Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anna Tunnicliffe takes the lead

Qingdao China - August 12, 2008 - Two conservative races on the opening day of Women’s Laser Radial competition have netted me the position of point’s leader by a small margin. Racing in a very competitive fleet of 28 boats, my finishes of fourth in the first race and fifth in the second gained me a low point score of nine points, just two points clear of my nearest challenger.
We raced on Course A today, which is the inshore course, only about ten minutes sail off the massive seawall that protects the harbor entrance and which is a popular place for hundreds and hundreds of spectators to get a good view of the racing. It was clear and sunny as it has been for the past few days, without any of the smog that shuts down visibility.
Despite the massive boom to protect us from floating algae, and the overnight efforts of 350 maintenance boats we had to pick our way through some weed islands that dotted the course around the starting area.
For both races today we sailed the inner trapezoid course which consists of three legs, windward, leeward, windward, followed by a reaching leg, a run and then a short reach to the finish line. The water was pretty much flat, with a light chop and the wind was no more than six knots for the first race and eight knots for the second. The good thing was that the men started first so we got a chance to watch a little and observe conditions.
I got a really good start in the first race. I liked the left and held my lane all the way out to the left corner, tacked over and was actually leading as we came into the top mark. The woman who went on and won was back a little and up on my hip and sailed into a little extra left pressure to lead me around the weather mark. On the downwind, I struggled a little with my speed but we stayed in the same relative positions. She extended on the beat I while I was duking it out with four other boats. I worked hard to cover all the bases but, although there were only a few seconds in it, I lost one place, dropping to third. Eventually I fell back to fourth on the last run when I allowed a competitor to get inside me while protecting the right side of the course.
I had a nice midline start in the second race, sailed the weather leg I wanted to sail and arrived at the weather mark in fourth place. There was a tight little group of us all rounding at the same time. We battled down the run, exchanging places and I was still fourth at the leeward mark. One boat got past me on the next weather leg and we pretty much stayed in those positions until the finish. Having said that, there was one place change at the top of the fleet. It’s an interesting commentary on today’s conditions that the woman who finished last in the first race was leading this race until she was passed close to the end and finished second.
I can see where I might have done better in a couple of places but it’s early in the event and it’s my goal to have consistent results and that’s what I came away with today. As a Day One result, I’m pretty happy with it.
I will be sending out daily reports like this but you can also follow the racing live on web-TV at www.nbcolympics.com. You can get leg-by-leg race updates and overall results if you go to http://www.sailing.org/olympics/resultscentre.php and click on Laser Radial Women in the left-hand column.
Until the Olympics are over, you’ll notice some changes in the content of my reports and where they are located on my website. To comply with International Olympic Committee regulations designed to protect its sponsors’ interests, my reports are appearing on my special Qingdao Olympic Blog. The URL for the page is http://www.annatunnicliffe.com/content/blogcategory/29/113/. There is also a link from the home page of my website. The blog page includes hotlinks to official results and competition photos.
Sail hard