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9 October 2007, 09:58 am
Tough Day For Race Committees At West Coast Trials
Tim WADLOW (left) and crew Chris RAST
Tim WADLOW (left) and crew Chris RAST

US Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials 2007
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Most of the competitors in America's West Coast Trials got plenty of practice dealing with wimpy wind on Monday making it a tough day for the race committees.
The Finns' day at Newport Beach was a complete loss, while everyone else except the 49ers at San Diego and the RS:X sailboards at Long Beach spent much of the afternoon twiddling their tillers before ample breeze arrived for fair contests.

Beleaguered race committees managed only one race for the Stars at Marina del Rey and struggled for two elsewhere. Meanwhile, the 49ers lived it up with their usual three races at San Diego as veterans Morgan LARSON and crew Pete SPAULDING shook off a slump with a sweep of the day. There were no lead changes, although Nancy RIOS moved into a first-place tie with Lisa KREMER in the Women's RS:X sailboards at Long Beach.

49er

Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego

Anyone wondering, "Where are Morgan LARSON and Pete SPAULDING?" after the first two days got an answer Monday when the accomplished veterans not only swept the day with three first-place finishes but tossed a 14-point OCS (early start) they'd been dragging behind them for two days. With a second OCS still hanging, that moved them up to third place behind leaders Tim WADLOW and Chris RAST (4,3,3 on the day) and second-place Dalton BERGAN and Zach MAXAM, who took an OCS hit in the final race following a pair of deuces.

LARSON said, "We hadn't sailed poorly, but we discovered a few things with tuning our rig and were going a little better in the lighter conditions. We dug ourselves a pretty deep hole and now we're trying to fill it." They can discard their other OCS after 17 races, but there's no margin for error. "Our backs are still against the wall," LARSON said.

While every other venue gasped for air, the 49ers started on time at noon in 6-8 knots off Coronado Roads and clicked off all three races before surrendering their course to the Tornados, who went windless a couple of miles farther down the coast near Mexico. - Jerelyn BIEHL and Margo HEMOND reporting

Tornado

San Diego Yacht Club

This may have to be settled with a coin flip because there isn't much separating these two teams on the water. Robbie DANIEL and Hunter STUNZI and three-time Olympians (silver in 2004) John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE have swapped 1,2 efforts all three days. The former won by 1:26 in the first race sailed near Mexico, then after the course was moved to the 49ers' vacated site up the beach LOVELL and OGLETREE won by 2:31, although in the 4-8-knot winds the margins were not indicative of how close it was. - Mike FOSTER reporting

Star

California Yacht Club, Marina del Rey

Age may have its privileges, but John DANE, at 57 the senior competitor among 19 talented teams in this hard-edged fleet, and son-in-law Austin SPERRY earned their victory in the only race in fluky 5-knot winds on Santa Monica Bay Monday. Nobody has worked harder in their three-year campaign than the pair from Gulfport, Miss., who now share second place with George SZABO and Andrew SCOTT, nine points behind Mark MENDELBLATT and Magnus LILJEDAHL, who saved their lead by moving from eighth to third behind California's Erik LIDECIS and Michael MARZAHL on the last run to the finish. Double Olympic medallists Mark REYNOLDS and crew Hal HAENEL are two points back in fourth.

"We're happy where we're at," DANE said, "but it's a long series." He didn't mind the conditions. "I grew up on Lake Pontchartrain, where it was light and fluky all the time" DANE said. "I learned patience, so this was fine for me." - Tom O'CONOR reporting

470

Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and US Sailing Centre, Long Beach

In the men's fleet it appears that Stuart MCNAY and crew Graham BIEHL have found a groove that could lead all the way to China, while favourites Michael ANDERSON-MITTERLING and David HUGHES struggle approaching the halfway mark in these Trials. Despite tricky conditions on Monday, MCNAY and BIEHL logged two wins and have no finish worse than second, while their rivals settled for two deuces and stand ten points in arrears.

"We were able to do a good job in the wind shifts and stay consistent and positive," MCNAY said. ANDERSON-MITTERLING is less positive. "We're trying to have fun and stay loose," he said. "I've never sailed this badly before."

Meanwhile, a protest brought by ANDERSON-MITTERLING and HUGHES against Justin LAW and Michael MILLER for an incident in race 3 on Sunday resulted in the latter's disqualification for that race. - Rick ROBERTS reporting

Only MCNAY and BIEHL outsailed the top women in the combined fleets on the 470 course Monday. Overall, Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING were 2,1 while leaders Amanda CLARK and Sarah MERGENTHALER went 3,3. In the race for the sole Olympic berth, the latter's lead was cut to three points. Later, after dark, a CLARK and MERGENTHALER protest against their nearest rivals for a pre-start incident in the second race was dismissed. - Rick ROBERTS reporting

RS:X

Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and US Sailing Centre, Long Beach

Ben BARGER, 20, held his own with his mentor, Mike GEBHARDT, 41, to remain four points behind as they swapped 1,2 performances, but the youngster is in position to seize the lead Tuesday when he'll discard his opening-day eighth-place disqualification for sailing the wrong course. The worst result GEBHARDT can toss is a 3.

"We exchanged the lead through both races," BARGER said. "I have an advantage in a breeze because I'm taller and bigger." With a glance at GEBHARDT, he added, smiling: "Age does have disadvantages. I'm waiting for him to crack." - Rick ROBERTS reporting

Amongst the women, the top four are within two points, as Nancy RIOS, who dominated the Pre-Trials here a year ago, moved into a tie for the lead with Lisa KREMER (4,1), with two second places on the course off Seal Beach Pier.

"It was pretty exciting," RIOS said. "I was watching Lisa in the first race because she seems to have a feel for the course." RIOS made a strong move late in the second race to salvage second behind KREMER. "I saved my energy upwind because I knew I'd need it downwind. I pumped all the way downwind." - Rick ROBERTS reporting

Finn

Newport Harbour Yacht Club, Balboa

The US Trials' largest fleet of 42 boats spent the afternoon in dead calm, teased only by a gentle 5-knot zephyr around 14:00 that soon faded to nothing. With no prospects of racing, Principal Race Officer Jeff JOHNSON called it a day at about 15:30, leaving Darrell PECK on top by three points over Zach RAILEY. Together they have won three of the four races. - Jenn LANCASTER reporting

For complete information on the US Olympic and Paralympic Team Trials - Sailing, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics/OlympicTrials. Video from the event with commentary by Gary JOBSON will be available daily on the website of the NBC network at www.NBCOlympics.com.

Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF)
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