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5 March 2007, 11:33 am
Irish Sailors Win Day One
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Bacardi Cup 2007
Miami, Florida, USA

The Irish sailing team of Maurice O'CONNELL and crew Ben COOKE finished first in day one of sailing in the 80th Annual Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta. The Irish team finished 10 seconds ahead of New Zealand's Hamish PEPPER, the reigning World and North American Star Champion, who sails this week with his crew and coach David GILES.
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Germany's Robert STANJEK, the 2005 ISAF Grade C1 Star Eastern Hemisphere Champion, and his crew Frithjof KLEEN, finished third.

Black Flag Out

A total of 20 teams, nearly a quarter of the fleet, were black-flagged and disqualified for early starts in shifty winds that forced two course changes throughout the day. O'CONNELL and COOKE were among only a handful of boats that chose the right side of the course at the start. An early tack proved to be difference as the Irish duo led at every mark.

'We saw a big, black cloud forming on the right side and wanted to go right on the first beat,' said O'CONNELL. 'As soon as we had the opportunity, we tacked. We were fortunate that many of the boats closest to us were black-flagged, giving us a little breathing space. Everything looked rosy from there. We were very surprised that most of the other boats chose the left side.'

More than 80 teams representing 23 countries are competing in the six day regatta, one of the most competitive Star class events in the world.

'The Bacardi Cup just has an iconic prestige - this cache - that everybody wants to win it. This regatta brings out the best Star sailors in the world,' added O'CONNELL.

Defending Champs Ninth

The Irish duo bested a fleet that included Peter BROMBY (BER), one of most acclaimed Bermudian sailors of all time and a two-time Bacardi Cup Champion; George SZABO (USA), former North American Champion in both the Star and Laser classes; and 2004 World Star Champion Fredrik LOOF. Defending Bacardi Cup Champions John DANE and crew Austin SPERRY (USA) finished ninth Sunday with five races to go in the regatta.

The Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta is co-hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the U.S. Sailing Centre, both based in Coconut Grove, and is sponsored by BACARDI U.S.A., Inc.

Bacardi Cup participants sail one race per day from Sunday through to Friday on a 10.5-mile course in Biscayne Bay. Sailors are allowed to drop their worst performance of the six races in the regatta.

Janet Maizner (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Hamish PEPPER and Dave GILES started well in Miami:© Dan Nerney/Rolex
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