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U.S. sailor has golden moment in China

The 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta concluded Aug. 21 with some strong performances from Team USA. Twenty-five-year-old Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) led the team on the water with a gold medal in the Laser Radial class, the first gold medal for a U.S. female sailor in 20 years. Twenty-four-year-old Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) produced a strong performance in the Finn Class. Railey sailed a solid regatta from beginning to end to bring home the silver medal. This is the U.S.’s first Finn medal since 1992.
“We’re proud of this team,” says Olympic Sailing Committee chairman and team leader Dean Brenner of Wallingford, Conn. “We came here with a young team of 14 first-time Olympians. We are going home with a gold and a silver and a lot to build on for the future.”

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Brenner added the program is in the fourth year of a 20-year strategy for improvement and looked forward to greater success at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

High performance director and coach for the U.S. Olympic Sailing program Gary Bodie (Hampton, Va.) notes the two medals were in singlehanded racing.

“We struggled in singlehanded performance for a few quads, so it’s really rewarding to win some singlehanded medals this time,” Bodie says.

The team, class-by-class:

• Laser Radial — Women’s Singlehanded Dinghy
Tunnicliffe won the 28-boat Laser Radial event with 37 points, five points more than Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania and 13 points ahead of bronze medalist Lijia Xu of China.

• Finn — Men’s Heavyweight Dinghy
Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) sailed a smart regatta to jump from medal hopeful with a world ranking of 11th to Olympic silver medalist. “I came here to stand on the podium. My goal was to get a medal,” Railey says. “Now it’s a big relief, and I’m proud to win a medal for the United States.”

• 49er — Skiff
Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.) and Chris Rast (San Diego) found their legs on the third day of 49er racing. They went out and won all three races. By the medal race, they had climbed up from 13th place to contention for both silver and bronze, but an equipment breakdown pulled them out of the running in the 19-boat class. They finished the regatta in sixth.

• Yngling — Women’s Keelboat
Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) battled all week in the Yngling class, but it was not their week. They had flashes of the results that the rest of the Yngling fleet has seen from them for the last four years, but in the end a disappointing medal race performance left them seventh overall.

• Star — Men’s Keelboat
In the Star class, John Dane III (Gulfport, Miss.) and Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.) finished 12th of 16 boats, but not without some impressive results. Sailing in a boat designed for light winds, Dane and Sperry were fast in the breezes under eight knots and able to bring in impressive finishes of second, fourth and fourth. However, once the wind started to pick up on Day 3 they were unable to keep up with the more versatile designs.

• 470 Women — Doublehanded Dinghy
Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.) finished in 12th of the 19 Women’s 470s competing. After a rocky start, they found a groove and finished the event with three top 10 finishes.

• 470 Men — Doublehanded Dinghy
Stu McNay (Lincoln, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego) finished in 13th of their 29-boat fleet. Like the Women’s 470 team, McNay and Biehl saw a slow start, but managed to string together a 1st, 4th, 1st, and 6th.

• Tornado — Multihull
John Lovell (New Orleans) and Charlie Ogletree (Kemah, Texas) sailed in their fourth Olympics. Having won silver in 2004 in Athens, the pair decided to gamble on a sail designed for light winds. Without the conditions they needed to make their sail work properly, the pair was held back by their boat speed and could not put forth a competitive performance in the class and finished 15th.

• Laser — Men’s Singlehanded Dinghy
Andrew Campbell (San Diego) is highly decorated with wins in many national and world championship events. Two major penalties took him out of a competitive position in these Olympics, but Campbell was able to win the third race of the series. He finished in 25th in the 43-boat class.

• Women’s RS:X — Windsurfer
Nancy Rios (Miami) entered this 27-boat event ranked 77th in the world. She struggled to keep up with her competitors, but maintained a positive attitude. She finished 26th in the class.

• Men’s RS:X — Windsurfer
Ben Barger (St. Petersburg, Fla.) also competed in his first Olympic Games in 2008. Barger finished 26th out of 35 boards.

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