, N.J./Marblehead, Mass./Brick, N.J.). In the 2.4mR class, Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.) continues to lead by two points. Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.) won yet another race today to retain their lead in the doublehanded SKUD-18 class. Most classes have sailed 8 of the scheduled 16 races, and this long regatta is now officially at its halfway point. Sailors will enjoy a lay day tomorrow-but there is at least one racer who is not yet ready to rest. "Normally at this stage of a big event, I'm feeling the negative effects of expending a lot of physical exertion and mental energy," said Laser sailor Brad Funk. "But it feels like the regatta has just begun and I'm raring to go." Funk has every reason to be weary. He fought hard for his two wins today. Not having the luxury of having the lead at the top mark, he used every opportunity on the successive legs to gain ground. Tomorrow he expects his "halftime" report from his coach. But he'll be one of those players eager to get back into the game. Although he only has a three-point lead in a big class with 8 more races to go, he is clearly not feeling the pressure as much as he is the joy of going racing. As Funk said after racing this evening: "I kind of wish Wednesday wasn't a lay day." West Coast Report: The birthday boys are in a battle to reach their fourth Olympics John Lovell of New Orleans and Charlie Ogletree of Kemah, Tex. have sailed a Tornado catamaran for their country in the last three Olympics, won silver medals at the most recent Games in Athens in 2004 and are now trying for their fourth in a deadlocked battle with Robbie Daniel and crew Hunter Stunzi. The teams have been dead even with 1-2 records after each of the four days of racing. That probably means that even with Wednesday's lay day off Lovell and Ogletree won't have time to celebrate a special occasion. They both turn 40 on Thursday, but they're less concerned about blowing out candles than how the wind is going to blow. Yes, they were born on the same day in 1967, which just about puts them in their primes for a sport where Olympic medalists tend toward maturity, and their rapport remains strong. Both are married and Lovell has a 2 1/2-year-old son, Nick. "We've been good friends for a long time," Lovell said, "and we've been successful." Ogletree: "We're just a couple of old guys who still get along." After Monday's flameouts, all five venues enjoyed their windiest days of the week Tuesday, and there were three perfect days posted. Tim Wadlow and crew Chris Rast won all four 49er races at San Diego to strengthen their lead, while Zach Railey in the Finns and Farrah Hall in the women's RS:X sailboards scored three- and two-race sweeps to take over first place at Newport Beach and Long Beach, respectively. At midweek with a lay day due in all classes except Finns, who are one race behind schedule, it was a time for partial absolution of sailing's sins: the single throwouts kicked in after seven of 16 scheduled races to tighten some contests a bit. The 49ers, with 24 scheduled races, already tossed their worst and will have one more to drop after 17 races. In the Stars at Marina del Rey, Andy Horton and crew Brad Nichol made a big leap from sixth to third overall when they tossed their opening 18th-place finish while winning two of the races with a third in between. Finn dinghy, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Balboa: Suddenly, with three breezy races following Monday's total dud, strong performances by 23-year-old Zach Railey (1-1-1) and veterans Darrell Peck (2-3-4) and Geoffrey Ewenson (3-2-2) turned this 42-boat scramble into a three-way battle at the top. The next nearest competitor is 21 points back. The wind arrived early and blew 10 to 14 knots all afternoon. "I like sailing when it's windy," said Railey, who has won the last four races and 5 of the 7 overall. He tossed his worst race, a 12. Ironically, Railey, 6-4 and 200 pounds, lost 15 to 20 pounds before the Trials "looking forward to light winds here at Newport Beach, but it's not so much the weight as it is being strong enough to hold the boat down." His rivals here range up to 72 years in age. "That says a lot about the class," Railey said. "They have a lot more experience than I do. You can't buy experience. You have to earn your stripes." -Jenn Lancaster reporting Tornado multihull, San Diego Yacht Club: These guys have swapped 1-2 finishes the first four days in as tight a two-boat contest as possible. John Lovell/Charlie Ogletree won Tuesday's first race