U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 6 Report

The 470 leaders bolster their positions, while Mike Gebhardt and Ben Barger remain deadlocked in the lead in the Men's RS:X title. Nancy Rios sweeps two races in the women's RS:X and moves within two points of the lead.

East Coast Report: Battles for Class Wins Still Tight After Five Days of Racing After five days of racing at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials - Sailing, racing fans might assume that the track of probability is starting to gel and sailors who have sailed strong are only getting closer to their winning destiny. But at a regatta that has drawn the nation's best, that isn't the case-and after five days of racing, class leaders are still battling hard to keep their edge. On the Paralympic race course north of the Newport Bridge, in puffy breeze that ranged from 5 knots to teen-strength, new leaders emerged in the 2.4mR and Sonar classes. Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.) now leads the 2.4mR class, and only two points separate the top three boats-with Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.) in second and John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.) in third. The fact that Ruf sailed a 2-1-1 score in today's three races and launched himself within striking distance of the lead can't make those close to him on the leader board feel too comfortable. The lead in the Sonar class has once again been overturned, and Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and his crew of Tim Angle and Bill Donohue (Marblehead, Mass./Brick, N.J.) have recaptured the first-place slot. The team of Paul Callahan, Roger Cleworth, and Tom Brown (Newport, R.I. and Cape Coral, Fla./Lithia, Fla./Northeast Harbor, Maine) stand only 3 points behind. On the Laser and Laser Radial course, the rich are not getting richer. In both classes, the top two boats are distancing themselves from the rest of the fleet, but the points spreads between first and second places mirror the exact same spread these singlehanded racers sailed to the starting line with this morning. In the Laser class, Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.) remains 3 points ahead of second-place Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.); third-place Trevor Moore (Pomfret, Vt.) is 32 points behind Campbell. In the Laser Radial class, 5 points still separate leader Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) and second-place Paige Railey; third-place Sarah Lihan is 11 points behind Railey. For sailors not standing 1-2 in these two singlehanded classes, reality is setting in. But for the boats at the front of the class, there are still three days of racing and six races: the door to opportunity-to both rise and fall-is still wide open. After racing tonight, Paige Railey surveyed her chances: five points behind with six races left is not an insurmountable amount of ground to make up. Today, Railey and Tunnicliffe were dead-even on points, with Railey's 1-3 finishes mirroring Tunnicliffe's 3-1. Lihan matched them both in points, with a 2-2 day for 4 points. What has frustrated Railey in this series are the costly points she gained in races where she once held the lead, but slipped back to a second- or third-place slot (a third place being her worst race to date). But tomorrow's forecast is for bigger breeze, and those are the conditions Railey likes best: "full-hike and shifty," as she describes it. Her strategy for the back end of this regatta is simple: "I'm just going for it, in every race … I have to keep pushing." There is one team racing these East Coast Trials that no longer needs to put the pedal down for every race. Paralympic sailors Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.) have the largest leading margin in the entire fleet: a solid 10 points over second place in the SKUD-18 class. Their job in the back end of this regatta is quite different. "In the beginning of the regatta, we wanted a good start and we wanted to win races," said Scandone. "But now, we don't have to win every race-but we do have to keep an eye on our competition." Karen Mitchell and JP Creignou, (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J./West Chester, Penn.) are the teams Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker need to watch. They stand second and third respectively, but only one point apart from each other in the standings. West Coast Report: Wind lovers find little to celebrate on a mild day SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA-Happy birthday-take that! There was hardly enough breeze to blow out the candles on John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree's mutual 40th birthday, which they would rather forget, as Robbie Daniel and crew Hunter Stunzi broke their week-long deadlock to take command of the Tornado Trials at San Diego. And those weren't the only ones to do or die in fluky conditions up and down the coast. Zach Railey's big Finn lead was cut in half by Geoff Ewenson at Newport Beach and Mark Mendelblatt/Magnus Liljedahl's cozy Star margin at Marina del Rey totally disappeared behind a pair of firsts by George Szabo and Andrew Scott. Read on . . . Tornado multihull, San Diego Yacht Club: Playing wispy