With day after day of boatbreaking conditions at the 49er/FX/Nacra 17 Worlds thanks to big winter breeze and shallow depths, Clearwater Sailing Center’s race course was something of a bust, both for a double-digit number of masts and for replicating Rio conditions. And while Paris Hencken and Helena Scutt held true to their recent form and claimed the Olympic berth for the FX, longtime favorites in both the skiff and cat took huge dives, and the final Nacra and 49er selections came as a shock to everyone in what is a life or death trials for those obsessives who put it all on the line for a shot at Olympic gold. (For instance, check out this glossy, expensively produced Sperry/US Sailing video profile of 49er favorite Brad Funk that dropped just before Worlds, when Funk and Burd sailed themselves right out of the trials and off the team. Oops.
The American deficit in the Nacra was pretty obvious, especially when competitors Sarah Newberry and Matt Whitehead – who’ve held the official US Team designation for the better part of two years – came across the line as only the fifth American team in the selection trials – and near the back of the overall fleet. Meanwhile, Mark and Carolina Mendelblatt continued their late charge for the Rio berths and offshore beach catter Mike Easton and Katie Pettibone showed their heavy air prowess while dominating the other US teams in Clearwater.
But it was one of SA’s oldest friends who came through at the very, very last minute. That’s right, folks – double Moth World Champion, Melges 24 dominator, and sporty offshore navigator Bora Gulari, along with young crew Louisa Chafee, did just enough in the Clearwater event to squeak through qualifications by 2 points over Easton and just 3 over Pettibone.
Bora checked in to the SA Forums after a long hiatus from posting. We will have a full interview with Bora when the Sailing Anarchy Podcast launches on March 1st, but until then you can check out Bora’s bullet point report. From the “US Sailing Is F&*ked” thread.
So sorry I have not posted in quite some time but some of the comments in here have motivated me to at least write a tiny bit.
-The first time I stepped into a Nacra 17 was in the Miami OCR last year, I bought a boat 3 months later and that was the first time I was able to sail daily.
-I switched crews one week before the Miami SWC we got at high as third most of the way through the regatta and I started sailing worse once there was more off the water distractions of friends and family showing up.
-For Clearwater I had changed some foil angle setup things. I do not have access to a VPP, so I am doing this on the fly. The change I made was a definite mistake and boat speed showed it.
-Worlds had the most challenging sea state I have ever had to race a dinghy in, next time I will be ready for that stuff.
-There was more off-the-water distractions for me than I had ever to deal with.
-Ahead is 6 months of full-time sailing with a good teammate, great coaching, and unlimited resources from now ’till the games. If you discount me fine but I don’t think I would.
It’s hard to discount the best American apparent-wind helmsman of his generation (especially when he’s a hydrodynamic engineer) in a very new and untested class. It’s a longshot, but outside the 470 girls and guys, they’re all longshots.
Top photo from the 49er Dutchies, pic of Bora and Louisa from Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry.