Americans still in hunt in Tornado class

Updated: August 26, 2004, 11:26 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Brazil's Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira clinched the Star class gold medal Thursday with one race left, while Americans John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree closed in on at least a silver in the Tornado class.

Lovell and Ogletree finished well in two races aboard their catamaran, putting them within three points of defending Olympic champions Austria going into Saturday's final race.

The silver and bronze medals in the Star class also will be decided Saturday. American skipper Paul Cayard, in his first Olympics at 45, and crew Phil Trinter, are ranked fourth overall with 56 points, nine points shy of the silver.

Grael, 44, has won five medals in six Olympics, dating to his silver in the Soling class in 1984. Grael also won the Star gold in 1996, and has two bronzes.

Grael and Ferreira sailed a consistent regatta against a fleet loaded with some of the world's best sailors. In 10 races, they were out of the top seven only once, finishing 11th in the first of Thursday's two races for the 17-boat fleet. In the second race, they finished fourth to win the gold.

Grael was the tactician for Prada Challenge in the 2003 America's Cup, helping the Italian-based crew eliminate Cayard's AmericaOne in the challenger finals. Luna Rossa was then swept in five races by Team New Zealand.

On the 49er course, Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez of Spain lived up to their billing as favorites by winning the gold medal.

They finished seventh in the deciding 16th race to win the gold by five points over Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk of Ukraine, who took silver. Martinez and Fernandez won the world championships earlier this year.

Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks got the bronze, the fifth medal for Britain at this regatta. Hiscocks won the silver medal at Sydney in 2000 with skipper Ian Barker.

Americans Tim Wadlow of Boston and Pete Spaulding of Miami, knocked out of medal contention on Tuesday, finished fifth in their first Olympics.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press