Top-3 Finishes for U.S. Lasers, 470s on Day Two

Olympic0815
Stuart Streuli

ATHENS--A few days before his first Olympic regatta, Mark Mendelblatt commented that he didn't mind competing against Laser superstar Robert Scheidt, a seven-time world champion in the class. "I really enjoy sailing against Robert," he said. "I feel like when I'm sailing next to him I'm stepping up my game a level." In the first race of the 2004 Olympic Laser regatta, Mendelblatt backed up his words. The two rounded the final windward mark overlapped, with Scheidt on the outside. Scheidt is known as one of the fastest sailors off the breeze, but it was Mendelblatt who opened up a four-boatlength lead by the time the two rounded the final leeward mark and started reaching for the finish, where Mendelblatt crossed the line second to Portugal's Gustavo Lima. "I just try and sail fast," he said. "I ended up getting hooked into a series of waves and was able to pull out on him." Mendelblatt's second was one of three highlights for the U.S. team on the second day of the regatta?a second by Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham and a third from Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving were the others. The infamous Meltemi breeze, a powerful and temperamental offshore breeze, came in today and steadily increased from 8 to 10 knots to 20 to 25 knots. This breeze, combined with a steep, off-angle ocean swell, made for some treacherous sailing on the Saronic Gulf. Dozens of boats capsized in the awkward sea. Though the U.S. teams were, for the large part, able to keep their boats upright, they appeared to struggle in the building breeze. A 10th by Carol Cronin's Yngling team was the highest American finish in the second races held today. After his superb opening race, Mendelblatt struggled in the second, finishing 14th. "I had a mediocre first beat," he said. "I sort of got stuck in the middle and got bounced around. It seemed like both corners came in. I still could've made something out of the race, but I had a bad set of runs so that cost me a bit." With 16 points, Mendelblatt is tied on points for fifth with two other sailors, Lima, and Great Britain's Paul Goodison. However, they are only five points behind the second-placed Scheidt. Austria's Andreas Geritzer was the only Laser sailor with two solid races, a fourth and a first. For the second straight day, the Men's 470 team of Foerster and Burnham had one good race and one average one. After a second in the opening race, the veteran duo produced another solid start in the second race, but quickly ran into trouble, fouling the German team on a port-starboard situation. They were able to catch back up to some extent, but then fouled the same team for a second time and did another 720-degree penalty turn. They were as deep as 26th in the race, but rebounded for 15th, which was enough to place them second overall, 8 points behind Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield of Great Britain. "It's a really tough fleet," said Foerster, now competing in his fourth Olympics. "We were pretty happy we caught back up so much." Though the Meltemi is known for its ability to fuel comebacks with unpredictable shifts and gusts of breeze,  Europe sail Meg Gaillard found that passing people was difficult in her first two Olympic races. "It's so competitive," she said. "The top two boats were punched out, but the next seven boats are close together. If you make one mistake you loose seven boats and it's hard to pass them back." Gaillard had a ninth and a 12th today and said the windy conditions took her by surprise. "We just haven't had a lot of breeze since our worlds, which was over a month ago," she added. With 21 points Gaillard is even with Petra Niemann of Germany in ninth place. Like the Europes and Lasers, the Mistrals started their regatta on Sunday. The U.S. did not fare that well in the races. Peter Wells had a 25 and a 21 and is currently tied on points for 23rd while four-time Olympian Lanee Beashel had a 13 and a 16 and is 16th. The Mistrals are on a day on, day off schedule, so they will have a day off on Monday. Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving had a better day, producing a third in their first race. After a strong start, they caught on the outside of the right-hand shift. But they were able to work patiently work through it to remain in touch with the top group until the final run when they pounced and passed three boats to move into the top three. "We sailed the boat really well," said McDowell, "and were able to position ourselves well on the boats we wanted to pass. It was definitely a solid leg." Despite tearing their spinnaker in the second race, they still finished 12th in a race that saw at least a half-dozen boats flip over. U.S. sailors couldn't find the single digits on the Finn and Yngling circle. Kevin Hall was well-positioned in two races that were abandoned after big wind shifts and then struggled in the two races that were completed. Carol Cronin's Yngling team dropped down to 10th with a pair of disappointing results, a 16th and a 10th. Results of Interest Men's Mistral (34 boards) Peter Wells (USA): (25, 21) tied on points for 23rd Women's Mistral (26 boards) Karla Barrera (PUR): (26, 24) 26th Lanee Beashel (USA): (13, 16) 16th Finn (25 boats) Richard Clarke (CAN): (10, 18, 15, 22) 18th Ben Ainslie (GBR): (9, DSQ, 1, 1) eighth Dean Barker (NZL): (5, 10, 7, 11) fourth Kevin Hall (USA): (11, 6, 13, 17) 13th Europe (25 boats) Meg Gaillard (USA): (9, 11) tied on points for 20th) Laser (42 boats) Robert Scheidt (BRA): (3, 8) second Bernard Luttmer (CAN): (15, 25) 21st Timothy Pitts (ISV): (42, 40) 42nd Hamish Pepper (NZL): (24, 9) 16th Mark Mendelblatt (USA): (2, 14) sixth Men's 470 (27 boats) Paul Foerster/Kevin Burnham (USA): (1, 9, 2, 15) second Women's 470 (20 boats) Jen Provan/Nikola Girke (CAN): (5, 13, 18, 11) tied on points for 13th Katie McDowell/Isabelle Kinsolving (USA): (12, 16, 3, 12) 12th 49er (19 boats) Tim Wadlow/Pete Spaulding (USA): Will start competing on Monday Tornado (17 boats) Oskar Johansson/John Curtis (CAN): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Enrique Figueroa/Jorge Hernandez (PUR): Will start competing on Aug. 21 John Lovell/Charlie Ogletree (USA): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Star (17 boats) Peter Bromby/Lee White (BER): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira (BRA): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Ross MacDonald/Mike Wolfs (CAN): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter (USA): Will start competing on Aug. 21 Yngling (16 boats) Paula Lewin/Peta Lewin/Christine Patton (BER): (4, 15, 6, 14) 12th Lisa Ross/Chantal Leger/Deirdre Crampton (CAN): (13, 9, 15, 16) 16th Carol Cronin/Liz Filter/Nancy Haberland (USA): (2, 10, 16, 10) tied on points for 10th