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!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sail Nicely, Christ Is Watching

We sailed the practice race today.
The tide had just started to flow (come in) about the time we were to start and during the slack tide time, somehow our starting line was placed in the middle of a liquid garbage dump. There were plastic grocery bags semi submurged all over the place. There were palm frons. There were leaves. There was a window frame with a screen still installed in it. I'm going to assume the rest of the house must have sunk. This is mildly off-putting, but one of the Hobie-16 sailors reported seeing what was either a dead dog or a dead pig floating somewhere near the port layline. Anyway, this racing is going to present some unique challenges because while there is is a very long starting line to provide room for the Hobie 16s which go warp 27. You really ought to see them. Most times I've seen a Hobie 16 it's been being piloted by a honeymoon couple at Sandals. Here the sails are all new. Both harnesses are installed and the crew is horizontal. The weather rudder is popped up and it's carbon. In short, these boats fly...silently. Anyway, they require a lot of on-ramp. So we start on a big line and there is immediately lots of potential separation. If two boats tack away right off the line and sail for 5 minutes they're a LONG way away. It doesn't take a very big shift for them to be launched. Theres not much to be done about situations like that. Normally, you could sail up the middle sailing the windshifts. Here the current seems to dictate a different strategy. We will see.

In the practice race we had a difficult start. We had to to two clearing tacks, but were lucky with a little right shirt. We sailed off on starboard just upwind of Chile and Brazil. We were holding them off well...even separating off them to weather. Then they started sailing out from under us. In about 3 minutes they went from just underneath us to about 3 boat lengths in front. We tried a lot of tuning adjustments before determining there was something on our centerboard. We cleared it. We got to the weather mark about 2 tacks and a garbage bag behind the fleet. Then we went downwind and passed all but two and got right back into the race which was gratifying. We closed the gap with the leaders up the second beat and then they (Chile and Brazil) droped out. It's bad luck to finish the practice race. We continued one more lap of the course and were leading when we sailed by (not through) the finish line. We'll be ready to go tomorrow.

God may always be watching. But here, it somehow seems slightly more on our minds

At no time did anyone raise their voice on the boat today. We've decided that when the race course is being policed by an approximtely 20-story statue of Christ, you'd better be nice. Wednesday is the lay day and our team is scheduled to go to the
Christ the Redeemer statue and the tram ride at the Sugerloaf mountain. I hope we can at least see the two famous beaches. I also hope we have wind on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday so we won't be sailing on Wednesday and miss the tour.

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:
The most interesting thing that happened today took place on our ride home. We were driving away from the Gloria Marina complex along the cityfront when a tourist bus actually almost identical to ours...not in the village vehicle pool pulled right across the road in front of us and stopped. The driver was merging onto the road on a conventional on-ramp when he apparantly decided to TURN LEFT at the onramp and go South into the Northbound lanes. That would have been one very acute angle turn in a Mini Cooper and he was trying it in a 65' bus. Our driver pushed his foot through the floor. I was in the front seat. I almost left the font seat for the windshield...my bad was temporarily in earth rotation. Incredibly, we didn't hit him. I have no idea what the other bus driver was thinking. I was thinking we were really lucky we didn't go right through the side of his bus. We might have come directly out the other side. If driving through greater Rio on the way to go sailing doesn't remind us how lucky we are, that might have been a not so subtle refresher. That was the 'neatest' thing that happened today.

Ok only one picture tonight. Happy Sunday in N. America and sail fast to all the Lightnings in Greece!

It Takes A Village To...

Yesterday morning David and Tracy Smith who sails on the Snipe team went for a run at 6:15 in the morning. Truth told, David and Tracy have been doing it since they got here. I just got up early enough to join them. Running around here is interesting. As with every activity, we are aggressively encouraged by our coaches and the USOC to "STAY WITHIN THE SECURITY PERIMETER." So when running, this means we do laps of the village. Each lap takes you around all the buildings in the housing complex and between those dorms and the dining hall and the International section where everyone goes to watch music and hang out. Each lap is about a half a mile. It gets pretty dull…except for those people you see also running. First thing you notice is those with the highest potential to become a heart attack victim, the coaches. Can you imagine being down here with 5000 athletes, most probably you were an elite athlete which qualifies you to do your job and everyone's a freak of nature in some way and also in incredible shape. Every fiber of your being is screaming at you, "C'mon, you still got it. You should really consider a comeback. You still got a few good (runs, swims, games, chuckers) left in you. Get out there and rededicate. No wonder there are defibrulators everywhere. The coaches are plainly the most dedicated people here. They sleep least. They worry most. They're like cub scout leaders…except their cub scouts can throw a shot put 69' and have been drafted by an NFL team. Back to my point. Those coaches are running.

