One by one, the flag spinnakers popped open as they caught the breeze, propelling a fleet of colorful 49ers downwind on the Saronic Gulf yesterday. No one needed a program to figure out where these Olympic crews were from.
The Swiss boat rounded the windward mark first and hoisted a spinnaker with a red background and white cross, followed by the Ukraine boat and its blue-and-yellow chute, then the British with their Union Jack.
The Stars and Stripes spinnaker appeared when Tim Wadlow of Boston and Pete Spaulding of Miami rounded in eighth. The Rising Sun, a few tricolors, the crosses of the Scandinavian countries and even the flag of India were in the fleet as well.
The only problem was that there was only enough wind to fill the splashy sails on the high-performance skiffs for one race, another frustrating day on the Saronic Gulf. The sea breeze and the northerly Meltemi battled for domination, leaving light, patchy wind. Wadlow and Spaulding were in fifth on the third of four legs, but fell back three spots.
"It was pretty sketchy today," Wadlow said. "Not the greatest conditions for racing."
A strong Meltemi had blown out three scheduled 49er races Monday. But yesterday, two American skippers strengthened their standing.
Paul Foerster and crew Kevin Burnham had finishes of 10th and fourth in the men's 470. They remained in second place but pulled within two points of Britain's Nick Rogers-Joe Glanfield with five races left. Foerster and Burnham are former silver medalists.
The U.S. women's 470 crew, Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving, were ninth and second to move up to seventh overall with five races left. Europe skipper Meg Galliard of Pelham, N.Y., was 14th and ninth, and is 10th overall after four races.
Mark Mendelblatt was 20th and sixth in the Laser class to move up to fourth, one point out of bronze medal position with seven races left.
Andy Roddick and Roger Federer both found themselves mired in three-set struggles last night. Roddick pulled out a dramatic victory. Federer didn't.
The top-ranked Federer was beaten, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, by Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on Court 1. A short walk away in the main stadium, No. 2 Roddick saved three match points and overcame 2000 silver medalist Tommy Haas of Germany, 6-4, 3-6, 9-7, to reach the third round.
"This Olympic tennis thing is a lot different," Roddick said. "You're playing for your country. It's a lot easier to accept defeat when it's just on you."
U.S. teammates rooting for Roddick in the sold-out stands included Venus Williams. She beat Maja Matevzic of Slovenia, 6-0, 6-0, earlier -- the first shutout for a man or woman since tennis returned to the Olympics as a medal sport in 1988.
That match lasted just 39 minutes, and Williams was thinking much of that time about her loss with Chanda Rubin in doubles Monday night.
"I'm still in shock. I'm not used to losing, especially in a first round. It's pretty tough," she said.
Two other major champions lost. Feliciano Lopez of Spain eliminated No. 9 Marat Safin, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, while Mardy Fish of the United States came back to upset No. 5 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Fish's teammate, Taylor Dent, won, too, but Vince Spadea lost to No. 10 Nicolas Massu of Chile.
Top-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne was nearly as impressive as Williams, beating Maria Vento-Kabchi of Venezuela, 6-2, 6-1.
The United States couldn't afford another loss in its ultra-competitive men's volleyball pool, and Clay Stanley made sure it didn't happen. Stanley scored 21 points and fellow rookie Reid Priddy added nine kills to lead the Americans to a crucial sweep of the Netherlands, 26-24, 25-20, 25-18.
The U.S. team ended a nine-match Olympic losing streak in the process, a skid that dated from the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Ilias Iliadis of Greece thrilled the home crowd, beating Roman Gontyuk of Ukraine to win the gold medal in the 81-kilogram class.
Japan's Ayumi Tanimoto beat Claudia Heill of Austria to win the 63kg division. Japan has won four gold medals and a silver in the first eight judo events.
Dmitri Nossov of Russia and Flavio Canto of Brazil shared the bronze in the men's competition, and Driulys Gonzalez Morales of Cuba and Urska Zolnir of Slovenia did so in the women's.
Sheikh Ahmed Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates tied an Olympic record, easily winning the gold medal in men's double trap.
Maktoum scored 189 points, finishing 10 shots ahead of Rajyavardhan Rathore of India.
Mikhail Nestruev of Russia won the gold medal in 50-meter pistol.
Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka shut out Cuba for eight innings, leading Japan to a 6-3 victory that will go down in Olympic history and his country's lore.
The round robin victory was a breakthrough for Japan, which sat on the sideline while Cuba and the United States won the first three golds in Olympic play.
Their 23-year-old pitcher allowed only four hits as Japan pulled ahead 6-0 after eight innings. Ariel Pestano's two-run double with one out in the ninth broke the shutout.
It was only Cuba's third loss in four Olympics, a barometer of its world dominance at the amateur level.
Wolf Wigo scored four goals as the United States rallied for a 9-6 win over Kazakhstan.
The Americans improved to 2-0, including a last-second 7-6 win over Croatia in their opener.
In other matches, Francesco Postiglione scored three goals and Italy rebounded from a loss to Spain with an 8-4 win over Australia.
Lee Jung Seon scored late in the second half to give the South Korean men a 3-2 win over Britain.
Australia tied Argentina, 2-2, on a late goal from Jamie Dwyer.
The Hungarian women, the silver medalists at the 2000 Olympics, won their second straight match, 33-20, over Greece.
Oxana Rayhel led Ukraine with nine goals in a 26-21 victory over China.