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A single-handed (one-man) dinghy designed around the philosophy that the sailor wins the race, not the boat. First produced in 1970, it became popular during a boom period for recreational sailing. The International Laser made its Olympic debut in 1996. It is ideal for the sailor of 150 or more pounds.

Strong quadriceps are essential because the sailor spends most of the time hiking out _ feet under a strap, body extended over one side to balance the boat in a strong side wind. All the weight is taken by the legs.

Laser strategy also involves a sailor's behind. Under different situations, swinging it or bumping it up and down or forward can push the boat ahead.

TOP U.S. LASER SAILORS: Mark Mendelblatt, St. Petersburg; John Myrdal, Kailua, Hawaii; Andrew Lewis, Honolulu; Zack Railey, Clearwater; Andrew Campbell, San Diego; Brad Funk, Largo; Brett Davis, Largo.

WHAT TO EXPECT: It came down to Mendelblatt and Myrdal in the trials four years ago in San Francisco and it probably will be that way in Houston, too.

Specifications: U.S. Standard Metric

Overall length 13 feet, 11 inches 4.24 meters

Length at Waterline 12 feet, 6 inches 3.81 meters

Beam 4 feet, 6 inches 1.37 meters

Draft 6 inches 0.14 meters

Sail Area 75.99 sq. feet 7.06 sq. meters

Displacement 125 pounds 56.7 kilograms


So named because the overall length is 470 centimeters. It was designed in 1963 by Andre Cornu of France as a modern double-handed (two-person) fiberglass planing dinghy, meaning it rises partly out of the water as a hydroplane does at high speeds. The 470 was given international status in 1969 and has been a men's Olympic class since 1976. In 1988 the first Olympic women's event was sailed in a 470.

Tactically the boat is demanding because speed differences are small and fleets usually are big. The best combined weight of the skipper and his crew is 280-300 pounds, somewhat smaller for women. The skipper usually is smaller, the crew larger because the latter stands on the edge of the boat and leans backward over the water to keep the mast as vertical as possible.

TOP U.S. 470 SAILORS: Men (skipper and crew) _ Paul Foerster, Garland, Texas, and Kevin Burnham, Coral Gables; Steven Hunt, Poquoson, Va., and Michael Miller, Charleston, S.C.; Mark Ivey, Huntington Beach, Calif., and Ward Cromwell, New Orleans; Thomas Hall, Scarborough, Maine, and Dave Hughes, South Portland, Maine; Stuart McNay, Chestnut Hill, Mass., and Ross Anderson, Preston, Conn.

Women (skipper and crew): Allison Jolly, St. Petersburg, and Sue Reischmann, Palmetto; Erin Maxwell, Shoreline, Wash.; Katie McDowell, Barrington, R.I., and Isabelle Kinsolving, New York; Courtenay Dey, Rye, N.Y., and Linda Wennerstrom, Miami; Molly O'Bryan, San Diego, and Annelise Moore, Kailua, Hawaii.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Foerster and Burnham have by far the best credentials. They were the top U.S. finishers at the 470 World Championships in September in Cagliari, Italy, finishing sixth overall to assure the United States its Olympic berth. Foerster has two Olympic silver medals, from 1992 in the Flying Dutchman and 2000 in the 470; Burnham has one from 1992 in the 470. Among the women, it's more likely to be a tossup; Maxwell and Morgan were 28th and McDowell and Kinsolving 31st at the worlds.

Specifications U.S. Standard Metric

Length 15 feet, 5 inche 4.70 meters

Beam 5 feet, 6 inches 1.68 meters

Weight 264 pounds 120 kilograms

Mast 22 feet, 3 inches 6.78 meters

Boom 8 feet, 8 inches 2.65 meters

Spinnaker Pole 6 feet, 3 inches 1.90 meters

Jib 39 sq. ft. 3.58 sq. meters

Mainsail 98 sq. ft. 9.12 sq. meters

Spinnaker 140 sq. ft. 13 sq. meters

Total Sail Area (excl. spinnaker) 137 sq. ft. 12.7 sq. meters


The word is French; it refers to a violent and cold northwest wind experienced in the Mediterranean. The one-man or one-woman windsurfer is the world's fastest monohull sailing craft, popular because of its speed, small size, low cost and portability.

It is the Olympic One-Design sailboard; a sailor's size isn't as important as upper-body strength and overall athleticism. Depending on sea conditions, it can be sailed in wind speeds from 5 to 35 knots. The mistral debuted at the 1984 Olympics; the first women's Olympic windsurfing event was in 1992.

TOP U.S. MISTRAL SAILORS: Men _ Peter Wells, Newport Beach, Calif.; Ben Barger, St. Petersburg; Kevin Jewett, Deephaven, Minn.; Philip Muller, Fort Pierce; Steve Bodner, Toledo, Ohio, and San Francisco.

Women _ Lanee Beashel-Butler, Aliso Viejo, Calif.; Beth Winkler, Cocoa Beach; Taylor Duch Savannah, Ga.; Laura Lewandowski, Indialantic; Farrah Hall, Annapolis, Md.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Wells has won the past three Mistral Nationals and Barger has been runner-up each time. They almost certainly will finish 1-2 again, but who'll be first is too close to call. Jewitt likely will win some of the races Wells and Barger don't _ assuming they don't win them all.

Specifications U.S. Standard Metric

Maximum length: 12 feet, 2{ inches 3.72 meters

Maximum beam: 2 feet, 1{ inches 0.635 meters

Draft: 2 feet, 5{ inches 0.75 meters

Board weight: 33.069 pounds 15 kilograms

Rig weight: 13.228 pounds 6 kilograms

Sail area: 79.6537 sq. ft. 7.4 sq. m