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Old 09-25-2000
Bob Merrick Bob Merrick is offline
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Olympic Reportó9/26/00

US Men’s 470 representatives Bob Merrick and his skipper Paul Foerster are taking a day off today before engaging in their final Olympic contest on Wednesday. Standing in second place overall, Bob reports on the duo’s mindset as D-Day approaches.  Also included here is Martha Mason's outlook as seen from the sidelines.

With one race to go we are in second, five points behind the Australians in first and four points ahead of Argentina in third. All three teams have a chance to win the regatta. The only other team that has a chance of beating us is the British. For those guys to pass us they would have to win the race and we would have to finish worse than 12th.  

After hours of examining all possible point schemes, it is clear that our strategy for tomorrow’s race should simply be to go out and sail as well as we can. Other teams may get involved in match racing each other. Sometimes concentrating on one other boat in the final race of the series is the best option, but it should probably be avoided whenever possible.

 

Follow the Olympics with Bob Merrick's reports and photos along with our primers and commentary from spectator Martha Mason.

Olympic Report—09/28/00
Olympic Report—09/27/00
Olympic Report—09/25/00
Olympic Report—09/22/00
Olympic Report—09/21/00
Olympic Report—09/20/00
Olympic Report—09/19/00
Olympic Photos—Opening Ceremonies
Olympic Photos—Miscellaneous
Let the Games Begin
Getting to Know Olympic Sailing
The Olympic Primer
Olympic Report—08/03/00
Olympic Report—06/30/00
Olympic Report—05/29/00
Olympic Report—05/06/00

 

Paul and I learned a valuable lesson about this in last year's Pre-Olympic regatta. Going into the last race the French were in second and we were the only team that could beat them. They tried to force us to have a bad start, but ended up doing more damage to themselves and we went on to beat them and finish second in the regatta.

JJ Isler and Pease Glaser are in the same situation in the Women's 470. Going into the last race four teams have a shot at winning and eight teams have a chance at a medal. Theirs is definitely the closest of the classes so far.

Although all the sailors and coaches are aware of the points standing, the thing that will be most on our minds in the last race is the task at hand. Before the starting gun fires we'll be entirely focused on the things that allow us to sail a good race. Coach Skip [Whyte] has been talking to us about how to get better starts so that will be one thing we will be thinking about. As Paul puts it "Focus on the things you can control." Things like worrying too much about what other boats are doing or dwelling on a moment of bad luck will only distract you and cause you to make bad decisions.

Today is a lay day for us so we'll probably spend it relaxing and not thinking too much about sailing. The boat is in good shape, but it will probably get one more spot-check just to make sure.

We've had some crazy moments over the past few days, but the mood is still relatively relaxed. We'll try to keep it that way through the last race. No matter what happens, we'll be giving it 100 percent for the whole race. Wish us luck.

Martha Mason’s Olympic Commentary


US 49er bronze medalists Jonathan and Charlie McKee share the podium with the Finnish and British teams.
Sunday Update     The weather today in Sydney, Australia, set the scene for some exhilarating sailing, especially for the Tornado Class. The boats easily handled the choppy seas and the brisk wind of about 13 knots from the southeast.

In fast conditions, flying along with one hull high out of the water, the Tornadoes put on a great show for the spectators. The Australian team’s first-place finish was enough to give them the silver medal, with the gold and bronze going to Austria and Germany, respectively. Once the racing was over, the boats made a high-speed run back into the harbor, providing thrilling views for any spectators with enough horsepower to stay with the fleet.

Meanwhile, in the calmer harbor area, the Mistrals were finishing their racing in fine style. At the end of the day the Italian had secured the gold medal for the women, and the Austrians took the top honor for the men.

Nearby, the Soling Class had a long series of match races scheduled. It was a tough day for the US skipper Jeff Madrigali and his crew. Losing four out of their five races, the team was prevented from continuing in the series. However, there was some fine aggressive action in the pre-starts, which gave the fans some anxious and exciting moments. Most memorable for US fans was the race in which the American boat, entering the pre-start area at the opposite end from its competitor, failed to give way, incurring a penalty. In the ensuing battle for position, and in trying to force the other side to commit an equalizing foul, Madrigali and his crew got a second flag. This required two penalty turns during the race, a deficit too difficult to overcome. The three countries that will proceed on to challenge Norway, New Zealand, and The Netherlands are Denmark, Germany, and Russia.

Monday Update    It was a cold raw evening in Sydney last night, but that didn't dampen the spirits of the jubilant winners in the first of the Olympic sailing medal ceremonies. The gala event occurred on the plaza in front of the Sydney Opera House, complete with white-suited military band playing various nautical themes and national anthems.

The now-familiar gold, silver, and bronze podiums were set up right on the plaza, and the awards were presented with some fanfare and lots of fist pumping and flower waving to the winners of the Mistrals, 49ers, and Tornadoes.

The Women's Mistral awards went to Italy, Germany, and New Zealand. The US competitor Lanee Butler came in fourth. The Men's Mistral medals were won by Austria, Argentina, and New Zealand, which gave the local Kiwi fans two bronzes to cheer about.

The gold medal for the Tornado Class was presented to the delighted Austrians, who came away with their second gold in sailing in one night. But just as elated were the hometown Australians, who dispensed with their flower bouquets and waved stuffed kangaroos instead. The bronze-winning Germans were also animated and joined with the Aussies to carry the Austrians around on their shoulders.

Finally, in the 49er class, the top prize went to Finland, for that country’s first sailing gold medal in 20 years. They were followed by Great Britain and the US. Jonathan and Charlie McKee looked very much at home on the Olympic podium and the US flag flew briskly in the fresh cool breeze. All in all, it was a very colorful event, staged for an appreciative crowd.

Earlier in the day the Stars had an interesting day, with fifth-place Bermuda winning a protest against first-place Spain. With 12 more races to go in this series, the Star Class has lots of good sailing ahead.

Martha Mason is a life-long sailor who is attending the Olympics as a spectator.