LONDON —The day after his 31st birthday, American Stu McNay ’05 took to the water on Thursday for his first two races at the Olympic sailing venue off the coast of Dorset in southern England. McNay and his crew Graham Biehl, ranked No. 5 in the world by the International Sailing Federation, finished the day in 21st place out of 27 boats.

Team MB, as McNay and Biehl call themselves, scored 39 points between two races. They finished 17th out of 27 boats in the day’s first race and 22nd in the second. Over the next eight races, the pair needs to move into the top 10 dinghies in order to qualify for the Aug. 9 gold medal final. In sailing, rankings go from the lowest point total to highest.

McNay and Biehl have been racing together since 2005 and entered the London Games looking to improve upon their 13th place finish in Beijing. But before the duo hits the water for their next two races Friday, American Sarah Lihan ’10 will sail in her first Olympics.

Lihan and skipper Amanda Clark are competing in the women’s 470 class. Known as Team GO SAIL, they enter the race with a No. 3 rank from the International Sailing Federation. They will compete in 10 races over six days with the hopes of qualifying for the Aug 10 medal event.

The 470 class is named for the 470 centimeter boats that are raced by two sailors, a skipper and a crew. The class was introduced to the Olympics as an open event in 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada. Separate men’s and women’s divisions were established for the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea.

Rob Struckett contributed reporting.