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Posted by on Aug 4, 2012 in Sailboat Racing, US |

US Olympic Match Racers Hit Form

Team USA match racers Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandermoer, and Debbie Capozzi finished fourth in the qualifying series to advance to the quarter-finals.

When I drove into the media centre today, the BBC was quite appropriately interviewing the family of US women’s match racing forward crew Debbie Cappozi; they’d been spotted cheering the girls on from Weymouth’s sandy beach. Both the GBR team and the US team had a big day ahead, and I was looking forward to the day’s final showdown between the two.

Olympics 2012 Team USA match racing at mark

USA Olympic match racers Debbie Capozzi (front), Molly Vandermoer and Anna Tunnicliffe lead Team GBR around the windward mark.

Maybe that extra waving of the Stars and Stripes made all the difference, as it was the US that came out on top to conclude a stunning day in front of the crowds. Two wins for the US team of Anna Tunncliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi – an impressive display of form that’s arrived just in time for the knock-out stage of the competition. The top eight teams begin the quarter-finals, a knock-out best of five competition, on Tuesday.

Going into the Olympics, the US trio were undoubtedly one of the favourites. But their star was slow to shine… until today. Anna explains: “We got off to a little unfortunate start. We weren’t ever sailing terribly, but we got caught on a mark in one race and we lost another by six inches. We’ve had some really good racing and we’ve been sailing really well.”

And when it really counted, they posted a brilliant pair of results. “We had two races left of the round robin and we knew we had to come out and win them both,” Anna explained. “We sailed great, on a tricky course and came away with two wins.

“I guess more and more we’ve been settling down, but I’d say the whole event we’ve been sailing quite well and we’re not going to change anything in the way we’re sailing… just looking forward to getting into the quarters now.”

Olympics 2012 Nothe crowds match racing USA

The crowds at the Nothe have been cheering loudly, “probably for the Brits,” Anna Tunnicliffe acknowledges.

The match racing has been taking place on the Nothe course each day – close to shore and in view of the ticketed viewing area. So how have they found the crowds? “There’s a lot of cheering, the crowd are really into it, it’s great. We don’t think they’re ever really cheering for us, they’re probably cheering for the Brits, but we pretend they’re cheering for us so we use that as motivation.”

Today some of that shouting was certainly for the US team: “I think most of our families are here now – they were really loud today so it was great to see them. We saw them all before the racing as we sailed out and then they cheered loud for us throughout the race.”

So what’s their plan from here? “We’ll take it one race at a time and see what happens and hopefully we’ll come away with a gold, that’s the plan!”

Team USA has two days’ rest before they face the Finnish team in Tuesday’s first quarter-final match.

Photos courtesy of Onedition

- Gael Pawson

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