Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Around Our Necks

Photos Include: Paige and Andrew getting their Gold Medals...including Robert Scheidt getting the silver. Our squad getting their silver medals and Paul getting his Bronze. A couple of shots of us with our medals. Our medal.
Long story short:
We went to the prize giving. Actually, the prize giving came to us. When we got back to the dock, the whole compound had been transformed into the backdrop for the medal ceremony. It was raining pretty hard and we were trying as quickly as possible to rinse the salt water off of everything on our boat with fresh water. We got the mast down and the sails put away. I think we might even have been thinking about packing the container at that point when Scott came over and said they wanted to start the awards ceremony in 10 minutes and the Lightning was to be the second award given.

We raced up to the area where we normally leave our stuff and get injury treatments. There was no time to even shower. Thank goodness we had towels to at least dry off. Typical sailors changing clothes in public! We were ready in about 8 minutes and then in true S. American style, waited 25 for the ceremony to get going. Nobody complained.

It was really too bad that Tracy and Augie missed out on a medal by as little as they did. We didn't see it, but I hear they pulled bow to bow with the boat they had to beat to medal, but apparently they just couldn't pull it off after a great comeback. They went immediately to the container where in the dark, they started rebuilding the shipping rack on which the Lasers and the Snipe. Then Augie was the first to leave Rio. He caught a plane at 9:30. As I write this, he's already in Colorado sailing another Snipe in the US Nationals. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone better at logistics than Augie.

Bob and Elisa also got a raw deal. They sailed around all afternoon waiting to get a chance to move up for a medal. They were the 4th race scheduled. The first three races were completed well in time. Then the committee seemed to wait for…? By the time they got things ready to go, the 4pm time limit had gone by. That was very tough to take, but those guys handled it very well back on shore.

Today's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today". Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:

There was a three-way tie. First neat thing: It was just beginning to rain. It was dark out. We were standing at the top of the stairs in our medal stand uniforms waiting to go down to the podium. Our team came down first. Then the Chilians and then the Brazilians. The flag bearers went first. Then the oh so very cold little girls in the summer dresses holding the medal trays and the flowers. Then a boy scout who was obviously prepared for anything went. Then it was my turn. I took the first step down the stair and Paul Foerster came out of nowhere in his team uniform and yelled, "Way to go Bill" and gave me a high 5. He's got three Olympic medals and he's saying this is his last of this type of games. Being on the same team with him was pretty cool. Second neat thing: We are standing on the podium with our medals on. It's raining a little harder. You can see your breath. The Chilian National Anthem is playing. Just as it seemed to be getting to be a very long anthem, Tito whispered under his breath so only Jody, David and I could hear, "It only takes about half an hour." We couldn't laugh, so I guess we just smiled a little harder. Third neat thing: As they put these big silver medals around our necks, Andrew Campbell yelled from somewhere in back of the crowd, "Go Blue!!" Just the same thing we'd been yelling at the basketball team. Felt very good just then to be part of a team. Usually don't feel like that at a regular regatta but by then we'd long since figured out that this was about more than just sailing boats.

Monday, July 30, 2007


AG is the designation for silver on the periodic chart of elements.

1: Chile, Ecuador, US coming downwind in the medal race.
2: The bottom mark rounding
3: The bottom mark rounding, USA having passed Ecuador
4: USA coming downwind the last time.
5: Silver medal winners

The medal race is a concoction devised by the Olympic movement in an effort to make the sport more interesting for television. The medal race, it is hoped, provides closure…setting up a scenario where a boat that wins the last race wins the regatta and that's what happens… sometimes.

It's Winter in Rio. And they say that means temperatures in the mid 80s and sun and very little rain because Winter here is the dry season. Please remind the cows treading water across the now flooded drainage river that this is the dry season. After the last 5 days where the sun never showed up and the rain came every day they are doing a bovine synchro-swimming routine. Watch with me now as they display udders in perfect alignment…left rear hooves up pointing towards the sky and sink in unison. Point is that the medal race may be made for TV, but the wind doesn't give a whit. Saturday: at high noon at the Pan Am Games coral arrives with 3 knots of breeze 'blowing' 180 degrees from the forecast direction very low, gray clouds, 60 degrees and rain.

Imagine about 8 very large spectator boats filled with local sports fans out to watch some exciting yacht racing drama. Well, now they've exchanged their SPF 50 for a plastic rain poncho. They are very cold. In Rio, there is no heat. Anywhere. The cars don't have heat. The Busses don't have heat. They don't even have defrosters in the cars. Everything is damp. My wool hat is the most coveted piece of athletic clothing I'm wearing. 12:05 finds Jody and I cowering under the deck of the boat. It is reported by one of my teammates that I am snoring. David is in every piece of clothing we can scrape together so he can stay warm. The tide is going out fast. He tries to keep from getting swept out of the bay and toward Africa. The TV crews are in under the tents on shore.

