Yngling crew can't repeat flawless first-race effort

Cronin drops to 12th overall

Bowie's Hall 15th in Finn class

Sailing

Athens 2004

August 19, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

ATHENS - Success proved to be too much yesterday for the U.S. Yngling team.

Skipper Carol Cronin, Liz Filter and Nancy Haberland put together a perfect first race, never losing the lead and cruising across the finish line 37 seconds ahead of Ukraine's Ruslana Taran.

But when it came time for a repeat performance, they not only lost the magic, but they also seemed to become the victims of voodoo.

Cronin got off cleanly and reached the first mark just 41 seconds off the lead Russian boat. Getting to the second mark in calm seas and 14-knot winds was not a problem, either.

On the run to the third mark, however, a series of small mistakes cost Cronin almost four minutes, and she never recovered.

Earlier in the week, the all-Maryland crew had been visibly bothered by the howling, 25-knot Meltemi wind, acknowledging afterward it was the stiffest breeze they had ever encountered in race conditions.

Tuesday was a rest day for both the Yngling sailors and the wind. By the time racing resumed yesterday afternoon, conditions were more familiar to Cronin, a Bethesda native; Filter of Stevensville, and Haberland of Annapolis. When they lined up for yesterday's first race, they made the most of it.

"We knew the left side was going to pay," Cronin said. "We got a really good start. All of a sudden, we're in front of the group. We were set up well and had a little bit of boat speed advantage on the group. We got there first and tacked, and that was the race."

The feel-good moment didn't linger.

"It fell apart," Cronin said of the second race. "It's a good example of how, with just a couple of small mistakes, all of a sudden you're in the back. In this fleet, that's really easy. The thing about our fleet is that it's just as tough whether you're fighting for first or last."

Cronin dropped to 12th overall with three races to go. Shirley Robertson of Great Britain is in first place, seven points ahead of Dorte Jensen of Denmark.

Kevin Hall of Bowie had finishes of 13th and ninth to drop to 15th overall in the Finn class. Leader Ben Ainslie of Great Britain holds an eight-point advantage with three races left. Ainslie switched to the Finn after winning the gold medal in the Laser class in 2000 and the silver in 1996.

After eight races, the 470 team of Paul Foerster of Rockwall, Texas, and Kevin Burnham of Miami is in second place, just six points behind Great Britain and 23 points ahead of Japan with three races to go.

In the Laser class, Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, Fla., lost ground in his medal quest by dropping from third to fifth overall after finishing sixth and 10th. He had been one point out of the bronze medal but is now nine points out of third place with five races left.

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