Olympic Medal Races Determine Prized Podium Positions

January 30, 2010

It was « one race, one chance » today at US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR, the second of seven stops of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2009-2010.. After gold, silver and bronze medalists were determined yesterday in three Paralympic classes, it was now the turn for sailors in ten Olympic classes to claim podium positions, but the plot came with a twist. Just as will happen at the Olympics in 2012, only the top-ten finishers–determined after five days of fleet racing–earned the right to sail in today’s single medal race for each class, except for in Women’s Match Racing. In that event, which makes its Olympic debut in 2012, sailors competed in finals and petit-finals to determine medalists.

The Rolex Miami OCR, which this year hosted 448 teams (633 athletes) from 45 nations, is one of the world’s most competitive regattas for 2012 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. As such, each nation’s medal tally is closely watched; USA had the most medals with 10, followed by Great Britain with six, France with five and Spain with four.

In the Women’s Match Racing finals, Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) defeated Lucy MacGregor’s GBR team in a highly charged, best-of-five series. Team MacGregor hadn’t lost a race since the first round until today’s race three against Tunnicliffe. Tunnicliffe went on to win the fourth race s well, tying up the score 2-2, so the tie-breaker became a do-or-die match for the gold. After a tough start, Tunnicliffe trailed MacGregor on the first beat, but MacGregor hit some waves and slowed down and Tunnicliffe caught up by the bottom mark. On the downwind leg, MacGregor jibed early, and Tunnicliffe extended on port and jibed, catching the waves. From that point on, Tunnicliffe defended the starboard layline and narrowly edged out MacGregor by half a boat length.

« We had a great day on the water, » said Tunnicliffe. « My team did a great job of staying in the game despite the two losses in the beginning. We fought back and kept it calm and pulled off the moves we needed to and are so happy we came out on top. »

Thanks to a substantial 35-point lead in the Laser Radial, Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) wrapped up the gold medal a day early in the 57-boat fleet, but today she added another bullet to her collection. Following in second was Spain’s Alicia Cebrian who sailed a consistently strong event, and the bronze medal went to GBR’s Alison Young. Railey’s strengths this week were her boat speed and being able to see the pressures and realizing the phase of the shift a few seconds ahead of her competition. By the end of the regatta, she had found her groove and won several races comfortably. Coach Luther Carpenter (LaPorte, Texas) said she managed risk very well in very difficult conditions.

« I’m so pleased about winning the gold, » said Railey. « I wasn’t thinking about the results. I was out there taking one race at a time and pushing myself to use new techniques I’ve incorporated into my sailing. I’ve been learning when to take risks and when to stay conservative. »

2008 Olympians Amanda Clark (Shelter Harbor Heights, N.Y.) and Sarah Chin (Hoboken, N.J.) won an impressive gold medal in the Women’s 470, after taking a year off since the 2008 Games in Qingdao, China. Leading into today’s medal races, they were two points away from the top (the top three were only separated by one point each) and finished fifth in today’s race, which secured their overall win. France’s Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux won silver and Denmark’s Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer won bronze..

« It was a very tactical regatta; we couldn’t necessarily rely on being fast in a variety of conditions to pull us through, » said Clark. « It was the best racing we could ever ask for.

« It’s great to win our first major regatta back, » she added. « This was a huge positive for us. We wanted to enter this quad with a strong start, proving we still have what it takes. This time around, we’re ready to be on the podium. »

Norway’s Eivind Meklleby and Petter Morland won a gold medal in the Star class in a come-from-behind victory over USA’s Andy Horton (S. Burlington, Vermont) and James Lyne (Granville, Vt.), who led the 24-boat fleet throughout the regatta. Only three points separated the two teams going into today’s race. Horton and Lyne went back at the start for an unforced error, so they played catch-up for the rest of the race and finished fifth in the race and second overall, only one point behind the Norwegian team.. Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and John Von Schwarz (Annapolis, Md.) rounded out the podium with a bronze.