About 3pm the first plane at the adjoining municipal airport takes off to the South. This is a very good sign because they have better short term forecasts than we do. The surface wind is still out of the North, but everyone knows that to race we need the Southerly. The plane taking off to the South is a great predictor. Somewhere, 1500-2000 feet up the wind has shifted. Soon there will be racing. Everyone springs to it. Through some twist of luck, our race is scheduled to be first. These races are umpired on the water, so they only run one race at a time. The races are supposed to take only 30 minutes per class. So, starting at 3pm, running 4 races on our course and getting everything done by dark will really be a chore. It will be a real bummer if some class doesn't get a medal race because the wind didn't fill in on time, but then TV only really has so much power over nature.

We get into sequence. Ebbing tide is really going to be a factor trying to push us over the starting line against the Southerly which is now fully in and blowing about 12-14 with lots of puffs and corresponding non-puffs. This will be a neat, tricky race. With about 90 seconds to go, we're heading back toward the boat. Our plan is to start really anyplace on the line in clear air, find a lane and get to the right. There's current relief over there (which we don't want in the ebb) but the puffs seem to be coming from the right, particularly at the top of the course. The weather legs are designed to be under 10 minutes long, so we need to guard the right as soon as we can regardless of the tidal consequences.

We tack to leeward of Canada with just under a minute to go. Team Canada doesn't play nice. We want them to just head up and give us some space to start, but they need to stay behind the starting line too so they dive down. To us that looks like they're trying to go under us and take our hole. They probably aren't really trying to do that, but we don't know that for sure. We dive really low. They tack. We tack back onto port. With about 15 seconds to go, they tack back onto starboard. We tack under them again. Ecuador is to our left—not a threat to our line, but the leeward-most boat. Chile is the closest boat to the boat. Brazil is under them, above Canada by 7 boat lengths. As we tack under Canada, we're going slow. The current starts lugging us toward the starting line. We've warned ourselves about not being OCS in the medal race only about 27 times in the last 29 seconds. This seems to have had no effect as we, the Canadians and the Brazilians are all over the line early.

In a 5 boat fleet, this is really not too big a deal. We quickly gybe, return to the line and restart. Only Chile and Ecuador leave free. Briefly I remember that Ecuador needs to win the race and for us to be absolutely last, for us to miss any medal at all.

We get going upwind quickly. We're ahead of Brazil and Canada after restarting. We round the first mark that way in third. We sail down the run, hit some wind shifts correctly and come to a decision point about 2/3rds of the way down the run. Which gate mark to choose. Chile and Ecuador take the mark that's closest to the right side of the course once they turn upwind. We think the wind is in left phase making the right mark as we look downwind appear advantaged. So we gybe and head for it. We round it and immediately it appears we're at least even with Ecuador. We continue on starboard tack for about 2 minutes, find a little more knock and tack. Ecuador is in the middle of my main window! That means that right now, we're comfortably ahead of them. We're also much closer to Tito. Unfortunately, even beating him won't get us a gold medal. We need to get us ahead of both Ecuador and Chile, plus Ecuador needs to pass Chile. This seems unlikely. We round the top mark comfortably ahead of Ecuador and about 6 boat lengths behind Chile. We gybeset. Tito gybes under and ahead of us. We start to get puffs a little before he does and we gain. It would be great to win the medal race, even if it did nothing to win us the gold medal. We halve his lead. Nobody's mentioned Brazil for awhile. I don't look back while we go downwind, so I have no idea where they are. Turns out both they and Canada pass Ecuador somehow on the downwind leg. We run out of real estate and we watch at Tito and crew celebrate winning, in front of several TV cameras. We finish the race second to about as much celebration from the spectator fleet as you hear on the average Tuesday night race at the BCC. We're pretty excited to have won the Silver medal. It feels good to beat Brazil here on their home waters. We would have hated it had they beaten us. They're good guys. They're really good sports, but personally, by this point I've had it with Brazilian nationalism.

So we're second. Now on our course the Snipes sail their race. We wish Augie and Tracy well and go in to take the boat apart. Turns out the Snipes complete their race. The J-24s complete their race, but the Hobie 16s don't get a chance to race their medal races. The darkness comes too soon. I can't imagine how frustrating that would fee to come all this way and not get a chance to race the last race. The same thing happens to Paul over on the Sunfish course. Andrew Campbell and Paige Railey both sailed really beautifully and both won Gold medals. Paul went out at 11 am, sailed back and forth in really cold weather until 4 when they ran out of time. Then, he sailed home in the darkening, having won the bronze medal. Sometimes this is a really stupid sport.

