U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 7 Report

While the leaders in the 470 and Finn clases stretch away, the action is getting quite tight in seven of the 10 classes sailing their Olympic Trials this month.

West Coast Report: The Heat's On in 49ers, Stars and RS:X Boards for the Last Two Days 49er sailors Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics at Athens, and one of them will be going to Qingdao, China next summer. Which one that will be is yet to be settled on Coronado Roads off San Diego, where even the U.S. Navy enjoyed the show Friday. Wadlow's crew is now Chris Rast, and until Friday they enjoyed a 15-point lead in the Trials over Spaulding and his new skipper, Morgan Larson. Suddenly, that lead is four points, and Larson/Spaulding are charging. Elsewhere, the Stars and RS:X sailboards (including a broken one) are as tight as ever, while the Finns and 470s look like money in the bank for current leaders. 49er skiff, Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego: Morgan Larson and crew Pete Spaulding needed the best day possible to put some heat on leaders Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast, and they got it Friday in 7-11 knots of breeze when they not only swept the day's three races but discarded their second 14-point OCS from early in the Trials. That moved them into second place within four points with 5 of 24 races remaining the last two days. After a U.S. Navy amphibious LSD courteously altered its anchoring plans and moved to watch the races from a position just off the course, Larson/Spaulding twice passed Wadlow/Rast (3-2-3) with more speed upwind out to sea, then tacked repeatedly to cover for comfortable victories. Wadlow/Rast nipped Joey Pasquali and crew Rory Giffen by inches in the last race to avoid losing another point. -Margo Hemond and Jerelyn Biehl reporting Star keelboat, California Yacht Club, Marina del Rey: The final three-boat crush at the top just got excruciating among Mark Mendelblatt/Magnus Liljedahl at 48 points, John Dane III/Austin Sperry at 49 and George Szabo/Andrew Scott at 50. Three races remain to be sailed in what Mendelblatt described as "light and fluky" conditions that test the best of veterans to the max. Friday's wins in breeze building from 6 to 11 knots went to veterans-who isn't in this fleet?-who were already out of contention: Joe Londrigan/Mark Strube and Rick Merriman/Phil Trinter, the latter a 2004 Olympian as crew for Paul Cayard. Triple Olympic medalist Mark Reynolds and double-medalist crew Hal Haenel are in fourth place but 22 points off the lead. Among the top three, Mendelblatt said, "We're all trying to keep our eyes on each other, but when you do that you risk losing everybody else. The guys in this fleet have a lot of respect for one another. There's a lot at stake here. We all know that only one team is going to win." -Tom O'Conor reporting Tornado multihull, San Diego Yacht Club: It was back to swapping 1-2 finishes like the first four days, and Robbie Daniel and Hunter Stunzi will settle for it in their battle with triple Olympians John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree. Ogletree said after Thursday's 4-3 slide on their bitter mutual 40th birthday, "We dug ourselves a hole, that's for sure." His comment on the light-air day: "Talk about Qingdao conditions! All we needed was more tide and some jellyfish." But they seemed to be digging their way out when they won Friday's first race by 1:56 in 5-8 knots to pull within two points, until Daniel/Stunzi responded with a 20-second win-almost a photo finish in this class-in breeze building to 9-12 to restore their three-point lead with four races to go. Third-place Colin Merrick and John Sampson capsized and finished last in the first race. -Mike Foster reporting 470 dinghy, Men and Women, Alamitos Bay Yacht Club/US Sailing Center, Long Beach, Calif.: If they maintain the solid sailing they've shown through the first dozen races, Stuart McNay and crew Graham Biehl and Amanda Clark and crew Sarah Mergenthaler could punch their tickets to Qingdao Saturday as America's men's and women's 470 reps. Each won a race in 14-15 knots in the mixed fleet competition Friday to leave McNay/Biehl (2-1) with a 20-point lead over Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and David Hughes (5-4), while Clark/Mergenthaler (1-6) rebuilt their lead over Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving (8-3) to 11 points. It's been a hard-luck week for Anderson-Mitterling/Hughes, who led the second race at the windward mark, where they momentarily dropped out after being mistakenly notified they had started over early. They appealed and were granted redress. -Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Men, ABYC/: The young Floridian Ben Barger broke his tie with veteran Mike Gebhardt and finished Friday with a two-point-and a busted board. In the day's first race Barger was at fault in a port-starboard collision with Robert Willis that left a shark bite-like chunk out of his starboard bow. Willis won both races in lively breeze of 14-15 knots. After last-place Eric Rahnenfuehrer of Breckville, O., dropped out to loan Barger his board for the second race, Barger was 2-2 but later on shore had to convince Willis and the jury he had done his penalty turns. Then his concern was repairing his board overnight. He could borrow Rahnenfuehrer's again but said, "I appreciate Eric giving up his board, but I like this board. I'll stay up all night working on it if I have to, and then we'll see what to do [Saturday]." Rahnenfuehrer said, "This is the right thing to do. I've known Ben a long time, and as tight as it is at the top this is in the best interests of the Olympic team."