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Go Back   SailNet Community > Contributing Authors > Racing Articles
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Old 09-24-2000
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Bob Merrick is on a distinguished road
Olympic Update—9/25/00

SailNet’s Olympic correspondent Bob Merrick, the US Men’s 470 crew, reports from Sydney on Races nine and 10. After posting double bullets for Races five and six last week, Bob and his skipper Paul Foerster faltered slightly in Races seven and eight to post a sixth and a 12th. They had another bad one in Race nine, but came back to win Race 10. They currently stand in second overall, five points out of first, with a six-point cushion over third place with one race remaining. Martha Mason also reports from the spectators’ perspective.

We got another chance at C Course today [Sunday]. The wind was out of the north at about 10 knots. We sailed Inner loop Trapezoids, with three laps.

Race Nine    After two general recalls, we had a bad start in the middle of the line. We had to tack and duck everyone to the right of us, which put us out of phase. At the weather mark, we were 26th. On the run, we gained a little distance, but no boats. We played the shifts up the right side on the next beat and moved up to 15th, but then lost most of it on the run. At the bottom of the run we were 21st. Again we played the shifts up the right side and moved up to 17th where we stayed for the next lap. On the last run, after the reach, we did a bear away and all the boats around us jibe-set. We found some more pressure and moved up to 13th by the finish. Not a good race.

 

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—09/22/00
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

 
Race 10   
We were trying to start at the pin, away from the crowd, but had to bail out just before the start and duck the whole fleet. Luckily this time we were ducking in phase. When the lefty went to the right, we were looking good and rounded in third. We passed the Spanish on the run and were gaining on the Greeks. The Greeks stayed in front of us for the next two laps, but we passed them on the last beat. It was a good thing Paul was counting laps because I forgot what lap we were on. We went on to win the race. The Ukrainians got thrown out of the race in a port-starboard situation with Portugal. One race left and we’re five points behind the Australians in first and six points ahead of the Argentineans in third. Tomorrow is a day off. The final race is on Wednesday.

Olympic Commentary by Martha Mason

Now this is what we came here for—excellent sailing in sparkling clear weather surrounding a spectacular harbor city! Friday's racing provided perfect conditions for the spectators, with a friendly ocean outside the Heads, and clear (if a bit distant) viewing inside.

Finland's Thomas Johanson and Jyrki Jarvi wrapped up the 49er gold medal on Saturday when they took an unbeatable lead with one race remaining. That left Britons Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks, who led by six points over brothers Jonathan and Charlie McKee of the US, to battle for silver and bronze in the final contest of the 16-race series. The McKees sailed aggressively from the start, knowing they needed to finish at least six places higher than the Brits to get the silver. They won the race, but ultimately the brothers had to settle for a bronze as Barker and Hiscocks finished in third.

Out in the ocean, the Stars lined up on Friday for a practice sail in light air and a slight sea, with the breeze blowing five to six knots from 60 degrees at the start. Fourteen competitors showed up for the tune-up day, although fewer than that chose to stick it out for the whole race. The Star competition promises to be one of the more exciting sailing events, and the anticipation is growing daily. As Timothy Patton, Team Manager for the Bermuda contingent put it, "There's a wealth of experience in the Star class and they all stand toe-to-toe." The formidable teams from the US and Bermuda will be up against the likes of Colin Beashel [Australia] and Torben Grael [Brazil], among other topnotch competitors, and there's no clear favorite at present. Time will tell.

Also out in the ocean, the Tornadoes were forced to wait for the wind to fill in, and the Finns utilized the same course as the Stars. Meanwhile, in the harbor, the 470s and Mistrals provided colorful action for the large parade of spectator boats. The on-water police tried hard to keep the viewers moving in a constant stream, but the slow speed at the various starts and top marks and finishes wasn't a problem for anyone.

Perhaps the most colorful sight was provided by the two large fleets of men's and women's Mistrals outlined against the far hillside. With the new rule allowing the competitors to "pump" the sail as they move along, the sailboards look like a mass of fluttering butterfly wings. In the women's, Lanee Butler, the US representative, is now in fourth place, but the mathematics will keep her out of the medals.

It is impossible to be everywhere watching everything at these Olympics, but no matter where you were, the viewing was great.




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