Today's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today". Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:

We went over the finish line. We got a gun and they're going to give us a silver medal in a couple of hours. Jody releases the spinnaker halyard and I get the whole thing in the boat without ripping it. We shake hands and that was a pretty neat moment. We've been down here for what seems like a month and we've never had one single cross word between us. Two of us are married. Have you ever gone more than 2 hours on a boat, racing with someone you're married to without having a cross word? Either they've got a really nice marriage, or the task of constantly watching to make sure old #27 wasn't losing the kite sheet under the bow kept their minds off wringing the other's neck. Gotta tell you, from this independent, unbiased perspective…#27 was a very lucky number

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Medal Race Tomorrow:

This is what it looks like here when there is very little breeze.
Sailing is a media event here at the Pan Am Games...if you're from Brazil.
Team USA aka basketball groopies.

Sorry for no blog post yesterday. We had three races in the best breeze of the regatta so far. It blew 12-14 all day out of the SW which isn't a direction we'd ever seen in the long-term forecastFor our Lightning team, it was a very good day. We were able to beat team Chile two out of three races and we really should have beaten them the third race too. They beat us buy a foot at the end of a downwind finish. We Also beat Team Brazil today too. But the best news is that both Brazil and USA put boats between themselves and Chile and really made this a competitive regatta. Now, it's genuinely possible for any of the three boats to win the gold medal. Going in to the medal race the scores are as follows:
Chile 12 pts.
Brazil 13 pts.
USA 15 pts.
Only boats that rand in the top 5 in each class at the conclusion of sailing on Friday, sail in the medal race. Each boat's medal race score is counted twice in their final score. The medal race cannot be discarded. The score in the medal race is used as the sole series tie breaker. More on this later.

Fast forward to today: We woke up to the 4th day in a row of low, gray clouds and very little wind out at the village. Since Wednesday, the lay day, the daily start time has been bumped up by an hour to noon. So the organizers have added a 7:30am bus for competitors. For the second day in a row David and I were the only sailors on the bus. It works out beautifully. We get to the venue and the crane drivers are already there. We take the cover off the boat and they pick it up for us. We wash the bottom off and then they put it back down. Then we rig the boat, get a coffee and wait for the crowd on the 3 8:30 buses. Jody's going to the gym every morning, so she comes on the 8:30. Then the boat park is bedlam with everyone rigging and washing and deciding what to wear and getting coach briefings and giving press briefings and in the case of many of the sailors walking around in bikini…briefs. Today, we waited all day for wind. At 3:20 the race committee sent the whole fleet out to try and get in one more race. The boats on the bubble rooted hard for enough breeze to fill in that cold overcome a strong outgoing tide. The first fleets needed to be sailing by 4 in order to make sure all the boats would finish in daylight. At 4:00 you could not reliably make progress sail downwind against the current. There was no hope of making the individual class time limits. So racing for the day was abandoned and that was the end of the Pan American Games for all but the media race boats.

Good news is that the US has a boat in the medal race in every fleet.

For our US Lightning team, the situation is as follows:
Win the race, put any boat between us and Chile and we win Gold.
Win the race, Chile is second we win Silver.
Finish behind Brazil with no boat between us and Chile, we win bronze.
I don't have the scores in font of me so I don't know if we still win Gold if we finish 3rd with Brazil 4th and Chile 5th. That's possible. Team Canada and Team Ecuador are the other two boats in the race.

We just hope there's wind tomorrow. We did a nice job getting closer to Chile yesterday. We just need a chance to beat them again. If there's no wind again tomorrow. The scores stay as they are and the medals are awarded in the order the boats are right now. We'd win the bronze medals.

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:

I think I mentioned that everywhere, at all the venues, the USA athletes get booed. We were told that was going to happen even back in .DC at processing so we kind of expected it. In sailing obviously that isn't relevant, but in the other sports it's very intimidating. We went to Men's Basketball the last two evenings. Last night the US blew a 14 point lead and lost to Panama by about 10 points. Yep, the mighty USA lost to Panama. There were about 3000 people in the arena and about 2993 of them were lustily cheering on the Panamanians—who are a pretty good team, made up of several US college players and a group much more used to playing together than our guys are. Our team was literally put together in trials 2 weeks ago. We have many very good top level college players such as Drew Neitzel of Michigan State and Roy Hibbard of Georgetown. Roy Hibbard is very nice. Andrew is a Georgetown graduate. He brought at Hoyas banner down here to get a photo with Hibbard for the Alumni newsletter. Jody got a great photo of them together. I don't think this blog has yet been assigned the online publication rights to that photograph. Backroom wheeling and dealing is proceeding on that issue. Stay tuned.