Then, there are the runners-of-shame. Actually, it's still known as the walk of shame. Running, early, you do see some people coming home from evenings that turned into whole nights. It's part of my role as a quasi-journalist to report that some people are doing more with their evenings than sleeping next to some guy named Augie coughing up a lung. Some day these kids are going to have incredible kids.

Then there are the race walkers. They're out there walking. They walk faster than most normal humans run. It's neat to watch. I recommend when you see one out there, you immediately turn around and run counter-clockwise. It takes enough motivation to get up and run at 6:15 in the morning. Nobody needs to get passed by a 5'2" actuary from Guatemala who is walking.

Then, sometimes the runners are running. Watching the Chicago marathon, these people run by where you're standing in 13 seconds and you can't believe how fast they go. Here, where they've got lots of work out locations better suited to their preparation, so you can't imagine they're out there with you. These are some of the most incredible, purpose-built runners bodies on the planet. They gotta be out there running for the pure joy of it. Or else they're just bored.

Part of being here in the village is that it is fundamentally duller than watching a sailboat race. This is not a complaint it is another fact. Mostly what people are doing here is just waiting to go compete or come down after competing. Reality is that most athletes are encouraged not to go outside the fences or pass the guys oiling their machine guns. Imagine caging in the most athletic 20 and 30 somethings in the hemisphere. In order to keep the lid on, the organizers have put in 5 swimming pools. There's a big gym that gets totally packed with people who are better at whatever machine you are using then you are. Then there's a disco which I haven't seen yet. But I'm sure old wrinkly white dork night is coming up so I will make it down there sometime. Then there is the incredible dining hall which is really amazing. It's 2 blocks long. All under a very large white tent. It feeds more than 7,500 people a day as much food as they want. They want a lot of food too. You should see the plates of food that come out of the diner line. 90lb girl swimmers eat almost as much as former weightlifters who are now coaches from Cuba. Anywhere but here Jenny Craig would have a stroke just looking at the dessert plates. Remember Fogo de' Caio or whatever that Brazilian Steakhouse is called in Chicago. Well, this is its home country. There is more steak being grilled and eaten here you can imagine. Marty, you would like chow line #3. Here, most of all that is burned off before the plates are put into the recycling cans. Heck, people here are so lean they wear coats to the dining hall and it's 75 degrees in there.

Back in our building it's pretty cool too. We live on the 10th floor of a 10 story building. Ours is a three bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms and one central room. There is one master bedroom that has a bathroom adjoining. There are two balconies. There is one kitchen that has a large open window…without a window. This is apparently the long-term plan. Kitchens are often open-air here in Brazil we're told. In the kitchen there is a water purifier. We only drink or brush teeth using this water. The rest of the water is only for showering or rinsing. Nobody's gotten sick from either food or water. We're told that all the food is rinsed with purified water and that it's all safe. We're getting to believe this more and more. I will eat anything that looks good now without concern. The whole space is about 800 square feet. It's nice and it's brand new. These apartments have all been pre-sold for after the games. We keep this in mind so we try and not mar up the floors or dent the walls.

Then there's the computer room/athlete's lounge. We have them in every building. There are big screen tvs to watch events and about 12 hard wired computers for email, myspace, face book or whatever people do on line. Then in addition, the whole first floor and the courtyard is covered with wifi. So into the night, people in USA team apparel can be seen sitting in the lobby or out in the courtyard or by the pools on laptops. I've noticed that our two USA building s lead the village in laptops. I can't get video I-chat to work, but SKYPERs are everywhere talking and smiling at people back home. I thought my mac was supposed to be able to do that. Hmmm…maybe Steve Jobs should buy SKYPE.

My suitemate has 3 Olympic medals. What does yours have?
Paul Foerster has won Olympic medals at three games in the Flying Dutchman and the 470. I can't remember if it's 1 gold in the 470 and silvers in the other two tries. I’m not going to wake him up to check my facts just now. He's here sailing the Sunfish. Paul likes to sail so he tried out another boat and he's got here yesterday. Maybe the next boat he will try will be the next AC boat design.
He's got a 2 and a 3-year-old who may have ideas about that.

