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Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #12 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #12

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

By Gary Jobson

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Legendary television sports announcer Jim McKay captured the essence of the Olympic Games with his iconic words, “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.” Both emotions were vividly on display on the final sailing day of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The four Medal Races provided spellbinding stories, with frequent lead changes, inspiring heroics and devastating mistakes. Most sailing takes place on the water with little spectator interest. The Olympic Games are different, thanks to on-board cameras, aerial and water-level images. Cameras around the sailing venue recorded the many emotions. Randy Smyth and I spent three hours commentating the four races.

After losing racing on two of the last three days, the wind came in at 12-17 knots all afternoon. The southerly wind gave the race committee the opportunity to set the race course close, off Flamingo Beach. Several thousand stood on the shore, including teammates, supporters, families and sailing fans. All were riveted by the action right off the beach.

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The 470 Women's Medal Race started first. Americans, Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha had a nice start in the middle of the line. The duo looked fast and took advantage of several wind shifts on the first leg. When they rounded the first mark, the USA was in the lead. Haeger, from East Troy, Wisconsin, and Provancha, from San Diego, continued to lead at the leeward gate. With just three legs to go, France, New Zealand and Japan were comfortably behind. On the third leg, though, the Americans did not seem to be sailing as fast as Slovenia and New Zealand, as they headed toward the left side of the course. Approaching the third mark the USA slipped back to sixth. They still had a chance to medal if they could stay ahead of France, and finish right behind Japan. Time was running out. And then... disaster! The USA got tangled up with Japan and fouled. The on-the-water umpires gave the USA a penalty turn. There are no protests or appeals in Medal Races, so the ruling would stick. By the time Haeger completed her penalty turn they were in last place, which dropped the USA to a heartbreaking seventh for the Games. The onboard camera continued to roll as they crossed the line and we saw, first hand, what McKay meant by the "agony of defeat." Anyone watching could feel their pain. I hope these talented young sailors recover and continue to race.

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In the Men's 470 Medal Race, Croatia cruised to a Gold Medal, while Australia and Greece battled in a match race for the Silver. No other boats were in contention on points.

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The USA team of Stu McNay and Dave Hughes sailed a solid race to finish second and ended up fourth for the Games. The lead between Australia and Greece changed several times. To my eye, Greece seemed to be sailing slightly faster. The Aussies, skippered by 2012 Gold Medalist Matt Belcher with his crew Will Ryan, were approaching the windward mark for the second time, when Ryan slipped off the trapeze wire, which slowed their boat down, allowing Greece to take a two-boat length lead. On the run and with the wind blowing 17 knots, Belcher hardened up in a strong gust and sailed over top of Greece. The boats were within feet of each other. Then the Greek crew, Pavlos Kagialis, slipped his trapeze wire. The Aussies gained and finished ahead by six seconds to take the Silver. Greece earned Bronze.

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The 49er Race was over before it started. New Zealand's 2012 Silver Medal crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had already won on points, and for good measure easily won the Medal Race. The race for Silver, though, was not decided. Germany held a slight two-point lead over Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, the Australian Gold Medalists in London. The Germans got off to a slow start. The Aussies rounded the first Mark in eighth, but slowly moved through the fleet to finish fourth in the race, and claim the Silver. Germany got the Bronze.

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The race committee kept the program rolling as the sun started to get low on the horizon. The final Medal Race featured the women's 49erFX. Four crews were just one point apart going into this race. Also qualifying in the top ten were Americans Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. They would end up ninth in the Medal Race and finished tenth for the Games.

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Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze rounded the first mark seven seconds behind New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech. Early this week Meech's brother, Sam, won a Bronze Medal in the Laser Class. Many thousands of Brazilians were on the beach cheering for their hometown sailors. Surely, the teams could hear the noise out on the water. Denmark and France were the other two boats in the mix. Once again, there were several lead changes. The most dramatic pass was the on second windward leg. New Zealand rounded the left gate and headed inshore, while Brazil took the right gate and headed out. Brazil was six seconds behind. The 49erFXs sail about one length in two seconds. Shockingly, the Kiwis kept splitting tacks. Randy and I could not believe that they did not cover. Both boats raced out to their respective lay lines. A strong wind blew in at just the right moment for Brazil. It was a puff and a port lift. The crowds on shore were going crazy. Brazil rounded ahead by ten seconds. On the high speed run to the finish, New Zealand made up some ground, but Brazil was able to finish two seconds ahead. Denmark edged Spain for the Bronze.

Whew! I am exhausted at the end of our nonstop two-week stint of covering sailing. Luckily for me, I am shifting gears and going racing out on Nantucket in a classic boat regatta, and the Opera House Cup, starting on Friday. I look forward to the change of pace.

For the US Sailing Team, there will be some serious discussions in the near future about what should happen next. On a happy note, Caleb Paine's inspiring win in the Medal Race to clinch a Bronze Medal was the high point for the Americans.

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Overall, the USA averaged 11.6. Six of the 10 teams reached the Medal Race, but only two were in contention for a Medal. The total of the USA finishes was 116 points, compared with Great Britain with 54 points. As I wrote after the first day of racing, there seems to be parity in Olympic Sailing. Seventeen countries out of the 66 competing off Rio won at least one Medal. Great Britain won two Golds and a Silver, Australia had one Gold and two Silvers, and New Zealand won one Gold, two Silvers and one Bronze. The USA has a long road ahead to sail at that level.



The Medal Ceremonies on Flamingo Beach were beautiful. The smiles, hugs, laughter and Brazilian music were all great fun to watch. Sailors were swimming everywhere. As the winter sun sank over the horizon, I thought the 380 sailors in Rio should all take some pride that they were here for this great event. The Brazilian hosts did a nice job. The noisy water quality issue ended up being a non-story. Some were disappointed with their result, but in truth, everyone can travel home knowing they were part of a great event and that they gave it their all.

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Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #11 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #11

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

No Wind Off Rio

By Gary Jobson

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For centuries, a sailor's worst nightmare is getting becalmed. The 40 sailors slated to compete in the men's and women's 470 Medal Races spent the day waiting for an afternoon sea breeze that never arrived. At one point the Race Committee sent the women's fleet out to the race course off Flamingo Beach. A few thousand loyal teammates, families, friends and fans dutifully waited. There is a lot at stake. On the women's side, four crews are separated by just four points.

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Americans Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha were among the patient, but anxious, sailors hoping to get underway. The Race Committee was right to wait. No one wants an unfair race. On Thursday the winds are forecasted to be blowing in sooner. Tuesday the committee was able to run four Medal Races. We could easily finish the Olympic Regatta on Thursday. After the 470 races, the 49er skiffs will have their Medal Races.

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The Olympic Broadcast unit kept feeding images from the boat park, beach, race course and scenics around the city. We got to see the sailors trying to stay calm, but ready to race on a moment's notice. The same people who produced the 2013 America’s Cup races in San Francisco are managing the international feed. Our job at NBC is to use the pictures for three purposes: to broadcast the races live on the Internet at NBCOLYMPICS.COM, produce highlight packages of 10-25 minutes for MSNBC or CNBC cable channels, and provide news reports.

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In the broadcast booth: Randy Smyth & Gary Jobson. Producer Chris Lincoln in background.

We are a small team. Randy Smyth and I are the commentators. It is certainly challenging to try to make something out of nothing. We talk about sailing, the Olympics and all the scenarios that could take place, when and if the racing ever got going. Randy and I also called the 2010 America's Cup for ESPN. He was the wing trimmer for Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes crew in 1988. Randy also won two Olympic Silver Medals in 1984 and 1992 in the Tornado Class. In advance of Rio, he spent some time coaching Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee, the USA Nacra 17 crew. His focus was on speed. Randy was very interested in their performance. Unfortunately, two breakdowns kept them from the top tier, but they did make the Medal Race.

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Rio 2016 sailing World Feed crew: Chris Lincoln, Randy Smyth, Gary Jobson,  Jessica Kurtzman.

Our producer, Chris Lincoln is from Palo Alto, California. He is a long time television producer, who just happens to be a passionate sailor. He grew up sailing out of Sausalito on San Francisco Bay. He brought along Jessica Kurtzman as our production assistant. She is a rising senior at the University of Washington in Seattle. Jessica is studying film and dance.

The World Feed focuses on one class at a time. We narrate every race they produce live, and then edit the highlights for television. The weather delays make it difficult to get regular scheduled programming. The USA has qualified to race in three of the four Medal Races tomorrow. Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha have a good chance to win a second medal for the USA. I hope you will log on or tune in to cheer them on.

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My editorial comment of the day is about the water quality on the race course. For months leading up to the Games, several major newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today, published articles about the terrible water off Rio. ESPN (Disclaimer: I spent 31 years on ESPN's payroll) also broadcast several reports about the dirty water on television and the radio. I have spoken to many people around the venue including sailors, coaches and race officials. There has not been a single complaint or protest regarding trash in the water. The health authorities that have been monitoring the water quality for World Sailing, the governing body of the sport (second disclaimer: I serve on the Board of Directors) has reported that the water offshore is clean. In March, the sewage normally emitted from a pipe at The Marina da Gloria was redirected to a treatment plant. Each day a helicopter is launched to search for debris. If they see a log or something near any of the race courses an "Eco boat" will go and pick it up. I would actually describe the Eco boats as garbage scows. You can see the water along the shoreline is clear. The sailors have no problem jumping in after winning medals. Many young people swim off the beach. There was one report of a female sailor being ill, but she recovered and sailed the next day.

I am very sensitive about water quality. I grew up sailing (and swimming) in Barnegat Bay on the New Jersey coast. For over 30 years a Swiss company named Ciba-Geigy dumped lethal residue into the Toms River. At one stage the river was closed to swimmers in the early 1960s. But we kept sailing. Ciba-Geigy's solution to the problem was to build a pipe that discharged the sludge 1500 feet off the ocean beach. Eventually, their plant was declared a polluted superfund cleanup site. Many of my friends and classmates have been diagnosed with cancer. I had my own two-year battle with Lymphoma. While it might be difficult to prove, I believe Ciba's irresponsible chemical production was the cause of my cancer. So I hope you understand that I am very sensitive to "dirty water." I doubt we will read any articles that the Rio water quality warnings were overblown, but the water off Rio is better than anyone indicated. Now we just need some wind.

We will be live on Thursday at 1150 Eastern time on NBCOlympics.com. There will additional features on MSNBC during the day and CNBC in the evening. 

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary before they post here.

Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.

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Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #10 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #10

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Medal for the USA

By Gary Jobson

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Caleb Paine had a difficult task ahead of him when he woke up this morning. He needed to put two boats between him and Croatia's Ivan Gašpić and beat Max Salminen from Sweden. The two Laser classes had already sailed on the Medal Course off Flamingo Beach that afternoon, and Paine, along with his coach Luther Carpenter, watched carefully. The sea breeze, blowing out of the south, had filled in at 10-12 knots. For the early races the left side of the course paid. About 1.5 miles to windward of the course, Sugarloaf Mountain stretches nearly 1300 feet into the sky. When the wind is out of the south, at around 180 degrees, the left side of the course often pays. Later in the day, the right is better, particularly when the wind is 200 degrees or more toward the west. For the Finn race, the wind was right in between. The big question to answer was, what would happen?

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Paine started the five-leg, one-mile course in the middle of the starting line. Gašpić started on the far port end of the line. Early on in leg one, Paine sailed to the right side of the course, leaving the Croatian boat, and France alone on the other side of the course. It was a risky strategy, but then again, an Olympic Medal was on the line. This was no time for conservatism.

Adding to the intrigue, last week Gašpić protested Paine in Race 6 for crossing too close at the start. Paine was disqualified for violating Racing Rules of Sailing 10. It was a crushing set back for the 26-year sailor from San Diego. The next day his rules advisor, David Dellenbaugh, found some footage of the start shot by the Olympic Broadcast Service. The Jury agreed to reopen the case when they heard about the footage. The footage clearly showed that Paine had made it across with plenty of room to spare. The Jury dismissed the protest and awarded Paine his original second place finish in Race Six. As I watched the ten Finn's close in on the first turning mark today, I wondered if this incident was on the mind of either sailor?

About two-thirds of the way upwind, Paine tacked to starboard and appeared to be behind Gašpić and a few other boats, including France. The American tacked back to port to sail further to the right side. This pattern repeated itself three times. As Paine was nearing the lay line, a strong gust was filling in from his right. He sailed into the new wind and tacked over for the mark. Simultaneously, the wind on the left side caved. Just like that, Paine surged into the lead while Gašpić was now in seventh place.

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Paine rounded ahead of Jorge Zarif from Brazil, Australia’s Jake Lilley Giles Scott from Great Britain. Scott had already clinched the Gold Medal on points. The Race Committee flew an Oscar signal flag – “free pumping” – allowing the competitors to rock, ooch or pump at will. The aerobic drill was on.

The aerial footage, broadcast with tight, stabilized water angle views, gave us a perfect example of how to accelerate on each wave. Giles Scott's choreography was a thing of beauty. The British superstar has not lost a major regatta in the past four years, and has won the Finn Gold Cup for the World Championship three years in a row. Scott quickly sailed by France and Lilley.

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He closed the gap on Paine. At the leeward gate Paine, held a 31-second lead over Scott. Gašpić dropped back to 9th and Salminen rounded sixth. Three legs to go, and the breeze was increasing to 12 knots. Paine headed back to the right side of the course, and simply covered the fleet. It was textbook tactics.

At the next windward mark, Paine held on to his 31-second (seven boat length) lead over Scott. A full two minutes and 44 seconds later, Gašpić rounded the mark in last place. On this leg Scott seemed to coast. He must have been thinking about how special it was to be on the cusp of a Gold Medal. In the four previous Games, Ben Ainslie had won three Gold Medals, and before that in 2000 another British sailor, Iain Percy, had won a Gold in Sydney. That is an impressive run. Since the Finn was introduced to the Olympics in 1952, several American sailors have won medals including: John Marvin in 1956 (Bronze), National Sailing Hall of Famer Peter Barrett in 1964 (Silver), John Bertrand in 1984 (Silver), Brian Ledbetter in 1992 (Silver), and Zach Railey in 2008 (Silver).

At the fourth and final mark, Scott had gained on Paine. The two boats were 19 seconds apart. Paine headed up on a close reach and kept working. He never looked back. This was not Usain Bolt looking over at his competition. The French and Croatian sailors were still well behind. Caleb crossed the line 22:51 seconds after starting. His tactic of working the right side of the course worked, and he stayed strong to win the Medal Race. Ivan Gašpić finished last. Karma?

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It was the first sailing medal for the USA since 2008.

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Tomorrow Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha have a strong change to medal in the Women's 470 Class. They stand in third place, just one point out of second, but only two points ahead of fifth. In the Men's 470, Stu McNay and Dave Hughes are sitting in fourth place, but are too far behind in points to break into Medal position. They opened with a first in the opening race today, but ended with an 11-14.

The Nacra 17s provided an unbelievable finish. Argentina's 54-year old skipper Santiago Lange and crew, Cecilia Saroli, fouled the British on the starting line. They rounded the first mark in last. On Leg Two they moved into sixth. The Argentine crew had to stay within three boats of Australia and two boats ahead of Austria. On the fourth leg Lange fouled Austria at the windward mark. He and Saroli had to take a 360-degree penalty turn. They were in fourth and lost two boats. Australia crossed the line in second. Austria followed in third and the Argentines finished sixth, good enough to win the Gold by just a single point. The Aussies nipped Austria on the tie-breaker because they finished ahead. It was one exciting finish.

On Wednesday, Randy Smyth and I continue our live coverage at NBCOlympics.com beginning at Noon Eastern time. Can the American 470 team claim a medal? Join us for this exciting finale. We will have additional coverage and analysis in the afternoon on MSNBC and in the evening on CNBC. On Thursday we will conclude the Olympic Games with the men's and women's skiffs. 

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary before they post here.

Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.

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Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #9 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #9

Monday, August 15, 2016

No Wind + Too Much Wind = Frustration

By Gary Jobson

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Our sport is hard on itself. Here we are with live coverage of sailing available of the Olympic Games. NBCOlympics.com is taking the International Olympic Committee's live feed. It is a big day, with two scheduled Medal Races in the Women's Laser Radial and the Men's Laser Classes. It is a beautiful day off Rio's Flamingo Beach. The capacity crowd is fully engaged in anticipation of the Medal Race. Most importantly for Brazil, one of its most famous athletes, Robert Scheidt, is in contention to win a record setting sixth medal in sailing. Since 1896 no sailor has won six medals in six consecutive Olympics. Actually, this is unheard of in any sport. The storylines are good. And then, disaster!

The wind was non-existent. Nada - nothing. No worries, everyone thought, the breeze has filled in every day. After three hours, the Race Officials cancelled the Laser Race, but kept hope alive for the Laser Radial. The ten women sailors were sent out to the racecourse 45 minutes before the 1630 time limit expired. The Race Committee could see that a sea breeze was approaching. Out at sea, the 49er and 49erFX classes were racing in 9-14 knot winds, and on their third race of the day.

With 20 minutes left on the time clock, the wind arrived, and kept building. It was tough on the sailors who had to shift their thinking from light air sailing to heavy wind. Soon it was blowing well over 30 knots. What next?

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The clock was ticking. On the race committee boat, Tom Duggan from Hyannis, MA, conferred with Principle Race Officer Alastair Fox, and they made the appropriate decision to postpone.

For much of the day, sailing was the only sport being run. Most competitions in Rio tend to be played later in the day. Many international broadcasters would have featured sailing, but the wind just did not cooperate. It reminded me of the many days wasted during the America's Cup over the years waiting for the wind to come up, or go down. If sailing is going to be on television, it needs to take place at scheduled times. It would be helpful if the race organizers were more flexible and could have taken the Laser sailors out into the ocean. That would have upset the fans on shore, but most of them actually watch the big screen television on the beach anyway.

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The 49ers and 49erFX classes did get off three races. Americans Paris Henken and Helena Scutt, had 11-11-8 place finishes today. They are still in the top ten, and have a good chance to make the medal race, but their chance of winning a medal is slipping away. With three races left, they must be in the top three in every race to be in medal contention. They are 29 points out of third place. In the men's skiff, New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are in control. They only have 21 points. Germany is 18 points behind them, and archrival Australia is 33 points back. Americans Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris rounded the windward mark in the top five twice today, but slipped back to finish 16-17-11. They will not make the Medal Race. Racing continues tomorrow with skiff Medal Races on Thursday.

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The 470s were unable to race today. They have three races left to complete before their Medal Race on Wednesday. Both American crews in the 470s are in Medal contention. Four Medal Races are schedule for Tuesday, including Lasers, Laser Radials, Finns, and Nacra 17s. The biggest race of the day is in the Finn. Caleb Paine, 26, from San Diego, CA, is in fourth, just five points away from a Bronze Medal. The Medal Races are worth two points. To finish third, he must stay ahead of Max Salminen, SWE and Jorge Zarif, BRA and put two boats between him and Ivan Gašpić from Croatia. Gašpić protested Paine in Race 6. Initially, Paine was disqualified, but Paine produced video evidence showing that Gašpić’s story was not accurate, and the American's second place finish in that race was restored. If there is ever a reason for a grudge match, this is it.

If the wind cooperates on Tuesday all four Medal Races will be broadcast live on NBCOlympics.com with highlight action later in the day on MSNBC television.

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here.

Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #8 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #8

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Medal Race Euphoria

By Gary Jobson

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Today was the start of the Medal Race finales in sailing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. There was a long wait for suitable wind to get the racing underway, but once the RS: X Men's and Women's finals started, we were given a real treat.

But first, a promo:

There will be Medal Races every day now until the conclusion of sailing on Thursday, August 18. Randy Smyth and I are able to narrate the races live now at www.NBCOlympics.com. We will start at 12:00 pm Eastern time each day. The live Internet coverage will be followed with a 20-30 minute program on television on cable on MSNBC, usually around 4:30 in the afternoon. We hope you will join us as we present great stories and pictures from Rio de Janeiro.

Back to the racing:

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The Gold and Silver Medals were already decided in the men's sailboard. Holland and Great Britain clinched their positions two days ago after their 12-race series. The Bronze Medal was up for grabs. Four sailors could still claim Bronze, at least mathematically. Poland, Greece, France and Germany all had a shot. The top ten boats out of 36 boards qualify for the Medal Race. The points earned are carried over, but now the points are doubled. At the first mark, Piotr Myszka, POL, was well ahead of his rivals. On the run, Pierre Le Coq, FRA, found a strong gust and passed Myszka. He still needed to get one boat between them. Ricardo Santos, BRA, was his target. There was a four-board battle with Byron Kokkalanis, GRE in the mix. The four boats changed positions on the next leg, with Le Coq getting a better position to pass Brazil and finish 7th with Myszka in 9th. The Frenchman got the Bronze. And, just for good measure, Dorian Rijsselberghe, NED easily won the race, confirming that he was the Olympic Champion.

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The RS:X Women's division followed. The wind was getting lighter. The race committee hustled to get the race under way. Italy and Russia were tied for the lead with 55 points, and four boats: France, China, Netherlands and Israel were all within 6 points. The Race was only 21 minutes and 28 seconds. The lead changes were frequent. Russia fouled at the start and the umpires called for a penalty turn. Stefania Elfutina, RUS rounded the first mark a distant tenth. Bad luck! Israel's Maayan Davidovich was close to the lead on the first leg, with Charline Picon nearby. Peina Chen, CHN won the last three races of the early round, and was particularly fast downwind in light air. Lillian De Geus, NED led at the first mark.

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Picon was six seconds back. Eventually, Picon and Chen were in a match race, leaving De Geus alone to win the race. The lead between Picon and Chen changed several times. Picon got the last puff before the final turn and crossed the line ahead to take the Gold. Chen earned Silver. Both looked exhausted and surprised that they had achieved success. Further back, Russia's Elfutina kept plugging and moved into sixth, which was good enough to hold on the Bronze medal. All three were all smiles an hour later at the medal ceremony, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.

On Monday, the Laser and Laser Radial races will be sailed. American Paige Railey barely made the cut, but will be sailing. Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and Finland all have a chance to medal. The big question in the Laser is whether Robert Scheidt, BRA can overcome a ten-point deficit to win a record sixth Olympic Sailing Medal. It will be tough in a ten-boat fleet, but it will be great fun to see if the 43-year old master can find a way to pull it off. The crowds on the beach will be immense to see one of Brazil's most famous athletes perform.

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Americans Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha, in the Women's 470, are having a great series. They are in second place. They have three more races tomorrow before the Medal Race scheduled for Wednesday. The USA 470 Men's team, Stu McNay and Dave Hughes, stand in sixth and are also in position for a medal if they put together three good races tomorrow.

As reported earier, American Finn sailor Caleb Paine introduced video evidence to the International Jury and was able to get his disqualification dismissed from Race Six. He is five points away from a Bronze Medal. The boat ahead of him is Ivan Gašpić from Croatia, who protested Paine in the sixth race. Gašpić did not show up on for the hearing. It sounds like there might be some strong motivation for Caleb. We will cover this race live on Tuesday.

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Also on Tuesday, we will cover the Nacra 17 Medal Race. Americans Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee made the cut, and will also be in their Medal Race. Unfortunately, they broke their trapeze wire in two races and had to take DNFs (Did Not Finishes). With the extra points the best they can finish is fifth.

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Paris Henken and Helena Scutt are back out on the water Monday in the 49erFX. This young crew are the Cinderella story so far in the sailing Games. The pair had an impressive 4-1-5 yesterday and stand in ninth place. If the keep it up, they will surely move up the leaderboard. They have six races scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. Their Medal Race will be on Thursday. Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris were able to finish fourth in one race yesterday, but were disqualified for a port-starboard incident in that race. They are looking to improve and tomorrow is their opportunity.

For the Medal Races, the race committee sets a five-leg course that should take 20 minutes. This is a great opportunity to watch Olympic Sailing at its best. I hope you will join us.

Here is the link to watch LIVE (at noon ET on Monday, August 15): http://stream.nbcolympics.com/sailing-day-10

Or go to www.NBCOlympics.com/sailing.

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here.

Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Olympic Medalists - 2016 Rio de Janeiro | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Olympic Medalists - 2016 Rio de Janeiro


  Sailing events for the 2016 Olympic Games were held at the Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro.
  67px-Finn class wave Caleb PAINE
bronze medal olympic



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #7 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #7

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Solid Racing off Rio

By Gary Jobson

081316 RIO2016 49erFX-USA-ParisHenken-HelenaScutt2-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

My commentating partner, Randy Smyth and I, called the Laser Men's and 49erFX racing with great interest today. Americans Paris Henken and Helena Scutt opened the regatta yesterday with a below average 13-16-14 in the 20-boat fleet. Henken is 20 years old and the youngest skipper in the class. Scutt is 24. Today their performance improved. Coming off the line in Race 4, the USA crew were in a good position. I wondered whether they would be able to hold on to their lane?

081316 RIO2016 49erFX-USA-ParisHenken-HelenaScutt-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

Henken and Scutt were sailing fast and staying on pace with the regatta leaders, Martine Grael of Brazil and Jena Mai Hanse, of Denmark. The Brazilians faded after sailing on the wrong side of the course and rounded the first mark in 19th (they eventually moved up to 10th). The USA looked good, and finished a respectable fifth. More importantly, they looked confident, and had some speed. The next race started soon after the first, and the USA had another excellent start. They picked two favorable wind shifts and were soon leading. As the race progressed they stretched out and easily won. Many fans took notice. They were protested in the race by Finland, but the Jury found the protest to be invalid.

081316 RIO2016 49erFX-USA-ParisHenken-HelenaScutt3-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

In the final race of the day, USA repeated their good starting technique and finished fourth. This young crew could be a pleasant surprise this week. Any jitters of racing in the Olympics have passed. What impressed Randy and I was their crisp boat handling and textbook tactics. They are half-way through the early round. It will be great fun to see if these Olympic rookies can continue to improve.

081216 RIO2016 Laser-BRA-RobertScheidt-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

The biggest story on the water is in the Laser Class. Brazil's superstar, 43-year old Robert Scheidt, started the day in second place just three points out of third. The Saturday spectator crowd on the beach was large and spirited. The partisan Brazilians were there to support their hometown hero. These were the final two races before the Medal Race, scheduled for Monday. Scheidt got off to a slow start. At one point early in the race, he was back in 30th in the 46-boat fleet. He looked like a wide receiver who had fumbled the football on the opening kick off. Over the next two legs, he worked his way up to 14th. His main rivals, Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia and Tom Burton from Australia, were only a few places ahead. Several thousand fans on shore were glued to the big screen television. And then disaster struck. On the run to Mark Four, Scheidt played the wrong side of the course and was back in 26th, where he eventually finished. Later he rallied with an 11th in Race 10. The five-time Olympic Medalist finds himself in fifth place now going into the Medal Race, and ten points out of the Bronze Medal position. The Silver Medal is mathematically out of his reach.

081216 RIO2016 Laser-BRA-RobertScheidt2-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

The Medal Race is worth double points. For Scheidt to win a medal in his sixth Olympics, he needs to put five boats between him and Sam Meech from New Zealand, and finish ahead of Jean Baptiste Bernaz from France. No sailor has ever won six medals in the Olympic Games. Scheidt, Torbin Grael, also from Brazil, and Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie are the only sailors to win five Medals. If anyone could pull this off, it is Robert.

081316 RIO2016-USA-Laser-Charlie Buckingham-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing -sm

Charlie Buckingham had a good day with a 10-6 and moved up in the standings. Unfortunately, he tied for tenth and lost on the tie-breaker. He will miss the Medal Race on Monday.

081216 RIO2016-LaserRadial-USA-PaigeRailey-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

In the Laser Radial class, Paige Railey made the Medal Race scheduled for Monday. She is in tenth but can only move up a few places.

081316 RIO2016-USA-Finn-CalebPaine-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

For the American Team, there was some heartening news. Caleb Paine's disqualification in Race 6 in the Finn Class was dismissed by the Jury. Paine was able to show video of the start. Ivan Gaspic from Croatia had testified that he had to bear away at the start of the race to avoid a collision. Gaspic was on starboard, and Paine on port, was obligated to stay clear. At the original hearing, Paine did not have video or any witnesses. The video however, clearly showed that Gaspic had actually luffed about ten degrees, and never got within six feet. The Jury dismissed the protest. Paine's second place was reinstated. Justice prevailed. Curiously, the Croatian sailor did not show up for the hearing. Caleb Paine now stands seventh. He has two more races on Sunday with a Medal Race on Tuesday.

081316 RIO2016-USA-49erFX-BoraGulari-LouisaChafee2-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

Over on the Nacra 17 course, Americans Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee recovered from their disaster prone day earlier this week when they were unable to complete two races. On Saturday they finished 9-2-8 and are only one point out of the top ten for the Medal Race. They have three races scheduled on Sunday.

081216 RIO2016-49erFX-DEN-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

The relatively steady winds ranged from 10-16 knots through the day. The Rio backdrop is spectacular. Huge crowds were on hand to watch the racing. For the all negative reporting about the problems in this city, the sailing venue is working well, thanks to hundreds of volunteers and motivated sailors who are creating beautiful images.

