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This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49
Irish Eyes are Smiling
Leif Erickson and Beowulf
Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) are not cross country skiing their way to the gym this winter. These bleached blonde Norsemen have been cycling, running, sailing and putting everybody to shame in the gym in Coconut Grove, FL as they prepare for the 2008 Star World Championships. It’s painful just to watch the core exercises that they do.
|Pedersen/Melleby, photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick |
They are more than willing to endure the pain because they have their eyes on “the biggest prize,” according to Melleby, the helmsman. The pair, their sailing coach, Lars Loennechen; Melleby’s wife, Karianne and five-month old daughter have been in Miami for months and it shows.
Their performance at Star regattas and practice sessions with other teams has been solid. They have won several races, including the third and fifth races at US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR (MOCR), and have taken some silver home to their temporary accommodations in Miami. Melleby and Pedersen’s consistency during the opening of this 66-boat regatta has earned them one of the top spots in the gold fleet. With four days of fleet racing behind them at the MOCR behind them they are in second place for the regatta with one more day of fleet racing remaining.
|Melleby and family. Photo by Marco Oquendo. |
Melleby and Pedersen finished a disappointing 20th at the 2007 Star World Championship and have exhibited an extreme amount of self discipline and resolve to perform well as they approach the 2008 World Championships. They are sure to be tough competition throughout the remainder of US Sailing’s Rolex MOCR and the season. With only four country berths up for grabs at this year’s World Championship in April, the odds are good that this team will be successful at qualifying. If their performance at this ISAF Grade 1 event is any indication, they are a shoe in.
Irish Eyes are Smilin’ in the Star Class
There are some new Irish lads in the Star. Peter (Gunns) O’Leary and Stephen Milne have spring boarded from the Laser to the Star. O’Leary, who was sixth at the ISAF Youth Worlds in 2001 and Irish Sailor of the Year in 2007, jokes, “I’ll sail anything that floats.” He wants to “achieve greatness and follow in the footsteps of (his) family members,” while Milne says, “it would be great to represent Ireland at the Games and a fantastic reward to achieve something so special.”
|Milne/O’Leary, photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick |
O’Leary comes from a long line of sailing O’Leary’s from West Cork. As a matter of fact, O’Leary and Milne’s coach is Anthony O’Leary. Milne also 22, started sailing at the late age of fourteen. It wasn’t long before he found his way on to big boats. Both love sailing the men’s keelboats with an Olympic presence since 1932 - the Stars. Why wouldn’t they? They are sailing in a hand-me-down from Ian Percy and O’Leary steered his way to a 20th in his first Star regatta, a 93-boat fleet at the 2007 Eastern Hemispheres on Lake Garda.
The Irish have their work cut out for them this season. Prof O’Connell and Ben Cooke narrowly missed qualifying the country for the Olympics at the 2007 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cascais while Maxwell Treacy and Anthony Shanks led the silver fleet at the Worlds. The O’Connell/Cooke team is sidelined during the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta while O’Connell recovers from an injury. By putting in lots of hours in the gym and on the water and wishing on four-leafed clovers, the Luck of the Irish may bless the Paddies and one of the Irish Star teams may follow Finian’s rainbow to the Pot o’Gold in Qingdao, provided that they perform well at the 2008 World Championships in April.
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