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Regatta Report - 1996 Olympics, Savannah, Georgia, USA

1996 Olympics, Savannah, Georgia, USA
The following report appeared in the 1997 Star Class Log and was transcribed by David Bolles
Complete results for 1996

The 1996 Olympic Regatta was sailed in Savannah, Georgia, USA. The ten race series, from July 22 to July 29, 1996 showed a variety of conditions to the 25 competing teams.

Race One was sailed on a windward / leeward course, the first race of the ten race Olympic regatta got underway in a nice 8-10 knot breeze after a long delay. Rod Davis (NZQ) and Don Cowie won the start but lost their advantage on the first windward leg as a wind shift favored the right side of the course. The shift gave Ross Macdonald (CAN) and Eric Jespersen the lead over Torben Grael (BRA) and Marcelo Ferreira who both sailed to the right-hand side, Macdonald further than Grael. Third around the top mark was Davis followed by Mark Reynolds (USA) and Hal Haenel. The top boats remained in this order to the finish.
This race, however, was not without Protest. There were two protests lodged, Reynolds and Macdonald and Anastassios Bountouris (GRE) against Hans Wallen (SWE). The Protest was upheld against Macdonald, which bumped the team to last place.

This race was completed with just enough time for the sails to be lowered before a wind squall hit, leaving boats floating around for an hour in torrential rain, thunder and lightning before the race committee called the second race of the day.

The second race of the regatta was sailed in 10- 12 knots of wind with choppy seas. At the start of this windward / leeward course two boats were over the line early bad luck befell Macdonald again as he was judged a premature starter. The final standings at the finish were Colin Beashel (AUS) and David Giles, followed by Reynolds / Haenel and third being captured by Enrico Chieffi (TA) and Roberto Sinibaldi.

The importance of good boat speed was prevalent in race three which was started in 18-20 knots of wind, with five foot seas on a windward / leeward course. The best start went to Beashel at the pin end of the line with Davis closely behind. At the first mark the lead went to Chieffi by a half boat length from Beashel with Frank Butzmann (GER) and Kai Falkenthal on their heels. The best gains of the race were made by Grael and Reynolds who recovered from bad positions at the first mark. Race three concluded with Beashel in first position, Grael in second and Macdonald finishing third.

Race four sailing conditions were less than perfect with the windward / leeward extra course being started in light shifty winds, 6-8 knots, and lumpy seas with the day ending in thunderstorms. The best starts today were by Reynolds and Csaba Haranghy (HUN) and Andras Komm. Wallen, who was in fourth in the overall standings before this race, had to restart as he was over early. The team of Beashel and Giles held a commanding lead after the first windward mark. Beashel was able to increase his lead on the downwind leg. Beashel continued to sail an outstanding race to finish approximately 25 boat lengths ahead of second place finisher Michael Hestbaek (DEN) and Martin Heijlsberg. Third position in race four went to Bountouris (GRE) and Boukis.

 Race Five was started in 13 knots of wind with thunderstorms once again ending the day. This windward / leeward race was started with no leader at the start. The fleet split tacks and by the first windward mark it was clear that the right side was favored with Chieffi and Sinibaldi rounding first followed by Jose Luis Doreste (ESF) and Javier Hermida and Reynolds and Haenel. Only thirty seconds separated the top ten positions! Grael and Ferreira, rounding the first windward mark in 7th position, improved their position by the second windward leg to lead at that mark and finish first beating second place finisher Wallen and Lohse by nine seconds. Third place was taken by Chieffi with fourth being Glyn Charles (GBR) and George Skuodas and Reynolds and Haenel finished fifth.

The start of race six was delayed due to light and shifty winds finally starting in 8 knots of breeze. The series leaders Grael and Beashel were only separated by one point going into this race. Both had good starts but halfway up the windward leg Grael was ahead of Beashel. By the first mark Wallen was in the lead with Chieffi and Grael close behind. On the downwind leg the fleet split gybes after a wind shift was signaled. In the light conditions there was no change in the leaders with Wallen maintaining his lead. Beashel gained a lead over Grael on the last windward leg and finished third behind second place Chieffi and first place Wallen. Grael finished fourth with Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) and Andreas Hanakamp having their best finish in fifth place.

The second race of the day, race seven, was started in 10 knots of wind on a windward / leeward extra course. The fleet jammed up at the boat end of the starting line with the right side of the course being favored. A couple boats were over early and received an individual recall but failed to return; Donald Mclean (CAY) and Carson Ebanks along with Jose Luis Doreste (ESP) and Javier Hermida received a pms.

The majority of the fleet favored the right side of the course and some overstood the mark as the wind kept shifting to the right. The first windward mark found Chieffi in the lead. The race committee had shortened the final two legs of the course to 1.7nm because of impending storms. With the breeze shifting a lot, major changes in positions occurred but Bountouris took the lead by the second mark and held it until the finish capturing their first win. Beashel finished second with Wallen in third.
Due to lack of wind, race eight saw another postponement in the start. The eighth race was started at 14:06 on a windward / leeward extra course in 6 knots of breeze. The winners of the start were Wallen and Chieffi starting on the pin end. In these very shifty winds most of the fleet headed up the middle of the course on the first leg. After rounding the last leeward mark, Doreste had extended his lead to the largest margin seen in this series— over one minute. Doreste and Hermida practically led the entire race taking first in race eight and showing their skills as terrific light air sailors. They won the race by one minute and thirty-four seconds over second place finisher Grael with Charles finishing third.

Going into race nine, two teams were sitting with 23 points each, Beashel and Giles in first and Grael and Ferreira in second. Third in overall standings was Wallen and Lohse with 28 points. After this race two throw-outs were allowed.

Race nine was delayed for almost three hours due to lack of wind but the race was finally started in 6 knots of wind with a low swell. Frank Butzmann and Kai Falkenthal led the race around the first two marks with Beashel in ninth and Grael in fourteenth. On the second windward leg Beashel did not cover Grael or Wallen as they went to the right side of the course allowing them to sail through him. Davis and Cowie also went to the right and took the winning position from Butzmann who finished second followed by Bountouris. The overall leaders found themselves further back in the day's results with Grael finishing sixth, Wallen in eighth and Beashel in ninth position.

With the two throw-outs taken after this race, the standings going into race ten were Grael and Ferreira with 22 points, Beashel and Giles with 23 points and Wallen and Lohse with 28; all in contention for the Gold.

The final race of this Olympic regatta was sailed in 10-12 knot winds on the windward / leeward extra course. After two general recalls, with the committee raising the 'round-the ends' flag, there was an individual recall with no boats returning. Beashel and Chieffi were pms. With Beashel out, the Gold contention was left to Wallen and Grael with Beashel having a chance for the Bronze.

The fleet was led around the first mark by Wallen and Lohse with Doreste and Hermida, Mark Mansfield (IRL) and David Burrows close behind. Grael was in fourth. At the second windward mark Wallen was able to hold his lead and continued to stay in the lead most of the race. Grael moved into third on the last legs. Wallen and Lohse were able to hold onto the lead with a one second win over Doreste and Hermida, Grael and Ferreira finished third with Mansfield and Burrows finishing in fourth.
Grael and Ferreira were able to take the Gold over Wallen and Lohse who needed to beat Grael by at least six places.

Medals were awarded at a ceremony held at Morrell Park in Savannah on July 29. Our own Sir Durward Knowles presented the medals to the Star sailors.