Anyway, as athletes, we sat in the 3rd row of seats behind the scorer's table on the team bench side. We just walk into the arena through the players entrance walk onto the floor and up into the seats. We do this at every venue and after two weeks of being here, we're completely used to this luxury. Very few athletes take advantage of this opportunity. In fact, we've never seen other athletes cheering on teams from other sports. Heck, we even went to watch the synchronized swimmers practice last night (this is an amazingly difficult sport and really cool to watch in person). Last night we were literally the only US fans in the building. The team had also lost the night before to Uruguay by 8. You can imagine the way they felt. The US is the birthplace of the sport. We've dominated for generations. We have dream teams. Yes, we've got much better worldwide competition, but that's supposed to come from Brazil and Argentina not Panama and Uruguay. Part of the athlete deal is that all athletes travel back and forth to the venue on the same buses. So we were out waiting for the bus when the US guys came out of the arena. We asked the coaches if we could have a ride on their bus and they said sure. It was a funeral in there. Two losses meant no medal for them. Several of the guys thanked us for coming out to support them. These are guys used to playing in front of 19,000 in Madison Square Garden or 53,000 at the RCA Dome. They said they'd never been in a more hostile environment. We got home late and that 's why there was no blog posting yesterday.

Well, tonight, we decided we needed to go back and cheer them on again. They played Argentina with nothing to play for but the desire not to go home skunked.
Now Argentina didn't sent their best team to these games either. Next month there's an Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas where their NBA players and top team will play against ours. But, Argentina is the current World Champion, the favorites here and they were undefeated. Tonight, on a Friday, there were about 7,500 people in the arena. Even the top level was 70% full. It was loud in there again. The US team out rebounded, out hustled and out defended Argentina. You could make a very good case that Argentina was resting players for games in the medal round in the second half of this game. But when one of their little knat point guards missed a second chance three at the buzzer and the US won, every player ran onto the floor and hugged each other 3 sailors and two coaches who had been ripping the refs and cheering on their country had no voices left. Woulda thought we'd all just won the gold medal game…together.

Tonight, the coaches thanked us for coming. The players asked us about sailing. We're sailors going back to work next week, or off to do more fundraising to fund Olympic campaigns. They're Basketball players going back to campus next month, looking at Senior seasons and onto multi-million dollar professional careers. They get Dominos Pizza on their post game bus and they devour amazing amounts. But tonight they handed us a box too. There we were on the team bus: Coaches, doctors, players and us, driving back home after a basketball game. 25 American guys eating some classic high carb-high salt-high grease-fresh-out-of-the-square-box American food—just like on the team bus back in high school. Except everyone on this bus had on red white and blue. And high school was 25 years ago. USA! USA!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Forecast Confidence: Below Average

These are the girls. Sabrina is on Mommy's Lightning. Camryn is on Daddy's shoulder. We miss them.

Have I told you that we get regular weather forecasts every morning? Well one of the facets of the forecast is where the forcaster tells us how well the various weather models are agreeing and how much confidence she has in her overall prediction. I feel sorry for our weather guru. This place is nuts. We went out today in about 12 knots of breeze from 180 (the south). We take wind readings every so often to try and get a handle on what the wind will do during the racing. Well in a one hour period between 10:30 and 11:30 today, we saw wind come from 270 different degrees. That means we had that southerly. Then the wind did a 180 and we had a northerly. Then we saw it from 160, then 110, then north again and then it went into the northwest before crapping out alltogether. Then it came in from...you guessed it...180 and the committee set a course and we got going! I would not want to try and make a living predicting Rio de Janerio's winter weather.

Well, today was supposed to be the day we got to tour the cement Jesus and the Sugerloaf mountian via tram. But, since we've had such unreliable weather, we needed to use the reserve day for sailing. We also were supposed to start sailing at noon today vs. the usual 1pm start times. Anything they can do to get in some races is fine by us. It's really tough on them given how early it gets dark. Today, eventhough we went out early, we still only got in 1 race.

In that race, we started to leeward of the group tacked onto port with the pack. They must have gotten out of the current sooner than we did (please understand there aren't any channel markers on the race course) and we rounded the weather mark last. The guy who rounded the first mark first was first to tack onto port, went all the way to the corner, tacked and lead at the weather mark. We fought back on the run, passed a couple of boats, got closer up the second beat and passed one more on the following leeward leg to finish third behind Chile and Brazil. So as of tonight, there are three boats tied for first, Chile, Brazil and us, each with 11 points. We hold the tie breaker against Brazil but Chile is untouchable right now. It won't get any better after we complete 1 more race and they can discard their OCS.

