Dog fight at Alamitos Bay

Rich Roberts reports on day one of the US Olympic classes racing

Saturday March 22nd 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
It's going to be a dogfight for the United States' Olympic berth in the Finn class at Athens in 2004, and the top two competitors are already at each other's throats in the 43rd Olympic Classes Regatta at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club this weekend.

Riiiight.

"Today was a great day - 1-3-1 - and I'm tied with Mo Hart," Geoff Ewenson said after Friday's opening races in 10-12 knots of southwest breeze under sunny skies. "That's typical. It's good that we're really good friends or we'd hate each other."

Hart, 27, and Ewenson, 32, are 1-2 in the U.S. Sailing Team rankings for 2003, 11 months away from the Olympic trials for the single-handed dinghy class at Ft. Lauderdale. They were roommates in college at the University of Rhode Island. Hart was 2-1-2 Friday, with seven races remaining over the next two days.

"Mo is going fast upwind and he's sailing tactically smart," Ewenson said. "I'm a little faster downwind, and the way most of the courses are, the finishes are downwind. So if I'm leading at the last windward mark . . ."

There are 130 boats in six classes sailing on three Olympic-style courses. The Finns are farther offshore than any of them - almost out of sight, in fact - while the 49er skiffs are performing their acrobatics inside the breakwater.

The women's Europe dinghy class followed the form of the last couple of years with Meg Gaillard and Krysia Pohl running 1-2 in line with their current rankings, which may be affected by this, the last event that counts. Gaillard was 1-2-1 on the day, while Pohl was 2-3-2.

Veterans Andy Mack and Adam Lowry topped a tightly bunched trio of 49ers, one point ahead of David Fagen and Bora Gulari and two up on Dalton Bergan and Zack Maxam. They are ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. Numero uno, Tim Wadlow and Peter Spaulding, remained at home in Connecticut.

Andrew Lewis No. 2, is the highest ranked sailor in the 42-boat Laser fleet. Andrew Campbell, No. 1, was at home in San Diego attending school, but Lewis did not have his best day with a fourth, fifth and OCS (premature start) that left him in 15th place at least until throwouts kick in.

Also sailing a Laser somewhat inconspicuously was Carl Buchan, the Seattle star who won an Olympic gold medal in a Flying Dutchman with Jonathan McKee on the same waters 19 years ago, the same day his father Bill won a gold medal in a Star.

"It's just for fun," Buchan said. "I don't have anything special going. It's a nice place for us to come in the winter."

Coincidentally, Buchan's crew in 1984 was Steve Erickson, who also was back driving a support boat as Meg Gaillard's coach.

Each class will attempt to run 10 races over three days, except for the 49ers who will go for 15. First warnings will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday and 11:15 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Snipes, a non-Olympic class, will race Saturday and Sunday only.

An awards ceremony, including ABYC perpetual trophies for class winners, will be held on the club's waterside patio following the final race Sunday.

The leaders:

EUROPE (19 boats)
1. Meg Gaillard, Jamestown, R.I., 1-2-1, 4 points.
2. Krysia Pohl, Alameda, Calif., 2-3-2, 7.
3. Jennifer Spaulding, Vancouver, B.C., 3-1-5, 9.

FINN (11)
1. Tie between Geoff Ewenson, Annapolis, Md., 1-3-1, and Mo Hart, Santa
Cruz, Calif., 2-1-2, 5.
3. Henry Sprague, Long Beach, 3-2-4, 9.

49ER (13)
1. Andy Mack/Adam Lowry, White Salmon, Wash. , 1-2-2-(6)-1, 6.
2. David Fagen/Bora Gulari, St. Petersburg, Fla. , 2-3-1-1-(4), 7.
3. Dalton Bergan/Zack Maxam, Coronado, Calif., 3-1-(5)-2-2, 8.

LASER (42)
1. Mike Lugh, Vancouver, B.C., 2-1-1, 4.
2. Brendon Piovesan, Vancouver, B.C., 1-8-2, 11.
3. Brad Funk, Clearwater, Fla., 3-3-6, 12.

LASER RADIAL (25)
1. Parker Shinn, San Diego, 2-1-4, 7.
2. Ned Jones, Newport Beach, 3-3-2, 8.
3. Bob Falk, Long Beach, 9-2-1, 12.

STAR (9)
1. Mike Dorgan/Eric Weintraub, San Diego, 1-1-1, 3.
2. Jeremy Davidson/Jessica Costa, Long Beach, 3-2-3, 8.
3. Gregg Morton/Gary Mitchell, San Diego, 4-5-4, 13.

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