The US perspective

Jan Harley reports on the American team's performance in Athens on day 10 of the Olympic regatta

Tuesday August 24th 2004, Author: Jan Harley, Location: Mediterranean
Comebacks in two classes and good maintenance in another highlighted the USA's day at the Olympic Regatta in Athens. A northern breeze, what the Greeks call a Meltemi, materialized but failed to pump up the winds to their radical norm. U.S. sailors called the breezes frustratingly shifty but managed them nicely.

In the Tornado class, John Lovell (New Orleans, La.) and Charlie Ogletree (Houston, Texas/Columbia, N.C.) held on to their top spot on the scoreboard after turning in two ninth-place finishes, one of which they count as a throwout. After a shaky start in the first race, the team's successful attempt to climb from seventh to fourth was negated by a spinnaker retrieval line that got looped around their onboard camera.

"It pulled the patch out of the sail and Charlie had to climb out to manually stuff the spinnaker back in its storage tube," said Lovell. "Having a guy out there on the bow is not fast."

Lovell added that four or five different breezes were fighting each other in the second race. When the committee shortened the last leg of the race, the U.S. team had just passed six or seven boats to recover from a position that had once been 17th in the 17-boat fleet. Though the team has the lowest drop score of anyone in the hunt for medals, Lovell was cautious when assessing the situation. "We were okay with the ninths, especially considering all that happened and that we had a lot of the leaders around us, but there were a lot of teams who seemed way back yesterday that moved up today." Their closest competition remains Austria, in second place and trailing the USA by only one point.

Star sailors Paul Cayard (Kentfield, Calif.) and Phil Trinter (Lorain, Ohio/Port Washington, N.Y.) climbed back to fourth overall today, after having fallen to seventh yesterday. It took one race and a third-place finish to do it. (Due to a dying breeze, a second race was postponed until tomorrow.) The team had to fight back from 12th at one point and out-smart the fluky winds.

"You can't ever get used to the conditions here," said Trinter. "It's more a matter of controlling your frustrations." Brazil has a good jump on the fleet with eight points to Canada's 15, Denmark's 19 and USA's 20. "We have six races left," said Trinter. "That's a whole world championship. And sailing tomorrow plays to our favor. We're tougher, fitter than a lot of guys out there, and taking their reserve day away plays into
our hands."

The 49er class used a reserve day today to catch up on their schedule, which was missing a race from yesterday. U.S. sailors Tim Wadlow (San Diego, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Miami, Fla.), who had fallen to sixth yesterday, picked themselves back up today, taking a third-place finish and climbing to fourth overall. "It was a very difficult third," said Spaulding. "A 10-15 knot breeze came in before the start. It was very shifty. We were seventh or eighth at the first mark in a close pack that stayed mostly together for the next two legs, but on the second run we separated and rounded the last leeward mark in 4th." The team then passed one more boat for good measure.

"We did a good job sailing the shifts and staying in the most wind," added Spaulding, "which was critical today."

The Mistral class resumed racing today after a day off, with both the men's and women's divisions completing two races. Lanee Butler Beashel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) sailed her throwout, a 19th, and then finished 15th in the second race. She dropped one position to 17th overall. "There really isn't anything wrong or missing," said Butler. "I'm sailing as best I can, and against the same women I sailed against in Sydney. They've just all gotten that much better."

For Peter Wells (Newport Beach/La Canada, Calif.), today offered no relief from finishes well back in the fleet. A 30th and 28th drops him to 27th overall. Both classes have one race to go, scheduled for Wednesday.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 24, the 49ers will sail three races while the Stars will make up a missed race on what was to have been a reserve day. All of the remaining classes observe their own scheduled reserve days. On Wednesday, Aug. 25, the Mistral (men's and women's) class sails its medal race while Tornados and Stars resume racing and the 49ers observe a reserve day.

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