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:
This morning we went out onto the racecourse before the racing to check out the conditions. One of the things we regularly do is to sail by a permanent sea buoy of some kind to check the current. We have tide charts that tell us whether the tide should be coming in or going out. But the wind delays that sometimes. Or else the wind can even prevent the tide from going out at all. This happened on Tuesday. Anyway, we put a sponge in the water next to a big red buoy. The sponge floats low in the water so that when it moves you know it's the current that's moving it and not the wind. You might also do this with a weighted stick. Ok, so we picked up the sponge and I told David I wanted to touch the buoy for good luck. I smacked it a good one as we went by. Later I looked down and saw a red splotch on the side of the boat. I thought someone was bleeding but in reality it was a hand print. The red sea buoy 3/4th of a mile off shore. The red sea buoy smack dab in the middle of the dirtiest harbor you'd ever never dream of swimming in. The red sea buoy, one of thousands in a giagantic country where very little appears to get periodic maintenance...had just been painted. Incredible!


That was my body temperature yesterday morning when I woke up. I went immediately down to the medical unit on the first floor of our building and saw one of the dozens of doctors the USOC assigns to the games. The capability of the medical staff is incredible here. Anyway the doctor said I shouldn't work out yesterday...My resting heart rate was 93bps. Normal is under 50bps. There was a battle going on in my body. It felt like people were hitting me with laser boom sections on my legs back and arms. I had to tell him that I wasn't going to work out, we were in the middle of the competition. He said no way should I sail. I was able to make him understand the I had two teammates and that no crew substitutions were allowed. That perked him up a bit. I got antibiotics, Motrin in mass industrial doses and sudafed. Those of you who know me probably realize that sudafed and I are not good for eachother...too hyper! But I took it and I still wasn't hyper.

We got to the boat and it was really gray and windless and misting rain. Perfect environment in which to achieve maximum recovery. I piled on all my Molehill Mt. Equipment stuff over all the great Gill stuff we were given. I even put on my magic wool hat. Jody and David have been very supportive of me. They didn't even laugh too much at my get-up. We left the dock a little after noon and floated down to the course area. Lucky we have coach boats because we can get towed in and out. We're getting done just before dark, so we get towed in in the black sometimes. Lucky they'e stopped all commercial traffic in Rio harbour during the sailing. No worries about getting run over...except from two ferries that bisect bay just off the course. That will keep you from banging a corner too hard.

Anyway, it was a GREAT day for the American team. Bob and Eliza won both their races. Augie and Tracy won their race. Andrew was second in his race and is leading and our team squeeked over the line 3" in front of Canada to cross the line second. We ended up winning our race when we discovered that Chile had been OCS. Tito still has wheels nobody else has. Matt Burridge wheels. It was very helpful that he pushed the start too hard in the ebb tide and the current took him over the line. One more of these and we will be in business.

In the race, David faked Ecuador that we were going to start just to weather of then down at the leeward end. He ended up pulling ouf of it, sailing almost directly away from the line with 40 seconds to go (giving the current less of the boat to push over the line). Then he came back right under Juan Santos. He was VERY patient and crossed the line about a full second late, safely behind the line but right at the anchor line of the pin end boat. We went left which seemed to work yesterday. Everyone flopped to port and we sailed into the right third of the beat as a fleet. Tito crossed everyone from the right to round first. We rounded second. Down the run Canada flew past us. Those guys were much faster in all aspects of the sailing than the first day. Up the second beat things stayed about the same except that we were able to get past Canada and Brazil got close. We've been sending them ways they don't like to go...we've got to beat them. We gybe set at the top mark and sailed down the last leg to the right of the fleet. A few gybes and we forced Canada into a gybe right at the finish. Our kite just got across the line before theirs. You can let it out a little. So we're leading right now. Let's hope things continue like that.

Sorry for no pictures today.

