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NOT A LUCKY STAR

by Ian Grant on 1 Oct 2000
Rachel Nahum
The American World title winning Star class crew of Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl won the Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold Medal with a gifted sailing science.

Skipper Reynolds has done the 'hard yards' and achieved the results winning the Olympic Silver in Seoul, then Gold four years later in Barcelona.

This high standard of success combined with their World title win earlier this year simply blows away the common opinion that the Reynolds/Liljedahl should thank their lucky stars for the result in the Gold Medal final on Sydney Harbour yesterday.

The ALL STAR team were not the best performers in the first six races of the regatta scoring a 14-3-10-5-6-10 while the defending Savannah Gold Medallists Torben Grael and Mercelo Ferreira of Brazil seemed poised to record a successful title defence with their 3-13-1-2-1-6.

As the results indicated the American crew who know how to fight hard to protect their respected reputation as master Star class sailors were not in real good shape.

However a clever tactical win in race 7 combined with a 2-4-1 which was by far the best four race aggregate leading into the final put them back in the hunt for an Olympic Medal.

But Grael/Ferreira who scored a 7-4-12-3 in the same four races enjoyed a 5 point lead with a total of 27 penalty points lost while the impressive English crew of Ian Walker and Mark Covell held second on countback over the Americans as the trio faced up to the final.

It is now history how Grael and Ferreira 'blew' their chance with a premature start which cost them the chance of winning successive Gold Medals and how Reynolds and Liljedahl won the title after an absorbing tactical battle in the final with the English.

Important wins of this highly technical and tactical nature don't just happen they are made to happen and in this case they were placed in Olympic Medal mode well before the battle lines were drawn on the race course.

Reynolds a perfectionist in the art of preparation had tested all of his sails with extensive evaluation well before the series began and then personally fine tuned them for the ultimate performance.

He and Liljedahl spent several hours in a Sydney sail-loft where Reynolds 'drove' the sewing machine while his 117kg crew mate Liljedahl neatly folded the sails and quietly packed them in the sail bags.

"It's all the small things that add up in Star class racing , get them right then you are in with a chance". Remarked Reynolds.

Those small things added up in a big way during the 1 hour 14 minute final yesterday when they claimed a deserved Gold Medal win over Walker/Covell (GBR) by 1 point with Grael/Ferreira winning the Bronze another 4 points away.

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