FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.–Meg Gaillard didn’t have much to say about the first four days of the U.S. Olympic Europe Trials at the Lauderdale YC. But her smile spoke volumes. After seven races, each of which she had won, Gaillard has built a solid lead in the nine-day regatta as she heads into the mandatory layday tomorrow. In second, six points back, is Krysia Pohl, who has finished second in all but one of the races. Christin Feldman is third.
While Gaillard dominated today’s only race-both the Europe and Finn fleets endured a four-hour delay waiting for the wind to settle in-she says that she did spent some time chasing down Pohl early in the regatta, usually managing to pass her on the reach legs or downwind legs.
While Pohl hasn’t been able to beat Gaillard across the line, she’s sailed a strong regatta. With nine races remaining, there’s more than enough time for her to close the gap and put some pressure on Gaillard. A fact the leader is well aware of. “I’m just trying to keep in mind that I’ve waited four years for this Trials to start,” says Gaillard, who finished second to Courtney Dey in the 2000 Olympic Trials in San Francisco. “I don’t want to get to the point where I just want it to be over. I’m just trying to enjoy one day at a time.”
The Finn Trials started off in a similar manner, with Kevin Hall winning the first four races and jumping out to an early lead over Mo Hart and Geoff Ewenson. But Hall, sailing in his fourth Olympic Trials, has faltered over the past two days with two fourths and a DSQ, and the fleet has suddenly become much more competitive. Jeremy Pape, John Porter, and Bryan Boyd have won the last three races. “I think initially we were all a little bit shell shocked,” said Boyd, who won today’s only race. “Kevin won the first two races relatively handily. The next two he won by a smaller margin. Then we got a little bit of a change up in the conditions which opened up the tactical game a little bit. I think we were all really glad to see that.”
Hall’s lead is still solid, 9 points over Hart, who’s a point in front of Boyd and Ewenson. But this fleet is deep, 10 different sailors have recorded a top-3 finish, and one or two mistakes can add a fistful of points to a scorecard.
The Yngling Trials, hosted by Key Biscayne YC on Biscayne Bay, also tightened up significantly on Tuesday. Hannah Swett, sailing with Joan Touchette and Melissa Purdy, won both races while early leader Sally Barkow scored a fourth and a third in a fleet that is essentially five boats deep. Barkow, who won three of the first four races, is still in first, but only by a point. Swett is second, with Carol Cronin 2 points further behind in third. Looming in fourth and fifth, and by no means out of the regatta, are the teams skippered by Betsy Alison and Carol Cronin.
The Tornado and 49er Trials are following form to a large extent. Pre-regatta favorites John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree and Tim Wadlow and Peter Spaulding have jumped out to the early leads. Wadlow and Spaulding had trouble getting out of the gate, but they have been dominant since the second day. Lovell and Ogletree have a 6-point lead over Lars Guck and Jon Farrar.
Tomorrow is a day off for all the sailors. The Trials finish on Sunday.
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