Foerster and Burnham Lock Up At Least Silver


Stuart Streuli

ATHENS--The United States clinched its first sailing medal of the 2004 Olympic Regatta and also won a couple of individual races on Day 6. Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham, the veteran U.S. Men's 470 duo, have assured themselves of a silver medal with a gutsy performance in very trying conditions. They were among a number of sailors who locked up medals in the Finn, Yngling, and 470 classes. Their chances of a gold medal, or of locking up the silver with one race remaining, seemed to be fading quickly during the first race as they found themselves at the back of the pack in a light and shifty sea breeze. "We had a 30-degree left shift that never came back," said Foerster of the first beat. "Usually it's been oscillating back and forth." Fortunately, their sole remaining competition for the gold medal, Joe Rogers and Nick Glanfield of Great Britain, were unable to seriously capitalize on Foerster and Burnham's 18th. The British duo scored a 10th in the opening race. In the second race, the Americans showed why they are the class of this 470 field. In a similarly light sea breeze, they rounded the first mark in 13th, moved up to 12th on the reach and after holding position on the run, made a break for it on the beat, jumping into fifth. They passed one more boat on the final run to finish fourth. Remarkably, they gained time on the leaders on all legs save for the first one and the final reach leg, reducing a 1:43 deficit at the first mark to 39 seconds at the finish. "I finally had a good start, the last start," said Foerster. "We were ahead of the Brits there. Going up the beat we had a spot where it was kind of a life-or-death situation and we were able to eek through, get the next shift, and round in a decent spot. Kevin hit the big shift on the next beat and we passed four more boats. That was great." While the U.S. team was ripping through the fleet, the British were stuck back in the cheap seats, with a view they were unable to improve. They finished 19th, their worst result of the regatta, and now find themselves 2 points behind Foerster and Burnham with one race remaining. The 19th the Brits scored, which is one worse than the Americans worst finish, also gives Foerster and Burnham the option of match racing the Brits and trying to hold them back in the fleet. Both teams are assured of no worse than a silver medal at this point. After a rest day on Friday, the gold medal race is scheduled to be sailed on Saturday at 1 p.m. local Greek time. Between them, Foerster and Burnham have three silver medals. But neither one has been in the lead of an Olympic Regatta going into the final race. For the 47-year-old Burnham, the oldest man in the class and on the U.S. team, this is a dream come true. "I'm liking the change," he said of being in first with a race remaining. "It's exactly what I've always wanted. It's why I keep on going. I've done every Olympic Trials since 1980, with the hopes of winning the gold medal. I figure maybe I stop if I get a gold, but I don't know. I can't guarantee it." The U.S. Women's 470 team had their best day on the water, with an eighth and a first. But it was a little bittersweet for Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving as they were mathematically eliminated from the medal hunt. The results moved them up to sixth, but they are 19 points out of third and, like the men's division, have only one race remaining. At the head of that fleet is the Greek duo of Sofia Bekatorou and Aimilia Tsoulfa, who have locked up the gold medal with one race remaining. Their blistering performance, which included five firsts and three seconds, is all the more remarkable considering that Bekatorou had to abandon the 2004 470 World Championships in May with a back problem so severe it required an emergency flight from Croatia to a Greek hospital for surgery. Just five points separate the four teams in the hunt for silver. The U.S Yngling team of Carol Cronin, Liz Filter, and Nancy Haberland also had their best day on the water with a seventh and a first. They're now in eighth, but out of the medal hunt. Great Britain's Shirley Robertson, sailing with Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton, secured the gold with a consistent score line that never saw her finish in the back half of the fleet. The Danish crew led by Dorte Jensen has secured at least a bronze. In the Finns, Ben Ainslie's march toward the second gold is almost done. After a disastrous start to the regatta, the unflappable Brit has finished no worse than fourth in eight straight races. A finish of 14th or better will assure him of the gold. While all the other circles were banging off races in the light sea breeze, the Lasers and Europes were forced to endure a long delay. That, combined with five general recalls in the second Laser start, kept both those fleets on the water until after 7 p.m. The results were not good for the Americans. Mark Mendelblatt fell to 10th with two races in the 20s, while Meg Gaillard had an 11th and a 16th and is now in 11th place. Both the Lasers and Europes have three races remaining. Results of Interest Men's Mistral (34 boards) Peter Wells (USA): (22, 20, 23, 16) 24th Women's Mistral (26 boards) Karla Barrera (PUR): ((26), 24, 25, 26, 23) 26th Lanee Beashel (USA): (13, 16, 9, (18), 17) 18th Finn (25 boats) Richard Clarke (CAN): (10, 18, 15, 22, 19, 15, (OCS), 14, 8, 11) 20th Ben Ainslie (GBR): (9, (DSQ), 1, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1) first Dean Barker (NZL): (5, 10, 7, 11, 7, 16, (OCS), 12, 19, 20) 13th Kevin Hall (USA): (11, 6, 13, (17), 16, 14, 13, 9, 9, 17) 15th Europe (25 boats) Meg Gaillard (USA): (9, 11, 13, 9, 3, 13, 11 (16)) 11th Laser (42 boats) Robert Scheidt (BRA): (3, (8), 1, 3, 8, 4, (19), 12) first Bernard Luttmer (CAN): (15, 25, 22, 21, 27, 33, 31, (DNF)) 29th Timothy Pitts (ISV): ((42), 40, 41, 40, 36, 39, 37, 34) 41st Hamish Pepper (NZL): (24, 9, (26), 11, 9, 5, 13, 3) ninth Mark Mendelblatt (USA): (2, 14, 20, 6, 6, 10, (29), 22) 10th Men's 470 (27 boats) Paul Foerster/Kevin Burnham (USA): (1, 8, 2, 15, 9, 4, 3, 7, (18), 4) first Women's 470 (20 boats) Jen Provan/Nikola Girke (CAN): (4, 13, 17, 11, 12, 7, 2, 29, 6, (20)) 10th Katie McDowell/Isabelle Kinsolving (USA): (12, 16, 3, 12, 9, 2, (18), 17, 8, 1) sixth 49er (19 boats) Tim Wadlow/Pete Spaulding (USA): (7, 8, 5, (OCS), 9, 9) eighth Tornado (17 boats) Oskar Johansson/John Curtis (CAN): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Enrique Figueroa/Jorge Hernandez (PUR): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday John Lovell/Charlie Ogletree (USA): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Star (17 boats) Peter Bromby/Lee White (BER): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira (BRA): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Ross MacDonald/Mike Wolfs (CAN): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter (USA): Practice race on Friday, regatta starts Saturday Yngling (16 boats) Paula Lewin/Peta Lewin/Christine Patton (BER): (4, 15, 6, 13, (16), 14, 9, 16, 16, 11) 16th Lisa Ross/Chantal Leger/Deirdre Crampton (CAN): (13, 9, (15), 15, 12, 12, 12, 14, 15, 2) 15th Carol Cronin/Liz Filter/Nancy Haberland (USA): (2, 10, (16), 9, 15, 10, 1, 15, 7, 1) tied on points for eighth