Watching the Olympics has been somewhat painful as a US sailor. With just two exceptions, the US Sailing Team has been a woeful disappointment. Despite a loud, expensive, and powerful push by Team Chairman Dean Brenner to focus on finding, selecting and training the best prospects for Olympic medals, the US team’s total take in Qingdao will be exactly what it was four years ago: One silver medal and one gold – and only a last-beat hail mary of a shift for Olympic gold-medal favorite Anna Tunnicliffe secured her that gold – at the penultimate mark she looked like the owner of nothing but bronze.
Zach Railey’s silver-medal Finn performance was truly outstanding and unexpected, and he’s certainly the US’s real standout story of the sailing games, while Anna’s gold was really a stroke of luck for a girl who’d been kicking ass on the international radial circuit for the past year. The rest of the US field was a comedy of errors: Andrew Campbell’s DSQ and subsequent BFD showed his total inability to withstand the pressure cooker of the Olympics, and the USA’s other good chances evaporated with a sigh – Tornado stars Charlie Ogeltree and John Lovell blew it before the racing even started with their ugly gamble on the cool-sounding but useless chupacabra sail, and medal favorite Sally Barkow and her Yngling crew choked away their chances in the final race.