Grael now has a record breaking five Olympic medals, four of them in the Star Class and one in the Soling in 1984, when the Olympic Sailing Competition was held on the waters of Long Beach (USA). As he crossed the finish line the dignified celebrations perked up when the pair launched themselves off their boat.
After 10 races, Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA had already clutched Brazil's second sailing gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games.
Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU of France were second heading into the eleventh race, just 2.2 points ahead of Canadaís Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS. To hold onto the silver, the French had to cover the Canadians, finishing ahead or close behind.
Todayís weather did not leave many chances for covering. The wind started from 305 degrees at 8 knots only to turn later to the left at 290 degrees and 6 knots, and then turned to 295, 305, 340 and 290, changing either to the left or to the right at every mark rounding.
Even though the committee boat changed the marks, the race favored the leaders, who ended with a considerable lead.
The French team tried to come back, but going from 12th in the first mark to seventh was not enough. They finished third overall to take the bronze.
Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER (USA) finished a disappointing 15th, dropping from fourth place overall to fifth.
Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (SUI) were fourth in the overall rankings, with PERCY and MITCHELL sixth.
Brazil Equal Great Britainís Gold Medal Haul
Torben GRAEL (BRA) today won the Star Class Gold medal here at the Athens 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition with a race to spare, It is Brazilís second Gold medal in Sailing here in Greece.
Racing today started in a gradually increasing southerly sea breeze on the day of Peter BROMBYís fortieth birthday. With mate Lee WHITE, he started his birthday by leading the first race on a typically shifty Saronic Gulf day. Following the Bermudan team round the first top mark was Franceís 2003 World Championship winning team Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU as the breeze died and permanently shifted left by ten degrees.
That shift didnít seem to phase Bromby and White and they extended their lead down the second run to 29 seconds. The shift did assist Italians Francesco BRUNI and Guido VIGNA, who managed to pull through in the lighter airs from fourth to second, deplacing France and Canadaís Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS.
Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA), on the early part of race nine were not doing themselves any favours, and it didnít get any better for them, they eventually fell foul to the shifty Saronic conditions and dropped like a lead weight down this competitive and evenly matched fleet.
Bromby and White began Peterís birthday celebrations early as their victory in race nine was a full 49 seconds ahead of the Italians. Rohart and Rambeau remained in third whilst the Canadians dropped further to eighth place at the finish.
The good news for Grael in race nine was that his closest competitors up to that point, Macdonald and Wolfs, and Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER (USA) had fairly bad races, dropping them to third and fourth overall. The bad news was that it threw another medal contender into the race in the Form of the French team, who moved up into second place.
For the final race of the penultimate sailing day of the Olympic Sailing Competition, the breeze had picked up to a solid 8 or nine knot breeze that was oscillating between 170 and 160 degrees, pure sea breeze conditions gave the fleet some better racing.
Grael had a chance to wrap up the tournament in the penultimate race and took it well. Bromby and Percy, at the start of the race started behind the pack on Port, something clearly amiss as they were right at the back off the startline.
Macdonald and Wolffs took the Bull by the horns and crawled off to build an impressive lead on the first lap. Leading from Mark one they looked very composed in one of the longest races of the regatta so far. At mark one only 1 minute 41 seconds seperated the leaders, Canada, from the back of the fleet. Always known as one of the closest classes in the Olympic Games, any small mistakes can be costly, as we have seen here in Athens with some topsy-turvy results coming into most competitors score lines.
Canadaís lead was gradually eaten away by the French team, and Peter BROMBY was not going to spoil his birthday. Despite a sketchy start, Bromby gradually pulled back his disadvantage and after rounding the first mark in fourteenth place continue to sail a cool and competitive race, eventually finishing in third place.
Rohart and Rambeau continued their charge to the front of the fleet and when it came to the final run, they had eaten into the lead of the Canadians, eventually finishing just one second ahead in the battle on the water. The battle on Saturday for the Silver and Bronze medals looks set to be an epic fight between Rohart and Rambeau, MacDonald and Wolffs, and Cayard and Trinter. The latter pair had an indifferent day and ended up seven points behind the Canadians overall.
But it was all Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA at the end of the penultimate day. Grael now has a record breaking five Olympic medals, four of them in the Star Class and one in the Soling in 1984, when the Olympic Sailing Competition was held on the waters of Long Beach (USA). As he crossed the finish line the dignified celebrations perked up when the pair launched themselves off their boat.
Still with a day to go to decided the rest of the medals on Saturday, racing for the final day is sure to be as competitive and close as the rest of the 2004 Competition.
Aug. 25 report for races 7 and 8:
GRAEL and FERREIRA Extend Lead
Race Seven of the Men's Keelboat class was started with a south-westerly wind blowing from 230 degrees at a strength of 10 knots but diminishing as the sea-breeze fought for control of the Saronic Gulf with the gradient Meltemi.
It was a particularly lively race and three crews took their turn in the lead, while others managed to gain gain or lose a huge number of positions and an unfortunate few lost all contact with the front pack in just a leg.
The Italians, Francesco BRUNI and Guido VIGNA, rounded the first top mark in first place, followed three seconds later by Mark NEELEMAN and Peter van NIEKERK (NED), with Swiss pair Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA close behind.
On the first downwind leg, it was the turn of the readily consistent Danish team of Nicklas HOLM and Claus OLESEN to take second position, moving everybody else down one.
Those positions all but stayed consistent on the second beat and on the second lap, the Danish pair rounded the second gate first, followed by the Italians and the Swedes, Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM, who had moved up two positions. The most radical movements, though, were in the last windward/leeward lap of the W3 course, when the USA's, Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER, managed to climb 15 positions on the beat and finish first.
Second were the Brazilians, Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA, who had rounded mark one in twelfth position, while the Italians lost five positions in the beat but gained four in the last leg to finish third.
The wind had shifted 30 degrees before the start of Race 8 and the committee put the top mark at 200 degrees. At the beginning the wind was blowing at eight knots, but gradually it fell down even to five, imposing very slow sailing.
Local sailors Leonidas PELEKANAKIS and Georgios KONTOGOURIS (GRE) rounded the top mark ahead of the fleet and gradually widened the gap with the other boats.
The Swedes gained second place on the second upwind leg from the Germans, Alexander HAGEN and Jochen WOLFRAM, who kept losing ground to finish thirteenth, while the Austrians, Hans SPITZAUER and Andreas HANAKAMP, overtook Bermudans, Peter BROMBY and Lee WHITE, to finish third.
The wind had reduced so dramatically, that the race committee had to shorten the course twice, after the first downwind, and changed the course as the wind had shifted from 200 to 190 degrees. All this in a race that took 1 hour 20 minutes to finish.
The Canadians, Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS, were able to discard their fourteenth position in Race 8, but the USA could not discard their fifteenth, since they have another one from Race 3.
After the Brazilians discarded their seventh position in Race 8, they remained ahead in the overall rankings, widening their lead to 19.2 points from Canada, while the USA are 2.8 points further away.
The Star class sailed race 6 today, in a spectacular northeasterly wind at 17 knots. Coming from the land, the wind was shifty and gusty, creating testing conditions for a good race.
Unfortunately, it was not a good day for the second overall going into day, Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS (CAN). They lost their jib before the starting signal was given in an incident with the Bermudan boat and then sailed the whole race without it. Eventually they finished last. It must have been very frustrating but abandoning would mean getting an extra unnecessary point. After they filled a request for redress (RDG) they were reinstated by the protest committee and given 5.2 points. A bad day also for Greeceís Leonidas PELEKANAKIS and Giorgos KONTOGOURIS who broke their spinnaker pole on the first downwind leg, which affected their performance.
The stronger winds favored some of the pre-competition favourites who had not performed very well until now. The race was won by Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), the leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and one of the teams who have worked hard and prepard hard to be here and put in a good result. They had a good race and claimed the lead in the second beat. Franceís Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU will also have been pleased with their performance, as they fought all the way up from twelfth place in the first rounding to second.
Another crew that seemed to have very good possibilities to be among the leaders was Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL from Great Britain. Today was their best race so far, along with the second race, as they finished third. In fourth place finished the Dutch crew of Mark NEELEMAN and Peter van NIEKERK who again had their best place so far.
Not so for overall leader, Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA), who scored a fifth place, up to now their worst result along with another fifth at the first race. Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER (USA) finished just one place behind them, in sixth.
As usually, an interesting race to watch. The Brazilians made a marginal starboard rounding of the first mark, forcing the Spanish who were on port to tack and not make the mark. The Spanish the chasing fleet, creating a real mess at the mark. In the second downwind leg, things were again rather close, with boats taking an inside overlap at the last moment.
In the overall rankings after six races, the Brazilians have a comfortable lead with 13 points, with their discard being a fifth place! Canadaís crew after being reinstated by the protest committee is second with 20.2. Six points behind lay the USA and the crew from Denmark. A point behind them lays Franceís crew while another two points behind are the Swiss on a tie with the British.
August 23, race 5:
From Buried To Brilliant For Grael
After two days of light, fickle breezes, the Star fleet went out today in the forecast Northerly Meltemi and race five for the fleet started in a solid 10-knot breeze from the north-west.
Up the beat it tended to oscillate to the left and by the time the first boat, the Spanish team of Roberto BERMUDEZ and Pablo ARRARTE who held a minimal three second advantage over Australia's Colin BEASHEL and David GILES, coming back into the frame in the stronger breeze. Behind them it was former World Champions Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR), liking the breezier conditions more as well.
Something happened to the Spanish team on the first run and they supremely turned a three second lead into a 24 seond disadvatage over new leaders, Beashel and Giles. In most fleets around the world that kind of time would perhaps not transfer into many places but here, in Athens, on the Saronic Gulf, at the Olympic Games, 24 seconds in the Star fleet means at eight places.
Percy and Mitchell picked up to second but in a breeze that was always threatening to drop, no one was safe. Regatta leaders Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA seemed to be suffering in the conditions but supremely well prepared, it is never wise to disount the experienced team from South America. Dropping to ninth after the first run, Grael and Ferreira picked up into seventh by the end of the second beat.
