SAN DIEGO—With silver medals already in their pockets from Athens in 2004, John Lovell of New Orleans and crew Charlie Ogletree of Kemah, Tex. aren’t complacent about their bright prospects for representing the U.S. in their fourth Olympic Games at Qingdao, China in 2008. Their goal is higher than that.
“Definitely,” Lovell said after the 39-year-old veterans posted third and first places on the final day of the Tornado catamaran competition in the US Sailing Pre-Trials Sunday. “We came back for this campaign to win a gold medal.”
The three-day event hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club was the first of three weekends of Pre-Trial events for 8 of the 11 Olympic classes in Southern California, collectively grouped as US Olympic Trials West.
Lovell and Ogletree’s tuning partners, Enrique Figueroa and Jorge Hernandez of Puerto Rico, finished second overall in the 12-boat fleet, five points behind the winners and three ahead of the next best American team of Robbie Daniel and Hunter Stunzi of Florida.
Winds were a light 6 knots for Sunday’s first race but built to 12 for the second, giving Lovell and Ogletree a boost in their preferred conditions.
“We were able to double trapeze downwind,” Ogletree said. “That was fun, and we won by about one-and-a-half minutes.”
Next month their campaign moves to Argentina for the South American Tornado championships, a tune-up for the Worlds in Buenos Aires starting Nov. 18. Another major step will come in Portugal next year in their first opportunity to qualify the U.S. for the Olympics in the Tornado class. Each country must demonstrate a high level of performance in a class before any of its individual competitors are allowed to compete.
“After the Worlds we’ll take a littler time to rest, then start to focus again,” Ogletree said.
Next weekend (Oct. 20-22) the 49ers will be at Southwestern YC in San Diego, the Finns at Newport Harbor YC and the Stars at California YC in Marina del Rey. The spectacle will finish Oct. 26-29 with four days of racing for the men’s and women’s 470s at the US Sailing Center in Long Beach and the men’s and women’s RS:X—the new Olympic sailboard—just down the street at Alamitos Bay YC.
A year from now the same venues in San Diego, Newport Beach, Long Beach and Marina del Rey will host the formal Olympic Trials to select the one boat in eight of the 11 classes that will represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic sailing at Qingdao, China in 2008.
Pre-Trials for the other three Olympic classes—Laser, Laser Radial and Yngling, plus 2.4mR, Sonar and SKUD-18 for disabled sailors—were sailed at Newport, R.I. this weekend.
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