Cover photo: Enoshima, Japan – July 26, 2021 © Sailing Energy / World Sailing …
Enoshima, Japan – 7/26/2021 – By U.S. Sailing – American sailors fought through a wide range of conditions on day two of racing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with breeze strength ranging from the high teens to the low single digits, and providing many of the world’s best dinghy and board sailors with a challenging tactical puzzle. The US Sailing Team continued to be paced by Men’s RS:X athlete Pedro Pascual (Miami, Fla.), who retained his top-10 position through six races.
Pascual logged scores of 9,5,15 and noted that guessing where the next band of breeze would appear was key to racing near the front of the fleet today. “The conditions were interesting, to say the least,” said Pascual. “There were huge shifts and wind gusts, and it was all about staying in pressure. I managed to do pretty well, especially the first and second races, just [in terms of] the feeling the pressure and playing out in the front of the pack.”
With the wind dropping in the later races of the day, and with ocean swells populating the course, the board athletes found themselves in marginal planning conditions. Pumping became crucial to boat speed, and the athletic challenge of sailing in an Olympic windsurfing event was on full display. “RS:X racing is one of the most physical events here,” said Pascual. “You get huge speed changes between pumping or not pumping. With the big swells, the goal was to pump as much as possible. We could surf waves today on the upwind legs, and staying on those waves as long as possible through pumping hard was key. On the downwinds, you’re able to go a little lower and faster if you’re pumping. So it was a pretty physical day and working to manage those loads on the race was very important.”
A defining challenge of singlehanded sailing is maintaining an optimal balance in terms of energy expenditure, focus on speed, and tactical awareness. “I was definitely looking around a lot today, and making sure that I had some mental capacity to devote to tactics,” said Pascual. “I can tell my training paid off because I was able to balance a stronger physical and mental load than during my last Olympics in Rio.”
In the Men’s Laser, Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) fell from 9th overall to 18th after scoring 22, 18 on the day. Women’s RS:X athlete Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) scored 12, 18, 18 and remained 17th overall. In the Women’s Laser Radial event, Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) continued to struggle in unstable offshore conditions. Railey added a 25, 36 to her scoreline and is in 39th overall.
The third day of racing will see the addition of the Finn, 49er, and 49erFX classes to the events off Enoshima. Team USA will be represented by Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) in the Finn, who finished 6th at the Finn Gold Cup (World Championship) in 2021. Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.), who won bronze at the most recent 49erFX World Championship in 2019, will compete in the women’s skiff event. Team USA will not be represented in the Men’s 49er event at Tokyo 2020.
The NBC Olympics website is hosting the Tokyo 2020 sailing events for U.S. audiences starting at 11:00 PM EDT (8:00 PM PDT). There are two televised race areas per day, the “Enoshima” and “Kamakura” courses. As the classes rotate through each course daily, different athletes will be featured on the broadcast.