The organizers stipulated a qualifying round as a means of cutting the fleet down to a size that more closely matched the Olympic fleet. To start, the teams were split into three groupstwo for the womeneach with approximately equal talent levels based upon the current ISAF rankings. After a series of races, the top third of each group moved on to comprise the Gold fleet while the rest of the boats raced in the Silver and Bronze fleets. The scores from the qualifying round didn't count toward the finals, so we all started with a clean slate.
When the first day of the finals came and went with no racing, due to lack of wind, competitors were starting to wonder what would happen if we didn't get in all six races. We all tried to stay out of the sun that day, playing cards, reading, or doing just about anything as long as it meant staying in the shade. Temperatures around the lake were in the 90s.
The conditions didn't look any better when the second day arrived, but by about 2:00 p.m. Some wind materialized and we got out racing. The wind was light, but building all day and by the last race we were well into de-power mode. The committee completed three races that day. After a week of no wind, the solid breeze caught many by surprise. More than a few boats arrived back at the dock with the telltale mud stains at the top of their mainsails after capsizing in the shallow waters.
For the second day of racing we got out on the water at the scheduled time and had three more races in marginal trapezing conditions (that's when it's windy enough for the crews to trapeze, but not flat out). Our speed wasn't as good as it could have been, but we raced well and logged a 5-7-9 to move up from seventh to fifth place overall.
Meanwhile, the French and Australian teams were getting launched and leaving the rest of the fleet behind. Australians Tom King and Mark Turnbull started with a DNF (Did Not Finish) because they ripped their spinnaker in half, and then sailed to scores of 1-8-1-1-1. French sailors Gildas Philippe and Tanguy Cariou were the only other team close with a 2-9-1-2-20 in the first two days. Barring a catastrophe, first and second place already looked out of reach for Team 2000.
On the third day of the finals, the wind shifted to the north, which meant we would be racing in the lee of a large hill and it would be shiftier and puffier than it had been. The wind built all day and ended up in the 18-knot range. Our results from that day were a mixed bag with an 8-7-18. At the end of the day we were seven points behind the Ukrainians (Euhen Braslavets and Ihor Matuiienko) in third with one day of racing left. The British team was also within striking distance of third place. Using two throw-outs, which the scorers could do if the fleet got in one more race, they would be ahead of us by one point.
The final day, much like the previous one, began in a building wind. We finally found our speed and had a strong day finishing with an 8-1-1 trio, but the Ukrainians did equally well, always staying close to us in order to protect their third-place position. They ended the final day with a 3-3-6. The British team faded to sixth, and so we finished the regatta in fourth.
The Australians and the French both enjoyed an advantage in upwind boatspeed, but there are plenty of regattas yet to sail this spring, so we'll see those teams again. As we look forward to Sydney in September, we'll keep working on our boatspeed and keep trying to improve our overall chances for a medal.