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Q&A with Sally Barkow

PodiumPST11_BarkowOlympian Sally Barkow is having a great 2010-11 ISAF Sailing World Cup season, in the ultra-competitive “winner-takes-all” women’s match racing event. With teammates Alana O’Reilly and Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham she started 2011 with a bronze medal at US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR, in January, and then went on to win a gold medal earlier this month at the Princess Sofia Trophy, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where the team defeated Finland’s Silja Lehtinen, 3-1. We caught up with her after her win to get the details.

USSTAG: Congratulations on winning a gold medal! Why was this event important to you?

Sally Barkow: It was important for us to just get back in the boat and into race mode after a two month break. We made good use of a week’s practice in Palma before the event. Yes, we won the event, but we still have lots to work on so it is also important that we take our loses and improve those mistakes

USSTAG: The path to the finals include formidable results: undefeated in the round robin, won the quarters over GBR’s Lucy MacGregor and then went on to  the semis over your USSTAG teammates Team Tunnicliffe. Describe the medal race – final match – highlights from your perspective.

Sally Barkow: We led the first race until halfway down the final leg.  We gybed deep.  When we came up, the Finnish team was advanced on us and rolled us into the finish line.  After this disappointing start to the finals we regrouped.  We knew that we were faster around the race course, so we rethought our strategy for the second race.  We led all the way around for the second and third races. 

In race four, we started at the boat on port, to leeward of the Finnish.  They maintained their lead until the final upwind leg.  We changed our tacking a little and gained on the last third of the upwind leg.  We were gaining on the Finnish team the entire time.  We tacked and followed her around the mark onto the final leg of the race.  We had a great set, matched her gybe, and rolled her.  We were able to get clear ahead.   When the Finnish team reestablished the overlap, they sailed us above our proper course and received a penalty from the umpires.  We gybed away and finished at the pin, winning the event.Team Barkow_PST11_racing

: You, Alana and Elizabeth are a fairly new team. What were your strengths, as a team, in this regatta?

Sally Barkow:  Our biggest strength was to find a way to improve through the event. The conditions changed every day, and we really tried to focus on the conditions for that day and adjust accordingly.

USSTAG: What is your goal for French Olympic Sailing Week? Can you talk specifically about the event and its place in your training?

Sally Barkow: Our goals are similar to Palma: To keep improving and logging more time in the boat in different conditions and situations.  Since our (women’s match racing) qualifier is only a week after we return from France, this will be a perfect chance to get some pressured match racing training and be warmed up for the Sheboygan qualifier.

For more information about Team Barkow, visit the team website

(Top photo: Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham, Alana O'Reilly and Sally Barkow collect their ISAF World Cup gold medals in Palma. Photo by Dave Johnson; Bottom phto: Burnham, O'Reilly and Barkow moments after defeating the Finnish team for the gold medal. Photo by Nico Martinez)