Results - Top Three plus Top North American
Laser Radial (12 boats) – 1 race today/3 total
1. Canada 2-2-3: 7 (Lisa Ross)
T2. USA 4-1-9: 14 (Paige Railey)
T2. Argentina 3-4-7:14 (Cecilia Carranza Saroli)
T2. Bermuda 5-3-6: 14 (Katrina Williams)

Laser (12 boats) – 1 race today/ 3 total
1. USA 1-5-2: 8 (Andrew Campbell)
2. Argentina 7-1-1:9 (Julio Alsogaray)
3. Brazil 3-4-3: 10 (Robert Scheidt)

RS:X Men (9 boats) -- 2 races today/4 total
1. Mexico 1-1-1-1: 4 (David Mier Y Teran)
2. Brazil 3-2-3-1: 9 (Ricardo Winicki)
3. Argentina 2-3-2-5: 12 (Mariano Reutemann)

RS:X Women (7 boats) – 2 races today/3 total
1. Canada 1-1-1: 3 (Dominique Vallee)
2. Argentina 2-2-4: 8 (Florencia Gutierrez)
3. Brazil 4-3-2: 9 (Patricia Castro)

Lightning (7 boats) – 1 race today/3 total
1. USA 3-4-1: 8 (David Starck, Jody Starck, Bill Faude)
2. Brazil 2-3-4: 9 (Claudio Biekarck, Gunnar Ficker, Silva Marcelo)
T3. Chile 1-1-8(OCS): 10 (Alberto Gonzalez, Diego Gonzalez, Cristian Herman)
T3. Ecuador 5-2-3: 10 (Sebastian Herrera Castro, Juan Santos Dillon, Juan
Santos Garces)

Sunfish (11 boats) – 1 race today/3 total
1. Venezuela 3-1-2: 6 (Eduardo Cordero)
2. Peru 1-6-1: 8 (Alexander Zimmermann)
3. USA 2-5-3: 10 (Paul Foerster)

J24 (7 boats) – 1 race today/3 total
1. Argentina 1-2-4: 7 (Joaquin Duarte Argerich, Gustavo Gonzalez, Sebastian
Peri Brusa, Alejo Rigoni)
T2. Brazil 8-1-1: 10 (Carlos Jordao, Mauricio Oliveria, Daniel Santiago,
Alexandre Silva)
T2. Canada 3-4-3: 10 (Mark Goodyear, Rossi Milev, Erwyn Naidoo, Mike Wolfs)

Hobie Cat 16 (8 boats) -- 2 races today/4 total
1. Brazil 1-1-2-4: 8 (Bernardo Arndt, Bruno Oliveira)
2. USA 6-4-1-1: 12 (Bob Merrick, Eliza Cleveland)
3. Guatemala 3-2-6-2: 13 (Cristina Guirola, Juan Ignacio Maegli)

Snipe (11 boats) – 1 race today/3 total
1. Uruguay 2-2-2: 6 (Pablo Defazio, Eduardo Medici)
T2. Brazil 1-3-6: 10 (Pedro Amaral, Alexandre Paradeda)
T2. USA 5-4-1: 10 (Augie Diaz, Tracy Smith)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 1: Oh Yes, Amongst All Of This A Regatta Breaks Out

The view out my window this morning, looking East.
David with Paige Railey and Andrew Campbell…the young guns.
The coaches boats. There are lots of coaches boats.
Just after the finish of the last race.
Getting towed in. (Please note, on the water shots are very challenging.) The coaches try to get shots of us, but they can't leave the coaching box which is just to leeward of the finish. So we won't have many pics of the actual racing. Sorry

This morning dawned clear and windy. The Northerly was blowing hard as it had when we went to bed…except it wasn't a Northerly any longer. It had moved left. By the time we got to the boat park on the 8:30 AM bus, it was already West. By the time we got the boat off the dock, it was already into the SW and blowing hard. We try to be the first boat out of the harbor. It feels good to leave the hubbub of the boat park and just do what we've come to do. Today we left in all the gear we could put on. The breeze was probably blowing 18-20 but the tide was ebbing and that made it look like 22 on the water. After yesterday of spending the whole day out there in under 6, this was more like it. We sailed downwind to our starting area. The Hobie-16s, the J-24, the Lightning and the Snipes sail on our course and start in that order. On the other course the Sunfish, the Laser Radials (women) the Regular Lasers (men) and the men's and women's boards sail.

The breeze continued to the left to blow from almost directly South for the first start. With the tide ebbing, the shipping channel in the middle of the course should be the place to go. But it is very narrow and almost impossible to identify without any channel markers. In any event, it seems that the breeze, aligned almost directly with the opening of the bay might be keeping the water in. It was unclear to us on our boat the tide was having any major effect. We felt it might be slightly better on the right from a current perspective. We were also seeing right shifts in the wind. Watching the Hobie-16s start on port tack and take sterns to bang the right corner hard also influences our thinking. Those boats go so far so fast, and sail such wide angles, they see parts of the bay we never get to. So we've got to keep that in mind. Our boat is about as different from a Hobie-16 as and Opti is from and Etchells.

