Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Nail biting races in the Gold Fleet for Team Tunnicliffe

Tight racing between Team Tunnicliffe (USA) and Lucy Macgregor (GBR). Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Anna Tunnicliffe

Another great day of racing was had in Palma today, at 42 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Mapfre, in which we won our three races to make our gold round score 3-0. We are tied with France’s Claire Leroy who also won all 3 of her matches today. Tomorrow we will sail the last two races of the round, thus sorting out the seeding, before starting the quarterfinals later in the afternoon.

The morning started with the gradient NE’erly wind which gave way around 1pm to the SW sea breeze. The repecharge group raced two races in the morning breeze before sitting for about 40 minutes waiting for the sea breeze to fill. When it finally did, they got in one more race before we rotated into their boats for our three races. The six boats in the repecharge are made up of the two boats from the original groups A, B and C from the first round that finished third and fourth. The top two finishers in the repecharge fleet will advance to the quarterfinals with the rest of the gold fleet.

Our first match up was against Silja Lehtinen from Finland. We had a very good match with them, all the way down to the finish. Off the line, we were to leeward and managed to force them into a tack away. Up the first beat, the boats came together on numerous occasions in an intense tacking duel until we could finally cross them from the left and get control of the right. At the top mark, we had a boat length lead which we were able to hold onto on the downwind leg.

Up the second beat, it was a similar story to the first, and again at the top we were one length ahead. They put on a good charge down the last leg and managed to get onto our starboard side. We closed the gauge down to their line and gybed to cross their bow which they matched. They rolled us and tried to get a gybe in, but gybed a little too close and drew a penalty. At that point, they tried to luff us to draw it back, but we were able to make the zone at the pin end and crossed the line ahead of them. It was a very exciting race all the way around; a great way to get us ready for the day.

Our second race wasn't quite as intense. We raced Silke Hahlbrock from Germany. We had a great prestart and drew a penalty on her and established a powerful position with 10 seconds to the start. We capitalized on this and took the lead and led for the whole race.

The last race of the day was just as exciting as our first. We were racing our USSTAG teammates, Sally, EK, and Alana. Halfway through the pre-start, they got a penalty. After that, we were able to control them all the way to the start gun. We started at the boat on starboard as they pinched around the bow of the boat on port. We quickly tacked back on to port to match where they were going. Up the first beat, Sally had just enough cover on our boat that meant that we kept lee-bowing her as we came together. But eventually, we were able to push it to layline and lead her in to the windward mark. We rounded with about a boat length lead which we were able to hold on to downwind.

Working our way up the next upwind leg, we controlled the right side of the course, but then hit some waves badly about half way up which slowed us, resulting in both boats coming back even on the course. At the top mark, we were able to force her to tack on the port layline, slowing her a little and we managed to eek out a two-length lead around the mark. Downwind to the finish, we knew we just had to play it safe and clean so as not to concede a penalty on ourselves which would effectively negate Sally's penalty. She caught a good puff and closed the distance right up to us, but couldn’t quite get around us for the finish. We went on to win the race. Again, it was great, tight racing.

So tomorrow we have two more races which will seed us for the quarterfinals. The forecast looks similar to today's so the sailing will once again be intense and exciting. You can follow along online at the regatta website.

We would like to thank our gold level sponsor 11th Hour Racing, and our bronze level sponsors Carmeuse, Trinity Yachts, and Chicago Match Race Center for their continued support of our campaign for the 2012 Olympic Games. We would also like to thank US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) and its sponsors for their continued support. Also, thank you to our private donors. Please remember that any and all donations/contributions to our campaign should be made payable directly to either The Sailing Foundation of New York (tax deductible) memo'd Anna Tunnicliffe, or to Anna Tunnicliffe.

Team Tunnicliffe
Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE