In a thrilling conclusion to four days of women's match racing, Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi won the 2012 US Olympic Team Qualifying Regatta by defeating Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham and Alana O'Reilly.
Tunnicliffe defeated Barkow in the "first-to-six-wins" final match-up, which was held in Weymouth and Portland, site of the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. With the win, Tunnicliffe, Vandemoer and Capozzi were selected for the 2012 US Olympic Team - Sailing, pending confirmation from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"We knew it was going to be a good day going into it,"
said Tunnicliffe moments after reaching the dock. "The weather wasn't spectacular, but we were glad to be out there."
Going into the final day, Tunnicliffe was up four wins to Barkow's one. Off the bat, Barkow won the first two wins to bring the score near even. "Sally's team started the day really strong and came out with two wins,"
The second race of the day saw Barkow get a penalty off the start. Tunnicliffe lead around the two-lap course, until the last third of the downwind run. Barkow rolled over top of Tunnicliffe and incurred a second penalty. Quickly, they forced an offsetting penalty on Tunnicliffe and almost instantly cleared their remaining penalty. They crossed the line ahead to win and bring the finals to a 4-2 scoreline.
"To be honest, it all happened so fast,"
said Tunnicliffe of the manoeuvres. "I made a massive mistake and it cost us. We had that race in the bag. I got a little excited and tried to go for the finish, rather than just waiting. She did a really good job teeing us up, and sailing circles around us and getting rid of two penalties. I tried to jump her too soon on the line. I should have waited for her to get into a bad position for us to make our move. We had to dig deep and overcome her momentum."
"They went on to win race three convincingly, getting a strong start and worked hard to keep a lead throughout. "We had a really solid race in race three,"
she continued. "Which got us back on track for the last race. At times we had a two-length lead, and she (Barkow) closed it up to a quarter-length lead. Coming into the last run it was all about keeping our breeze clear on the one jibe, coming into the mark. Unfortunately, I jibed into bad air and collapsed the kite. We were able to drift across the line ahead to take the victory."
Vandemoer will be a first-time Olympian. "It's awesome,"
she said. "It's reassuring to know that if you work hard and you keep focused it's going to pay off in the end. We still have a lot to do."
Capozzi is a 2008 Olympian who sailed in the Women's Keelboat (Yngling) with Barkow. The experience she brought from that campaign was an advantage for this team. "I think from the beginning I had some ideas, but we have to all accept them and choose if we want to use them or not,"
she said. "We took a couple of those ideas and then just moulded it to what we like. We changed it here and there, but it's valuable to have all that experience on a three-person team."
Her wisdom from Qingdao will be an advantage as they make their way to the 2012 Games. "We are going to keep doing the same thing we're doing every day,"
she said. "Outwork our competitors, train hard, have good conversation with our coach Dave Dellenbaugh, and have fun really. We're not going to change much; we're going to keep going."
Giving full credit to their coach Dave Dellenbaugh, Tunnicliffe said, "He's our rock. He kept the information going regardless of what the score was, regardless of what race we were in. Same info, same critiques. He never over analysed anything. We're super psyched he's here and that we get to take him to the Games."
"I'm really proud of the effort that all of our women's match racing teams and coaches put in over the past several years,"
said Dean Brenner, Chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee. "Every one of them has a great deal to be proud of; even the teams that didn't win have lots to be proud of. Our program worked together to build the best national match racing program in the world. We all congratulate Anna, Molly, Debbie and Dave Dellenbaugh. We also congratulate Team Barkow, Team Tulloch and Team Roble for a world-class performance."
Daily racing recaps, results and photos will be on the event site: http://sailingteams.ussailing.org/Events/2012/WMRTrials.htm