Day 3 report from French Olympic Sailing Week

MEDIA ALERT – Day 3 of racing, April 24 – French Olympic Sailing Week 

Sarah Lihan works the wire on day 3.

Daily Summary: Hyeres, France (April 24, 2012) – Another windy day almost threatened to cancel racing on day 3 of French Olympic Sailing Week, but with a very early morning start some classes managed to squeeze in at least one race. The strong Mistral wind continued to excite the fleets and US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes are improving scores as the week progresses. The Team holds five top-10 positions: Jen French and JP Creignou third in the SKUD-18; Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan third in Women’s 470; Mark LeBlanc is eighth in 2.4mR; Caleb Paine is ninth in the Finn; and Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Bradley Johnson are eighth in Sonar.  In Women’s Match Racing, Anna Tunnicliffe’s “Team Maclaren” of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi continued to go undefeated and now find themselves up 8-0. Sally Barkow’s “Team 7” of Alana O’Reilly and Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham extended their win-loss record, as well, and are at 8-1.

Performance highlights:

Finding the “fast gear” are Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, who relished the 20-plus knot day, scoring a 2-4 in the Women’s 470. “Speed in breeze has been one of our greatest strengths overall as a team,” said Lihan after racing. “We were able to capitalize on that. Our racing philosophy has been that when we have our conditions we are out to get top 3. So when conditions are less favorable we have maximized in wind. We have been quite quick and sailing smart tactically.”

With the early start, the team was at the boat park by 7am to begin the one-hour pre-race preparation before heading out to the racecourse. They wore the red ISAF leaders bibs and sported a red dot on their mainsail to signify an overall third place in the fleet. “It’s always nice to wear the bibs,” said Lihan. “We’ve had the red bibs before and nice to have them on again, and we are only a few points away from the blue bibs.”

While many classes did not race today due to too much wind, the 470 fleets – men’s and women’s – completed two races. “One of the greatest things about the 470 is that it can race in 0-35 knots,” continued Lihan. “Where we usually set our rake (mast setting) is huge gap to where it was today for the 25-28 knots. It is a massive difference. Let’s just say we sailed today in a setting we have never sailed before.”

Some of the conditions appeared to be survival weather, especially in the Paralympic 2.4mR, which sits very close to the water. With wind and waves comes a boat handling challenge. “You get really wet and you constantly have to pump the boat out,” said Mark LeBlanc. “And then you have to make decision while trying not to sink. The control lines are tailored, but some guys it’s harder for them to use a manual pump and steer at the same time.”

Full audio with LeBlanc:

Racing continues through Friday, April 27. Event website:

New Title Sponsor

Sperry Top-Sider®, the leading global nautical performance and lifestyle brand, announced today its title sponsorship of the US Sailing Team, newly named US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. The title sponsorship is the brand’s highest profile sailing sponsorship to date and is effective immediately through December 31, 2016.

US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider announcement


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