Pre-Olympic Regatta, Francois Joyon

SW’s weekly news digest, Grand Prix Sailor

Started in 1991, Grand Prix Sailor is a racing news publication of Sailing World Magazine ( PRE-OLYMPIC REGATTAThe world's top dinghy sailors are learning at least two things at the Athens Pre-Olympic Test Regatta. First, that the summer winds in Athens can make just about anybody look foolish for a race or two. Second, that the U.S. will be a medal contender in at least six of 11 classes next summer. This latter realization is reinforced by the fact that the U.S. has historically been significantly stronger in Olympic years than in the three years between Games.With all 11 classes having completed at least half of their scheduled races, the U.S. is in the top six in six, with two teams currently in medal position. The strong domestic competition in the Yngling is already paying dividends as the team of Hannah Swett, Joan Touchette, and Melissa Purdy are winning the women's keelboat discipline. They started with a string of three top-three finishes and currently hold a seven-point lead over the German team, which is second on the tiebreak, and Shirley Robertson's British crew. With just 14 boats, this is the smallest fleet at the Pre-Olympics and the chances for an American medal are good even though there are four races still to come (as of Sunday evening).Unlike the Yngling team, the American Men's 470 team of Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham started off with an OCS, worth 31 points, and then a 17th and a 10th. They were, to put it mildly, deep in the overall standings. But they have rebounded with a string of top-10 finishes in a fleet where no one seems to be able to avoid an OCS, a DSQ, or a finish in the teens or twenties. In Sunday's first race, Foerster and Burnham won the pin and were promptly dropped into the cheap seats by a big right shift. They battled back to eighth. In the second race, they worked the dying breeze for a second behind the Argentine team. With the exception of the Slovenians and the Italians, no one else was able to finish within the 20-minute time limit and each non-finisher was saddled with a 31-point DNF. Many boats, according to an email from U.S. coach Skip Whyte, applied for redress, but no one was awarded any. So with three races remaining, Foerster and Burnham are second, three points behind the Swedish team and two points in front of the Brits.The Star team of Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter is in fourth place with two races to go in a very tight fleet. Perennial Olympic contenders Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferriera, from Brazil, lead the fleet with 35 points, but Cayard is only 5 off the lead and is just a single point behind the Bermudian team of Peter Bromby and Lee White, who are currently second. Cayard and Trinter have a fairly comfortably nine-point cushion over fifth. Canadian Olympic veterans Ross MacDonald and Kai Bjorn are currently in sixth place, having finished in the top four in the last four races. They are the top placed Canadian team in the regatta.Meg Gaillard's fourth place is more tenuous. The American Europe sailor has been very consistent in the regatta, with five of her six finished being between fifth and 10th. But she is 13 points out of third, with five of 11 races remaining, and there are four sailors within six points of her score.Tim Wadlow and Peter Spaulding, the U.S. 49er team, were winning the regatta after three races. They slipped into a little bit of a funk, however, recording four straight double-digit finishes, but rebounded with a second and a fourth in their last two races. After nine of 16 races, they are in fifth and well-poised to move up with some more good results. There are also four teams close on their heels.In sixth in the women's 470 fleet is the team of Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving. This duo has been climbing the international rankings for nearly three years, and this could be their most impressive international result. Four teams are close on their heels, including 2000 Olympic gold medalists Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell from Australia, who are just three points behind.In the other five classes, the U.S. teams have struggled to varying degrees. Robbie Daniel and Eric Jacobsen are 11th in the Tornado class, but had their two best finishes in the two most recent races. Laser sailor Ben Richardson is 21st out of 34, but he could easily move up a few spots. Lanee Butler is 14th in the Women's Mistral class as she looks to regain the form that lifted her to fourth in Sydney. In the Men's Mistral class, Ben Barger is in 23rd, while Finn sailor Darrell Peck is 24th.For complete results, www.athens2004.comISAF MATCH RACING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPSRacing in the 2003 ISAF Match Racing World Championships will get underway tomorrow on Lake Garda in Italy. Among the competitors will be three-time America's Cup champion Russell Coutts, sailing in his first major match racing event since Alinghi won the Cup last March, ISAF No. 1 ranked match racer Karol Jablonski, Ed Baird of St. Petersburg, Fla., and a trio of young rising stars: James Spithill, Jes Gram-Hansen, and Jesper Radich. http://worldchampionship.g2k.itSINGLEHANDED ROUND-THE-WORLD RECORDFrancis Joyon, of France, is gearing up for an attempt at the singlehanded, non-stop, round-the-world record currently held by countryman Michel Desjoyeaux (93 days). Joyon's vehicle for this attempt is his trimaran IDEC, which was designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prevost and originally build in 1986 for Olivier de Kersauson. Under the name Sport-Elec, this boat held the Jules Verne trophy for five years having circumnavigated the Globe in 71 days and 14 hours during the winter of 1996-97. Even if Joyon is unable to break Desjoyeaux's record, he can still set a new record for a singlehanded multihull circumnavigation. That record was set by de Kersauson and stands at 125 days.ACURA SORCThe annual Southern Ocean Racing Conference regatta will take place this winter, Feb. 25 to 29. The Acura SORC will be raced on ocean courses off Miami Beach, FL, with all shore side activities headquartered at the Miami Beach Marina. Entries will be welcomed from boats racing under handicap rules, IMS, and PHRF, as well as one-design classes such as the Farr 40, Mumm 30, Melges 24, J/105, J/80, Multihulls, Swans, and any class with more than five entrants.http://www.acurasorc.comGrand Prix Sailor is compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you'd like to subscribe, see Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger (, Dave Reed (, Stuart Streuli (, John Burnham (