Thursday, July 05, 2007

Splish Splash Sporting [J. Mark English]

Its July, its hot, and its time to cool down with some water sports. We'll start off with the America's Cup. It should probably be renamed the Swiss Cup, or a land locked nation cup, because for the second straight time the Swiss have defeated New Zealand to capture the America's Cup.
For more we turn to Peter Lester who has been following the races with great zeal from his home country, New Zealand:

Well what a race to end the America’s Cup.

One second - one measly second.

Off the line it was a good start from Dean Barker but Alinghi, in a compromised position, hung on.

The race was a classic day of how powerful it was to be on the right hand side of your opposition. The power was really on the right on the upwinds. Sailing on the left, New Zealand on both upwind legs were bow forward but were unable to capitalise on that.

On the downwind Team New Zealand did well to roll Alinghi on the first run. At the bottom mark gate, maybe if we look back in two races, the Kiwis took the right hand gate looking down and got passed on both times. How significant that might be.

The last downwind was bizarre. At the top mark Alinghi did a dial down. The boat on starboard has the rights, which was Alinghi. The dial down was a set move. Alinghi had practised it. Alinghi dialed down when the New Zealanders dialed down and held their course. Team New Zealand were ruled not to have kept clear. It was a penalty.

What a race it was.

My one regret is that I didn't even get a chance to watch the race. I think if the Americans can find away to compete once again, and bring the Cup back home, I'll get back into it. Sailing is an amazing sport. It requires the ability to harness nature, and it is extremely challenging.

I have been an amateur sailor for most of my life. I love being on the water. For that reason, while at college, I also participated in another water sport, crew, or rowing. Joshua Robinson of the New York Times has a report about an American making great strides in the world of rowing:

For most of the week, Jamie Schroeder, a United States national sculling champion, has been too busy with metabolic regulation and two-photon microscopy to worry about the Henley Royal Regatta. Before heading to Henley-on-Thames for the 168-year-old rowing competition, Schroeder spent two days presenting his Ph.D. research on cardiac energetics at Oxford and Cambridge.

But when he lines up Thursday in the single sculls event amid the toughest field the regatta has seen in years, his findings on the metabolization of ketone bodies are unlikely to make a difference.

Over the next four days, Schroeder, a 25-year-old bioengineer from Illinois, will try to battle his way through a competition that is unlike any other. Steeped in prestige and tradition, the Henley Royal Regatta is rowing’s answer to the Kentucky Derby. More than 400 crews from around the world have made the trip to the outskirts of London to race on the Thames.

First held in 1839, before there was an international rowing federation, Henley has always made its own rules. In the 1920s, it refused entry to John B. Kelly Sr. — the father of the actress Grace Kelly and one of the United States’ most successful Olympic scullers — because he was employed as a bricklayer. Henley has since abandoned such arcane regulations, keeping only its unique racing format. In the Diamond Challenge Sculls, the most high-profile individual event, the rowers must compete in a single-elimination bracket of head-to-head races.

“It really puts pressure on the athletes,” Cameron Kiosoglous, Schroeder’s coach, said. “You need more mental toughness.”

Schroeder is well acquainted with challenges in British rowing. Last year, as he began Ph.D. work at Oxford, he helped the Blues defeat a team from Cambridge in the Boat Race, the annual grudge match that demands a year of preparation.

Impressed by the attention rowing received in the Britain, he jumped at the opportunity to compete here again this year. Two weeks ago, he raced at the United States national championships, where he won titles in the single and quadruple sculls, and next week he will join the United States team for the Pan-American Games in Brazil.