The US perspective

Tornado sailors set to medal but disappointment for 49ers in Athens

Thursday August 26th 2004, Author: Jan Harley, Location: Mediterranean
The USA's Tornado sailors John Lovell (New Orleans, La.) and Charlie Ogletree (Houston, Texas/Columbia, N.C.) secured themselves at least a silver medal today when they won the first of two races and followed up with a second-place finish. With one race to go on Saturday, 28 August, they are now in second overall, only three points behind the Austrians, who are the only ones that could keep the USA from gold on Saturday.

"We won the start in the first race and got a good jump on the fleet immediately," said Lovell, who led at every mark of the course. "In the second race, we did the same thing but started consolidating - covering the guys we needed to cover, in particular Austria and Argentina - and finished second.

"Saturday it's one big race for gold," continued Lovell, who counts the Austrians as one of the fastest Tornado teams in the world. "It's not going to be easy. Today they were in tenth and we thought 'we've got them!," but then, in both races, they grinded back."

Lovell said the Tornado reserve day tomorrow would be spent taking the entire boat apart and putting it back together again, to ensure that no mechanical breakdowns will foil their plans. They also will study the scores and go over all the different race scenarios that could happen. As match-racing champions (they won last year's International Catamaran Challenge Trophy), Lovell and Ogletree are ready for the one-on-one racing with Austria that might present itself.

"We have a much better drop race than the Austrians, so we have two choices," said Lovell. "We jump on them early and drive them to the back of the fleet or just go out and win. We'll make that decision on game day."

The Star team of Paul Cayard (Kentfield, Calif.) and Phil Trinter (Lorain, Ohio/Port Washington, N.Y.) also will be studying scores tomorrow before their medal round on Saturday. They have a chance to medal, but the job will be much harder. Only silver or bronze is available, with Brazil's Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira having snagged the gold today.

"Torben has just been in a zone," said Trinter, "just like we were when we sailed our Trials."

Cayard and Trinter turned in a 6-8 today to fall to fourth on the scoreboard from third yesterday. They are seven points behind Canada, which sits in third, and nine points behind France, in second.

"I'm disappointed we slid as far as we did today," said Cayard. "It will be a tough grind to grind back the seven or nine points, but it can be done. You can't beat yourself to death about it, though. I feel we have a medal in us. Whether or not it's too late, that's another question."

Concluding their series with a final medal race today were the 49ers. The USA's Tim Wadlow (San Diego, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Miami, Fla.) knew going into the race that they could do no better than fourth, while Spain, Ukraine and Great Britain fought it out for what ultimately became gold, silver and bronze positions, respectively. The team finished 10th in the race and fell to fifth overall in the standings behind Norway.

"On the last run, the Norwegians were in second and we were in seventh," said Wadlow. "We needed to be sixth in order to be tied with Norway and maintain our fourth overall on a tie-breaker." At that point the choices were to follow the parade of boats going to the right side of the course or roll the dice and split from the pack. Wadlow and Spaulding pulled off a quick jibe set and banged the left corner, but luck was not waiting there.

"It has been a long journey and pretty awesome," said Wadlow. "The last three years we've pushed hard and put everything on the table. The British and the Spanish have been dominating and we have been closing the gap on them recently, but we didn't do it in this regatta. They've done the Olympics before, and they put together better races. I have a lot of respect for them."

"We're both disappointed that everything did not go our way," said Spaulding. "At the same time, we sailed very well. Fifth is respectable, especially when you consider where we started with our campaign. Everyone here is more experienced than us-they've been at it twice as long. And we have to be satisfied with the speed of our progress."

What's Next - Tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 27, there is no racing, with the Tornados and Stars scheduled for a reserve day before their medal rounds on Saturday, Aug. 28. All nine classes (eleven divisions) of sailing will then be concluded.

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