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2004 US Olympic Trials

This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49 

US Trials - Third Day Report
By Jan Harley, Media Pro International and Rich Roberts, YachtRacing.com
Mar 22, 2004, 18:35

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First Day's Report
Second Day's Report
Fourth Day's Report
Midway Report
Fifth Day's Report
Sixth Day's Report
Seventh Day's Report
Final Report
Complete results

by Jan Harley
Coconut Grove, Fla. (March 22, 2004) – Three attempts to get a race off at the 2004 US Olympic Team Trials-Sailing were all foiled today by light and fluky air that started out from 320 degrees, went around to 130-140, and finally ended up at 70 degrees by the time boats were crossing the finish of today’s lone race. The sailors endured a ninety minute postponement on the water with not a breath of wind to break the haze, before the arrival of a light breeze that never made it over 10 knots.

”It was a good race, and well worth waiting until 3:20 p.m. to start,” said Jonathan Harley (Middletown, R.I.), US SAILING’s Olympic Director. The Race Committee will attempt to run three races tomorrow, with the first start holding at noon, in an effort to get back on track before Wednesday’s layday.

George Szabo (San Diego, Calif.) and Mark Strube (Miami, Fla.) won today’s race, the fifth of the series. With five races figured into the scoring, the 22 Star teams can now drop their worst race thus far. Once 12 races have been scored the sailors will be able to drop two. Szabo and Strube gained two spots, moving up from sixth to fourth overall on 19 points.

Paul Cayard (Kentfield, Calif.) and Phil Trinter (Lorain, Ohio) added a third from today to their scoreline, and dropping a sixth from day one. They remain in the leader’s spot in the overall scoring on eight points.

Eric Doyle (San Diego, Calif.) with crew Brian Sharp (Norwalk, Conn./Franklin, Mass.) also keep their place in the overall scoring – second – after placing fifth today. They have 15 points thus far for the series.

Vince Brun and Mike Dorgan (both San Diego, Calif.) finished fourth, and with the benefit of dropping their OCS from the first race of the series, now stand third overall on 16 points

Andrew Macdonald and Austin Sperry (both Miami, Fla.) round out the top-five in overall scoring after finishing sixth today. They carry 22 points.


By Rich Roberts for YachtRacing.com
Szabo and Merriman Take it Lightly

Monday's wind: E and shifty, 7-9 knots.
Tuesday's forecast (by Chris Bedford): Wind NE, 16-21 knots, possible gusts
to 25.

MIAMI, Fla.---George Szabo and Rick Merriman haven't asked for much in sailing conditions at the U.S. Olympic Star class trials---in fact, the less the better. They're from San Diego, a venue notorious for gentle breeze.

"I like flat water and light air," Szabo said after winning Race 5 by three boat lengths over Merriman Monday.

"We do well in the light-to-moderate stuff," said Merriman, who sailed with Bill Bennett as crew.

The results, factoring in the first of two discards in the 16-race series, lifted Szabo and crew Mark Strube from sixth to fourth place and left Merriman and Bennett in ninth but now separated from the rest of the pack in the current upper echelon of the competition.

Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter shadowed Szabo and Merriman to the finish line in third place to strengthen their grip on first place overall. After dropping a sixth place, they have eight points to 15 for runners-up Eric Doyle and Brian Sharp. Vince Brun is only one point farther back after finishing fourth Monday and tossing his 23-point OCS from opening day.

Mark Reynolds, who has won these trials to represent the U.S. in the last four Olympiads and collected two gold medals and a silver, slipped to seventh overall with his worst finish in 13th place. But with 11 races remaining, nobody who knows his record for coming from out of the pack to win---as he did at Sydney four years ago---is about to count him out.

There was only one race instead of the scheduled two, and it took 3 hours 20 minutes to get that off on the fourth try after two course shifts.

Mike Dorgan, who sails with Brun, said, "I felt bad for the race committee. The wind was all over the place."

Two starting sequences were aborted seconds before the gun.

The crowd at the leeward end of the starting line
The RC finally went with 8-9 knots from the east, but the fleet of 22 still had to contend with a current that laid the committee boat and pin boat parallel to the line and caused a pileup at the pin end as the boats drifted down the line like they were on a conveyor belt.

Szabo squeezed past Brun, who coaxed his boat around the bow of the pin boat, and they led the fleet off to the left with a healthy lead.

"The current was ripping," Szabo said. "We wanted to be in front of the guys on the left."

Strube said, "If we had been two or three seconds later we would have been in real trouble. Vince was just able to squeeze around the pin and we got out ahead of three boats behind us."

Merriman/Bennett led at the first two marks of the three-lap, windward-leeward course until Szabo slipped past on the second downwind leg.

"We had a bad start but had really good speed," Merriman said. "We ducked everybody and played the shifts. We got half the leaders on a lefty [shift] and the other half on a righty just before the mark."

Szabo said, "On the second run they jibed and we jibed, but they had to go low for clear air and we were able to get by."

The bad news for Szabo and Merriman is that the biggest winds of the regatta so far are forecast for Tuesday: 16-21 knots with gusts to 25. The race committee hopes to run three races to get back on schedule.

Reynolds' crew, Steve Erickson, said, "We're just plugging along. Three races should make it interesting."

Leaders (22 boats, 5 of 16 races, one discard):

1. Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter, San Francisco, 2-(6)-1-2-3, 8 points.
2. Eric Doyle/Brian Sharp, San Diego, 1-1-(9)-8-5, 15.
3. Vince Brun/Mike Dorgan, San Diego, (23/OCS)-9-2-1-4, 16.
4. George Szabo/Mark Strube, San Diego, 4-5-(14)-9-1, 19.
5. Andrew MacDonald/Austin Sperry, Laguna Beach, Calif., (11)-7-5-4-6, 22.
6. John MacCausland/Brad Nichol, Cherry Hill, N.J, 6-8-3-6-(10), 23.
7. Mark Reynolds/Steve Erickson, San Diego, 5-2-10-7-(13), 24.
8. Howie Shiebler/Will Stout, San Francisco, 3-3-6-(23/OCS), 24.
9. Rick Merriman/Bill Bennett, San Diego, 7-4-(17)-13-2, 26.
10. Andy Lovell/Magnus Liljedahl, New Orleans, (23/OCS)-23/DNS-4-3-11, 41.

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