BARCELONA, Spain -- The campaign lasted four years, cost $450,000 and took the sailors away from their homes and families for months at a time.
And yesterday, in the biggest race of their careers, the skipper and crew of the U.S. Olympic soling team gave away the 1992 Summer Games gold -- at the start.
After losing the first race in the best-of-three gold-medal match against Denmark, the U.S. team was penalized and required to make a 270-degree turn after the two boats touched just before the start of Race 2. Denmark took advantage of the mistake and took the second race.
The judges saw the hit and determined it was the U.S. team's fault.
"We were in very good position on the line and just misjudged how close the boats were together," said Jim Brady, of Annapolis.
Brady, Kevin Mahaney, of Bangor, Maine, and Doug Kern, of Austin, Texas, accepted the silver and gave the United States its ninth medal in 10 sailing events -- more than any nation has ever won in Olympic competition in the sport.
"No one likes to lose races, but at this level, we're all happy to win a medal," Kern said.
Earlier, the Americans beat bronze medalist Great Britain in the semifinals.
Before the race, Mahaney said the outcome would not change his plans of rejoining his family in Maine and restarting his marketing career. Brady also hinted that he would like a new challenge, possibly joining an America's Cup campaign.
"After four years of all of us sailing together, the team is going to take a break," Brady said. "It's time for a new boat for all of us."
Mark Reynolds of San Diego and Hal Haenel of Los Angeles accounted for the American gold by capturing the Star class, clinching the medal with a race to go. They won the silver in 1988.