On Monday, Anna Tunnicliffe hit a home run on the penultimate leg of the women’s singlehanded medal race at the Quingdao Olympics, hitting a massive left shift that sent her from zero to hero. Leading the regatta going into the race, Tunnicliffe tried a risky start — at 30 seconds to go, she jibed away from a safe leeward position a little over halfway down the line from the committee boat. Looking like she was going to be late, Tunnicliffe snuck in to weather of Kiwi Jo Aleh, who was over the line. When the individual recall flag went up, Tunnicliffe thought she may have been as well, and restarted. This left her third to last around the weather mark, out of contention for a medal. After losing another boat on the run, she banged that corner until she was reaching into the weather mark on port tack, having passed five boats in the process and back in position for a gold. On the final run, she passed another boat to take second in the race, the second U.S. medal in sailing, and the only gold.
Excepting Tunnicliffe’s gold and Zach Railey’s well-earned silver in the Finn, the U.S. Sailing Team overall did not have a good regatta — and that’s an understatement. The only event where an American sailor had good regatta, besides those two, was in the 49er, where Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast sailed pretty well — reeling off three straight bullets at one point. They were contenders going into the medal race until gear failure followed a great start, causing them to not make the finish deadline. We actually enjoyed watching that much-ballyhooed race — seeing every top-ranked team flip gave a great indication of how gnarly the sea state was, and the actual challenge of sailing the boats is what the games should be about. We wholeheartedly disagree with commentator Gary Jobson’s "this is pathetic," comment on the final leg of that race.
John Dane and Austin Sperry’s ‘no-check-goes-unwritten’ Star campaign failed when their extremely light-air-geared set-up was greeted with decidedly un-Qingdao conditions — breeze in the twenties and sloppy seas. The pair didn’t qualify for their medal race ending up in eleventh. John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree’s code zero spinnaker turned out to be a non-starter for the same reason. Inexplicably, they used both their measurement tags on those little-tested sails, instead of measuring a conventional kite as well.
In the men’s boardsailing, Ben Barger managed a bottom-third finish, also not qualifying for the medal race. Same story in the women’s, where Nancy Rios was next to last. Neither U.S. 470 team managed to qualify for their medal race, despite some promising results in international competition leading up to the event. The Yngling team of Sally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi and Carrie Howe finished in seventh, not fifth as we previously reported, with an inconsistent regatta which nontheless put them in the bronze position going into their disasterous medal race. Andrew Campbell failed to qualify for the men’s singlehanded medal race, finishing 25th of 43 after a black-flag penalty and DSQ.
Well, there’s always Weymouth in 2012. . . .