Little shelter from the storms

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With only three of the 16 scheduled races completed on the opening day of the sailing regatta, the pop-up storm conditions that are a feature of the sultry Savannah climate created havoc for the organisers afloat. And the organisation ashore continued to draw the sort of criticism that has threatened to overshadow the efforts of the athletes.

The three-man Solings, two-man Stars and the Finn single-handers completed a race be- fore diving for cover under a white storm which had many worrying they would be hit by lightning. The Tornado catamarans were on the last leg of their race when it was abandoned because the wind direction swung through 180 deg- rees - not the steady race track which is required.

The other four classes, Lasers and Europes, and men's and women's windsurfers, were already battened down on the floating barges which make up the day marina. The boardsailing men took matters into their own hands after hanging around for an hour. They picked up their sails and went home, dictating their wishes to the race officer.

The best result of the day for Britain came in the Solings, where Andy Beadsworth, Barry Parkin and Adrian Stead took no chances. They were seventh at the end of the first leg and seventh at the finish. "Our race was fine," Stead said. "We were only ever on the fringes of the storm during the race, and that was on the first run. It was on the way home that we were hit by the heads of the storm. Still, it was a good opener, a reasonable start, and something to build on."

The winner was America's Jeff Madrigali, who sailed extra distance looking for stronger wind under the cloud of the approaching storm. He found it and went from ninth to first. "It was a brave call," Stead said. "Not one we would have made."

The Canadian Ross MacDonald won the Star race only to be disqualified on a protest from the defending gold medallist, the American Mark Reynolds, that he had not been given proper room rounding a mark. That moved Torben Grael, of Brazil, up to No 1, and the 1992 silver medallist Rod Davis, of New Zealand, to second, and Reynolds up from fourth to third.

Spain's defending gold medallist, Jose-Maria van der Ploge, came through strongly to win the Finn race from Yuri Tooviy of the Ukraine and Michael Maier of the Czech Republic.

The forecast yesterday was for more of the same weather. The 470s are scheduled to begin racing today.