Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - US qualifies in 49er

Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih currently in second overall in the Star - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships continued with fleet racing in the qualifying series for Laser, Women’s 470, Men’s RS:X, 49er and Star classes today, Wednesday 14th December.

After prolonged postponements while waiting for wind, racing got off by late afternoon in shifty, light wind. Standout overall performances from US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics include: Clay Johnson 12th overall in the Laser; Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih, second, in Star; and Anna Tunnicliffe’s Team Maclaren of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi advancing to the Women’s Match Racing Semi-Finals. Erik Storck and Trevor Moore qualified the USA in the 49er for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The event serves as the second and final U.S. Olympic Team Selection Event in the nine Olympic fleet racing events. It is also the country qualification regatta where USA will look to secure an Olympic berth in all 10 Olympic events.

Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.) and Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.), who added a 5-4 to their scoreline in the Star, strengthened their stand in second overall. They are tied on points with Robert Stanjek and Frithjo Kleen (GER), who are in third overall; while Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) lead the 41-boat fleet.

Despite a significant delay in getting racing underway on the Indian Ocean, Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (North Pomfret, Vt./Naples, Fla.) kept their focus and went out to try and build on Tuesday’s success. Things didn’t go according to plan with the team finishing 15-20 for 13th overall.

'We knew we needed two decent races on the board,' said Storck. 'The first race was less painful than the second. In the second, we pulled the trigger early and went back,' said Storck, about their decision to restart the race when they thought they were over the starting line early. 'We started 15 seconds after and fought back to 20th, but that was all we could do. We were far behind and we fought back really well. With one more lap maybe we could have made a top 10.'

The finishes still qualified the duo for the gold fleet. One race is planned for Thursday. 'We just wish we had a better position going into gold,' continued Storck. 'We are six points out of medal race and a lot of racing left.'

The bonus for Storck and Moore is qualifying the USA for the 2012 Olympic Games in the 49er class.

Clay Johnson is now in 12th overall - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011

In the ultra-competitive Laser class, which was divided into three fleets, Clay Johnson (Toms River, N.J.) had a great day and added 8-6 by smartly playing the shifts. He is now in 12th place overall.

'Today was a really tricky day,' said Johnson. 'When we started we weren’t sure if the sea breeze would fill in, but it backed off and it was really lumpy and squirrely. While I think I could’ve sailed better, an 8-6 is two keeper scores.'

The second race was a key for Johnson. 'I won the pin in a huge lefty, tacked and crossed the fleet. I did what I thought was smart, and it helped me to lead to the next shift. There were a few stragglers behind me, but I was fourth around. We were pretty fortunate the top 4-5 punched out and we battled it out; maybe too much because a few other guys caught up with us.'

With an uncharacteristically light wind day, the sea breeze was prevented from coming in. 'We were a little concerned about the weather and what the sea breeze was going to do. I was fortunate to watch the other two fleets and have the third star. That helped me to make a plan.'

Johnson qualified for the gold fleet, where the top 50 boats advance, all trying to make the top 10 for the final medal race on December 18. 'Today was the last of the easier races,' continued Johnson. 'The gold fleet is ruthless. That’s why I wanted to get two good places and get into a good position.'

Gold fleet gives potential to change strategy. 'It’s important to stay aggressive and try and rattle off good scores,' said Johnson. 'You can’t beat yourself up. You’ll see higher scores and it’s important to beat as many boats as you can. Really, it’s early and the points are so close. There’s going to be a lot of shuffling around. My goal for the next two days is to go out and have four good races.'

Anna Tunnicliffe’s (Plantation, Fla.) Team Maclaren of Molly Vandemoer (Stanford, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) advanced to the Women’s Match Racing Semi-Finals by defeating Nicky Souter (AUS) in three straight matches.

The first two matches were fairly textbook, but in the last race of the 'first to three wins' series, Tunnicliffe was given a penalty in the prestart for falling out of a dial up into their opponents. 'With a penalty, we had to plan (how to get out of it) around the race course,' said Tunnicliffe. 'We traded the lead twice, and we got it back at the top. Going downwind we looked to burn the penalty off. We tried to spin it off and we rounded behind them at the bottom mark. We caught a wave and surfed in. They lee bowed us and we were able to hold them out. We had a good lead and it wasn’t that close coming to the finish. We gained two lengths up the last beat, had a good set and won.'

On Thursday, the world number one team faces Ekaterina Skudina (RUS). 'She’s a great sailor,' said Tunnicliffe. 'We’re sailing really fast and we’re going to try and keep doing what we’ve been doing all along.'

World number one duo Erin Maxwell (Wilton, Conn.) and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar (New York/Fishers Island, N.Y.) brought their overall score up to 14th overall with two decent finishes of 7-12. The Women’s 470 (Women's Two Person Dinghy) has a reserve day on Thursday, with racing scheduled to pick back up on Friday.

In Men’s RS:X, Bob Willis (Chicago, Ill.) was the sole American board sailor to advance to the gold round. He now needs to finish ahead of one other country to qualify the USA for Men’s RS:X at the Games.

World Championship racing in the Women’s RS:X, Laser Radial, Men’s 470 and Finn classes were completed on December 11. The Olympic Trials Tracker has been updated showing final points for all American competitors in those classes.

To follow the live blog from event organizers and link to live tracking, please visit the event website. For class results click here.

US Sailing Team website