in 8-10 knots of breeze by 29 seconds, and Robbie Daniel/Hunter Stunzi won the second in 12-14 by 49 seconds. Lovell said, "We're a little bit frustrated, but Robbie's sailing excellent. The boat speed's about the same, and it seems like the one that gets off to the favored side on the first beat can stay in front." Lovell/Ogletree have been match-racing their rivals for the favored side in the pre-starts, "but they've been good at getting out of the pins," Lovell said. "We're hoping for stronger wind. The forecast is for 20 knots [on the day off Wednesday]. That's just our luck." -Mike Foster reporting Star keelboat, California Yacht Club, Marina del Rey: The wind swings daily from low single digits to as strong as 18 knots, as it did Tuesday, but while their closest contenders shuffle positions daily they haven't found any cracks in Mark Mendelblatt and crew Magnus Liljedahl's steady performance through 9 of the 16 scheduled races. Andy Horton and Brad Nichol jumped into third place with 1-3-1 finishes, while George Szabo and Andrew Scott held onto second with single-digit finishes in all but one race. But they couldn't stop the Floridians from increasing their lead to 10 points with a 6-2-5 day. With a lay day Wednesday, principal race officer Bill Stump has managed a range of conditions well to remain one ahead of the two-a-day schedule. -Tom O'Conor reporting 470 dinghy, Men, Alamitos Bay Yacht Club/US Sailing Center, Long Beach, Calif.: After no finish worse than second, Stuart McNay and crew Graham Biehl went 4-1 in the mixed fleet Tuesday, and the fourth immediately became their throwout. Rivals Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and David Hughes had worse luck. After winning the first race in winds of 12 knots building to 19 on the day, Anderson-Mitterling said, "We were holding onto second place [in the second race] and thought we had a good chance to win when we hit a trash bag"-a big, black plastic trash bag that wrapped around their rudder. By the time they got it cleared they had lost three boats and wound up fifth. McNay blamed bad tactics for his first race result. "We went left because we thought it was the thing to do, but there was a pretty big [right] shift." They were seventh at the windward mark before fighting back to fourth. The next race they followed the building breeze to the right. "The right was better," McNay said. His plans for the lay day Wednesday: "I'm going go play some Frisbee and relax." -Rick Roberts reporting 470 dinghy, Women, ABYC/USSC: Not much changed on a very windy day as the top two boats logged so-so finishes-2-4 for Amanda Clark and crew Sarah Mergenthaler and 5-3 for Erin Maxwell/Isabelle Kinsolving-but Clark was satisfied with an eight-point lead in the mixed men-women fleet. "We wanted to go into the lay day [with a good lead] and have it going when we come back [Thursday]," she said. -Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Men, ABYC: It was a workout in big winds from 12 to 19 knots as Michael Gebhardt (1-3) and Robert Willis (2-1) had the best days, but Ben Barger (3-2) made the biggest gain by dropping his opening eighth place for sailing the wrong course to move into a first-place tie with Gebhardt. --Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Women, ABYC: Farrah Hall was hard to find after winning both races and jumping into first place. Long after the racing was done she was still out on the race course practicing. "I enjoy sailing in big wind," she said. She also picked up some local knowledge that Long Beach regulars know well: "I learned yesterday that when the wind starts to blow you want to go right here in Long Beach. Not everybody did." -Rick Roberts reporting 49er skiff, Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego: Launched by solid breeze of 12 to 14 knots, Tim Wadlow and crew Chris Rast won all four races Tuesday to blunt a comeback by Morgan Larson and Pete Spaulding. They flew into the second half of their 24-race Trials with a commanding 15-point lead over Dalton Bergan/Zack Maxam, with Larson/Spaulding at 42 after a 2-2-2-5 day, following Monday's triple-bullet sweep. Wadlow/Rast have won 8 of 13 races and count no finishes worse than third. -Margo Hemond reporting PROVISIONAL RESULTS (Top 3 in class) 2.4mR (4 boats/after 8 races)1, Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.); 2, 1, 2, [3], 2, 1, 2, 1: 11 points2, Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.); [4], 2, 1, 1, 3, 3, 1, 2: 13 points3, John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.); [3], 3, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3: 17 points Laser (33 boats/after 8 races)1. Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.); 3, 2, 2, [9], 4, 2, 1, 1: 15 points2. Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.); 4, 4, 1, [20], 1, 1, 2, 5: 18 points3. John Pearce (Ithaca, N.Y.); 7, 5, 3, [8], 6, 6, 3, 6: 36 points Laser Radial (22 boats/after 8 races)1. Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.); 1, 1, 1, [3], 1, 1, 2, 1: 8 points2. Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, [3], 2: 13 points3. Sarah Lihan (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 1, [11]: 24 points SKUD-18 (5 boats/after 7 races)1. Nick Scandone/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.); 3, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1: 9 points2. Karen Mitchell/JP Creignou, (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla.); 1, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2: 15 points3. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J./West Chester, Penn.); 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4: 20 points Sonar (6 boats/after 9 races)1. Albert Foster/David Burdette/Jim Thweatt (Wayzata, Minn./Lutherville, Md./W. Sacramento, Calif.); [5], 1, 3, 4, 2, 5, 1, 1, 1: 18 points2. Rick Doerr/Tim Angle/Bill Donohue (Clifton, N.J./Marblehead, Mass./Brick, N.J.); 1, 3, 1, 1, [7], 3, 2, 4, 4: 19 points3. Paul Callahan/Roger Cleworth/Tom Brown (Newport, R.I. and Cape Coral, Fla./Lithia, Fla./Northeast Harbor, Maine); 4, [7], 2, 3, 1, 1, 4, 3, 3: 21 pointsTornado (6 boats; 8 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Tie between Robbie Daniel (Clearwater, Fla.)/Hunter Stunzi (Charleston, S.C.), 1-(2)-2-1-1-2-2-1, and, John Lovell (New Orleans, La.)/Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Tex.), (2)-1-1-2-2-1-1-2, 10 points; 3. Colin Merrick (Portsmouth, R.I.)/John Sampson (Rumson, N.J.), 4-3-(5)-3-4-4-3-4, 25. Finn (42 boats; 7 of 16 races): 1. Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), 1-2-(12)-1-1-1-1, 19 points; 2. Darrell Peck (Gresham, Ore.), 4-4-1-3-2-3-4, 21; 3. Geoffrey Ewenson (Annapolis), 2-3-10-4-3-2-2, 26. Star (19 boats; 9 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.)/Magnus Liljedahl (Miami, Fla.), 3-3-1-(8)-1-3-6-2-5, 24 points; 2. George Szabo (San Diego)/Andrew Scott (Annapolis), 2-1-(1)-1-7-3-4-9-6-2, 34; 3. Andy Horton (Newport, R.I.)/Brad Nichol (Sunapee, N.H.), (18)-7-7-1-5-11-1-3-1, 36. 470 Combined fleet (13 boats; 8 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Stuart McNay (Lincoln, Mass.)/Graham Biehl (San Diego), 2-2-2-2-1-2-(4)-1, 16 points; 2. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.)/Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.), 4-3-1-(6)-3-3-2-4, 20; 3. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling (Coronado, Calif.)/David Hughes (San Diego), 5-1-(6)-3-4-4-1-5, 23. 470 Men (8 boats; 6 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Stuart McNay (Lincoln, Mass.)/Graham Biehl (San Diego), 2-2-1-2-1-1(3)-1, 10 points; 2. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling (Coronado, Calif.)/David Hughes (San Diego), (4)-1-3-3-2-2-1-3, 15; 3. Justin Law (Newport Beach)/Michael Miller (Charleston, S.C.), 7-3-(9)-1-4-4-5-2, 26. 470 Women (5 boats; 6 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.)/Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.), 1-1-1-(2)-2-2-1-2, 10 points; 2. Erin Maxwell (Norwalk, Conn.)/Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.), (4)-2-3-1-1-1-2-1, 11; 3. Molly Carapiet (Belvedere, Calif.)/Molly O'Bryan (San Diego), 2-3-2-3-3-3-3-3, 19. RS:X Men (6 boats; 8 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Tie between Ben Barger (Tampa, Fla.), (8/RAF)-1-2-1-2-1-3-2, and Mike Gebhardt (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), 2-(3)-1-2-1-2-1-3, 12 points; 3. Robert Willis (Chicago, Ill.), 1-2-5-3-(6)-3-2-1, 17. RS:X Women (7 boats; 6 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.), (4)-1-4-1-3-3-1-1, 14 points; 2. Lisa Kremer (Worthington, Minn.), 1-2-2-4-4-1-(5)-2, 16; 3. Nancy Rios (Miami, Fla.), 2-(4)-1-3-2-2-4-4, 18. 49er (13 boats; 13 of 24 races; 1 discard): 1. Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.)/Chris Rast (San Diego), 1-2-1-1-3-1-(4)-3-3-1-1-1-1, 19 points; 2. Dalton Bergan (Seattle, Wash.)/Zack Maxam (Costa Mesa, Calif.), 2-4-3-4-1-2-2-2-(14/OCS)-3-3-4-4, 34; 3. Morgan Larson (Capitola, Calif.)/Pete Spaulding (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), (14/OCS)-1-2-2-9-14/OCS-1-1-1-2-2-2-5, 42.