The American perspective

Jan Harley updates us on the performance of the US team at the Athens Olympics

Thursday August 19th 2004, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United States
After a fifth day of racing at the Olympic Regatta in Athens, the competition schedule is relatively back to normal. Following oppressive breezes of too little yesterday and too much the day before, a light-to-moderate seabreeze prevailed today for seven classes (Europe, Finn, 470, 49er, Laser, Mistral and Yngling) that sailed, three of them on what had originally been scheduled as their reserve day. The classes can be divided into three groups - those that are still very early in their racing (49er and Mistral), so their rankings are by no means conclusive, and those that have covered more than half of their races (Europe, 470, Finn, Laser and Yngling). In these classes the athletes have already dropped a race, since they have sailed at least six, and are starting to feel the medal pressure.

Looking best for the U.S. team is the 470 Men’s team of Paul Foerster (Dallas, Texas) and Kevin Burnham (Miami, Fla.), who maintained a second position overall today with race finishes of 3-7. The duo’s lag behind the leaders from Great Britain, who finished 2-3 today, stretched a bit over yesterday but still is only by 6 points. With 27 teams in the fleet and three races left in an 11-race series, the mathematical chance of leapfrogging the leaders is excellent.

"Our starts weren’t the best today, but amazingly, we were able to come back and have good finishes," said Foerster. "We were just being cautious. Our speed’s good, we just need to work on starts a little bit." On losing points on Great Britain, Foerster added: "They just sailed a great day. Hats off to them!"

49er sailors Tim Wadlow (San Diego, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Miami, Fla.) turned in solid performances of eighth and fifth in the first two of three races today. Their third race was scored OCS when they jumped the starting line prematurely. The mistake added 20 points to their score, which they hope to discard once a throwout race is allowed. "We’re using our throwouts wisely," Wadlow laughed. "We’re gonna get our money’s worth. Seriously, we just pushed too hard, and the committee got three in our group at the start for the same thing. It’s part of the game, and it backed us up just a hair."

Crew Pete Spaulding added: "In our fleet, it’s about averaging a low score, not about winning races. The team averaging in the top five or six will take away gold, and I think we’re sailing well enough to bring home a medal." Before the 20 entered Wadlow’s and Spaulding’s scoreline today, it was 7-8-5. They stand in 13th overall.

Sailing a flawless first race today to win it was the Yngling team of Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.), Liz Filter (Stevensville, Md.) and Nancy Haberland (Annapolis, Md.). "It was easier in light air today where we have a speed advantage upwind on the fleet and we’re about even downwind," said Cronin. "It reminded me of the first day of the regatta when we got a second. If you’re not bunched at the start you can find a lane and separate from the fleet. That’s what we did. We knew the left would pay so we motored to the left corner. There was a threat by the Ukraine, who crossed us on the first run, but then we protected ourselves and got on the inside around the gate.

"The second race we finished 15th, and that was a good example of how a couple of small errors can compound. The thing about our fleet is that it’s just as tough whether you’re fighting for first or last. It’s frustrating but really cool at the same time." Cronin’s team currently sits in 12th overall with three races to go.

Europe sailor Meg Gaillard (Jamestown, R.I./Pelham, N.Y.) moved up two positions today to eighth overall after finishing third and 14th in today’s races. She counts the 14th as her worst score and discards it as allowed by the scoring system. "The first race was good," said Gaillard. "I saw a breeze up the middle of the course, and got the shift. It was easy like it should be. The second race was a bummer. It was much windier and I wasn’t set up right. There are a lot of double-digit scores in everyone’s results, though, and it will be a high scoring event."

Laser sailor Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.) fell one position to fifth overall on the strength of 6-10 finish positions today. He is only nine points away from the bronze slot, occupied by Slovenia.

470 Women’s representatives Katie McDowell (Barrington, R.I.) and Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.) slipped from 7th to 11th today after turning in a 17th and 18th today. The 18th counts as the team’s throwout.

The Mistral Men’s class resailed race one of their series today and completed race three. Peter Wells (La Canada/Newport Beach, Calif.) finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively, and sits in 25th overall. In the women’s division Lanee Butler Beashel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) posted an 18th in her single race today and currently is in 16th overall.

Finn sailor Kevin Hall (Bowie, Md./Ventura, Calif.) turned in a 13-9 today to fall one spot to 15th overall.

What’s Next -- Tomorrow, Thursday, August 19, will see Europe, Finn, 470, Laser, Mistral and Yngling classes racing, with 49ers using for racing what was originally planned as a reserve day. For Friday, August 20, racing will take place in Europe, 49er and Laser classes, with a reserve day scheduled for Finn, 470, Mistral and Ynglings and practice races scheduled for Star and Tornados.

Current Standings of U.S. Sailors:
Europe (after six races)
8. Meg Gaillard (Jamestown, R.I./Pelham, N.Y.), 9-11-13-9-3-(14); 45

Finn (after eight races)
15. Kevin Hall (Bowie, Md./Ventura, Calif.), 11-6-13-(17)-16-14-13-9; 82

470 Men (after eight races)
2. Paul Foerster (Rockwall, Texas) and Kevin Burnham (Miami, Fla.), 1-8-2-(15)-9-4-3-7; 34

470 Women (after eight races)
11. Katie McDowell (Barrington, R.I.) and Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.), 12-(16)-3-12-9-2-(18)-17; 71

49er (after four races)
13. Tim Wadlow (San Diego, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Miami, Fla.), 7-8-5-OCS/20; 40

Laser (after six races)
5. Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.), 2-14-(20)-6-6-10; 38

Mistral Men (after three races)
25. Peter Wells (Newport Beach/La Canada, Calif.), 22-20-23; 65

Mistral Women (after three races)
15. Lanee Butler Beashel (Aliso Viejo, Calif.), 13-16-9-18; 56

Star (racing starts Aug. 21)
(has not raced) Paul Cayard (Kentfield, Calif.) and Phil Trinter (Lorain, Ohio/Port Washington, N.Y.)

Tornado (racing starts Aug. 21)
(has not raced) John Lovell (New Orleans, La.) and Charlie Ogletree (Houston, Texas/Columbia, N.C.)

Yngling (after 8 races)
12. Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.), Liz Filter (Stevensville, Md.) and Nancy Haberland (Annapolis, Md.), 2-10-(16)-9-15-10-1-15; 62

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