I hope you can join us Sunday for LIVE COVERAGE at www.NBCOlympics.com at 12:00 Eastern or MSNBC at 4:30-5:00 pm Eastern. We will be covering Medal Races between now and Thursday. Sunday's racing will focus on the RS:X sailboards.

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #6 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #6

Friday, August 12, 2016

Emotional Olympic Highs and Lows

By Gary Jobson

081216-49er-Thomas Barrows-Joe Morris - photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

There are so many stories taking place on the waters off Rio de Janeiro my head is spinning. Let's start with the exciting debut of the 49er fleet. New Zealand's 2012 Silver Medalists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke and Australia's 2012 Gold Medalists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have been destined for a major showdown.

081216-49er-AUS-Nathan Outteridge-Iain Jensen-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-

The rivalry between these sailing nations is intense. Since the London Games both skippers have been recruited to skipper America's Cup teams. An important question for both skippers was how much time each would have to dedicate to pre-Olympic training? Today we got the answer. The Kiwis had two beautifully sailed victories. Burling and Tuke were stuck in the pack early in each race, but methodically picked their way through fleet using a combination of brilliant wind reading, perfect boat handling, and at times more speed. The Aussies struggled and stand in eleventh place. The USA squad of Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris had a tough start and stand 20th out of 20 boats.

081216-Laser-BRA-Robert Scheidt-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-

The biggest story in Rio is in the Laser Class. Nine-time Laser World Champion and five-time Olympic Medalist Robert Scheidt from Brazil is in second place. He is 43 years old, which is ancient for a sailor in this small, physically demanding dinghy. To put this in perspective, it is the equivalent of a 50-year old pitching in the major leagues. (For the record the oldest competitor out of the 380 sailors here is 54-year old Santiago Lange, racing in the Nacra 17 class). Scheidt is a national hero in Brazil. He has raced a Star in the last two Olympics, a keelboat that is more suited to older sailors. When the Star was dropped from the Games, Scheidt reverted back to the Laser. This is a boat that he raced to earn two Gold Medals and one Silver. The hometown crowd will be a powerful motivator. He is only 3 points out of first place.

081116-Annie Haeger-Briana Provancha-470Womens-USA-Rio-photobySailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

The American 470 men's and women's crews are having solid regattas. In 23 knot winds and big seas, Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha somehow managed to finish tenth in a race where their halyard came off its lock. They stand in fourth, only 5 points out of the lead.

081216-Stu McNay-Dave Hughes-470Mens-USA-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

Over in the men's division, Stu McNay and Dave Hughes moved into eighth, after a solid fourth place finish today. As a three-time Olympian, McNay has the experience to keep improving. They are twelve points out of third and still have five races before the Medal Race.

The Bonehead Award of the day goes to 2008 49er Gold Medalist, Jonas Warrer of Denmark and his crew, Christian Peter Lubeck. In the first race they enjoyed a ten-length lead over New Zealand approaching the leeward gate, just before the short sprint to the finish line. Somehow they passed on the wrong side of the gate. Just before the finish they realized their mistake when several boats behind them rounded properly. It was a sad sight to see the veteran skipper drop his spinnaker and make his way back upwind to round properly. The mistake cost them the victory. They finished eighth. Ouch!

American RS:X sailors Marion Lepert and Pedro Pascual finished their Olympic regatta today. Both did not make the Medal Race. Lepert had four top ten finishes to wind up 16th out 26 boats. These young sailors gained valuable experience will certainly improve if they keep racing. The Nacra 17s had the day off.

Evi van Acker, the Laser Radial sailor who complained of health issues, was back on the water today and finished with a 12-2. On the 49er course, Peter Burling had to clear some debris off his rudder in the second race. As noted, he still won the race. Problems with the water continue to be minimal.

160809-Caleb Paine - Team USA - Finn - photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

In my last Rio Letter, I reported that American Finn sailor Caleb Paine was disqualified after a protest by Croatia for a Racing Rules of Sailing infraction (Rule 10 - port/starboard). That protest is being reopened by the Jury. A hearing will be held after racing on Saturday (8/13/16). A decision is expected tonight.

An unusual decision was issued by the Jury today. Three coaches from Australia, Russia and China were suspended from entering the sailing venue for one day for motoring their coach boats into the restricted area of the racecourse. It seemed like an appropriate warning to the rest of the few hundred coaches to keep their boats off the course.

Saturday's television report will appear on MSNBC around 4:45 in the afternoon. We plan to have 30 minutes of coverage.

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #5 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #5

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Heartbreak off Rio

By Gary Jobson

Caleb Paine - Finn - USA - Rio - photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

Every sailor has been through protest situations. Sometimes you are correct, and other times a decision goes against you. Protest hearings are never fun, but can be a learning experience. Some protests fade from memory quickly, while others haunt you for years.

The start of Race Four in the Finn Class was a devastating set back for American Caleb Paine. The 23 boats in the Finn class were sailing well offshore in winds over 20 knots. Ten-foot seas made maneuvering extremely difficult. In truth, Finn sailors thrive in these conditions. This is when physical prowess makes the difference. After spending the first day of racing in frustrating, fluky winds this was the chance to shine.

The port end of the starting line was favored by ten degrees. The angle of the big swells made it difficult to get up on the wind on starboard tack. Recognizing the bias on the left end of the line, four boats set up to start in this area. Three boats approached on port; one boat, Croatia, was on starboard. New Zealand, Australia and the USA approached on port. Paine felt he could cross ahead of Croatia while the Kiwi and Aussie decided to bear off and sail astern of the right-of-way starboard tack boat. Paine had a great start and raced with the leaders. He rounded the first mark in third. Eventually, he was able to grind down Josh Junior, NZL to finish the race in second. Unfortunately for him, Croatia's Ivan Gaspic filed a protest under Racing Rule of Sailing #10 (A port tack yacht shall keep clear of a starboard tack yacht). The five member International Jury found that Paine had crossed too close and was disqualified from the race.

The disqualification added 19 points to Paine's score and dropped him from fourth in the standings to 15th. Caleb Paine has to make up 12 points and pass five boats to make the Medal Race scheduled for Tuesday, August 16. I am sure 26-year old Caleb will replay that foul for a long time, but right now he needs to focus on sailing four great races. He has the skill to be in the Medal Race. It will be a great feat if he can find a way to overcome this adversity. If he does, the experience may someday serve him well in another regatta. Many of America's greatest sailors, like Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Ted Hood, and Buddy Melges, have come back from crushing defeats. Paine can add his name to that list. I will watch with interest and quietly cheer him on.

Nick Dempsey-RSXMens-GBR-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

Meanwhile, every sailor in Rio is in a steady groove. Any jitters about being in the Olympics have long passed, and the focus is on the task at hand. And that task is a difficult one on these waters. Out in the ocean the wind is strong and the waves big. Closer to land it is a capricious range, from baffling to bewildering. At the start of Race nine in the Men's RS:X, Britain's Nick Dempsey started at the port end of the starting line all by himself; the other 35 boats in the fleet were closer to the starboard. Within a minute he was in 30th according to the GPS tracking system. But, Dempsey committed to heading east because he saw a strong wind line developing. Half way up the leg, Dempsey sailed all by himself into the new wind and took the lead. He looked well on his way to his fourth victory of the series, and then the wind came to a halt. How do you deal with that?

Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha - 470 Womens-USA-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

Around the sailing venue, the competitors as a group seem relaxed, but all of them are well aware of the importance of having a good result. The strongest crews will improve race to race. In the Women's 470 Class, Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha are in a tough battle and they are getting stronger with each race. In the fourth race today, the American crew moved up through fleet to finish second. They now stand in sixth, only five points out of the lead.

Evi van Acker-LaserRadial-BEL-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy - World Sailing

Evi van Acker from Belgium, sailing in the Laser Radial class, has reported a health issue that may be water related. Reports from the sailing venue indicate she will be back out on the racecourse on Friday. She won a Bronze medal in London. She finished 14-16 yesterday, and stands in tenth. This is the first report coming out of Rio concerning a water quality health issue in sailing. I contacted about 20 people around the venue from several countries. No one reported any other health problems. There are 380 sailors and an equal number of support personnel and race officials. The only other problem with the water was a couple of sailboard sailors who hit some debris, but without any impact on the results. There have been ongoing tests of the water on the racecourse, and independent analysts have declared the water quality acceptable.

On Friday we will broadcast our sailing report on MSNBC at about 4:30 pm Eastern time. We are scheduled to focus on the speedy 49ers that open their series. The Americans, Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris, are relatively new to this class. They have a lot of experience racing in shifty winds in college, and Barrows grew up sailing in windy St. Thomas, USVI, so they are comfortable in strong winds. Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be racing in the 49er FX.

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #4 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #4

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Crazy Sailing

By Gary Jobson

Paige Railey-LaserRadial-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

Mixed gender sailboat racing debuted in the Olympic Games today off Rio de Janeiro with the Nacra 17 multihull class. The wind conditions off Flamingo beach for the speedy cats were bizarre. The race committee did well to get off two races. They spent several hours adjusting the turning marks, and waiting (hoping) for the wind to settle in. The Nacra 17s respond well to the slightest puff of wind, but unfortunately there were many dead zones. Then, a strong gust would suddenly arrive out of nowhere.

In the first race, Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger, sailing for Switzerland, were closing in on the finish line with a comfortable lead when they suddenly stopped. Several boats sailing in a private breeze came streaking down the course at high speed. The Swiss showed remarkable calm, jibed their boat in front of the approaching gust, and got rolling just before being passed. They won the race. It was exciting. The next four boats finished within seconds. The whole day was like this.

Bora Gulari-Louisa Chafee-Nacra17-USA-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

Think about sailing in these conditions. Big choppy waves, a strong adverse two-knot current, winds shifting randomly between 40 degrees, and the velocity ranging from two knots to 18. How does one keep up? Keeping the emotions out of the equation is part of it. Several crews spent their time searching for new wind, while shifting their body weight to keep the Nacra 17s heeling. In the light patches the crew moved well forward to lift the stern out of the water.

CrazySailing-Charlie Buckingham-Laser-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

The lead changes reminded me of film clips I used to watch in the movie theater on Saturdays while growing up. There was some kind of car race or running contest. The competitors were constantly jumbled up and seemed to share the lead a one point. The ultimate winner was always in question. The episodes were called, "Crazy Races." The lead changes in the Nacra reminded me of these goofy clips.

Stu McNay-Dave Hughes-470Mens-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing2-sm

Mixed teams are rare in most sports. In the Olympics, we do see mixed competitions in shooting, equestrian, ice skating, tennis and luge. In the Nacra event, five of the 20 helmsmen are female. Among them is Sofia Bekatorou from Greece, who won a Gold medal in the 470 Class in Athens in 2004. She and her crew, Michail Pateniotis, finished third in Race Two. After two races, the Swiss crew was tied for the lead with Great Britain. Americans Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee had a 13-10, and stand two points out of the Medal round. They struggled on the first legs after the start, but seemed to get stronger as each race progressed.

Annie Haeger-Briana Provancha-470Womens-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

The Men's and Women's 470 Classes also started racing today. Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha opened with an 8-3. They have a good chance to earn a medal. Over on the men's course, Stu McNay and Dave Hughes stand 8th with a 10-7. Caleb Paine in the Finn had a race he would rather forget, with a 21st out of 23 boats, but came back strong in Race Four with a third. Britain's Giles Scott was back in form with a 2-1. Paige Railey stands 7th in the Laser Radial Class. She needs a couple good races to move her up the leader board if she hopes to win a medal. Consistency is her goal now. She has a 15-2-9-21-2-7 so far in the series, with four races before the Medal Race. Charlie Buckingham stands 15th with a 2-7-10-22-8-26. He must string together four good races to reach the medal round.

Caleb Paine-Finn-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

Our sailing on NBC is moving around. Most days we will be on MSNBC around 4:30pm ET. The Nacra 17s aired on NBCSN at 11:00pm ET on Wednesday.

CrazySailing-Stu McNay-Dave Hughes-470Mens-USA-Rio-photobySailing Energy-World Sailing-sm

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #3 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #3

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Parity in Olympic Sailing

By Gary Jobson

It's only the second day of sailing of this 11-day Olympic Games, and we have learned a lot about sailing on the waters off Rio de Janeiro and the level of competition. After many years of racing, I have learned to avoid drawing early conclusions in any series, but there are several trends that are worth studying.

Nick Dempsey-RSX-GBR-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy / World Sailing

In the five classes that have raced so far, 21 different countries occupy the top five spots. Only Holland, with 3 boats, and Argentina and France, with two boats, have cracked the top tier. The USA has had a few good races, but all five boats are in a major battle to make the Medal Race. Great Britain has one standout in Nick Dempsey in the men's RS:X sailboard, who leads after six races, but the rest of their storied team is also in a tight battle to reach the top ten for the Medal Race. What is going on?

Historically, the USA and GBR have won far more medals than any other country in the Olympic Games, dating back to 1896. That storyline is changing. International parity seems to be the new normal. It might be easy to explain this trend to the challenging wind patterns in Rio, but there is far more to it. Let's begin with junior sailing. Every sailing country trains youngsters in Optimist Dinghies. Coaching techniques and training manuals all provide similar information. The Olympic classes are all strictly one design, and in the case of the sailboards and Lasers, the boats are provided. It is difficult to get an equipment advantage. Coaches change borders for every Olympics and bring with them knowledge from their former employment. Almost every sailor is pre-anointed by their nation one or more years in advance of the Olympics, so they learn each other's sailing techniques.

Unlike the United States and Great Britain, only a handful of countries qualify, and send full squads in all ten Olympic classes. Most countries tend to concentrate on classes where they have a reasonable chance of doing well. It is expensive to send a full 15-person sailing team, along with an army of support personnel. This is a philosophical question that will be addressed after the Games.

Robert Scheidt-BRA-Laser-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy / World Sailing

There are some good storylines developing. In the Laser Class, 43-year old Robert Scheidt from Brazil is the hero of his country; in four races he has finished 23-1-27-4. With a throwout race, he stands in 8th. Scheidt has won a medal in five Olympic Games. No sailor has ever won medals in six. If he can somehow gain consistency he could be the first sailor to achieve this feat. His wife, Gintare Scheidt, is sailing for her home country of Lithuania, and stands sixth after four races.

Lijia Xu-Women's Laser Radial-CHN-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy /World Sailing

Lijia Xu from China was disqualified after finishing 4th in Race Two yesterday for not performing a penalty turn soon enough after fouling American Paige Railey at the windward mark. Xu is the reigning Olympic Champion in the Laser Radial Class. She shrugged off the set back and came back with a 3-1 today and now leads. Impressive!

Charline Picon-RSX-FRA-Rio-photo b ySailing Energy / World Sailing

A tough battle in the Women's RS:X has unfolded. Charline Picon from France had a 1-2-1 on the first day, while Flavia Tartaglini, Italy opened with a 12th. But since then, the Italian sailor has won three races sailing in her first Olympics. Russia's Stefaniya Elfutina and Holland's Lilian de Gues are close behind in the standings. American Marion Lepert has been sailing well, but got tangled up after the start with another board and finished well in the back. The most impressive performance of the day was by Peina Chen from China who fanned her sail in a beautiful rhythm to stretch out to a huge lead in a dying breeze to win the sixth race.

Caleb Pain-Finn-USA-Rio-photo by Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Britain's super star Finn sailor, Giles Scott, missed a few wind puffs in the first race to finish 17th. He came back with a third in Race Two. I look for him to move up the leaderboard over the next few races. He has not lost a major regatta in four years. American Caleb Paine was deep at the first mark, but sailed well to move into seventh by the finish. In Race Two, Paine finished 10th.

The Nacra 17s and the 470s begin racing tomorrow. It will be fascinating to see if the parity trend continues. With nine days racing ahead, there will be many ups and downs on the water. One thing is crystal clear: The sailors who stand on the podium in Rio will have earned their medals.  

Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.



Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #2 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #2 - UPDATED!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mental Toughness

By Gary Jobson

Winning Medals in Rio is going to be very hard in the challenging wind conditions off Rio de Janeiro. Day One showed us just how capricious the winds can be on every race course.


Each day the classes move to a different circle. It will be difficult to master the changing wind patterns from one day to the next. The winds weave around the surrounding mountains and high city buildings. One moment you are sailing in 14 knots of wind, and then suddenly the wind just stops. Every boat experienced emotional highs and lows during the first races in the Lasers, Laser Radials, and Men's and Women's RS:X sailboard classes. To paraphrase former President, Bill Clinton, I could feel the sailors' pain. Overcoming adversity, so that one can consistently finish in the top ten in each race, will be the key to winning.

The RS:X classes schedule three races each day over four days leading to the Medal Race. The top ten boats go on to the Medal Race. Medal Races are worth double points. Great Britain's Nick Dempsey got off to an impressive start with two firsts, and a second. He won the Silver Medal in 2012 in Weymouth, and is hungry for a Gold. Based on his performance he is on his way.

Marion Lepert-RSX-credit SailingEnergy-WorldSailing2sm

In the Women's RS:X Division American Marion Lepert finished a respectable 10-3-10. She is 20 years old and is sailing in her first Olympics. She looked comfortable in the moderate winds off Rio today. She grew up sailing on San Francisco Bay and is used to sailing in a strong breeze. The big test for her will be in light winds, which are forecasted later this week.

The most interesting race of the day was in the Women's singlehanded Laser Radial Class. All eyes were on China's returning Gold Medalist, Lijia Xu. She has not been sailing for three years, concentrating instead, on earning a degree in Naval Architecture at the University of Southampton in England. In Race One she finished third. America's Paige Railey finished 15th in the first race, and came back strong in Race Two.

Paige Railey-LaserRadial-credit SailingEnergy-WorldSailing2-sm

The wind on the race course was shifting 30 degrees and ranging from 14 knots down to four knots at times. Railey got off the line with a clean start, and was running between sixth and tenth on the first leg. She avoided getting tangled up with other boats and worked every wind shift. The Laser Radial tacks efficiently, so it is worth taking advantage of every wind shift. At the first mark China led the fleet, and Railey was in fifth. Croatia, Belgium and Lithuania's Gintare Scheidt were all in the top five. On the second beat back to the windward mark, Scheidt did a better job picking wind shifts and passed Xu. Railey sailed brilliantly approaching the same mark and moved into third. On the final approach Xu failed to cross Railey on port, and had to perform a 720-degree penalty. Railey moved into second all the way to finish line.

The top seven boats in the Laser Radial class are all returning Olympians. Three of them have won medals, including Xu, Scheidt and Marit Bowmeester, NED (Silver 2012, London). The winner of Race Two, Gintare Scheidt, won a Silver Medal in 2008 in Quindao, China. She is married to Laser superstar Robert Scheidt, BRA, who is racing in the Laser Class. At 43, he is the oldest sailor in his class, but also has five Medals — two Gold, two Silvers and a Bronze — that he earned from the last five Olympics. He opened with a 23rd in the 38-boat fleet, but quickly recovered to win the second race.

Charlie Buckingham-Laser-photoby-JesusRenedo-SailingEnergy-WorldSailing-sm

Charlie Buckingham, from Newport Beach, Ca., had a 20th in the first race of the day in the Laser, and moved into seventh in the second race. The sailors drop their worst race of the series. It is tough to have to drop your first race, because it means you have to sail flawlessly for the rest of the regatta. Both Scheidt and Buckingham will have to work hard to work into the top ten.

Pedro Pascual-RSX-credit SailingEnergy-WorldSailing2sm

The pictures coming off the water are riveting. You can see the determination on the faces of the sailors as they work their boats through the choppy waves off Rio. Both the RS:X sailboard and the Laser sailboats are provided to the sailors. Every piece of equipment, including the hull and the sails, are identical. It is the sailor who makes the difference. The wind certainly has an effect on the outcome. How a sailor deals with a bad shift or light spot is critical. You simply can't get upset when the wind disappears, or get too excited when luck into a great breeze. A positive attitude is important. Paige Railey avoided taking big risks and picked off one boat at a time. But it’s early in this regatta. The other six classes that start racing later this week are well aware of the challenges ahead. It will be great theater to watch. The outcome in every class is wide open.


Late last night, the international jury disqualified Lijia Xu for not performing her penalty turs soon enough. The disqualification is a major setback for the reigning Olympic champion. She does have a throwout, but will have to sail clean for the rest of the regatta. 

Our television coverage continues on Tuesday on MSNBC at 4:35 Eastern time. We will focus on the Finn and Women's RS:X. San Diego's Caleb Paine makes his Olympic debut, and Marion Lepert looks to extend her strong first day. Later this week, my co-commentator Randy Smyth and I hope to be able to add live commentary to the World Feed that is being broadcast on NBCOlympics.com every day at Noon ET.


Visit this page - OlympicSailing.nshof.org - daily during the Olympics to read every day's report, plus additional info including Sailing Instructions and course maps. Or better yet, sign up to receive daily email reports from Gary the night before they post here. Visit http://bit.ly/SailingHall-getconnected.

BONUS VIDEO — All You Need to Know About Olympic Sailing

This infographic video gives you a quick and easy-to-understand look at the facts behind Olympic sailing during the 2016 Rio Games. Brought to you courtesy of World Sailing.





Sailing for the Gold: Gary Jobson's Rio Letter #1 | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016

Sailing for the Gold: Rio Letter #1

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Will American Sailors Return to the 
Medal Podium?

By Gary Jobson

After four years of preparation, the United States Sailing Team is ready to take on the best sailors in the world on the waters off Rio de Janeiro. Up until this point media reports about the water pollution have overshadowed the competition. Many eyes will be watching carefully to see if debris in the water has an effect on the teams. At the opening ceremony on Friday night, the anticipation of racing in the Olympics by the sailors was inspiring. When the huge American team came out of the tunnel there was a rousing ovation for all the athletes, including the fifteen USA sailors. Joe Morris, from Annapolis, was in the front row leading the parade. Country flags were carried into the stadium by thirteen sailors. NBC broadcast many cutaways of American athletes throughout the first night of coverage. Many sailors were seen with big smiles taking selfies. It was a night for celebration. Now the hard work starts.