The breeze picked up again on the second beat and so did the Canadian team, Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS. From that point on they looked good for the victory, and the overall lead of the regatta at the race 5 stage. Over the next two legs they pulled out their lead on Beashel and Giles Swiss sailors Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA hooked up into third, ahead of the British pair up the second beat but Percy and Mitchell claimed it back down the run.
Then came the usual turnaround. Like what was happening on the Tornado course to the south the breeze was dropping rapidly and on the final run to the finish, the Canadians managed safely to extend their lead, eventually winning by 22 seconds. But it was not the Aussies trailing in their wake, but the familiar faces of Grael and Ferreira who took advantage of the shifty conditions returning to the fleet to pull off a comeback from buried to brilliant, finishing second and retaining the lead overall in the regatta.
The sea breeze fighting with the gradient northerly meant that the light fluky conditions returned in earnest to the Saronic and the remaining race of the day has been rescheduled for tomorrow in the class.
August 22 - races 3 & 4:
Team USA found there was no place to hide as they became the latest victims of the Saronic Sea-breeze that was as unpredictable as ever today. The first race started in six knots and built steadily over the course of the race to an unstable ten knots by the finish. Freddie LOOF and Anders EKSTROMís (SWE) disastrous start to the Olympic Games continued as they were OCS alongside Colin BEASHEL and David GILES (AUS).
At the first mark it was the familiar sight of Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA, the Brazilian clearly telepathically stripping inspiration from Robert SCHEIDT, who at this time was on course for winning his second Gold medal.
A ten-degree shift up the first beat sent a number of teams unexpectedly in positions they were not accustomed to. Such is the tight set up of this group of athletes that one mistake or bit of bad luck can send you reeling to oblivion at the back of the fleet.
Thatís what happened to former World Champions Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR), Pascal RAMBEAU and Xavier ROHART (FRA) and the unfortunate Americans. Team USA never really recovered and despite swopping places with the Greek pair of Leonidas PELEKANAKIS and Georgios KONTOGOURIS, the eventually finished firmly rooted to the back of the pack. There was nowhere to hide for Cayard and Trinter.
Grael and Ferreira extended their lead at the front of the fleet but Nicklas HOLM and Claus OLESEN (DEN) pushed hard all the way - eventually finishing a mere 22 seconds behind Grael, whose win in race three launched him into first place overall.
Race two was a chance for the bottom three to redeem themselves and things started off well in the more stable 10-knot breeze for the British pair of Percy and Mitchell as they popped round mark one in fifth place. Leaders at the first mark after an all-clear start were the Italians, Francesco BRUNI and Guido VIGNA.
Cayard and Trinter were having another shocker and rounded mark one in 13, they did redeem themselves though and picked off a couple of boats to finish 10. That position still dropped them to seventh from their lofty overnight lead.
Itís not looking good for Freddie Loof at the moment, he remains firmly embedded at the bottom of the results going into tacing tomorrow.
Aug. 21 - races 1 & 2:
Americaís Cup legend Paul CAYARD, along with crew Phil TRINTER (USA) started their quest to land their first Olympic medal well as they enjoyed a great start that helped them claim a comfortable victory and the overall lead after two races. A first in the first race and a seventh in the second gave them a narrow advantage over the field at the moment. In the first race, the team led at all marks of the course, while in the second, it had to make a comeback. 'We had a bad start,' said Cayard. 'At the top mark, we were in about fifth but had to almost go downwind to avoid a wall of guys on starboard. We rounded pretty deep, probably around 12th. Overall, we sailed well, weíre going fast. It was just a good first day.'
Backed up by skipper Torben GRAELís unsurpassed Olympic experience, (six Olympic appearances and four medals) the Brazilian team of Grael and Marcelo FERREIRA worked their way up to fifth after a awful first beat when they rounded the windward mark fourth from last in the first race.
The unstable nature of the South-easterly sea breeze, which topped out at six or seven knots, shattered some of the pre-event hopes of the pre-event favourites for solid start to the regatta. This was highlighted by none other than current World and European Champion Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), they rounded the top mark only eight seconds ahead of last plce and never recovered, thus ending up in an abysmal fifteenth.
In a similar fashion, the experienced duo of Peter BROMBY and Lee WHITE (BER), fourth in Sydney, was expected to do better than finish a disappointing last place. Even Britainís highly fancied pairing of Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL, who finished a solid eighth, seemed rarely to be in complete copntrol and comfortable of their position.
LOOF and EKSTROM had seemingly returned to form in the second race of the day as they completed the first upwind leg five seconds ahead of local sailors Leonidas PELEKANAKIS and Georgios KONTOGOURIS (GRE), who eventually finished second. However, on the first downwind the Swedes sunk eight places plummeting their overall placing to thirteenth.
Unlike the Swedish crew, CAYARD and TRINTER rounded the upwind mark in 15th position, but by the time they had completed the second beat had gained eight places and eventually finished sixth. GRAEL and FERREIRA once again gradually hoisted their way to the leading pack and finished fourth. Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (SUI) crossed the finish line ahead of the masters of the Star class.
© Copyright 2007 by starclass.org