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2004 US Olympic Trials

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

US Olympic Trials - Halfway Report
By Rich Roberts for YachtRacing.com
Mar 24, 2004, 19:21

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

No racing Wednesday (lay day).

Thursday's forecast (by Chris Bedford): Strong winds.

MIAMI, Fla.---George Szabo of San Diego couldn't be more pleased with his performance nearly halfway through the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Star class.

"We had a fantastic day," he exulted as he bounced off his boat at the end of the first phase of competition leading into Wednesday's lay day. "[Crew Mark] Strube's doing an awesome job. We're sailing well, sailing smart."

He paused soberly and added, "Just not fantastic enough."

Even after five top five finishes, including a first and a second, in the first seven of 16 scheduled races, Szabo/Strube are in third place, one point behind ageless Vince Brun and his crew, Mike Dorgan. The latter have all single-digit finishes since an opening OCS that is their discard.

But Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter are 14 points in front of them and seemingly sailing in a different zone than everyone else (2-(6)-1-2-3-1-1, 10 points).

Brun, 57, like Cayard a former world champion who has raced against the great ones all of his adult life, walked over to congratulate Cayard in the boatyard at the U.S. Sailing Center with genuine praise mixed with a dash of awe.

Later, Brun said, "It seems like Paul has some zap. He's sailing very well and playing his cards just right. Before, he was in the middle of the pack, but now he has an edge he hasn't had before."

Another contender and world champ, Eric Doyle, said, "He's fast in every condition, upwind and downwind. They've put in the most effort, so it's not surprising."

Cayard and Trinter have been sailing together for more than a year since they were together with the Oracle America's Cup team in New Zealand. Each has won a world title in the Star class, Cayard in 1988 with Steve Erickson---Mark Reynolds' current crew---and Trinter with Joe Londrigan in '93.

Cayard, 44, has sailed a Star for 27 years between five America's Cup campaigns, which have been a model for his current effort.

Like most of the contenders, he and Trinter have a coach, John Craig, who monitors their every move for detailed debriefings later. But Cayard and Trinter also have a personal trainer, Sam Broven, who works with other professional athletes and sometimes doubles as a personal chef.

Broven supervises their gym work, wherever they are, almost every day.

Cayard said, "I'm stronger---talking what I can lift and how many reps I can do---than when I was 28 years old."

They'll have no oversights in preparation to regret if they don't win the sole Olympic berth at stake here---and nobody is handing them a ticket to Athens yet, either.

A flock of rivals, such as Reynolds, a four-time Olympian and triple medallist, and Doyle/Brian Sharp, John MacCausland/Brad Nichol, Howie Shiebler/Will Stout and Rick Merriman/Bill Bennett are in position to challenge Cayard/Trinter when the second throwout kicks in after 12 races Friday or Saturday and they can toss their worst results.

But Cayard/Trinter's leverage is formidable in that their worst finish has been sixth, so they can afford two bad races before getting into serious trouble.

"The challenge is to keep it together for the last part," Cayard said. "Some people will be looking at us really hard. When we come back [Thursday] it isn't going to be easy."

Trinter, 35, said if their top rivals are somewhat tense at this point, it would be understandable.

"This regatta is different because there's finality to it. Only one boat gets to go. They not only need to sail well but find a way to slow us down.

"Our boat speed's pretty good, so if you're going to slow us down you'd better do it at the starting line, and if you do that you're putting yourself in danger."

Wednesday they showed they were as tough mentally as physically when their mast fell down upon leaving the marina. They replaced it in 17 minutes and reached the starting line with 10 minutes to spare and won both races.

Trinter laughed. "We keep each other under control," Trinter said. "If I'm uptight, Paul's cool, and if he's uptight I'm cool."

Trinter, 35, spent most of Wednesday doing minor maintenance chores on the boat in an otherwise deserted yard.

"I'm glad we're in the position we're in," he said, "but people, I would think, are going to be shooting for us."

The race committee is hoping to sail three races Thursday to get back on the two-a-day schedule.

Leaders (22 boats, 7 of 16 races, one discard):

1. Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter, San Francisco, 2-(6)-1-2-3-1-1, 10. points.
2. Vince Brun/Mike Dorgan, San Diego, (23/OCS)-9-2-1-4-5-3, 24.
3. George Szabo/Mark Strube, San Diego, 4-5-(14)-9-1-4-2, 25.
4. Eric Doyle/Brian Sharp, San Diego, 1-1-9-8-5-10-(12), 34.
5. John MacCausland/Brad Nichol, Cherry Hill, N.J, 6-8-3-6-10-(15)-5, 38.
6. Mark Reynolds/Steve Erickson, San Diego, 5-2-10-7-13-2-(15), 39.
7. Howie Shiebler/Will Stout, San Francisco, 3-3-6-(23/OCS)-12-9-6, 39.
8. Rick Merriman/Bill Bennett, San Diego, 7-4-(17)-13-2-7-9, 42.
9. Andrew MacDonald/Austin Sperry, Laguna Beach, Calif., 11-7-5-4-6-(13)-10, 43.
10. Andy Lovell/Magnus Liljedahl, New Orleans, (23/OCS)-23/DNS-4-3-11-3-7, 51.

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