Our Team:
I don't know if this is necessary, but cyberspace is cheap so here you go:
The members of the 2007 Pan American Games Sailing Team are: _• Hobie 16 (Multihull Open) – Bob Merrick (Branford, Conn.)/ Eliza Cleveland (Branford, Conn.)_• J/24 (Keelboat Open) - Daniel Borrer (St. Augustine Beach, Fla.)/ Nate Vilardebo (Tampa, Fla.)/ Patrick Wilson (Savannah, Ga.)/ Josh Putnam (Augusta, Ga.)_• Laser (Single-handed Dinghy Men) – Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.)_• Laser Radial (Single-handed Dinghy Women) – Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) _• Lightning (Multi-crewed Dinghy Open) - David Starck (Buffalo, N.Y.)/ Jody Starck (Buffalo, N.Y.)/ Bill Faude (Chicago, Ill.)_• RS:X Men (Windsurfer Men) – Ben Barger (Tampa, Fla.)_• RS:X Women (Windsurfer Women) – Nancy Rios (Cocoa Beach, Fla.)_• Snipe (Double-handed Dinghy Open) - Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.)/Tracy Smith (Newport, R.I.) _• Sunfish (Single-handed Dinghy Open) – Paul Foerster (Rockwall, Texas)

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:
This one happened in the dining hall. There are rows of those drink fountains with the clear sides that bubble up what's inside there so you can at least tell the color. Here, there is a dizzying array of choice. I've drank Guava juice. I've had papaya juice. I've had juice from things I've never gotten juiced about before. Yesterday, I had a big glug of cashew juice. It totally sucked. Worst stuff I ever tried to drink. But I acted like it was pretty 'interesting' and pawned some off on everyone else sitting with me. Imagine all of us looking like we'd just drank the water from inside my chuck taylor high top. That was the highlight of my day yesterday.

Today is the practice race. Weather is beautiful and clear. We can see mountains we haven't been able to see all week. The tide goes out for 53 minutes after our start and then starts coming in. Jody's going to ask me that and I'm going to be ready for her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Good Day For Tomato People

I work at a unique company in La Grange, IL called Storandt, Pan Margolis. It's a great ad agency with a unique culture and obviously now I'm in full suck-up mode. Anyway, our logo is a tomato and we are sometimes called Tomato people. Well, here are a couple of pictures of the logo flying from our mast in front of Rio. Thanks to our coaches for being willing to buzz around taking pictures of us on a practice day.

Practice we did today. At the swimming venue last night we got caught in a frontal passage. Thunder, lightning and a lot of wind. Then it rained like crazy. Classic southern hemisphere cold front. Down here they come from the SW where at home they tend to come from the NW. At home, the wind usually comes out of the NE for a while and then goes east (right on the compass) and dies in the days after the front passes. Down here, it's the exact opposite. The front came through and where the wind had been from the N, NW yesterday, today it was from SW. It showed signs of going left (into the South) but most of the time it was blowing about 16-18 out of the SW...which is a direction we're told it hardly if ever blows from in Winter. How many time have you heard, "It never blows from that direction" at a regatta? We went out and did windward-lewards for about 2 hours. We lined up against the Brazilians and they seemed ever so slightly faster than we did. They also seemed to be sailing a little twistier, traveler higher and sheet maybe a little more eased. It was choppy out there and also puffy and also shifty. I don't think we should do anything differently. By the time the racing starts, the conditions will be different and it's better if we sail like we're comfortable sailing. Things will work out just fine speedwise.

Other than that, the day was a typical regatta day. Sometimes it's kind of unfortunate that in sailing you can go to lots of neat places and see nothing but the waterfront. For instance it seems unlikely we'll see the famous beaches while we're here. There's just no time for much sightseeing and we're here to do a job. We did luck out with the traffic today though. Our trip home which took 90 minutes yesterday, took only 60 minutes today. That meant we could get back to the swimming earlier than last night. We also toured the venue for basketball and watched a little of the Cuban women practice. They are very fast and appear athletic. Their coach runs a tight ship...he's barking all the time. The US girls we flew here with believe this team might be the toughest in their draw. We hope we can check them out.

