Tornado Team Holds First Despite Average Results


Stuart Streuli

ATHENS--When is the Meltemi coming, people have asked every afternoon for the past few days. "Tomorrow," has been the answer. Today it appeared the weather forecasts might finally be right as the morning breeze was coming from the north, the normal direction for the boisterous offshore breeze. However, the wind backed to the northwest before racing started, stuck around for one race, and then died to nothing, leaving a sea breeze and an easterly to battle for dominance on the Saronic Gulf. The result was the strangest day, wind wise, of the 2004 Olympic Regatta. For the Americans still in medal contention it was a dangerous situation. As Star class skipper Paul Cayard noted earlier in the regatta, this venue can be very scary for the favorites because of its unpredictability. Though it wasn't a successful day across the board, the U.S. team can breath a sigh of relief that in these tricky conditions the American 49er, Tornado, and Star crews either held position or moved up in the overall standings. For the Tornado team of John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree, there was no where to go but down. They started the day in first place. Fate seemed to be working against them today as they struggled with equipment issues and some really random wind shifts and recorded a pair of ninths. It would be hard to get two more average finishes in the 17-boat fleet. Fortunately for Lovell and Ogletree, both of the teams within striking distance of the top had equally frustrating days from a results point of view. With six races down, and five to go, the U.S. crew leads by one point over Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher, the defending gold medalists. Seven boats are within ten points of the gold. In the first start, Lovell and Ogletree battled for the pin end and appeared to lose, as moments after the gun fired they were footing off to leeward of the fleet in search of clear air. They sailed a solid leg, though, and rounded the first mark in seventh and then moved up to fourth on the run. Then disaster struck. "On the first downwind of the first race, we made a big comeback and we were approximately fourth," said Lovell, "and the spinnaker retrieval line looped around the camera. That caused the spinnaker retrieval line to rip out of the spinnaker." This situation also damaged the spinnaker halyard--the halyard and the retrieval line are one line on a Tornado. For the rest of that race, Ogletree had to climb out on the bow of the catamaran and stuff the spinnaker back into the tube in which is rests for upwind legs. Needless to say, it wasn't fast and they finished ninth. Considering all that happened, said Lovell, they weren't too disappointed with the result. They were able to fix the spinnaker in between races, but they couldn't change the halyard. "We had to sail the second race with a broken spinnaker halyard," said Lovell. "It was repaired enough to sail but we couldn't get a enough halyard tension and that cost us a lot on the downwind legs." The second race started in a very similar breeze, 8 to 12 knots from around 300 degrees. But it soon went haywire. Not long after the first boats rounded the first windward mark, it started to die. Then on the next upwind leg, shortened by a quarter, the breeze completely died on the right side of the course, leaving Lovell and Ogletree, who'd hit that side hard, in last, five and half minutes behind the leaders. The windward mark was reset for the final loop of the three-lap windward leeward course and the leg couldn't have been more than 500 yards long. By this time there were three breezes working the course. The remainder of the northerly held the top, an easterly was filling on the right, though it crushed the dreams of anyone who went searching for it, and a sea breeze was filling from the bottom of the course up. The last two legs were so wacky that some boats set spinnakers on the beat, took them down to tack around the mark. They then reset the spinnakers on the run and then took them down to eventually beat across the finish line. Lovell and Ogletree pulled a remarkable comeback out of their hats, moving from 17th to 10th on the final "beat" and then picking off another boat on the "run." Lovell wasn't surprised that he and Ogletree held onto the lead despite their finishes as he noticed they were near the other two top boats most of the day. But he also saw some missed opportunities to pad their lead. "I'm frustrated with the first race especially," he said. "If we hadn't had that spinnaker break we would've been in the top four boats and in the hunt. On a day like today, one good finish and one average finish is a good day." The 49er and Star classes each got in a single race today. The 49ers were making up a race they missed on Sunday, while the Stars fell a race behind schedule when they were unable to squeeze in a second race in the unsettled breeze. Both American teams finished third, both had to make a comeback. Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter got off the line well in the Star race, but things quickly went downhill. "There was pressure on the left, shift on the right," said Trinter. "It was a matter of picking one or the other, you couldn't go up the middle. We went up the middle on the first weather leg and on the run and found ourselves behind." By the first leeward mark they'd dropped to 14th in the 17-boat fleet. But they were only 44 second off the lead, close enough for a comeback. "We did a good job of controlling our frustrations and recognizing what was going on and made smart decisions the rest of the race," said Trinter. "We rounded the second leeward mark, looking downwind the right one. The leaders rounded, looking downwind the left one, and sailed into no breeze. We rounded the other one and saw the breeze offshore. It was a big lefty and all of the sudden we had the whole fleet in our window and crossed over to the right. The forecast was for it to shift right and we played the right the rest of the way." A small error at the top of the bea--"We got greedy," said Trinter--cost them a few boats and they rounded ninth. But they continued to grind through the fleet, passing boats on each of the final three legs to finish up third. The 49ers comeback was not quite as dramatic, they moved from seventh at the second windward mark rounding to third. But it probably more significant in the overall standings as there are only four races remaining for the class. The U.S. crew is now fourth, five points out of second, and eight points ahead of fifth. Lanee Beashel was 19th and 15th in the two Women's Mistral races, she is currently 17th. Peter Wells was 30th and 28th in his two races. The boards will conclude their regatta with one more race each on Wednesday. Tomorrow the Meltemi is forecasted to arrive in full. Trinter said he was expecting 12 to 25 knots, and lots of shifts and gusts. Results of Interest Men's Mistral (34 boards) Peter Wells (USA): (22, 20, 23, 16, 22, 29, 28, 24, (30), 28) 27th Women's Mistral (26 boards) Karla Barrera (PUR): ((26), 24, 25, 26, 23, 25, 26, 26, 26) 26th Lanee Beashel (USA): (13, 16, 9, 18, 17, 14, 6, 14, (19), 15) tied on points for 16th Finn (25 boats) Racing Finished Richard Clarke (CAN): (10, 18, 15, 22, 19, 15, (OCS), 14, 8, 11, 2) 18th Ben Ainslie (GBR): (9, (DSQ), 1, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 14) first Dean Barker (NZL): (5, 10, 7, 11, 7, 16, (OCS), 12, 19, 20, 10) 13th Kevin Hall (USA): (11, 6, 13, (17), 16, 14, 13, 9, 9, 17, 7) 11th Europe (25 boats) Racing Finished Meg Gaillard (USA): (9, 11, 13, 9, 3, 13, 11 (16), 9 (19), 19) 14th Laser (42 boats) Racing Finished Robert Scheidt (BRA): (3, (8), 1, 3, 8, 4, (19), 12, 7, 3, 6) first Bernard Luttmer (CAN): (15, 25, 22, 21, 27, 33, 31, (DNF), 9, 32, 30) 29th Timothy Pitts (ISV): ((42), 40, 41, 40, 36, 39, 37, 34, 34, 40, 40) 41st Hamish Pepper (NZL): (24, 9, (26), 11, 9, 5, 13, 3, RDG/11.3, 2, 21) seventh Mark Mendelblatt (USA): (2, 14, 20, 6, 6, 10, (29), 22, 16. 6, 9) eighth Men's 470 (27 boats) Racing Finished Paul Foerster/Kevin Burnham (USA): (1, 8, 2, 15, 9, 4, 3, 7, 18, 4, (23)) first Women's 470 (20 boats) Racing Finished Jen Provan/Nikola Girke (CAN): (4, 13, 17, 11, 12, 7, 2, (19), 6, 19, 12) 13th Katie McDowell/Isabelle Kinsolving (USA): (12, 16, 3, 12, 9, 2, (18), 17, 8, 1, 4) fifth 49er (19 boats) Tim Wadlow/Pete Spaulding (USA): (7, 8, 5, (OCS), 9, 9, 8, 3, 1, (13), 7, 3) fourth Tornado (17 boats) Oskar Johansson/John Curtis (CAN): (14, (15), 4, 13, 8, 12) 13th Enrique Figueroa/Jorge Hernandez (PUR): (5, (9), 7, 8, 2, 5) sixth John Lovell/Charlie Ogletree (USA): (2, 2, 1, 6, (9), 9) first Star (17 boats) Peter Bromby/Lee White (BER): (17, 16, 8, 11, 12) 16th Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira (BRA): (5, 4, 1, 1, 2) first Ross MacDonald/Mike Wolfs (CAN): (7, 11, 4, 3, 1) second Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter (USA): (1, 6, 15, 10, 3) tied on points for fourth Yngling (16 boats) Racing Finished Paula Lewin/Peta Lewin/Christine Patton (BER): (4, 15, 6, 13, (16), 14, 9, 16, 16, 11, 4) 15th Lisa Ross/Chantal Leger/Deirdre Crampton (CAN): (13, 9, (15), 15, 12, 12, 12, 14, 15, 2, 12) 16th Carol Cronin/Liz Filter/Nancy Haberland (USA): (2, 10, 16, 9, 15, 10, 1, 15, 7, 1, (OCS)) 10th