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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | YACHTING

Sailors Come In Out of Savannah Rain

July 23, 1996|Times Wire Services

A U.S. crew won the first heat of the Soling class in Savannah, Ga., but 13 of 16 yacht races were losers to the weather, as lightning and torrential rain put the competition on hold.

Skipper Jeff Madrigali and his crew of Jim Barton and Kent Massey defeated a runner-up Russian team by 5 1/2 seconds, with a team from Ireland in third.

The Americans were in ninth place around the first mark, but gradually hauled in the fleet to win comfortably.

But many of the competitors wanted no part of the conditions on the water.

"I was very, very scared of the thunder and lightning," said Spain's Jose Maria van der Ploeg, who won the Finns class heat. "Lightning was hitting the water around me."

In the only other completed race, the Canadian team of Ross MacDonald and Eric Jespersen won in the Star class, with defending gold medalists Mark Reynolds of San Diego and Hal Haenel of Los Angeles finishing fourth.

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