470's Leading the Way for Team USA
Day 5 Report from Rio 2016.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Day 5 of the sailing competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was a momentous one, as the RS:X fleets concluded full-fleet competition, the opening races for the Men's 49er and Women's 49erFX high-performance skiffs were held, and the Laser, Laser Radial and 470 events entered critical stages. Standout performances for Team USA were delivered by the American Men's and Women's 470 teams, and both boats remain firmly in the hunt for the podium.
With twelve races completed over four days of sailing, the Men's and Women's RS:X fleets have only the medal races remaining on the schedule. Each medal race is reserved for the top ten competitors, and although Americans Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.) and Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) did not advance to that stage, there were many positive takeaways for the first-time Olympians, both aged 20. "Although I do wish I had more time to train leading up to the regatta, I'm happy with the way I raced given the skill set that I had," said Lepert, an engineering student at Stanford University who had to balance her studies with training. "I truly gave it my all, and I have no regrets. The Rio bay was an incredibly beautiful and challenging place to race, and I will hold fond memories of my experiences here."
Pictured: Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.), RS:X.
Lepert finished 16th overall, and four of her twelve races were impressive top-ten finishes. Pascual, currently a student at Florida Atlantic University, finished 28th after submitting his best day of racing on Friday. "We're really proud of the way they represented Team USA," said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing, of the two American board sailors. "They are in the beginning of their Olympic careers, and have shown sparks of success along the Olympic path this year. We're glad to have them as teammates. The younger athletes on our team will see that to come out on top at the end of this event, you really need to be a complete sailor, and Rio de Janeiro tests that like no other venue."
Once again, Annie Haeger (East Troy, Wisc.), and Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) submitted a dramatic performance in the Women's 470 class to remain firmly in the hunt for the podium. In the only race of the day on Friday, Haeger and Provancha found themselves trailing the fleet at the first mark after heading far to the lefthand side of the "Escola Naval" racecourse on the first leg. Showing resilience, the Americans passed ten boats over the course of the next three legs, and then five more at the end of the final downwind leg, to finish 5th in the day's only race. "I would prefer if we were spending more of each race closer to the front, but I'm happy we've been recovering," said Provancha. The American women are now in 4th overall, and sit five points from the overall leaders and London 2012 silver medalists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark from Great Britain.
In the Men's 470 fleet, Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.), Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) submitted their best race of the event, a 4th place finish in Race 5, which moved them into 8th overall and twelve points from podium position. "Today was good for us," said Hughes. "We knew we had to get our team back on track. We haven't been the team we've been recently, or been the team we've needed to be at this regatta. [Today] showed us that we could do that, and we want to keep the inertia going." Five more races are schedule in the Men's 470 class before the medal race.
Pictured: The Women's 470 fleet heads downwind on the "Escola Naval" course.
Laser Radial athlete Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) endured a tough day on the open-ocean "Copacabana" and "Pai" courses. The two-time Olympian and five-time World Championship medalist scored 25, 24 to fall to 10th overall. Railey is now 36 points from podium position with two full-fleet races and one double-points medal race remaining. Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) earned scores of 15-10 today in the 46-boat Men's Laser fleet, and remained in 15th overall.
American skiff athletes got off to a more difficult start than hoped for on the unpredictable "Pao" course nestled underneath Sugarloaf Mountain on Friday. Women's 49erFX sailors Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.) rose as high as 3rd place in Race 1, but their move towards the left side of the 2nd upwind leg did not pay off, and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games bronze medalists finished 13th. After a 16th in Race 2, the pair are in 14th overall. In the men's fleet, Thomas Barrows (St. Thomas, U.S.V.I) and Joe Morris (Annapolis, Md.) stand in 20th overall after the first day.
The Finn and Nacra 17 classes had reserve days on Friday, and were inactive. Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Louisa Chafee return to racing tomorrow on Saturday, August 13.