Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; Annapolis Olympian

For some reason our neck of the woods doesn't produce many Olympians. I can recall only one medalist from Annapolis in recent times; Scott Steele, who got a silver in Windsurfing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Well we have another Annapolitan Windsurfer on the U.S. 2012 team, Farrah Hall. Some of you may recall Farrah as the one who lost her position on the Olympic team in 2008; where her victory on the water during the selection trials was negated by a botched Request for Redress hearing. It was so bad that the IOC came back a year later, boxed U.S. Sailing about the ears for completely incompetent proceedings, and vindicated Farrah Hall....but much too late for her Olympic dream on that cycle. Despite this she hung in there for another four year campaign and will be in Weymouth in 2012.

I bumped into Farrah and her Polish coach last fall at Severn Sailing Association. They were just about to push their boards into the water (it was dead calm, I wasn't sure what kind of training they were up to) and had a short five minute conversation.

I get a kick out talking to Windsurfer racers. The sport is so different from dinghy racing. Windsurfers can pump.... all the time.... all around the course. Just as Eskimos have forty words for forty different types of snow, the racing Windsurfer crowd have forty different ways to pump. There's the light air upwind pump, the offwind planing pump, the choppy water upwind get the idea. And that's what Farrah and I talked about; all the ways to pump a Windsurfer. She was very gracious talking to a stranger despite being anxious to go "air rowing" (as ISAF president Paul Henderson, dismissively called the sport several years ago). I wish her the best of luck at Weymouth and it would be a great kick to see her get on the podium (unfortunately not likely as the U.S has been well down the pack in recent Olympic Windsurfing competitions).

The Washington Post did an excellent article on her Olympic quest. Click here to view.

This wraps up my "Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics" series. Now I have to figure where I have to go to view some of the sailing competitions.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; the Star class

After this go around, the Star class is out of the Olympics. I wouldn't say this with any finality, as the Star got bounced out before by the so-called more modern Tempest in 1976 and returned after being away for only one cycle. It returned in fine form and still retains its status as the world's premier small keelboat, featuring very large fleet racing outside the Olympics. But 2012 may be the final swan song for the Star in the Olympics as the short course racing favored for a more TV-friendly sailing competition doesn't suit a keelboat.

One of the more heartbreaking stories of the last Olympics was the saga of the U.S entrant, John Dane. John Dane was bordering on geezerdom in 2008 when he made the team; no one could doubt his racing chops, he had been at or near the top of the Star for ages, but, in 2008, this wasn't the class of Dennis Connor or Tom Blackaller; the young Olympic bucks had turned it into a physical battle just like the dinghies, hiking hard, pumping, rocking. John Dane, looking for an advantage to offset his age, gambled with a small Star hull shape tuned specifically for the light air that was predicted. It failed miserably. The boat speed was never there and he had one of the more dismal finishes of a U.S Star sailor in a recent Olympics.

This video of John Dane's Star campaign from 2008 is particularly poignant.

Sail for Gold --- 2008 Olympics from FILMSTERS on Vimeo.

And here you can watch some of the young bucks horse the Star around like a dinghy (featuring mostly the Danish Star Olympic team but there is some English spoken here and there).

Dansk Starb├ąd til OL i Weymouth from Anders Dylov on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics; Wind or No Wind?

Certainly we can expect breeze for the Weymouth Olympic Regatta, or can we? According to WaPo (local acronym for the Washington Post newspaper), England has been experiencing a monsoon like summer (unlike the U.S.A Mid-Atlantic where we have been very dry) and also a good amount of breeze. But big regattas are notorious for not going to form. So the English, being English, are leaving nothing to chance and the "wind gatherers" are calling on the wind gods as has been documented in this video.

"It's like nothing I expected at all!"

Battle for the Winds - a preview from Cirque Bijou on Vimeo.

Hopefully we'll get to see some racing in the Weymouth Olympics in the same breeze that this Finnish Finn sailor is training in (these elite athletes make it seem so easy - I remember when yachting journalists back in the 1970's described jibing a Finn in this much breeze was one of the most feared maneuvers in small boat racing. Click on this link to see my other Finn jibing video).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics: The Medal Race

I think it was the last Olympics where they introduced the medal race for sailing; the last race counts double points and is only open to the top ten in the standings. Obviously designed for TV, I like the idea of the medal race. At times it has made for some real drama.

At this past year's Olympic Worlds in Perth, Australia, it looked like the medal races were held in the harbor entrance. At any minute, I half expected a 50 foot sport fisherman to barrel through the course full speed. Here is the video of the Finn class medal race (first round only).

And who can forget the 49'er medal race at the 2008 Quingdao Olympics. The Danish team, who led in the standings, broke their mast before the start, raced back to shore, borrowed the Croatian 49'er, made it to the starting line just in time to make it an official start, finished in some wild and woolly conditions, and survived several days of hearings to be declared the Gold Medalists.

Add to that race was the absolute carnage on the course (he's up, he's down, he's up again) as the World's elite 49'er sailors couldn't make it all the way downwind without going over.

Video with German?? (see note below) commentators. (The word, "Krashboombang", fits this race to a tee.)
A comment was left that this is not German - which could very well be - as I demonstrate a sad trait of most Yanks, uno language skills and an appalling lack of any useful knowledge of any other languages. Apologies if I have this completely wrong - I could guess again and say Danish  - but it would still be a guess.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics - Laser Slaloming and Laser Dudes and Laser Dudettes, and How They Train.

Brad Funk - who didn't make it to the final U.S Olympic Team, playing on the waves on a sail in from training for the Perth regatta this winter.

Brad Funk Raw training at in Perth for the ISAF World Championships from Degan Media on Vimeo.
And Rob Crane, the one who did get the the USA Laser berth and Paige Railey, our Laser Radial sailor, on training; on-the-water,  and off-the-water, and mental preparedness.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Run up to the Wemouth Olympics - 2012 SOF

The Pre-Olympic Regatta at Hyeres, France. As two competitors describe the 2012 regatta at the end of this video;

"I think there is only one word you need to describe this event.


Yeah, windy, very windy!"