Wadlow, Spaulding move up from eighth
ATHENS, Greece -- The fastest 49er on the Saronic Gulf on Friday was the one with the American flag spinnaker.
Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding won the last of the Day Three's races and jumped into third place in the Olympics with just more than half of the 49er schedule sailed.
Wadlow, of Boston, and Spaulding, of Miami, had the best day of any of the 19 crews, with finishes of eighth, third and first for a total of 50 points after nine races. They moved up from eighth place overall.
"We're getting ourselves back in the hunt, where we need to be," said Wadlow, who, like Spaulding, is in his first Olympics.
The high-performance skiffs, named for their length of 4.99 meters, are easily identifiable by the country flag spinnakers they fly on downwind legs. In race 9, the Stars and Stripes spinnaker crossed the finish line first.
Wadlow had a perfect start, tacking four times in the final 30 seconds before the gun while jockeying with the Italian boat to make sure he got to the right side of the course. He did, and led the whole race, beating the Japanese boat by six seconds.
"That last race, the right was just massively favored," he said. "Our side came out majorly ahead. You just want to get out there as fast as you can."
In race 4 on Wednesday, Wadlow was over the starting line early and was disqualified.
Since the 49er class sails 16 races, each crew gets to toss out its worst two finishes. That means Wadlow and Spaulding were able to drop their race 4 disqualification. With that bad result out of the way, Wadlow and Spaulding have finished in the top nine in every race.
"We generally try and sail pretty conservatively," Wadlow said. "Making sure that we're staying out of the double digits is our goal. Any day where all three races are single digits is fine with us."
Spain and Ukraine were tied for the lead with 47 points. Four boats were within nine points of Wadlow and Spaulding.
The 49ers will be off Saturday before sailing three more races on Sunday.
Also Friday, Brazil's Robert Scheidt sailed closer to his second gold medal in the Finn class. He finished seventh and third to open a nine-point lead over Austria's Andreas Geritzer, with the deciding 11th race scheduled for Sunday. Scheidt won the gold medal in 1996 and the silver in 2000. He's also won an unprecedented seven world titles.
Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, Fla., was sixth to remain in 10th place. Mendelblatt has had a disappointing regatta. He finished second to Scheidt in this year's world championship.
In the Europe, Norway's Siren Sundby won two races to open a 20-point lead over Lenka Smidova of the Czech Republic. The deciding 11th race will be Sunday.
Meg Galliard of Pelham, N.Y., finished ninth and 19th to drop to 13th overall.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press