After three days of measurement and a practice race, the 2003 Pan American Games are underway in Santo Domingo. 119 sailors from 16 countries will compete on the brilliant blue waters of Andreas Bay and two races are scheduled daily for the next six days.
US SAILING's Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC) has sent a full team to compete in the Pan Am Games' seven sailing classes (eight disciplines that mirror those found in the Olympics). Two of them--Laser (men) and Mistral (men and women)--utilise the same equipment used in the Olympic Regatta. Five are non-Olympic classes--Laser Radial (women), Hobie 16, J/24, Snipe and Sunfish (all open).
13 athletes on the U.S.A.'s Pan Am Games Team-Sailing are set to begin racing and only Canada has fielded as large a team as the U.S.A., with Brazil following closely with a 12-man team. The smallest team is Antigua's with one athlete.
"The team has had lots of fun with pomp and circumstance over the past few days,"
said Team Leader Fred HAGEDORN, referring to the colourful opening ceremonies where sailors participated in a Parade of Athletes, "but now it's time to hit the water for some serious competition. We have a strong, well balanced team that has come together quickly and is very supportive of each other."
By its own assessment, the U.S. team feels well positioned; however, the international talent pool is deep in several classes.
In Sunfish, Jeff LINTON has to battle seven-time world champion Eduardo CORDERO (VEN), three-time world champion Donald MARTINBOROUGH (BAH) and two-time world champion Malcolm SMITH (BER).
In Lasers it will be Brazil's Robert SCHEIDT, a two-time Pan Am and Olympic medallist and six-time world champion that will most likely give Ben RICHARDSON the best run for his money.
In Hobie 16s, the husband-and-wife team of Paul and Mary Ann HESS say Enrique FIGUEROA, Puerto Rico's 2000 Olympic Tornado representative, is "blazing fast."
Also sailing for Team U.S.A. are Henry FILTER and Lisa GRIFFITH in the Snipe; Tim HEALY with crew Nick JUDSON, Gordon BORGES and Davenport in the J/24; Sally in the Laser Radial; and Mistral sailors Peter WELLS and Lanee BUTLER.
The Pan American Games showcases all 28 Olympic sports and seven non-Olympic events. Over 640 members of the U.S.A.'s 2003 Pan American Games Team delegation stopped through Team Processing in Tampa, Fla., before heading to Santo Domingo. Just like at the Olympics, athletes were briefed on logistics relating to the event, underwent medical examinations and received their official team apparel.
In an unprecedented move, team captains from each sport (including sailing's Lanee Butler) voted boatwright Carl EICHENLAUB to carry the flag for the U.S.A.'s entire delegation during the Parade of Athletes at Opening Ceremonies. He became the first-ever non-athlete at either the Pan Am Games or the Olympics to do so.