-Rick Roberts reporting RS:X sailboard, Women, ABYC: Petite Nancy Rios found the stronger breeze to her liking to win both races Friday and climb into a first-place tie with Farrah Hall (2-2). Rios has won three of the last four races. Finn dinghy, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Balboa: Any illusions rivals had of heading off Zach Railey's charge to China suffered a severe reversal when he scored 3-1 Friday and left his nearest pursuers, Geoffrey Ewenson and Darrell Peck, 14 and 15 points behind, respectively, with three races remaining. Peck (1-5) won the day's first race in light but steady breeze. Andy Casey was leading the second when his tiller broke and Railey passed him on the last downwind leg. -Jeff Johnson reporting East Coast Report Big Breeze, Big Shifts Visit Racecourses: Big breeze and big wind shifts visited the East Coast race courses at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials - Sailing today. The wind started tame enough: about 12 knots on the Laser and Laser Radial course, and lighter on the Paralympic course on Narragansett Bay. But the breeze built into the high teens, it gusted into the 20-knot range, and it carried shifts over the race course that were large enough to potentially throw mathematical curveballs into class standings. Just ask San Diego Laser sailor Andrew Campbell. Second in the Laser class, he is working hard to catch leader Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.)-and the cruel fate of being on the wrong side of a big shift was certainly not part of his gameplan. Funk and Campbell went to the starting line this morning only three points apart- which is not a big margin in a class where first-place finishes go deep into the fleet and most of the top-5 boats are already carrying a back-of-the-fleet finish as a discard. After two General Recalls in the Lasers' only race today, the 33-boat fleet got off the starting line under the "black flag" rule. A large right-hand shift shuffled the fleet, the wind velocity intensified, and Campbell found himself in about 22nd at the top mark-with Funk well ahead and 10th at the mark. He clawed back during the race, ending fifth to Funk's second-place finish. They sail into tomorrow's racing separated by six points. Only two days are left in this regatta, but the Lasers could potentially sail five more races. And for Campbell, that leaves enough room to change his fate. "I'm just going to continue to put the pressure on," he said, after racing today. "There is still a lot of racing left; there's lots of room for others to make mistakes." With two bullets today, SKUD-18 sailors Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.) continue to track further from the competition. They now have a 13-point lead over second-place Karen Mitchell and JP Creignou (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla.). Paige Railey's win in the Laser Radials' only race of the day moves her one point closer to class leader Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.). At the start of today's race, an Individual Recall was signaled. Tunnicliffe was not sure she was one of the boats over early, but she went back to restart. From there, she progressively moved toward the front of the fleet, finishing second to Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) at the finish line. The Laser Radials were racing when the wind shifted direction and intensified; for Tunnicliffe, that change in direction helped her close the gap with Railey as they both sailed downwind. 2.4mR sailor John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.) also met the same large shifts on the race course in this singlehanded Paralympic class. But changes in wind direction did not wreak havoc with his hope to move up in the standings: after winning today's race, he continues a winning streak that began yesterday and is now tracking closer to class leader Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.). A single point stands between these two racers as they head into the second-to-last day of competition. "I started well, I sailed well…It was exciting racing, and very close," he said, of today's racing. Ruf's tactical challenge in the final days of the regatta will be to watch the sailors he is sandwiched between: with LeBlanc one point ahead and Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.) two points behind. Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and his crew of Tim Angle and Bill Donohue (Marblehead, Mass./Brick, N.J.) have retained their lead in the triplehanded Sonar class, but Paul Callahan (Newport, R.I./Cape Coral, Fla.), racing with Roger Cleworth and Tom Brown (Lithia, Fla./Northeast Harbor, Maine), and Albert Foster (Wayzata, Minn.), racing with David Burdette and Jim Thweatt (Lutherville, Md./W. Sacramento, Calif.), are close on his heels, only three and four points behind, respectively. Racing concludes on Sunday, October 14. PROVISIONAL RESULTS (Top 3 in class) 49ER (13 boats; 19 of 24 races; 2 discards): 1. Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.)/Chris Rast (San Diego), 1-2-1-1-3-1-(4)-3-3-1-1-1-1-1-(3)-3-3-2-3, 31 points; 2. Morgan Larson (Capitola, Calif.)/Pete Spaulding (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), (14/OCS)-1-2-2-9-(14/OCS)-1-1-1-2-2-2-5-2-1-1-1-1-1, 35; 3. Dalton Bergan (Seattle, Wash.)/Zack Maxam (Costa Mesa, Calif.), 2-4-3-4-1-2-2-2-(14/OCS)-3-4-3-(4)-3-2-2-2-3-2, 44. TORNADO (6 boats; 12 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Robbie Daniel (Clearwater, Fla.)/Hunter Stunzi (Charleston, S.C.), 1-(2)-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-1-2-1, 15 points; 2. John Lovell (New Orleans, La.)/Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Tex.), 2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-(4)-3-1-2, 18; 3. Colin Merrick (Portsmouth, R.I.)/John Sampson (Rumson, N.J.), 4-3-5-3-4-4-3-4-3-4-(6)-4, 41. STAR (19 boats; 13 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.)/Magnus Liljedahl (Miami, Fla.), 3-3-1-8-1-3-6-2-5-10-4-(12)-2, 48 points; 2. John Dane III/Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.), 1-10-6-2-8-1-5-4-(12)-2-3-4-3, 49; 3. George Szabo (San Diego)/Andrew Scott (Annapolis), 2-1-(1)-1-7-3-4-9-6-2-1-1-8-6, 50. FINN (42 boats; 13 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), 1-2-(12)-1-1-1-1-13-8-3-1, 24 points; 2. Geoffrey Ewenson (Annapolis), 2-3-(10)-4-3-2-2-4-3-1-3-7-4, 38; 3. Darrell Peck (Gresham, Ore.), 4-4-1-3-2-3-4-3-4-(6)-5-5-1, 39. RS:X MEN (6 boats; 12 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Ben Barger (Tampa, Fla.), (8/RAF)-1-2-1-2-1-3-2-2-1-2-2, 19 points; 2. Mike Gebhardt (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), 2-(3)-1-2-1-2-1-3-1-2-3-3, 21; 3. Robert Willis (Chicago, Ill.), 1-2-5-3-(6)-3-2-1-4-4-1-1, 27. RS:X WOMEN (7 boats; 12 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Tie between Nancy Rios (Miami, Fla.), 2-(4)-1-3-2-2-4-4-1-2-1-1, and Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.), (4)-1-4-1-3-3-1-1-2-3-2-2, 23 points; 3. Lisa Kremer (Worthington, Minn.), 1-2-2-4-4-1-(5)-2-4-5-3-3, 31. 470 COMBINED FLEET/Official scoring* (13 boats; 12 of 16 races; 1 discard): 1. Stuart McNay (Lincoln, Mass.)/Graham Biehl (San Diego), 2-2-2-2-1-2-4-1-(6)-4-2-1, 23 points; 2. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.)/Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.), 4-3-1-(6)-3-3-2-4-1-5-1-6, 33; 3. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling (Coronado, Calif.)/David Hughes (San Diego), 5-1-6-3-4-4-1-5-5-(7)-5-4, 43; 4. Erin Maxwell (Norwalk, Conn.)/Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.), (9)-7-5-5-2-1-5-3-3-2-8-3, 44. *--For purpose of selecting Olympic representatives. 2.4mR (4 boats/after 12 races)1. Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.); [4], 2, 1, 1, 3, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 2: 21 points2. John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wisc.); [3], 3, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1: 22 points3. Mark Bryant (Estero, Fla.); 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, [5/OCS], 4: 24 points Laser (33 boats/after 11 races)1. Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.); 3, 2, 2, [9], 4, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2: 20 points2. Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.); 4, 4, 1, [20], 1, 1, 2, 5, 1, 2, 5: 26 points3. John Pearce (Ithaca, N.Y.); 7, 5, 3, 8, 6, 6, 3, 6, 10, 12, [24]; 66, points Laser Radial (22 boats/after 11 races)1. Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.); 1, 1, 1, [3], 1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 2: 14 points2. Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, [3], 2, 1, 3, 1: 18 points3. Sarah Lihan (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 1, [11], 2, 2, 3: 31 points SKUD-18 (5 boats/after 12 races)1. Nick Scandone/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Fountain Valley, Calif./Marblehead, Mass.); [3], 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1: 12 points2. Karen Mitchell/JP Creignou, (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla.); 1, [4], 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 2, 3: 25 points3. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J./West Chester, Penn.); 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, [4], 2, 1, 2, 3, 2: 26 points Sonar (6 boats/after 13 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, 3, 4: 29 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, 5, 1: 31 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, 2, 2: 32 points