The 43rd Olympic Classes Regatta hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club starts on Friday

As the winds of war build over US armed forces in the Middle East, other young American men and women will face only sea breezes Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the 43rd Olympic Classes Regatta hosted by Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.

Up to now, at least, their primary thoughts of international conflict have been to represent their country in the 2004 Olympic Games at Athens, Greece. To stay that course in an unsteady world, this competition brings together leading contenders for single US berths in the Europe, 49er, Finn and Laser classes, among other competitors.

For the women’s single-handed Europe dinghy, it’s the last of four events for ranking the 2003 US team for purposes of campaign funding and other support from the US Olympic Committee. Six of the top eight are entered, led by 2000 US. Trials runner-up Meg Gaillard of Jamestown, RI, and Krysia Pohl, Alameda, Calif.

With a victory in the recent Olympic pre-trials and second place in the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, Gaillard holds a narrow lead over Pohl for the top ranking.

In the acrobatic 49er fleet, 2000 bronze medallists Jonathan and Charlie McKee stepped aside the last two years to sail with Seattle’s OneWorld America’s Cup challenge, opening the door for a strong new order to evolve. Tim Wadlow of Branford, Conn., and crew Peter Spaulding, Coral Gables, Fla., won the class’s only two 2003 team ranking events to clinch the No. 1 position.

But it will be business as usual against the veteran team of Andy Mack, White Salmon, Wash., and Adam Lowry, San Francisco, and an onrushing generation of contenders including Dalton Bergan and Zack Maxam, Coronado, Calif.; David Fagen, St. Petersburg, Fla. and Bora Gulari, Detroit, and Mike Karas and Anthony Boscolo, Seattle.

The Finns and Lasers, led by Mo Hart, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Andrew Campbell, San Diego, respectively, also have completed their 2003 ranking processes. However, like the 49ers, the top players find Long Beach site of the 1984 Olympic sailing a valuable venue for testing, training and staying on top of their games.

Most of the Finn elite should show up, while the Lasers expect to turn out more than 40 entries, including as many as 16 Canadian snowbirds.

The weather forecast is for sunshine with high temperatures in the high 60s to 70 and breeze by mid-day.

Each class will attempt to run 10 races over three days, except for the 49ers who will go for 15. First warnings will be at 12.15 pm Friday and 11.15 am Saturday and Sunday.

An awards ceremony, including ABYC perpetual trophies for class winners, will be held on the club’s waterside patio following the final race on Sunday.