U.S. 49er Team Wins Race, But Loses Medal Dreams

Olympic0824
Stuart Streuli

ATHENS--The U.S. 49er team of Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding sailed their best race of the regatta today on the Saronic Gulf, winning the third heat of the day by 19 seconds. Not long after they crossed the line, however, they had to come to grips with the fact they would not realize their dream of winning an Olympic medal in Athens. After two difficult races earlier in the day, the Americans needed to put a good number of boats between them and the Ukrainian and British teams to still have a shot at a silver or bronze medal on Thursday, when the class sails its final race. However, the Ukrainians, who've had a consistent regatta, were third. Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks of Great Britain were sixth. Even if everything works in their favor on Thursday, Wadlow and Spaulding will find themselves fourth by a point. "It's sort of bittersweet," said Wadlow, his subdued tone indicating it was more of the former and less of the latter. "We won the last race, but we knew that the guys we needed to be ahead of were all close behind. We had a pretty good idea that we were out of the medals even though we were winning the race. You see all the helicopters, the onboard cameras, you know it's going to be a great race. But it's also sort of the end of a dream." Today was a true Meltemi day, the breeze coming from anywhere from 005 to 030. It was puffy and shifty with a very small chop on the water. Great sailing conditions for spectators. But a challenge for anyone trying to predict what the wind would do. In the first race, the U.S. team missed the winning shift by little more than a few seconds. They had a good start and were streaking up the left side with the three boats they needed to catch in the overall standings. They contemplated tacking, and ducking the two boats holding them on starboard, the British and the Spanish. But instead waited for them to go and followed. It wasn't soon enough "The left was sort of collapsing and they were just on the edge of that, the British and the Spanish were holding more pressure than we were," said Wadlow. "We were even or ahead of those guys when we tacked and we just dialed down and were just pointed at their transoms." At the top mark they were just a half minute off the lead, in 10th. But things didn't go well on the second beat either and they slipped to 12th, over a minute behind. A furious final run chopped 30 seconds off of that gap, but they could only pick up two boats. Draper and Hiscocks rounded the first windward mark in the lead and won the race after holding off a hard charging Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd of Australia. Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk of the Ukraine were sixth, Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez of Spain, eighth. Wadlow and Spauldling's luck didn't change in the second race. They started a little late at the boat, but on port and heading for the right side. "The wind had jumped right a bunch, it was getting really unstable," said Wadlow. "The normal wind was sort of to the left of the mountain, it was really strong. Then we'd get the huge righties that would come through a gap in the mountain, 40 degrees to the right. At about 40 seconds, we'd been bouncing between these big shifts and we thought it was going to be a righty. We started on port, ducked the fleet and it was a huge lefty, we were 15th at the windward mark." From there they battled back again, cutting the 2:04 deficit in half by the end of the three-lap race. But it was only enough to move them into 11th. All three of the other medal contenders were in front of them and they now needed some help to remain in medal contention. Wadlow and Spaulding did what they could, winning the race, but the other teams were too close. On Thursday, they'll battle the Norwegian team of Christoffer Sundby and Frode Bovim for the leather medal. The Americans have a two-point edge and a lower throw out. There was only one other class racing today. The Stars got back on schedule with a single race. Like Spaulding and Waldow in their first two races, Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter struggled initially to get in tune with the wind. "We had a very good start and we weren't able to play the first shift because there were guys on our windward hip on starboard that we couldn't cross," said Cayard. "So right away we got behind there. Today was a Meltemi and it was very tricky. I think we spent most of the race in 10th or 12th and finally on the last leg we got our heads out of the boat, hit a good shift, and passed a bunch of boats that were right in front of us. So we finished sixth." Cayard said today's comeback had a bit of luck in it. "I'd be hard pressed to tell you I could look up the course and see one way or another," he said. "I was kind of going on gut feel. It was very hard to predict. Today's comeback I feel pretty fortunate about. Yesterday's comeback I think we dug pretty hard for a few legs there. We were moving up for the last three legs there and I felt we were more in control of the fact we were moving up." The sixth puts Cayard in a tie for third with Nicklas Holm and Claus Olesen of Denmark, both teams have 26 points. Ross MacDonald and Mike Wolfs of Canada are in second. They finished last today after sailing around the course without a jib. But since their jib track was damaged in a pre-start collision, they received redress for the race and will be scored an average of their first five races, 5.2 points. They have 20.2 points. Torben Grael and Marcel Ferreira of Brazil are comfortably in first with just 13 points. Lurking just out of the medals are the French team with 27 points and the British and Swiss teams with 29 points. There's plenty of time to catch Grael, Cayard said, but added that the Brazilian team is in a very enviable position, enjoying a comfortable lead with a pack of boats poised to battle for silver and bronze. Another good race or two for Grael and boats in that pack will look to consolidate silver or bronze medals. The Stars, Tornados, and Mistrals will race tomorrow. It will be the final race for both the Men's and Women's Mistral classes. Results of Interest Men's Mistral (34 boards) Peter Wells (USA): (22, 20, 23, 16, 22, 29, 28, 24, (30)) 24th 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)) 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, 10, 11, 1) 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, 10) 17th Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira (BRA): (5, 4, 1, 1, 2, 5) first Ross MacDonald/Mike Wolfs (CAN): (7, 11, 4, 3, 1, YMP/5.2) second Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter (USA): (1, 6, 15, 10, 3, 6) third 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