Only three of the USA sailors have raced in the Games before. Historically, the USA has won more medals in sailing than any other country, but in 2012 the squad went home empty handed. Between 1984 and 1992 the USA won 21 medals in sailing. However, in the period between 1996 through 2012 the USA has only won ten medals. Team Leader Josh Adams has been working around-the clock, with a talented group of coaches and support personnel, to improve America's chances.

Rio2016-SailingCourseCircles-smallAt the beginning of any competition, the score is tied at zero points. At this moment every sailor has high hopes that they will prevail over the six scheduled days of racing. While pollution and debris have been at the forefront of news for the past year, the real test for these sailors is finding a way to use the shifting winds to their advantage. There are seven circles. [See course descriptions graphics below.] Most of the racing will take place well out in the ocean where big ocean swells and chop will be challenging. Superior boat speed will be essential. The top ten finishers at the end of five days will qualify for the Medal Race. This course is off Flamingo Beach. The wind here is shifty and the waves smooth. The Medal Race counts for double points.

David Dellenbaugh, the American coach, is charged with figuring out the best strategy on how to use the currents and read the wind shifts. Many on the team were outstanding collegiate sailors and should perform well in the tricky winds on the Medal Course. There are ten classes sailed by eight men and seven women. In my opinion, the USA has an encouraging chance to reach the Medal Race in six classes, with possible medals in five classes.

The wind blows across the race course in waves. There are moments when the breeze is steady and strong, and then it can suddenly disappear. This will likely jumble the positions in many races. Every boat will have both good and bad moments. A strong, positive attitude will be an important asset. Watch the scores each day and you will see big swings in the point totals. Keeping a good consistent average will be the biggest test.

Unprecedented TV Coverage

Beginning on Monday, August 8, NBC will broadcast an unprecedented amount of coverage of sailing. Every day two of the classes will be broadcast live on the Internet at NBCOlympics.com. Later in the afternoon there will be a 30-minute program with sailing highlights and analysis. These shows will air on MSNBC or CNBC. I will send out an updated schedule with my daily reports. Randy Smyth and I will be the commentators. Chris Lincoln will be our producer, along with our production assistant, Jessica Kurtzman, who is a senior at the University of Washington. Chris directed the World Feed sailing coverage for the International Olympic Committee in 2008 and 2012. His group won the IOC award for the best produced coverage of any sport. We are lucky to have him on sailing with us at NBC. We will be taking the World Feed that is being directed in Rio by Leon Sefton. Leon produced the America's Cup from San Francisco in 2013. I look forward to working with Randy, who has won two Silver Medals in the Tornado Class in 1984 and 1992. He was also on Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes crew for their successful America's Cup defense in 1988. Randy and I were the commentators for ESPN during the 2010 America's Cup. Like the sailors, we have some busy days ahead. I hope you will join us. Please tell your sailing friends to tune in.

Here is my review of the
US Sailing Team's prospects in Rio:

TEAMUSA-470Men-Stu McNay&Dave Hughes

470 Men - Skipper Stu McNay is sailing in his 3rd Olympics. He was an All American sailor at Yale. For this Olympics he has teamed up with Dave Hughes, who was a coach in 2012. Hughes was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and has been an intern in Congress and in the White House. This team has tough competition from Australia, Croatia and Argentina. Based on their improving results over the past two years, they are capable of earning a medal. Their coach is 470 Silver Medalist (1992) Morgan Reeser.

TEAMUSA-470Women-Annie Haeger&Briana Provancha

470 Women - Skipper Annie Haeger and her close friend Briana Provancha were standouts at Boston College. They won the test event in Rio last year. Dave Ullman, one the most respected sailors and coaches in America, and one of this year’s inductees into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, has been a huge asset. They have an outstanding chance to medal.

TEAMUSA-Finn-Caleb Paine

Finn - Caleb Paine has his work cut out. The top Finn sailors come from England, Denmark, and Holland. Paine has been sailing in the top 10 in most regattas. He could put it together for a medal. The veteran, Luther Carpenter, is his coach.

TEAMUSA-LaserMen-Charlie Buckingham

Laser - Two-time College Sailor of the Year, Charlie Buckingham, also consistently finishes in the top 10 in most regattas. His coach, Mark Reynolds, another National Sailing Hall of Famer, holds two Gold medals and one Silver medal in the Star Class. That experience could help Charlie immensely. All eyes in Rio will follow Brazil's superstar Robert Scheidt closely. He has won five medals in the past five Olympics. Can this master win another medal at the age of 43?

TEAMUSA-LaserRadial-Women-Paige Railey

Laser Radial - Paige Railey has been winning for many years. At the age of 29 she is at the peak of her career. She has recovered from a cycling accident a few years ago. Her second place finish at the Worlds earlier this year was a big confidence booster. She is one of America's top prospects to Medal in this, her second Olympics.

TEAMUSA-Nacra17-Bora Gulari&Louisa Chafee

Nacra 17 - Bora Gulari entered this class only one year ago. His crew, Louisa Chafee, was an All America crew at Brown University. At 41, Bora is the oldest member of the US squad. They have a good chance of reaching the Medal Race. Two-time medalist Jonathan McKee is their coach.

TEAMUSA-49erMen-Thomas Barrows&Joe Morris

49er - New Zealand's Peter Burling and Australia's Nathan Outerridge are heavily favored to dominate this class. Denmark and England are also sending strong crews. Thomas Barrows and Joe Morris were All Americans at Yale. They have come a long way over the past two years. It would be a huge victory for them to reach the Medal fleet. Barrows raced a Laser in the China Games in 2008.

TEAMUSA-49erFXWomen-Paris Henken&Helena Scutt

49erFX - Paris Henken, at 20, is new to the Games, and at racing skiffs. She and crew, Helena Scutt, were Bronze medalists at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last summer. Helena is also recovering from an injury, but is ready to go. Reaching the Medal Race will be difficult, but look for this crew to be around for along time. Brazil's Martine Grael will be a hometown favorite. Her father, Torbin, won five medals in six Games.


RS: X Men - Pedro Pascual has been successful in the USA Youth Development program. His experience in Rio will be a benefit in future years, if he decides to continue racing. Poland, France, Holland and China are strong in this class.

TEAMUSA-RSXWomen-Marion Lepert

RS: X Women - Marion Lepert was born in France, and moved to the USA when she was nine. She won a Bronze Medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. France, Poland, Spain, and Israel are favored in this class.

Rio2016-Vinicius-sailingOur live coverage begins on Monday, August 8, 2016 at NBCOlympics.com at Noon Eastern Time.

A 30-minute highlight program will air later in the afternoon on MSNBC.








Rio2016 - Sailing Conditions & Courses | Print |
US Olympic Sailors - Stories from the 2016 Olympics - Rio

Sailing, Rio 2016Sailing for the Gold — Gary Jobson's Rio Letters



From the Sailing Instructions of the
2016 Rio Olympics

Click on image to open higher-resolution version in a new page:

Sailing Course Circles


Sailing Courses:


Course I

Course IS

Rio2016-CourseI Rio2016-CourseIS

Course L

Course LG

Rio2016-CourseL Rio2016-CourseLG

Course LR

Course LS

Rio2016-CourseLR Rio2016-CourseLS

Course O

Course OS

Rio2016-CourseO Rio2016-CourseOS

 Complete Sailing Instructions (SIs) - PDF




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