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

Miami Olympic Classes Report
By Lynn Fitzpatrick & Media Pro International
Feb 2, 2008, 17:17

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First Day Report
Second Day Report
Third Day Report
Fourth Day Report
Fifth Day Report

Rohart/Rambeau lead Dane/Sperry. and Pepper/Williams. Photo by ROLEX/Dan Nerney

Final Report by Media Pro International
France's Xavier Rohart, sailing with crew Pascal Rambeau, emerged as the overall Star class winner after winning that class's medal race. Even though he came into today's races in second overall, Rohart thought his chances of walking away with a gold medal were slim, due to the strength of previous leader Elvind Melleby with crew Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) and the rest of the fleet, which has no less than six world champions in it, Rohart counting as one. "There are so many good teams that were really faster than we were all this week, so we felt it would be difficult to gain so much," said Rohart. However, when the Norwegian team started prematurely, Xavier said "the plan got easier." Elvind and Pedersen finished seventh in today's race, good for the silver medal, while Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) took the bronze.

Fifth Day Report by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Today was the final day of fleet racing at US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR. There were two races in the silver fleet for the Star Class and only one in the gold fleet. The gold fleet race was started in the mid-afternoon in a fluky and dying breeze that wasn't consistent enough to start a second race. Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen finished the fleet racing with 24 points and are five points ahead of second place, Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (FRA) going into tomorrow's medal round.

Fourth Day Report by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Skippers and crews got to stretch their backs and use their hiking muscles a bit in today’s seabreeze. The 7-10 knot southeasterly offered up a refreshing physical and mental change from the light air conditions of earlier in the week. Gone were the fears that an entire side of the course would cave in and a big shift would come through, but that’s not to say that big shifts didn’t come through. Sailors went back to the basics today and tried to get good starts and a clear lane so that they could maximize straightline speed.

The silver fleet had an 11:00 am start in the best breeze of the day and Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Newbrook, who know each other from America’s Cup campaigns, showed us how a skipper who had a good command of conditions out at the US Trials in San Diego and a new Star crew, could pour on the consistency by winning the first race and finishing third in the second race. Silvio Santoni and Edoardo Natucci (ITA) were nearly as consistent and took a fourth and a first in the strongest winds of the day.

The family that hit both extremes of the happiness scale yesterday was the Lovrovics from Croatia. Marin Jr., sailing with Sinisa Mikulicic landed in the gold fleet while Marin Sr., sailing with his youngest son, Dan missed the cut by just a few points. Rather than sailing in with the rest of the silver fleet after they completed their final race for the day, Marin Sr. and Dan headed upwind a bit to watch the gold fleet’s first leeward mark rounding. The Croatian cheering section got to see Lovrovic Jr./Sinisa round a close second to Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR). The Norwegians sailed for the righthand side of the course and rounded the second weather mark in the lead with Xavier Rohart and Philippe Rambeau (FRA) and Lovrovic Jr./Mikulicic in hot pursuit.

The wind shifted left and the pressure dropped during the run enabling some changes in position and some strong comebacks. Melleby/Pedersen took their second bullet of the regatta. Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) were second. Rohart/Rambeau were third. John Dane and Austin Sperry (USA) had the big gain of the race by playing the left side of the course down the run. Lovrovic Jr./Mikulicic had to settle for fifth.

Gunns O’Leary and Stephen Milne (IRL) lead around the weather mark not once, but twice during the gold fleet’s second race of the day. Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) came from deep in the fleet where the only thing that they could do was to gybe away into clear air and play the right side of the course. The move of last resort paid major dividends for Percy/Simpson by the time they reached the leeward mark. They got out from underneath the clouds and found a little more pressure in the dying breeze

On the next beat, O’Leary/Milne played the left side in a 15 degree left shift and reclaimed the lead by what looked like an unassailable margin, but once again Percy/Simpson had faster cruising speed down the right side of the course. There were some close gybes at bottom of the run, but Gunns O’Leary and Stephen Milne, the 22 year olds, got the gun.

At the end of the fourth day of racing Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) are the team to try to catch. Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) and Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (FRA) are within striking distance. A bit further back are Marin Lovrovic and Sinsia Mikulicic (CRO). Today’s races helped to spread out the scores a little so now there are only nine teams with less than 50 points. Marazzi/DeMaria have 19 points.

Fourth Day Report by Media Pro International
John Dane/Austin Sperry. Photo ROLEX/Dan Nerney
For Star sailors John Dane and Austin Sperry (Gulfport, Miss.), their performance today was all-important in the Gold Fleet, which was determined yesterday after five races and now is comprised of the top 33 teams, leaving the remaining 33 teams to compete in a consolation Silver Fleet. Dane and Sperry, US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members who will represent the USA in the Olympic Games this year, posted a fourth and 13th in today's races, bringing them up to 12th from 16th overall yesterday and putting them well within striking distance of the top ten.