In the Men’s 470 class, the Swedish team of Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Ostling was third going into today with the knowledge that whoever finished first among yesterday’s top-four boats would secure the gold medal. « There is so much to tell, » said Dahlberg about today’s action on the race course. « It was one of the closest races yet, and every inch counted. » He explained that yesterday’s leaders (and eventual bronze medalists) Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela (ISR) became part of a « tough lineup » and got caught up on the top mark. « They had been in second and had to do penalty turns; a lot of boats did turns. » Dahlberg and Ostling, in eighth at the time, scooted clear. By the second windward mark, France (not in medal contention) was leading with the Swedes in second and eventual silver medalists Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) behind them. « We all did a jibe set, » said Ostling, « and we were focused on our position with Australia when suddenly they jibed away (to make sure they covered ISR), and we were glad. We managed to get a boost for boat lengths at the end and won. »

Dahlberg and Ostling competed here three years ago but admittedly were beginners trying to get experience. « Now we have a lot more confidence, for sure on the downwind legs, » said Ostling. « This is our first gold; it’s big for us, big for Sweden. » The duo is hoping that the same scenario might play out at the 2012 Games if they are fortunate enough to represent their country there. « In Beijing we were 15th, and with more experience, hopefully we can medal, » said Dahlberg.

For the French 49er team of Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis, it was important to finish in front of the Austrian team of Nico LM Delle Karth/Nikolaus Leopold Resch and the Danish team of Simon Karstoft andJonathon Bay. The three were one-two-three going into today and finished the regatta in the same order. « After a really good start, our goal was to control them and we managed to do that, » said Christidis matter-of-factly. « Usually we have a longer rest after our Worlds, which this year were held in January in the Bahamas (the team finished fourth), but we came right to Miami because this event and the World Cup is very important to us.

In RS:X Men’s (windsurfing), The Netherlands’ defending champion Dorian Rijsselberghe watched Spain’s Ivan Pastor most closely in his play to win the gold. With a short 500-meter windward leg, Rijsselberghe’s entire race took less than 30 minutes to complete. As he tells it, he was next to Pastor at the start boat, and in the beginning Pastor was controlling him. « But the more we were going the more I got control, » said Rijsselberghe, « just by speed and hard work. » Then it was the tacking game. « My goal was first to get rid of him to be sure he was not in front, then start racing others. »

The light 7-9 knot breezes were typical of « pumping conditions » that have prevailed here for the windsurfers and continually tested their physical strength. « In these conditions you have a maximum heart rate of 4-5 times normal, and you have to get ‘over the hump,’ as we say and get up on a plane. Today there was not a lot of wind, but just enough to have a nice race. » Pastor took the silver, while France’s Julien Bontemps won the bronze.

In RS:X Women’s , the battle between Spanish teammates Marina Alabau, the defending champion, and Blanca Manchon, yesterday’s leader, wound up with Alabau snatching gold and Manchon settling for silver. « I was worried for the French as well at the start, » said Alabau, « but it was me who rolled Blanca, and she had to tack to the wrong side. I was more concentrated on not losing second, but thinking maybe to get a first. By the first mark, I was second behind Laura (Linares of Italy), and I just had to keep my position. »

Linares, who won today’s race, took the bronze and epitomizes the up-and-coming youth contingent at this regatta. Coming into today in fourth, the 19-year-old said, « I was determined more than in any other of the races. I was calm; I believed in myself. I just finished a youth period and now I am not anymore a youth, so I am entering another period where it will be my job to be a professional sailor trying for the Olympics. »

« Not only did we have terrific racing this week by the best sailors in the world, » said Gary Bodie (Hampton, Va.), Regatta Co-Chairperson, « but also we had the best, most qualified group of volunteers we’ve ever had. They worked tirelessly to run a superb event. »

Medals were awarded tonight to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic event at a ceremony held at Coral Reef Yacht Club. In addition to her gold medal, Paige Railey was chosen to receive US SAILING’s Golden Torch Award, given to the American sailor deemed to have the best overall performance among all classes. Tunnicliffe was the last athlete to win the award in 2006, so she presented Railey with the trophy.

