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Human Interest

This Article Last Updated: Aug 27th, 2012 - 20:35:53 

VanderMolen's Stars come in first, second, third (fourth, fifth, sixth) at London Olympics
By Yvonne Zipp, Michigan Live
Aug 27, 2012, 01:18

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Video of the P-Star and VanderMolen from WoodTV.com

Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012
RICHLAND, MI At the London Olympics, Richland boat builder Jon VanderMolen pulled off a feat not even Michael Phelps could match: His PStar boats took gold, silver and bronze in the same event.

In fact, VanderMolen's North American Sailing Center in Richland built 11 of the top 12 finishers in the premier Star-class sailing event. (The lone holdout: The U.S. sailing team.)

"The U.S. snuck in there at seventh, so I'm proud for them. They had a respectable showing," said VanderMolen.

For the teams, the medal round was a nail biter with Sweden not realizing they had won gold until their coach told them. VanderMolen and his partner, German Olympic sailor and boat builder Marc Pickel, had the pleasure of watching nine of their boats sweep in almost simultaneously. (He and his crew had built some 37 boats, with 13 of their boats claiming 16 spots in the Star-class final.)

"It was one of the most exciting races I've ever seen. All 10 boats finished almost overlapping within 10 seconds of each other," said VanderMolen.

Since the Olympics concluded earlier this month, VanderMolen said the company has had 15 inquiries for price quotes on its website. But right now, he said, he's competing with himself.

"A lot of club races around the world are working feverishly to get their hands on those boats," said VanderMolen of the Olympic star-class boats. "Until some of the Olympic boats are sold, things will be a bit slow. It's irony. All these guys that have inquired, they want to know price of new boats, but also how to get their hands on the Olympic boats."

VanderMolen, whose company also began building the smallest boat in the competition in June the 2.4, which is sailed in the Paralympics -- expects his order book to fill up as of January.

"Because the Star Boat is granddaddy of the boats, the other boats classes have taken notice of our dominance and other classes want us to build boats for them now," said VanderMolen. "We're hoping our business could expand to other classes as a result of the dominance in the Star class."

In the meantime, he said, his first Olympic experience couldn't have been any better unless he was standing on the podium himself.

"It's always been a dream of mine to build a Star boat. I've sailed them since I was a teen," said VanderMolen, who described himself as a "professional amateur," and whose children all sail. "To see these guys do what they're doing in my boat is probably the most rewarding thing that could happen to me in sailing, outside of winning one myself."




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