"We had a good day," said Dane, unperturbed that in the second race they were fifth at the first mark and then lost 15 boats in a wind shift. "If you had a bad start and chose the wrong side today you were dead. You can see how it effected teams such as Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL), who had a 27-24 today (dropping them from fourth to ninth) and before that, they had nothing worse than a seventh. It was somewhat humbling for everyone, but if Austin and I have a day like today again tomorrow, we'll be in the top ten."

Leading the Star fleet now is Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI). With a 2-4 today, they displaced yesterday's leaders Rick Merriman (New York, N.Y.) and Brian Sharp (Franklin, Mass.), who finished 9-18 today to topple to fifth overall.

Third Day Report by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Tom Lofstedt is Today’s Happy Camper

Tom Lofstedt, photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Tom Lofstedt and Krister Carlsson (SWE) were the big winners during the third day of racing in the Star fleet in US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR. Lofstedt was his good natured self when he returned to the hoist, but when he looked at the score sheet he was overjoyed. After five races and one discard, Tom made the cut. His 60 point total in the 66-boat fleet landed him in 33rd place and in the gold fleet for the final days of fleet racing at US Sailing’s Rolex MOCR. All he could say was “Wow!” The team’s seventh place finish in today’s light air race landed them on the first page of the score sheet by one point.

Rick Peters and George Szabo, photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Wednesday’s bullets went George Szabo and Rick Peters (USA) who campaigned together during the 1996 Trials and the 2000 Trials. Earlier in the week, Rick was seen proudly modeling their 1996 campaign T shirt earlier in the week.

The second bullet went to the man who sails “occasionally” back home in Italy. Enrico Chieffi and Galli Hassimoo came out of retirement and won the race. Two-time Olympian, Chieffi has many sailing achievements on his CV including 470 World Champion and Star World Champion. Not only that, he was the tactician aboard Il Moro de Venezia in the Am erica’s Cup finals against A3. Hassimoo is a big boat sailor through and through and likes to trim and do the pit.

Galli Hassimoo and Enrico Chieffi , photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick
As Freddy Loof said when he looked at the scores, “the regatta starts again on Thursday”. Only 10 points separate the top 7 boats and the top 14 boats each have less than 30 points. Rick Merriman and Brian Sharp are at the top of the leaderboard again with 8 points.

Third Day Report by Media Pro International
With the Star Worlds scheduled for Miami in April, the class has proven to be deep in talent.

"At the last Star Worlds there were teams from 32 countries, and only 15 countries can qualify for the Olympics," said Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.). "Now there are four slots left and 12 countries vying for them, so out of all the Olympic classes, this is the toughest for getting into the Games." Reynolds noted that this year's Worlds will be the end of the line for poor performers, though "poor performers" is a relative term in this fleet. It is sprinkled with no less than six World Champions and a slew of national champions and Olympic medalists. Reynolds, himself a World Champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist qualified the USA for its Olympic berth with his performance at the 2007 Worlds but will not represent the USA in 2008. Instead John Dane and Austin Sperry (both Gulfport, Miss.), who won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, will sail for the USA. Dane and Sperry today landed in 16th overall after today's single race was added to the score line of four previous races, while Reynolds, sailing with Steve Erickson (Hood River, Ore.), logged in at 7th. Starting with tomorrow's racing, the fleet of 66 boats will split into Gold and Silver fleets, and by Saturday, the Gold fleet will have narrowed down to the top ten for a single medal race that will count double in scoring, simulating the new format that will be introduced for all Olympic sailing classes at the 2008 Games.

Rick Merriman/Brian Sharp. Photo ROLEX/Dan Nerney.
The seemingly unlikely leader in the Star class is the USA's team of Rick Merriman (New York, N.Y.) and Brian Sharp (Franklin, Mass.), who are posting a low-point score of eight with two victories in their lineup. "Things have been going our way," said Merriman, casually mentioning that he only got together with Sharp two weekends ago. "We work well together, stay laid back and keep the communications open."

Though Merriman has been sailing a Star for less than five years and his best finish at a Star Worlds is a fifth (2002), he is highly regarded by the other veterans, who also put value in Sharp's having been a grinder on Alinghi's America's Cup team.

Sadly, no one will get to see these "underdogs" take it to the end. The duo will sail tomorrow and then Merriman will fly out for his mother's funeral on Saturday. She passed away the Saturday before the regatta started, after a bout with cancer.

Behind Merriman/Sharp with 13 points is the Swiss team of Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria, followed by Elvind Melleby and Petter Pedersen from Norway, with 14 points. Both of these teams have been training full-on for the mission of qualifying their countries for the Olympics and then continuing on as representatives to the Games, so they will be the forces with which to be reckoned from here on out.

Second day report by Lynn Fitzpatrick:
Moms watch Star Regattas from Heaven

Rick Merriman and his mom must have had a very special relationship. Kathy Merriman rooted for her son through his entire sailing career, including the recent US Olympic Trials in the men’s keelboat event. But Kathy passed away on Sunday, January 27th, and now must be in heaven teaching all of the angels about Star sailing because Rick and crew, Brian Sharp, started the regatta with a bullet and had a fourth place finish in Monday’s second race to trail the regatta leaders, Marazzi/ de Maria (SUI), by one point going into the second day of racing.