winds of 4-5 knots for all they were worth, Robbie Daniel and crew Hunter Stunzi won both races to break away from their week-long arm-wrestle with John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree to take a three-point lead-the first of five days that hasn't ended with them tied with the three-time Olympians and 2004 silver medalists. Daniel and Stunzi maintained their streak of all 1s and 2s, but Lovell and Ogletree slipped to a 4-3-their worst two finishes. Stunzi said, "Finally, we've broken that awful tie." They made their best gains downwind, passing Lovell/Ogletree on the first run leading to an incident at the leeward mark when the latter held starboard right-of-way. "We were going to duck them and they were hunting us," Stunzi said. There was a protest and Lovell/Ogletree did a penalty turn that cost them critical distance. "The wind was so light that we weren't flying a hull at all today," Stunzi said. "It's in the stronger wind that they seem to have a significant edge." -Mike Foster reporting Star keelboat, California Yacht Club, Marina del Rey: Mark Mendelblatt and Magnus Liljedahl's seemingly secure 10-point lead vanished in George Szabo and Andrew Scott's mastery of the gentle zephyrs of Santa Monica Bay Thursday, leaving the two boats even with a six-point lead over resurgent veteran John Dane III and his son-in-law crew, Austin Sperry. While Mendelblatt/Liljedahl (10-4) took their first double-digit finish in 10 races, Szabo/Scott (1-1) swept the day with comfortable margins ahead of Dane/Sperry's 2-3. Winds were 6-8 knots for the first race dropping to 5-7 for the second. Szabo said: "Andrew had the race course figured out and I got to handle the tiller. We went everywhere-left in the first race, right in the second . . . not an easy day." It looks like a three-boat race now, but Szabo's Quantum Sails boss, Mark Reynolds with Hal Haenel-silver and gold medalists in 1988 and '92-are 19 points off the pace with five races left, "and we know better than to count them out," Szabo said. Through 11 races in this well-behaved 19-boat fleet, there have been no protests of general recalls. -Tom O'Conor reporting 49er skiff, Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego: Morgan Larson and crew Pete Spaulding had a breakaway day with two wins and a second place but cut only three points off Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast's (1-3-3) commanding lead Thursday. They're due to make a bigger gain Friday when they discard their second 14-point OCS after the 17th race, while Wadlow/Rast drop a mere 3 points, but there figures to be a sizable gap left with eight races remaining. For now, Dalton Bergan and Zack Maxam (3-2-2), due to toss a 4, remain in the middle of the three-boat fight. Bergan, in his second full-on Olympic campaign with Maxam dating to 2001, said, "We still have to reel in somebody before things get too crazy. We've had some bad starts. Two of the three today we were doing [penalty] circles for hitting the pin and another boat." -Margo Hemond reporting Finn dinghy, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Balboa: Second-place Geoff Ewenson cut Zach Railey's huge lead in half to seven points on a long day of dealing with fickle winds off Newport Beach. Ewenson, 37, of Annapolis scored first- and third-place finishes as Railey, 23, went 3-8. Winds never topped 6 knots and didn't allow a start that wasn't abandoned until nearly 2 1/2 hours behind schedule. "This regatta is not over yet," Ewenson said. "Zach is a little stronger downwind with better technique, but maybe being a little older makes me a little more patient." -Jeff Johnson reporting 470 dinghy, Men and Women, Alamitos Bay Yacht Club/US Sailing Center, Long Beach, Calif.: It wasn't their best day (6-4), but Stuart McNay and crew Graham Biehl were looking China-bound Thursday because their strongest rivals, Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and David Hughes, had a worse day (5-7) in the mixed fleet. Instead, in single-digit breeze from the south, focus turned to the contest for the women's Olympic berth between Amanda Clark/Sarah Mergenthaler (1-5) and Erin Maxwell/Isabelle Kinsolving (3-2), now only seven points apart in second and third place in the mixed scoring table that will determine the winners. Clark said, "That was a good day-a great day! Even the fifth place wasn't bad because we were over early and had to go back." McNay said, "The shifts were tricky and there were big wind holes all over the course." After Clark/Mergenthaler, the other win went to Boston College all-American Adam Roberts and crew Nick Martin, both of San Diego. -Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Men, ABYC: "Just like [the movie] 'Groundhog Day,' " was how four-time Olympian Mike Gebhardt summed up another afternoon of swapping wins with his onetime protege, Ben Barger. Gebhardt won the first race in lighter wind of 3-4 knots, then bowed to the larger Barger in 7-8. "It came down to who had the better start," Gebhardt said. "I ran a little conservative moving my board." In his win, Barger said, "I was planing, which gives me an advantage, just trying to hold him back. Each day's race is a big one. I'm trying not to mess up." -Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Women, ABYC: Nancy Rios (1-2) lived it up in the light wind to move into second place and shrink Farrah Hall's (2-3) lead to two points. "I'm just trying to maintain my speed and sail smart," said Hall. "Nancy is really light and does well in light air." Rios: "My goal was to be first off the starts. I pumped the whole first race." -Rick Roberts reporting PROVISIONAL RESULTS (Top 3 in class) 2.4mR (4 boats/after 11 races)1. Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.); [4], 2, 1, 1, 3, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2: 19 points2. Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.); 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, [5/OCS]: 20 points3. John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.); [3], 3, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1: 21 points Laser (33 boats/after 10 races)1. Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.); 3, 2, 2, [9], 4, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1: 18 points2. Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.); 4, 4, 1, [20], 1, 1, 2, 5, 1, 2: 21 points3. Trevor Moore (N. Pomfret, Vt.); 2, 9, 7, 3, 5, 7, 5, [16], 6, 9: 53 points Laser Radial (22 boats/after 10 races)1. Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.); 1, 1, 1, [3], 1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1: 12 points2. Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, [3], 2, 1, 3: 17 points3. Sarah Lihan (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 1, [11], 2, 2: 28 points SKUD-18 (5 boats/after 10 races)1. Nick Scandone/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.); [3], 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1: 10 points2. Karen Mitchell/JP Creignou, (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla.); 1, [4], 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3: 20 points3. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J./West Chester, Penn.); 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, [4], 2, 1, 2: 21 points Sonar (6 boats/after 11 races)1. Rick Doerr/Tim Angle/Bill Donohue (Clifton, N.J./Marblehead, Mass./Brick, N.J.); 1, 3, 1, 1, [7/DSQ], 3, 2, 4, 4, 2, 1: 22 points2. Paul Callahan/Roger Cleworth/Tom Brown (Newport, R.I. and Cape Coral, Fla./Lithia, Fla./Northeast Harbor, Maine); 4, [7/DSQ], 2, 3, 1, 1, 4, 3, 3, 1, 3: 25 points3. Albert Foster/David Burdette/Jim Thweatt (Wayzata, Minn./Lutherville, Md./W. Sacramento, Calif.); [5], 1, 3, 4, 2, 5, 1, 1, 1, 5, 5: 28 points49ER (13 boats; 16 of 24 races; 1 discard): 1. Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.)/Chris Rast (San Diego), 1-2-1-1-3-1-(4)-3-3-1-1-1-1-1-3-3, 26 points; 2. Dalton Bergan (Seattle, Wash.)/Zack Maxam (Costa Mesa, Calif.), 2-4-3-4-1-2-2-2-(14/OCS)-3-3-4-4-3-2-2, 41; 3. Morgan Larson (Capitola, Calif.)/Pete Spaulding (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), (14/OCS)-1-2-2-9-14/OCS-1-1-1-2-2-2-5-2-1-1, 46. TORNADO (6 boats; 10 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Robbie Daniel (Clearwater, Fla.)/Hunter Stunzi (Charleston, S.C.), 1-(2)-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-1, 12 points; 2. John Lovell (New Orleans, La.)/Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Tex.), 2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-(4)-3, 15; 3. Colin Merrick (Portsmouth, R.I.)/John Sampson (Rumson, N.J.), 4-3-(5)-3-4-4-3-4-3-4, 32. STAR (19 boats; 11 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Tie between Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.)/Magnus Liljedahl (Miami, Fla.), 3-3-1-8-1-3-6-2-5-(10)-4, and George Szabo (San Diego)/Andrew Scott (Annapolis), 2-1-(1)-1-7-3-4-9-6-2-1-1, 36; 3. John Dane III/Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.), 1-10-6-2-8-1-5-4-(12)-2-3, 42; 4. Mark Reynolds (San Diego)/Hal Haenel (Los Angeles), (12)-2-2-6-2-6-10-8-6-4-9, 55. FINN (42 boats; 11 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), 1-2-(12)-1-1-1-1-1˜3-8, 20 points; 2. Geoffrey Ewenson (Annapolis), 2-3-(10)-4-3-2-2-4-3-1-3, 27; 3. Darrell Peck (Gresham, Ore.), 4-4-1-3-2-3-4-3-4-(6)-5, 33. RS:X MEN (6 boats; 10 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Tie between Ben Barger (Tampa, Fla.), (8/RAF)-1-2-1-2-1-3-2-2-1, and Mike Gebhardt (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), 2-(3)-1-2-1-2-1-3-1-2, 15 points; 3. Robert Willis (Chicago, Ill.), 1-2-5-3-(6)-3-2-1-4-4, 25. RS:X WOMEN (7 boats; 10 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.), (4)-1-4-1-3-3-1-1-2-3, 19 points; 2. Nancy Rios (Miami, Fla.), 2-(4)-1-3-2-2-4-4-1-2, 21; 3. Lisa Kremer (Worthington, Minn.), 1-2-2-4-4-1-(5)-2-4-5, 25. 470 COMBINED FLEET/Official scoring* (13 boats; 10 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Stuart McNay (Lincoln, Mass.)/Graham Biehl (San Diego), 2-2-2-2-1-2-4-1-(6)-4, 20 points; 2. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.)/Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.), 4-3-1-(6)-3-3-2-4-1-5, 26; 3. Erin Maxwell (Norwalk, Conn.)/Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.), (9)-7-5-5-2-1-5-3-3-2, 33; 4. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling (Coronado, Calif.)/David Hughes (San Diego), 5-1-6-3-4-4-1-5-5-(7), 34.