We started nicely at the boat. Just above Chile and Brazil. Chile showed a gear nobody could match in this breeze. Tito took risks. Tito appeard to be sailing the wrong tack for long periods of time. Tito is very patient and waits until he sees what he is waiting for and then he tacks. Sometimes he turns sailing the wrong tack into big gains when after 5-6 minutes of watching the fleet wind up inside him, he tacks on the beginning of a 15 degree header. If it's not there, he loses big time. Today, it was there. He won both races.

In the first race Brazil seemed to have a little speed advantage on too. We reeled them in on the two downwind legs of the WL-2 course, but we couldn't get closer than 3 boat lengths at the finish. So they finished 2nd and we were 3rd with Argentina 4th and Ecuador 5th.

In the second race we started the most leeward boat (to the left of the fleet, about in the middle of the line.) As a team, we feel it's better to start on an edge. In a small fleet, you should always be able to find a lane going either way you'd like and so it's not good to have to mix it up in the middle of the pack. Some time later, we might have to win an end, but at the beginning of the event, take a spot where there's clear air and go. Our strategy worked well. One by one, the competition on our right hip pointed down into us in a left shit and tacked off toward the psychologically more pleasing right. We tacked to the left of the fleet and sailed a great number across. I think we probably were never actually much left of center, but we were the left most boat. So we should have been leading by miles right? We're still working this out in our minds…remember we've got 3 people on the boat who are trying hard and are reasonably accomplished at this…here we are, sailing an up number on the inside edge of the fleet. There is no bag on our centerboard. We are going through the water very competitively and yet we watch 2 boats sail out from under us and round ahead (Chile and Ecuador). Right now it's 2:35am and I'm still trying to work that one out. Right now the leaders in the club house are 1: I can't read a digital compass. Or 2: We somehow sailed out of the stronger ebb (which might have actually started to ebb a bit in the lighter air of race two, into the shallower right side. Anyway, we went down hill very slightly faster than Ecuador and both caught up to Chile. We went up wind and got to the top mark in the same relative positions. Just before the fleet got to the top mark the current switched. How fast it switches and how much it rushes in is another debatable matter that may just have the most impact on the final standings come Saturday. We rounded and sailed about half the leg on Starboard gybe. Brazil gybed before we did. That was probably a mistake for our team. Whether it was that they were in the deeper, flooding water sooner; they were between us and a right shifted breeze plus the fact that the downwind finish line was heavily skewed towards the port (pin) end looking downwind enabled them to beat us by about a boat length. This was very costly. Had we finished ahead of them we would be sitting in second owning a tiebreaker over Brazil. As it is now, our scores are 3, 4=7pts) tied with Ecuador (5, 2=7pts). It was a tough day. But we hope tomorrow will be better.

On the other course, Andrew Campbell is winning the Men's Laser. Paige Railey in the woman's Laser And Paul Foerster are doing well too. The rest of us need to get moving. Here are the overall results:

Results - Top Three and USA
Laser Radial (12 boats) -- 2 races
1. Canada 2-2: 4 (Lisa Ross)
2. USA 4-1: 5 (Paige Railey/Clearwater, Fla.)
3. Argentina 3-4: 7 (Cecilia Carranza Saroli)

Laser (12 boats) -- 2 races
T1. USA 1-5: 6 (Andrew Campbell/San Diego, Calif.)
T1. Chile 4-2: 6 (Matias del Solar)
3. Brazil 3-4: 7 (Robert Scheidt)

RS:X Men (9 boats) -- 2 races
1. Mexico 1-1: 2 (David Mier Y Teran)
T2. Brazil 3-2: 5 (Ricardo Winicki)
T2. Argentina 2-3: 5 (Mariano Reutemann)
T4. USA 5-4: 9 (Ben Barger/Tampa, Fla.)
T4. Venezuela 4-5: 9 (Carlos Flores)

RS:X Women (7 boats) - 1 race
1. Canada 1 (Dominique Vallee)
2. Argentina 2 (Florencia Gutierrez)
3. USA 3 (Nancy Rios/Cocoa Beach, Fla.)

Lightning (7 boats) -- 2 races
1. Chile 1-1: 2 (Alberton Gonzalez, Diego Gonzalez, Cristian Herman)
2. Brazil 2-3: 5 (Claudio Biekarck, Gunnar Ficker, Silva Marcelo)
T3. Ecuador 5-2: 7 (Sebastian Herrera Castro, Juan Santos Dillon, Juan
Santos Garces)
T3. USA 3-4: 7 (Bill Faude/Chicago, Ill.; David Starck/Buffalo, N.Y.; Jody
Starck/Buffalo, N.Y.)

