Olympic Reportó09/22/00 - SailNet Community
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Olympic Reportó09/22/00

SailNet’s Olympic correspondent Bob Merrick, the US Men’s 470 crew, reports from Sydney on Races Five and Six, where he and skipper Paul Foerster logged scores of 1-1 to move into a tie for first with five races yet to sail. Martha Mason also reports in from the sidelines.  Be sure to catch Gary Jobson's interview with Paul and Bob on CNBC tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Today we moved inside the harbor onto D Course. We got towed out again in no wind, but the sea breeze filled in at around 10 knots, and we had two good races. The weather mark was right behind North Head, so the breeze was really shifty and puffy.

Race 1 This was an Outer Loop Trapezoid with two laps. We wanted to go left and had a good start, but got pinched off by the Portuguese team. We took a clearing tack and got to the puff on the left, but a bunch of boats beat us there. At the first weather mark, we were 10th. 


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

Olympic Report—09/26/00
Olympic Report—09/25/00
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

On the reach, we stayed high for the puff and passed a boat. We bore away around the reach mark and passed some boats, but lost others to round the leeward mark also in 10th.

On the next beat, we got into phase with some big shifts and puffs and rounded eighth, and then on the next run, we bore away again, but got lower for more pressure and rounded the leeward mark in sixth.

We stayed in sixth at the next weather mark and then jibe-set. The pack in front of us bore away, and we had more wind and moved up to first by the last leeward mark and won the race!

Race 2 This was a windward-leeward course with three laps. The race committee took a while to get the next course set up in the shifty wind, but we eventually got racing after the girls' start. It was looking like we needed to get left again until just before the start when the right started looking better. Most of the fleet was at the pin, so we started at the boat and worked the shifts up the right side, away from the rest of the fleet. It worked out well for us, and we rounded the first mark in fourth. We found a good puff on the run and rounded the leeward gate in second. We found some good puffs and stayed in phase on the next beat and rounded in first. Then we held the lead for the rest of the race and won again!

Due to those finishes, we moved up to first overall today, tied with the Portuguese. The Australians are about two points behind. We have a day off tomorrow and then race again on Sunday.

Martha Mason’s Olympic Commentary

The Olympic Regatta continues in Sydney Harbour in bright, perfect weather conditions. Even the faint pall of smoke from nearby bush fires can't dampen the spirits of the sailors and their supporters. And the wind, which had been frustratingly light for the first two days of sailing, has filled in nicely.

The Solings had Thursday off as a lay day. The fifth and sixth Soling races, held on Wednesday, completed the feet-racing schedule, which served to eliminate the last four boats and whittle the field of 16 competitors down to 12. These 12 boats will start a series of round-robin match racing to determine the ultimate winner. For these matches, the ranking among the 12 boats is important, as the first six teams get to sit out and wait while the last six compete. The three winners of that round will then move on to challenge the boats in ranks 4, 5, and 6, while the top three continue to rest and practice. Finally, the winners of the second round will meet the top three boats—Norway, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The US, Russia, and Australia, in fourth, fifth and sixth place, will also be grateful for the extra days. Jesper Bank of Denmark, who was predicted by many to win a medal, just barely made it into the surviving 12, pulling an essential fourth place in the last race. Norway, with a solid first place guaranteed, was able to sit out the sixth race and go home early.

Domingo Manrique, the middle crew for the historically strong Spanish team, attributed his teams last-place finish to slow boat speed and the light winds. Although they came in eighth and sixth on Wednesday, when the wind started at about 13 knots and stayed above six for the rest of the day, they were not able to overcome the deficit created by their two last places from the day before. "In that light air, we just could not make the boat go," said Manrique.

Also on the outside course on Wednesday were the 470s, visible as small white specs from the vantage point of the Soling course. Racing in the Harbour yesterday were the Lasers, the 49ers, the Europes, and the Finns. The new gennakers for the 49ers have arrived and were in use, and while they don't sport the flags of each nation, they are in solid bright colors of yellow, blue, white, red, and even black. With another clear day forecast for Friday, the smaller boats should have another great day of sailing.

Bob Merrick is offline  
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