The Most Fun Moment of The Day...sponsored by Camryn and Sabrina!!
I'm going to go with the continuation of yesterday's drama of David and Robert Scheidt. Today David and Jody and actually met him. Now, for non-sailors this is roughtly similar in magnitude for we sailors to meeting Micheal Jordan. Turns out Robert Scheidt is very warm, very willing to talk and seems to be a pretty nice guy. That in no way takes away from the fact that he remains a God. I watched him rig his laser and take it out. He didn't even need the rigging diagram!

We finish measurement. We only need to weigh the boat and check the angle of the centerboard dangle. We're going sailing again too. Good luck to all the Lightning guys heading to Athens for the World Championship. We're going to watch your results. Hope you have as much fun as we're having down here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


We take a bus from the village to the sailing venue (that's what we Pan Ammers call the place where you compete.) In the morning it takes about 45 minutes to get there and in the afternoon it took us over an hour and a half. The route takes us around and under some mountains and into the financial center of Rio. On the way we pass incredible poverty. There are miles of makeshift buildings made of everything. Lots are made of cinder block, about 3-4 stories tall. They look like them might have started out in decent shape, but then the roofs caved in…and people kept living in them. There are no windows. There is no electricity. There is no roof. Hundreds of people still live in there and according to the books we've read, thousands more move in every year. What is the allure of urbanization? This is a sailing blog, so nobody probably wants to read what an ad guy has to say about poverty. Just understand that our bus had about 40 sailors from 6 different countries on it and our bus gets very quiet as we drive through that neighborhood. Makes you think about something other than which of the 5 rash guards in your sailing bag you're going to put on when you get to the boat.


We got to the water and unpacked the container. Everything was in perfect condition—just as we packed it. It was neat to unload a container with a group of people all of whom had a clue about how to do it and none of whom went and hid in the bathroom until the work was done. Everyone rigged and went sailing. Except the J-24 guys who sat on shore listening to an escalating list of times when they could expect their boat to be released from customs and delivered. It had to be tough to keep telling themselves that there were still 5 days until the sailing started to matter and nothing that happened today was going to impact how well they will do in any way.

We think the current will have perhaps the biggest impact on the sailing. We're sailing on a bay just East of downtown. You can look up and see the massive statue of Christ which we're planning to visit on the lay day. You can also see sugarloaf mountain over to the left. We're going to see that on Friday if we can. Anyway, the bay empties through a narrows just under Sugerloaf mountain and it's a giant bay, so there is lots of current there. We're sailing about 2 miles North of that. The charts say there should be over 3 feet of tide. You'd think with that much tide going in an out, it would be pretty clear which way it was moving. We were sailing on our course and dropping a sponge to check the current speed and direction. We thought it was going out (ebbing) the whole time we were sailing…until just before we came in when we thought it switched. Imagine our surprise and confusion when we found out that high tide was just after we came in. Oddest thing is that we were right, and the chart was right. It was ebbing where we were. It was just flooding on at least one of the edges. Tomorrow we gotta go looking around a little bit more. And have a longer look at the bottom contour

Tonight David and Jody and Tracy Smithwho's sailing Snipes down here with my roommate Augie hopped a Pan Ams bus and went to the swimming venue. It's amazing to just walk into a place like that through the competitor's entry. Backstage there is a 50 meter exercise pool and lots of mats for stretching and hundreds of showers for getting pool water off and bunches of 6-pack abs in flip-flops and those really long thermal coats walking around.

We went in and watched. The place has 2 levels of opposing grandstands. Opposing is literally right. The Brazilians sit on one side and yell like crazy for anyone from Brazil. On the other side is press and more civilians and then athletes. We met an American guy who was going to swim the 200-IM in 10 minutes, in an elevator. We told him we were sailors and he told us how to find our way to the right seats. Then he went out and won his heat with the fastest qualifying time in the preliminaries by 3 seconds. In the stands about 30 American swimmers were chanting USA and waving the flag. They had about 10 different very original cheers worked out. The best one was when all of them simulated riding in the same roller-coaster. Normally, the Brazilians boo them. In fact, we've been warned to expect to be boo'd all over the place. But even the crowd across the pool liked that one. We had a really great time and ended up riding the bus home with lots of the swimmers we'd just seen. Those awesome swimming machines…are about 19. And they're from Sandusky, Ohio or Bogotá. Tomorrow we're going to watch Badminton if we get home in time…or cycling.
That's really fun.

4 people asked me for pins today. We've been given pins by the USOC and by US Sailing. I gave them out. Incredible how that feels. I gave mine to two kitchen staffers and a guy who was doing parking at the sailing site. Then I saw people were trading them. Hmm…should have remembered that. I'll start tomorrow.