Sunfish (11 boats) -- 2 races
1. Venezuela 3-1: 4 (Eduardo Cordero)
T2. Peru 1-6: 7 (Alexander Zimmermann)
T2. Virgin Islands 5-2: 7 (Peter Stanton)
T2. USA 2-5: 7 (Paul Foerster/Rockwall, Texas)

J24 (7 boats) -- 2 races
1. Argentina 1-2: 3 (Joaquin Duarte Argerich, Gustavo Gonzalez, Sebastian
Peri Brusa, Alejo Rigoni)
T2. Uruguay 4-3: 7 (Alejandro Foglia Mafio, Sebastian Rana, Nicolas Shaban,
Santiago Silveria)
T2. Canada 3-4: 7 (Mark Goodyear, Rossi Milev, Erwyn Naidoo, Mike Wolfs)
6. USA 6-5: 11 (Daniel Borrer/St. Augustine Beach, Fla.; Nate
Vilardebo/Tampa, Fla.;Patrick Wilson/Savannah, Ga.; Josh Putnam/Augusta,

Hobie Cat 16 (8 boats) -- 2 races
1. Brazil 1-1: 2 (Bernardo Arndt, Bruno Oliveira)
2. Guatemala 3-2: 5 (Cristina Guirola, Juan Ignacio Maegli)
3. Venezuela 4-3: 7 (Gonzalo Cendra, Yamil Saba)
T5. USA 6-4: 10 (Bob Merrick/Branford, Conn.; Eliza Cleveland/Branford,
T5. MEX 5-5: 10 (Javier Cabildo Quiroz, Katia Dennise Real Lopez)

Snipe (11 boats) -- 2 races
T1. Brazil 1-3:4 (Pedro Amaral, Alexandre Paradeda)
T1. Uruguay 2-2: 4 (Pablo Defazio, Eduardo Medici)
3. Argentina 6-1: 7 (Francisco Bonaventura, Adrian Oscar Marcatelli)
4. USA 5-4: 9 (Augie Diaz/Miami, Fla.; Tracy Smith/Newport, R.I.)

I'm totally sick right now. Trying to go back to bed. Darned cough keeps waking me up. It's raining outside and about 55 degrees right now. Who knows what it will be like in a couple of hours.

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:
Jody brought advil. That's about the best thing I can say for today.

All And All, It's Still Just A Regatta

You can bring 5000 athletes to a shared location. You can give them lots of team gear. You can put 50 of them in a bus speaking lots of different languages...but you still need some wind. Here's what the USOC said about yesterday:

First Day of Sailing Cancelled at Pan American Games

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 22, 2007) - After still winds delayed starts Sunday, the initial two races of all nine sailing classes were cancelled on the first day of competition at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The opening race of the Games will now be held tomorrow, Monday, July 23, beginning at 1 p.m. local at Glória Marina, and the sailors will look to complete three races before the end of the day.

So we're going to go back at it tomorrow morning and hope for breeze. We get detailed weather every day from Jennifer Lilly back in the states. She's been spot on. There's a low off shore to the south of us. There's a high right over us. It is really dry and hot here, so the fight between the sea breeze and the land breeze was on today. Neither won. We thought for awhile the land breeze would work and on the other course they even started a race with the Sunfish, but they didn't make their first leg time limit. The race time target is 75 minutes for each race and the boats need to sail the first leg in 20 minutes or they cancel the race and send everyone back to the starting line. The sunfish missed their first leg limit by about 3 minutes. We went out at 11 am and sailed around until they finally cancelled racing at 4. We moved all day. I bet the racing was about 4 knots. We would probably have started a fleet race at home in that much, but we think they did the right thing by not starting us today. You want a good test at the start of the regatta.

Truth told, we're going to struggle for breeze lots of the week and they may have us sailing in 4 by the end of the week, but not today.

The Most Fun Thing That Happend Today, Brought To You Today By Jenna and Noah:

Well, there wasn't much wind at the sailing site. But wind is strange, just 4 miles away the water ski event was shelved by...too much wind. And when we got back to the village last night, there was lots of wind. The land breeze wasn't fightning the sea breeze and it was blowing about 10. Since it was very dry and hot, it was an excellent breeze for drying clothes. So I rigged up my clothes line and did my stuff. It all dried in about 25 minutes. They have laundry service here, but the stuff comes back wet and you need to dry it anyway, so I think I'll just continue to do my own. Jody brought Woolite. So in a day where I've got a cold and went to sleep at 8:30 and missed the USA-Cuba woman's basketball game, drying clothes will have to suffice as the most fun thing that happened today!