Tornado Team Locks Up Silver

Olympic0826

Stuart Streuli

ATHENS--John Lovell has been asking for a normal sea breeze for the last week. Today, with barely a moment to spare, the Saronic Gulf delivered. Lovell and Charlie Ogletree, the U.S. representatives in the Tornado at the 2004 Olympics Games, didn't waste any time taking advantage of what they feel are close to their ideal conditions. They dominated the class today, winning one race and finishing second in another. It was good enough to ensure the pair of at least a silver medal. In Saturday's final race, they will need to make up a 3-point deficit on the Austrian team of Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher to earn gold. But for now, both of the three-time Olympians were relieved and elated that they'll be taking home at least a silver from this regatta. "We're relieved," said Ogletree, "and pretty excited. We've been doing it for so long and we were putting a lot of pressure on ourselves that this is kind of it. We wanted to win a medal. We put a lot of money, time, and effort into it over the years. We've been sailing the best we've ever sailed over the past year." After opening the regatta with two seconds and a first, Lovell and Ogletree had struggled through the middle portion of the event, finishing five straight races in sixth through ninth in light and fluky conditions. Going into today's racing, there were a number of sailors hungrily eyeing the U.S. team's silver meal position. But they quickly reasserted themselves, winning the pin end of the first start, streaking out to the left corner, and rounding the first windward mark with a comfortable lead over the Russian team. With the Austrian team buried deep in the pack, it looked as if Lovell and Ogletree might just jump into first after that race. But while the Americans were leading the fleet around the three-lap course, Hagara and Steinacher steadily chewed through the fleet, moving from 14th at the first windward mark to third at the second windward mark and finally second at the third. But the race did serve to thin out the top pack. The Australians had a very tough race, a 12th, and all but dropped off the American's radar screen. The other two teams close to Lovell and Ogletree heading into the day, the Dutch and the Argentines, dropped back as well. The second start was almost a carbon  copy of the second, with Lovell and Ogletree again winning the pin. However, with their main competition working toward the right, the Americans didn't bang the left corner, electing to hedge their bets a bit. Darren Bundock and John Forbes, the Australian team, did hit the left corner and led at the first mark, while Lovell and Ogletree were second. This time the Austrians rounded 10th, but were only able to grind back to fifth allowing Lovell and Ogletree to pick up four points. Those points could prove crucial on Saturday. While Lovell and Ogletree's worst race to date is a ninth, the Austrians carded a 14th in Race 5. That means that the Americans have two options on Saturday. They can try to sail a great race, and put three boats between them and the Austrians--two boats if the Americans are able to win the race. Or they can try to match race Hagara and Steinacher. If the Austrians finish 13th or worse in the final race, the Americans will win the gold no matter where they finish. A final twist working in the Americans favor is that while Lovell and Ogletree are guaranteed silver, the Austrians could potentially fall to bronze if the Argentine team wins the race. Lovell and Ogletree said they'll consider both options and that the weather may play a big role. In light air, said Ogletree, they'll be more likely to try to match race the Austrians, who have spectacular light-air speed. But in heavier winds, the Americans may just try to sail their own race as the Austrians aren't nearly as fast when the wind picks up. For the other two American teams on the water, the day was less successful. The U.S 49er team of Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaudling lost their grip on fourth in the final race and finished fifth, four points behind the Norwegian team. Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez of Spain won the gold with Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk of the Ukraine taking silver and Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks of Great Britain winning bronze. It was Great Britain's fifth sailing medal as they are once again the top sailing country at the Olympics. Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter dropped to fourth in the Star class and are now seven points out of the bronze medal and nine points out of silver. Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira, in what many experts are calling the performance of the 2004 Olympic, locked up the gold with a race to spare. In the first 10 races, they averaged just 4 points a race, two places per race better than their nearest competitor. Cayard was blunt when asked to assess their problems on the race course--they finished sixth and eighth. "We didn't have great starts," he said, "and we didn't have good speed." Unlike the previous few days, when the start appeared to have little impact on the final result because of the capricious nature of the winds, today was a much more regular breeze, with the left side paying most every race. Cayard said they had trouble holding their lane off the starting line. But, as we've seen all week, it's far from over until the final gun. Both the French team of Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau, who are second, and the Canadian duo of Ross MacDonald and Mike Wolfs, who are third, have high throw outs. Tomorrow is a day of rest for the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Center. The 2004 Olympic Regatta will conclude with a Star race and Tornado race on Saturday. Results of Interest Tornado (17 boats) Oskar Johansson/John Curtis (CAN): (14, 15, 4, 13, 8, 12, 14, (17), 17, 4) 14th Enrique Figueroa/Jorge Hernandez (PUR): (5, 9, 7, 8, 2, 5, 9, 12, (14), 10) eighth John Lovell/Charlie Ogletree (USA): (2, 2, 1, 6, (9), 9, 6, 7, 1, 2) second Star (17 boats) Peter Bromby/Lee White (BER): ((17), 16, 8, 11, 12, 10, 6, 4, 1, 3) eighth Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira (BRA): (5, 4, 1, 1, 2, 5, 2 6, (11), 4) CLINCHED GOLD Ross MacDonald/Mike Wolfs (CAN): (7, 11, 4, 3, 1, RDG/5.2, 8, (14), 8, 2) third Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter (USA): (1, 6, (15), 10, 3, 6, 1, 15, 6, 8) fourth The Following Classes Have Finished Racing 49er (19 boats) Tim Wadlow/Pete Spaulding (USA): (7, 8, 5, (OCS), 9, 9, 8, 3, 1, (13), 7, 3, 10, 11, 1, 10) fifth Men's Mistral (34 boards) Peter Wells (USA): (22, 20, 23, 16, 22, 29, 28, 24, 28, (31)) 28th Women's Mistral (26 boards) Karla Barrera (PUR): ((26), 24, 25, 26, 23, 25, 26, 26, 26, 25, 24) 26th Lanee Beashel (USA): (13, 16, 9, 18, 17, 14, 6, 14, (19), 15, 5) 16th Finn (25 boats) 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) Meg Gaillard (USA): (9, 11, 13, 9, 3, 13, 11 (16), 9 (19), 19) 14th Laser (42 boats) 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) Paul Foerster/Kevin Burnham (USA): (1, 8, 2, 15, 9, 4, 3, 7, 18, 4, (23)) first Women's 470 (20 boats) 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 Yngling (16 boats) 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