Photo Captions
Sorry, I can't figure out how to caption the photos. Here's what they are:
• Our head coach Scott Ikle catching some ZZZs on the morning bus.
• A few shots of us unloading boats
• Me with a guy packing some heat doing security at the sailing site.

The Over And Under
Las Vegas oddsmakers have set the over and under on the number of times an athlete asks me for what sport I'm a coach or administrator at 27. It hasn't happened yet…but it will. I'm relatively certain it will happen first as I chat up a 6' tall blonde diver from the Netherlands Antilles in the pizza line.

Nice Piece
There's a nice story about the Pan Am Games team on the front page of www.ussailing.org today. Check it out.

Tonight's "Neatest Thing That Happened Today" Dedicated to Camryn and Sabrina:
There were two finalists for today's award:
• Robert Scheidt (7 time World Champion, multiple Olympic Gold medalist, 3 time defending Pan AM Gold medalist in the Laser, current Star World Champion and Brazilian national hero) is sailing Lasers in these games. He's a God. He works harder than anyone and tomorrow we're going to introduce ourselves to him…hope he doesn't break my hand shaking his.

• We were sailing downwind and something that has never happened to me in about 38 years of sailing happened. I looked down below the spinnaker (get off my case, sometimes I do look away from it to look and see if any waves are coming that might collapse it) and I had to tell David to head off a bit to avoid a submarine. Yep a WWII vintage Brazilian (U-boat?) had surfaced and was heading directly for us. I'm told it wasn't big as far as subs go but it was much larger than a piece of drift wood or a bleach bottle, which is what I normally see. We missed it. But that was pretty cool. So that wins for today. Maybe after we introduce ourselves to Robert Scheidt he'll make the list tomorrow night.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Few Scenes From Today

Here are some pictures from yesterday in DC and today at the village. You can see the great hall where everyone eats in one of the last shots as well as our team shot and some transit shots. Tomorrow we open the containers and hope the boats are in good shape.

Neatest thing that happend today:
David said he wanted to meet Gary Hall Jr. while he was here. For those of you who don't recall, Gary Hall Jr. is one of the USA's best male swimmers and is a multiple Olympic medal winner. Well within 30 seconds of being in our building we got on the elevator and who stuck his arm in and got on with us but...Gary Hall Jr. We introduced ourselves. I think he lives 3 floors down. The sailors enjoy the top floor (10th Floor of the building.). That was the item of the day.

Process, process, process.

Yesterday was an incredible day. Sunday night sleeping ended up being pretty interesting. For what is in retrospect an obvious reason, all the mattresses and the pillows in the George Mason dorms were incased in plastic. I'm sure they're great at hygiene--moisture shedding but they were a little…slick. Imagine a pillow made from the Mylar normally used in jib windows. Now put your head on it and try to sleep. Not to complain, but my seat on the plane last night felt like a bed at the Four Seasons by comparison.

We went through team processing. The USOC has its stuff together. We were told about safety in Rio. They showed us pictures of the athlete's village including the two buildings that will house the US delegation. They are called Winnipeg and Montreal and look to be about 15 stories tall each. Somehow makes it feel a little safer than if they were called Cincinnati and Houston.

We went through briefing with our friends the Synchronized swimmers. Then the highlight of the day: Gear outfitting. Now, I don't know how they did it, but some members of the US sailing team managed to remain blasé during this but I couldn't pull that off. We went into a large conference room in a student union building. They gave you a large plastic laundry tub and a clipboard complete with all your sizing information. You walked from table to table…'shopping'. At one station you got polo shirts. At one station you got work out shorts. Next came socks…then a pair of parade shoes and flip-flops. Next came the parade uniform. Then we were given a backpack with a pre-loaded cell phone so we can call home and home can call us free of international charges. Then we got a giant duffle bag. As we 'checked out', they took everything out of the boxes. Took off all the tags and packed everything into the giant duffle. I wish these would show up at home every time I need to pack for a regatta. Nike provides everything. Everything is incredible.

After that we were free for 4 hours. David and Jody and I went to the brand new athletic facility on campus. Two pools, weights, treadmills. We ran and biked and Jody swam.

