Olympic classes in the US

Rich Roberts reports from day two of the racing at Alamitos Bay

Sunday March 23rd 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
For more than 150 years in California the term "49er" has meant the great Gold Rush of the mid-19th century. A tight group of bold American sailors at the 43rd Olympic Classes Regatta at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club can relate to that in their charge toward Olympic glory on a wildly exciting boat of the same name.

The swift but delicately balanced 49er skiff was introduced as an Olympic class at Sydney in 2000 when brothers Jonathan and Charlie McKee of Seattle won silver medals after beating out Morgan Larson and Kevin Hall for the U.S. berth. Now those veterans have left the class to some younger contenders, who have considerable sorting out to do before booking flights to Athens in 2004.

"This is great competition," said Dalton Bergan of Coronado, who sails with Zack Maxam as crew. "I think all three of us were winning at one point today."

After two days, the top team is David Fagen and crew Bora Gulari followed by Andy Mack and Adam Lowry and then Bergan and Maxam, all within five points with four races remaining Sunday.

The top-ranked U.S. team, Tim Wadlow and Peter Spaulding is not competing here, but they'll all be reunited soon.

"We're all getting ready for Europe, where all the major regattas are going to happen," Bergan said.

A series of regattas overseas will be an opportunity to measure themselves against the rest of the world. Bergan expects the experience to promote a major learning curve.

"Our biggest issue is heavy air upwind boat speed, but we're not getting much practice in that," he said after Saturday's racing when the sea breeze failed to fill.

That left 168 sailors sailing 135 boats in seven classes to deal with the tricky shifts of a light southerly wind condition. It's known as the "Catalina eddy" in which the breeze never gets west of Santa Catalina Island 26 miles offshore to pump its power down the San Pedro Channel.

The wind, rising above 8 knots only slightly in the early afternoon, swung through 45 degrees through the day, making patience a premium.

Meg Gaillard and Mo Hart made the most of it and showed why they are the top-ranked U.S. campaigners in the single-handed Europe and Finn classes, respectively. Gaillard had three first places and a second while Hart won all four of his races.

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 (20 boats)
1. Meg Gaillard, Jamestown, R.I., 1-(2)-1-1-1-1-2, 7 points.
2. Krysia Pohl, Alameda, Calif., 2-3-2-(6)-2-2-5, 16.
3. Jennifer Spaulding, Vancouver, B.C., 3-1-5-5-(8)-4-6, 24.

FINN (11)
1. Mo Hart, Santa Cruz, Calif., (2)-1-2-1-1-1-1, 7.
2. Geoff Ewenson, Annapolis, Md., 1-(3)-1-2-3-3-2, 12.
3. Henry Sprague, Long Beach, 3-2-(4)-3-2-2-3, 15.

49ER (13)
1. David Fagen, St. Petersburg, Fla./Bora Gulari, Detroit,
2-3-1-1-4-(8)-1-1-(10)-2-1, 16.
2. Andy Mack, White Salmon, Wash./Adam Lowry, San Francisco,
1-2-2-(6)-1-4-3-2-(6)-3-2, 20.
3. Dalton Bergan/Zack Maxam, Coronado, Calif., 3-1-(5)-2-2-1-8-3-4-1-4, 21.

LASER (43)
1. Mike Lugh, Vancouver, B.C., 1-1-1-7-2030(15), 15.
2. Tie between Brendon Piovesan, Vancouver, B.C., 1-8-2-(OCS)-4-15-8, and
Chris Raab, Long Beach, 4-4-12-6-10-(14)-2, 38.

1. Parker Shinn, San Diego, 1-1-4-2-(5)-5-2, 15.
2. Doug Hart, San Diego, (9)-4-3-3-2-1-4, 17.
3. Bob Falk, Long Beach, (8)-2-1-8-4-6-3, 24.

STAR (10)
1. Mike Dorgan/Eric Weintraub, San Diego, 1-1-1-(9)-2-1-6, 12.
2. Eric Lidecis, Newport Beach, 2-3-2-2-3-(5)-5, 17.
3. Jeremy Davidson/Jessica Costa, Long Beach, 3-2-3-3-(4)-4-4, 19.

1. Rick Arneson/Gus Wirth, San Diego, 1-1-1-2, 5.
2. David Tillson/John Fretwell, San Diego, 2-2-3-4, 11.
3. Ken Redler/Barbara Tillson, Marina del Rey, 3-4-1-6, 14.

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