2004 US Olympic Trials
US Olympic Trials - Final
By Rich Roberts for
Mar 28, 2004, 18:32

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

Sunday's wind: E, 7-9 knots, gusts to 12.

Cayard is cheered by the US Opti Team
MIAMI, Fla.---The biggest sailboat race of his life figured to be a cakewalk Sunday---all he had to do was finish within 12 places of the second-place boat to clinch the U.S. Olympic berth in the Star class---but Paul Cayard didn't vary from his pre-race routine.

The winds had gone light after several days of boisterous breeze, and light wind usually means tricky shifts that can turn a race into that sailors call a "crapshoot."

"Call Commodore [weather forecasting] and ask what's going on," Cayard asked coach John Craig, who was following him and crew Phil Trinter around the starting area in the chase boat.

On the way out Craig, the race manager at Cayard's hometown St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, had already pulled up reports with an onboard laptop, but he ducked into the tiny cabin again to get the latest information.

As the minutes ticked down before the starting sequence near noon, Cayard was saying, "Big lefty [wind shift to the left] here. But I think there's more pressure [wind velocity] on the right."

So the decision was made: start near the committee boat and tack to go to the right side of the course. To comply with the rules, Cayard slipped his VHF radio into a bright yellow bag and tossed it toward the chase boat to be retrieved. It's supposed to float. It didn't. That's the one thing that went wrong for him Sunday.

In a three-lap, light-air tour of the windward leeward course won by Howie Shiebler and crew Will Stout, Cayard/Trinter finished a comfortable fifth, only two places behind Andy Lovell and crew Magnus Liljedahl, who needed to put 12 boats between them to force C/T to sail one or both of the last two races.

As it was, they counted those as their allowable pair of discards to finish with 40 points.

"I just wanted go get it over with and get back here [to shore]," Cayard said. "I'm feeling pretty tired."

So were 42 others from 21 boats, especially Andy Lovell and Magnus Liljedahl---the latter a 2000 gold medallist crew with Mark Reynolds at Sydney---who ground back from a double DNF and DNS disaster when their mast broke on Day 1 to finish second, 25 points behind C/T.

Lovell and Liljedahl were Cayard/Trinter's tuning partners the last few months and are first alternates for the Olympics.

Next came George Szabo/Mark Strube, Eric Doyle/Brian Sharp and Reynolds/Steve Erickson.

Two more races were run after C/T retired on their hard-earned laurels. Shiebler/Stout won another, and Doug and Bob Schofield finished 2-1 after losing their mast a day earlier.

It had been a long week in physically taxing conditions, but that was probably only part of Cayard's sudden fatigue. Whether it's an America's Cup, a Whitbread [now Volvo] race or an Olympic push, Cayard, 44, drives himself hard mentally and physically in leaving nothing to chance.

On a compact scale, his Star effort has been as meticulous as one of his America's Cup campaigns. An interesting point, though, is that while many great sailors' careers have progressed from Star boats to America's Cup or Whitbread/Volvo races, Cayard has gone back to his roots.

"That's a pretty cool thing at my age," he said. "It's not the norm."

One reason may be, he suggested, is that "kids in the U.S. can't afford to do a [serious] Star campaign. I've spent at least a hundred grand, as have some others here."

But getting there is only half the fight.

"This was a necessary step," Cayard said. "I'd like to win the gold medal."

His only Olympic experience was as an alternate behind gold medallist Bill Buchan at Long Beach in 1984. Trinter, 35, a native of Lorain, Ohio, has never been to the Olympics, but he thinks he has figured out how to get there.

"Our big plan was not to make any foolish mistakes---no OCSs [early starts], don't hit any marks. Everybody else took themselves out of the regatta and allowed us to sail conservatively and safely."

There were two close calls. On the first day they did a "death roll" capsize downwind but, surprisingly, didn't lose their mast. Three days later they did lose their mast, but they were on their way out of the harbor and had time to return, replace the spar, reach the starting line in time---and win both races.

Their next test will be in the Star Worlds in Italy April 23-30, where they'll face their prospective Olympic opponents. But a better measure of their medal hopes might have been last year's pre-Olympics at Athens, where they finished second behind Brazil's 1996 gold medallists, Torben Grael and crew Marcelo Ferreira.

Final results (22 boats, 16 races, two discards):
1. Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter, San Francisco, 2-6-1-2-3-1-1-4-2-1-4-3-5-5-(23/DNS)-(23/DNS), 40 points.
2. Andy Lovell/Magnus Liljedahl, New Orleans, (23/OCS)-(23/DNS)-4-3-11-3-7-3-5-2-5-1-2-4-12, 65.
3. George Szabo/Mark Strube, San Diego, 4-5-(14)-9-1-4-2-1-3-3-8-9-8-(11)-7-5, 69.
4. Eric Doyle/Brian Sharp, San Diego, 1-1-9-8-5-10-(12)-11-1-8-1-6-(23/OCS)-6-6-3, 76.
5. Mark Reynolds/Steve Erickson, San Diego, 5-2-10-7-(13)-2-(15)-9-7-4-3-11-1-2-10-7, 80.
6. Vince Brun/Mike Dorgan, San Diego, (23/OCS)-9-2-1-4-5-3-10-(11)-6-11-7-3-8-5-6, 80.
7. Howie Shiebler/Will Stout, San Francisco, 3-3-6-(23/OCS)-12-9-6-(23/DNF)-14-15-2-2-12-1-1-4, 90.
8. John MacCausland/Brad Nichol, Cherry Hill, N.J, 6-8-3-6-10-(15)-5-8-4-9-15-8-7-4-(16)-2, 95.
9. Rick Merriman/Bill Bennett, San Diego, 7-4-(17)-13-2-7-9-5-8-7-6-(15)-9-9-8-8, 102.
10. Andrew MacDonald/Austin Sperry, Laguna Beach, Calif., 11-7-5-4-6-13-10-7-12-5-10-5-4-(16)-3-(15), 102.

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