For results and photos, visit http://rmocr.ussailing.org. Video highlights, produced by T2Productions, air nightly through Saturday and can be viewed on the event web site. Fans can also visit the Facebook fan page and Twitter page.

About US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR
Established in 1990 by US SAILING, the Rolex Miami OCR annually draws elite sailors, including Olympic and Paralympic medalists and hopefuls from around the world. This is the second of seven events in the 2010 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup circuit. The USA has the largest contingent of sailors with 169, followed by Canada (83), France (46), Great Britain (41), The Netherlands (24), Germany (23), Denmark (18), and Sweden (18). Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic event on Saturday, January 30.

The Rolex Miami OCR hosts the same 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes chosen for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. At the same time, it closely replicates the format and feel of what sailors can expect at those regattas. The classes are: Laser Radial (women), Laser (men), Finn (men), Men’s RS:X, Women’s RS:X, 49er (men), Men’s 470, Women’s 470, Star (men) and Elliott 6m (women), 2.4mR (open, able and disabled), SKUD18 (mixed, disabled) and Sonar (open, disabled).

Regatta Headquarters are located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training center, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Event organizers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-a-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In addition, the University of Miami Hospital will provide on-site medical care during the event.

In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by AlphaGraphics, Sperry Top-Sider, Atlantis WeatherGear, Harken, Team McLube, and the University of Miami Hospital.

About the ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup is an annual series that brings together the existing major events on the Olympic and Paralympic sailing circuits, starting in Australia (Sail Melbourne) in December before moving to the U.S. (US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR) in January and then on to Europe (Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, Spain; Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, France; the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, The Netherlands; and Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany) and Great Britain (Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at the 2012 Olympic sailing venue at Weymouth). More than 2,000 of the world’s leading sailors representing 65 nations competed in the first season of the World Cup, 2008-2009. By scoring competitors across all events included in the season, the ISAF Sailing World Cup offers a definitive guide to the best-of-the-best in the Olympic and Paralympic sailing worlds.

About Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America’s Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including supporting the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women’s events. In 2010, Rolex will sponsor over 20 prestigious yachting events globally, including the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex Capri Sailing Week, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race and the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex.

About US SAILING
US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR is organized by the United States Sailing Association (US SAILING), the national governing body for sailing, which provides leadership for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. For more information, please visit http://www.ussailing.org. For more information about the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, please visit:http://sailingteams.ussailing.org

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US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR
Top-three Finishes
Day Six – Final

Star (26 boats) – 11 races
1. Eivind Melleby/Petter Morland Pederson (NOR), 1-11-2-(20)-1-1-2-2-8-2-6, 36
2. Andy Horton/James Lyne (Burlington, Vt., USA/Granville, Vt., USA), 2-1-3-1-4-5-(25/OCS)-1-6-4-10, 37
3. Mark Mendelblatt/John Von Schwarz (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA/Annapolis, Md., USA), 8-8-1-11-(25/OCS)-2-1-5-2-14, 55

49er (36 boats) – 16 races
1. Manu Dyen/Stephane Christidis (FRA), 2-6-3-7-9-1-(15)-6-1-10-(10/OCS/RDG)-10-3-4-(37/OCS)-6, 93
2. Nico LM Delle Karth/Nikolaus Leopold Resch (AUT), 3-5-4-14-11-8-3-5-7-14-(20)-5-2-2-15-12, 110
3. Simon Karstoft/Jonathon Bay (DEN), 10-23-2-5-6-3-12-14-9-3-3-3-1-(37/BFD)-8-16, 118

Laser Radial (57 boats) – 11 races
1. Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla., USA), 1-1-4-10-3-9-3-1-(58/BFD)-1-2, 35
2. Alicia Cebrian (ESP), (58/BFD)-2-19-5-1-4-4-5-20-8-6, 74
3. Alison Young (GBR), 3-11-16-1-8-(25)-11-9-13-24-16, 112

