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31 May 2001, 09:09 pm
Lemieux Clinches Title
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CORK Regatta

Larry Lemieux said he is having too much fun in the fleet to give up what amounts to his drop race day at the Finn Masters World Championship.
The 45-year-old Lemieux has posted five straight victories in the 32-boat fleet, winning twice yesterday in shifty but decent sailing conditions on Alpha course on Lake Ontario.

The former national Finn champion - and two-time Olympic sailor - clinched his fourth Finn Masters world title and doesn't need to sail today in the final race.

Lemieux, however, said he will decline the chance to pack up his boat early at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour before the fleet is finished.

"I know it's over, but I'll sail. I'm having too much fun not to," Lemieux said. "You don't get these opportunities to be out there with a group who are really a lot of fun and good sailors."

Hein-Pieter Okker, one of a group of Dutch sailors who jokingly said "locking up Lemieux" in a transport container would be the only way to stop the Canadian with the fastest boat, scored two second-place finishes yesterday and remains in second place.

Lemieux said he and Okker were locked into two of the best races of the five-day series.

"We had some good battles," said Lemieux, who is greeted daily on shore by his biggest fan, his dog Rusty. "[Okker] actually led to the windward mark in the first race. When I got the lead he passed me on the second beat but I got ahead on the run."

Despite the small fleet at the first Finn Masters world championship held outside of Europe, Lemieux said neither the host committee nor the people of Kingston have disappointed him.

"There have been lots of positive comments of how friendly the people in Kingston and Canada are," Lemieux said.

Lemieux said he was also pleased but not surprised by the fleet's acceptance of Tuesday's troublesome time when the race committee needed nearly two hours to get a race going because of shifty wind conditions.

"This group of guys have been playing this game for a long time," Lemieux said.

"Even with conditions like [Tuesday] when it's raining hard, it's cold and the wind's shifty, nobody went up and complained. Everybody understands on days like that, you have to be patient."

The Finn Masters championship will wrap up today but the boat isn't done for the summer at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

The Finn, with its younger Olympic-hopeful skippers, will return in July for a three-day training camp followed by the July 13-15 national qualifying regatta.

With his Olympic training days behind him, Lemieux will not be back for the national qualifier. He is heading next week to Newport, R.I., where he will act as a project manager and on-water coach for Terry McLaughlin's Canada Cup campaign.

McLaughlin is one of three skippers from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto bidding to be the Canadian boat in the match-race competition between Canada and the United States in late July.

The trials for the Challenger Series will be held in early July with the winner taking on the Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, the Canada Cup holder.
Doug Graham / News Editor
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