Then we got to the airport and onto the plane. Actually, before we got on the plane, we had lots of help from the TSA officials dedicated to our delegation. They even made sure that the sailboards and our sails which come in 96" boxes, made it through security and onto the plane…although, as I write this we're in a layover in Sao Palo so I've got to assume all the stuff made it here. Before the flight David and I had a beer at the same bar Nick and Dan and Larry and I ate in two weeks ago. It might be the last beer for a while. The athlete's village is dry!

On the plane we met the woman's basketball team. There are players on it from The University of Tennessee, Uconn, Stanford, Rutgers (listen up Don Imus!) and other amazing programs. They are coached by Dawn Staley who won 3 Olympic medals. I met her. She's 37, retired I think last year, and is certainly one of the best woman's basketball players ever. The player who sat next to me is a #2 guard. She's a sophomore from Uconn. Prior to that, she was Ms. Basketball in the state of Ohio where her team won the state title and was undefeated her senior season. She's really nice. I gave her cash to switch seats with me. She got my middle seat, I got her aisle. About 6 hours into the 10 hour flight I was sure I made the right trade.

We landed in Sao Palo at about 8am local time on what is now Tuesday. It's about 55 degrees and raining. Right now there are about 75 American athletes and officials lounging around, waiting to get back on the continuation of our flight to Rio. Come to think of it, the rubber bed at George Mason is more comfortable than the seats here in the airside. One interesting thing here: The Pan Am Games are everywhere. We're all watching ESPN-Brazil who is showing men's beach volleyball. If it's live, the weather is much different in Rio than it is here. There's Pan Am games stuff for sale all over the airport. Next we fly to Rio, get on busses to the village and hope the lines to get our gear and keys aren't forever long. Tomorrow we go to the venue, open the shipping container and hope no forklift driver put a tine through our boat.

We're taking lots of photos. I'll try and get some up in a few minutes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Our Team: Powered By The Girls

Tonight David and Jody are delayed at the Buffalo airport by thunder storms here in DC. They are fairily impressive, as we were flying over them, they had the flight attendants sit down. Anything they can do to get the temperature down from the 94 degrees it is out there now would be welcome. Right now all three of us are missing the girls. Sabrina Starck and Camryn Faude are becoming friends through this process. In fact, when I told Camryn that we were going to be gone for a pretty long time, and I told her David and Jody were going along, she asked if Sabrina was coming. Her nose was all set to be out of joint. Once she heard Sabrina was staying home with Grandma Jean and Aunt Jill, she was a little better.

Ok, so who out there figured out who George Mason was? Nobody down at dinner could tell me either. Turns out he was a revolutionary war era figure from Virginia:
In 1774 Mason again was in the forefront of political events when he assisted in drawing up the Fairfax Resolves, a document that outlined the colonists' constitutional grounds for their objections to the Boston Port Act. Virginia's Declaration of Rights, framed by Mason in 1776, was widely copied in other colonies, served as a model for Jefferson in the first part of the Declaration of Independence, and was the basis for the federal Constitution's Bill of Rights.
Yep, that's accurate...but nonetheless possibly deathly dull. Better sign off. Hang in there, only 6 days until we start sailing. Lots of spine-tingling blog posts to come!

Welcome to George Mason University...who was Geo. Mason?

It's been over 25 years since I've been in a college dorm room--and they haven't changed much. I was lucky, my pot luck roomate is Augie Diaz who is probably the only guy on the US team sailing at these games who is actually older than I. So far, we've been acting like complete undergraduates...that's to say we've been sitting in complete silence banging out email. Neither of us has been on Facebook.dom yet but there's something in the air in this building so I imagine that by breakfast tomorrow we'll have both pulled allnighters and have styling pages up and running.

George Mason University is about 30 minutes by USOC van from Dulles airport. It's a beautiful campus with 6 new dorms under construction just outside our window. Great athletic facilities too and unlimited food for our squad. So far, everything has been running beautifully. The Pan An organizing folks were right there at United baggage claim number 3 and pointed the way to the van waiting just where they said it should be. On the bus were about 15 members of the women's synchronized swimming team. No they did not have their nose clips on while on the bus. They were all about 22--and looked like swimmers. Thankfully there were also some sailors on the bus to keep our minds on the job at hand...actually, there is no job at hand just now. This is the beginning of the hurry up and wait stage.

Our coaches are here as is team logistics Goddess Sarah Hawkins who has been amazing through everything leading up to now. Time to go find something to eat. Then I'm sure there will be several hours of strength training before bed.