Laser (104 boats)-11 races
1. Nick Thompson (GBR), 1-6-1-1-(23)-13-1-1-1-3-6, 34
2. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA), 2-11-14-11-1-3-8-(25)-16-8-10, 84
3. Kyle Rogachenko (GBR), 12-9-9-15-9-3-10-4-(27)-1-14-86

470 Men (34 boats) – 11 races
1. Anton Dahlberg/Sebastian A-stling (SWE), 7-4-2-8-11-(19)-4-4-16-5-2, 63
2. Mathew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS), 3-(19)-10-18-5-2-1-17-2-3-6, 67
3. Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela (ISR), 2-6-4-6-12-(13)-2-13-6-9-10, 70

470 Women (26 boats) – 11 races
1. Amanda Clark/Sarah Chin (Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.,USA/Hoboken N.J., USA), 7-6-2-1-3-1-(13)-3-3-8-10, 44
2. Ingrid Petitjean/Nadege Douroux (FRA), 10-2-1-(11)-5-2-1-2-4-6-14, 47
3. Henriette Koch/Lene Sommer (DEN), 8-4-5-6-1-(10)-2-1-2-3-18, 50

Finn (37 boats) – 11 races
1. Edward Wright (GBR), 1-2-(19)-1-4-1-1-3-5-2-8, 28
2. Giles Scott (GBR), 2-7-1-3-3-3-(8)-6-2-7-14, 48
3. Gasper Vincec (SLO), 5-12-5-8-(19)-2-7-1-3-1-3-5-4, 52

Elliott 6m (24 boats)
1. Anna Tunnicliffe/Molly Vandemoer/Debbie Capozzi (Plantation, Fla., USA/Palo Alto, Calif., USA/Bayport, N.Y., USA)
2. Lucy Macgregor/Annie Lush/Ally Martin (GBR)
3. Claire Leroy/Marie Riou/Elodie Bertrand (FRA)

RS:X Women (25 boats) – 9 races
1. Marina Alabau (ESP), 2-2-(4)-2-4-2-1-3-4, 20
2. Blanca Manchon (ESP), 1-1-(10)-3-2-1-4-1-8, 21
3. Laura Linares (ITA), (6)-4-2-1-5-6-2-4-2, 26

RS:X Men (37 boats) – 9 races
1. Dorian Rijsselberghe (NED), 1-1-2-7-1-5-(9)-4-8, 29
2. Ivan Pastor (ESP), 6-5-4-1-2-3-2-(12)-10, 33
3. Julien Bontemps (FRA), 5-10-1-9-7-(16)-10-1-2, 45

2.4mR (28 boats) – 10 races
Paul Tingley (CAN), 5-5-7-2-1-1-4-(9)-1-3, 29
Thierry Schmitter (NED), 1-3-6-3-2-4-(29/DSQ)-2-9-2, 32
John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.,USA), 2-1-2-10-3-6-1-(11)-8-1, 34

Sonar (9 boats) – 10 races
1. Aleksander Wang-Hansen/Per Eugen Kristiansen/Marie Solberg (NOR), 1-4-1-1-3-1-1-3-(7)-1, 16
2. John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Steve Thomas (GBR), 3-3-2-6-1-2-2-1-(8)-4, 24
3. Rick Doerr/Brad Kendall/Hugh Freund (Clifton, N.J., USA/Tampa, Fla., USA/South Freeport, Me., USA), 4-(8)-4-4-4-3-3-2-2-2, 28

SKUD-18 (7 boats)-10 races
1. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J., USA/Boca Raton, Fla., USA), 1-3-1-1-1-2-2-2-1-(8/BNF), 14
2. Jennifer French/Jean-Paul Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA/St. Petersburg, Fla., USA), 2-2-3-4-6-1-1-1-(8/OCS)-1, 21
3. John McRoberts/Brenda Hopkin (CAN), 3-4-2-2-3-4-(6)-4-2-2, 26