During Tuesday’s first race of US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR, Merriman/Sharp (USA) committed to the right early and crossed the fleet one third of the way up the first beat. They sailed most of the beat on starboard tack and only needed to take a short hitch onto port to lead the fleet around the first mark, down the run and up much of the second beat. Eivind Melleby and Petter Moreland Pedersen (NOR) snuck out in front of them in a 10 degree left shift up at the top of the second beat. After three races Merriman/Sharp has sole possession of the lead in the regatta and mom, who passed away on Sunday is smiling down on her son.

As the breeze came on and veered further right, Merriman/Sharp had the help of all of the angels who may have been a little confused during Tuesday’s first race. For the second time in the regatta, Merriman/Sharp took the gun as they crossed the finish line. All of our thoughts will be with the Merrimans on Saturday during services for Kathy which will be held in St. Petersburg, FL.

Never far behind Merriman/Sharp throughout the day were the Norwegians. Melleby/Pedersen posted a 5th in the second race and are sitting in second place four points ahead of Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL), who have a total of 18 points. The teams at the top were able to hit some 10- 15 degree shifts that weren’t always righties. The wind started out at 115 degrees and went as far right as 170 degrees as the seabreeze filled throughout the day. Afonso Domingos and Bernado Santos(POR) had a fabulous day (they scored a 5, 4)that would have been all that much better had they been able to keep their well established first place position in a race that was abandoned early on the day as the wind tried to settle in.

Alphabet scores plagued a lot of teams from both fleets, and positions changed more dramatically on some of the runs than they did on the beats. In today’s yellow fleet, Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE) proved to be the most consistent and posted a 3, 2 for the day. Mark Reynolds and Steve Erickson were successful at passing boats and despite a ZFP in the first race, only added 15 points to their overall score so that they have a total of 24 points and are sitting in fifth place for the regatta. Moving up in the rankings after posting an OCS on Monday are Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL). They played the middle well and have to be very pleased with their 3, 6 for the day.

First day report by Lynn Fitzpatrick:
Marazzi/De Maria Lead after Two Races at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta

Flavio Marazzi/ Enrico de Maria. Photo ROLEX/Dan Nerney.
With 70 boats registered, the Star class is split into two fleets for the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta (Rolex MOCR). Both fleets are stacked deeply with talent. Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL) caught the first right shift of the day and led the 35-boat blue fleet around the entire first race of the MOCR. Biscayne Bay dealt the 2006 World Champion and his crew a shifty northerly 7-8 knot breeze, a cloudless sky and flat water. Flavio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria (SUI) had a firm lock on second throughout the race. Used to San Diego’s light and shifty winds, Mark Reynolds and Steve Erikson and George Szabo and Rick Peters were third and fifth, respectively. Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE) were sandwiched between the San Diegans. A string of Europeans including Eivind Melleby and Petter Moreland Pedersen (NOR), Diego Negri and Luigi Viale (ITA) followed.

Marazzi/de Maria popped out in the lead in the second race and finished the day with a rock solid 2/1. Melleby/Pedersen defended their second place position against Pepper/Williams, who settled for third place in the second race. The first day was especially encouraging for Marazzi/deMaria and Melleby/Pedersen because Switzerland and Norway have not yet qualified for the Olympics. Pepper, on the other hand, has his hands full with a support crew that has doubled in size over last year. Hamish and Anabel have a four-month old son who loves the attention of his parents and his grandmother. Old friend and crew, David Giles is in town to take care of the rock stars out on the water.

The yellow Star fleet started racing later in the day in the same shifty conditions. Many of the top boats in both fleets found themselves heading out to either layline during the top quarter of the beat and hoping for a favorable shift. Those who got the shift breathed a sigh of relief and those who didn’t had to scramble to work their way through the fleet during the remainder of the race. Rick Merriman and Brian Sharp (USA) hit the starboard layline first on the first beat of the yellow fleet’s first race and had quite a head start on the run. Rohan Lord and Miles Addy (NZL) fended off Peter Bromby and Lee White (BER) to take second and Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) were fourth.

Xavier Rohart and Philippe Rambeau (FRA) had the most convincing victory of the day in their final race. They rounded the first weather mark two boat lengths ahead of Carl and Jamie Buchan, but looked as if the hooked a ride on the TGV and extended their lead to over one minute and fifteen seconds he next time around the top mark. They were hooked up to the French Federation’s new RIB by the time Hans Spitzhauer and Christian Nehammer (AUT) and Peter Bromby and Lee White (BER) crossed the finish line in second and third. It was difficult to make big gains and easy to suffer big losses in today’s conditions. The Buchans ended up eleventh in the final race.

Consistency at the top of the blue fleet put Marazzi/de Maria and Pepper/Williams at the top of the combined preliminary score sheet for the day. Merriman/Sharp and Bromby/Williams, the top North Americans, are in third and fourth.

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