Portsmouth, R.I. – Team USA’s Anna Tunnicliffe is riding high today after winning a gold medal in the Laser Radial class at The Good Luck Beijing – 2007 Qingdao International Regatta in Qingdao, China, the second test event before the 2008 Olympic Games. With a new gold charm circling her neck and arms outstretched in victory, Tunnicliffe basked on the top step of the podium in front of an American flag.
“The awards ceremony was an amazing experience,” said Tunnicliffe. “It really makes me want to come back and do it again next year at the Olympics.”
The Radials enjoyed a southeasterly breeze of approximately 8-10 knots for today’s Medal Race, and raced close to the breakwater, where spectators watched the action. Heading into the Medal Race, Tunnicliffe held an 11-point cushion and the promise of a medal. Today proved to be a match race between her and her long-time competitor, New Zealand’s Jo Aleh, who she didn’t let out of her sight. Tunnicliffe said her primary goal was to slow Aleh down as much as possible, forcing her to stay far enough away from the rest of the fleet. Even though Aleh finished ahead of Tunnicliffe, who finished tenth, she wasn’t able to put enough boats between them to grab Tunnicliffe’s gold medal.
Tunnicliffe felt the pressure early on in the regatta, but she quickly changed her tune in order to reach her goals. “I had a mind switch, which allowed me to sail fast, smart and have fun at the same time,” she said. Strong current and little wind contributed to “tricky” sailing, which Tunnicliffe said was mentally draining. “Keeping the fun around was key.”
Team USA’s Yngling boat suffered a crushing blow today when a split-second timing error in the Medal Race knocked them out of medal contention. After an uncertain start, they pressed on and led the fleet at the windward mark, but then realized they were, in fact, over. They accepted an OCS and finished the regatta in fourth overall. “We had worked on time and distance and thought we had it right,” said a disappointed Barkow.
Dean Brenner, the Team Leader at this event and the Chairman of the Olympic Sailing Program, was upbeat about the team’s overall performance in Qingdao. “Team USA had a good event here in China, with some successes, some disappointments and plenty of lessons learned,” he said. “Anna’s Gold Medal in the Laser Radial proves again what was already clear: She’s a major player internationally. And our performances in the 49er and the Yngling also demonstrate our strengths in those events.”
Brenner also stressed the importance of the upcoming year before the 2008 Olympic Games. “We’ll refocus for the next two months on our Olympic Trials where we will select the members of our 2008 Olympic Sailing Team,” he said. “Once those Trials are over, we will refocus on the things we need to do to perform even better in 2008.”
One year before the 2008 Olympic Games, The Good Luck Beijing – 2007 Qingdao International Regatta provided sailors an opportunity to test the local conditions and to see where they stand against the best in the world. The event was held at the location of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, the Qingdao International Marina in Qingdao, China, a coastal city located 430 miles east of Beijing.
For results, photos, profiles and behind-the-scene notebooks from US Sailing Team Members competing at the 2007 Qingdao International Regatta, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics/qingdao/qingdao.htm. The 2008 Olympic Games are scheduled for August 8-24, 2008.
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