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Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Sailboat Racing, UK, US |

Olympic Update: USA 470 Women Hook into Weymouth

Bad news for the US in the Finn class as 2008 Silver Medalist Zach Railey finished up twelfth, but Amanda Clark/Sarah Lihan got off to a great start in the Womens 470.

We’ve had two more fabulous days of sailing in Weymouth, and the big story has been the fight for supremacy in the Finn class between Britain’s Ben Ainslie and Denmark’s Jonas Hoeg-Christensen. Today the ‘Battle of the Bay’ continued, ending with a race 10 win for Ainslie, putting him two points behind going into Sunday’s medal race.

2012 Olympics Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan

470 Women Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan found their form on their first day racing at the 2012 Olympics. Photo  credit: Onedition

Ok, enough about the British sailors… how is the US team doing? Sorry guys, there’s no sugarcoating it: the US team isn’t doing too well. Although medal favorite Zach Railey showed flashes of form – most notably in race five where he scored a second—he just never got into his stride.

In the Star, the news isn’t great either. Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih will sail in Sunday’s top-ten-only medal race, but they are 29 points behind bronze. No medal there either I’m afraid.

Good news? Well there was a brilliant flash of hope today as racing started in the 470 women’s event. The US duo had a great start in the first race and finished a respectable seventh. And race two was really heartening. From a poor start, Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan sailed through the fleet to take third. They are currently lying fifth, just three points off the lead.

With sunshine, 15 knots of breeze and some nice waves, I was wishing I was racing rather than watching, so I asked was it as much fun as it looked? “It was a lot of fun out there a little less wind than was forecasted, but still great racing,” said a smiling Amanda Clark, adding: “The committee’s doing a nice job of setting up a pretty big racecourse, so there’s plenty of room to stretch our legs and some great racing.”

So how did they scoop that third from their disastrous start? “We ended up tacking out after the start,” Amanda recalls. “We got into a lane going right and then we tacked back into another lane working our way left. For a second we were going a little slow, we worked on our boatspeed and we took off and from there it was just sort of balancing how many tacks you want to do with how much to play the shifts—tacks really slow a 470 down in this sort of breeze. Sarah did a great job of calling to hold on one of our tactical decisions and in doing so we were able to gain a lot and round the windward mark in second.”

Olympics 2012 Zach Railey frustrated

2008 Silver medalist Zach Railey was unable to find his form in 2012 and finished a disppointing twelfth overall.

So while their teammates have struggled a bit with speed, with fitness, and with the fickle winds, this pair seems to have the measure of Weymouth, or at least seems to have tuned into its rhythm—and they’re loving it. “We’re going fast around the race course. It was great to get a jump on the fleet from the first beat, but we were able to keep that through the runs and it’s nice to have a bit of “wriggle room”… To have the sun out on the first day of racing, maybe a little less wind, but still great waves, you can’t ask for anything more!”

- Gael Pawson

Editors’ Note: Gael is  providing special reports on the US Sailing Team throughout the events in Weymouth. For previous posts, see below: