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2 April 2007, 09:43 am
California Weather Just What Florida Sailors Needed
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US Youth Multihull Championship 2007
Long Beach, California, USA

California must have cured whatever ailed Alexander STEWART and Evan MILLER as the Panama City, Florida sailors won US Sailing's Youth Multihull Championship for the Arthur J. Stevens Trophy on Saturday and Sunday.
Eighteen teams competed on new Nacra SL16 catamarans in conjunction with host Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's annual Olympic Classes Regatta that featured Finns, Lasers and a handful of Stars. The youngsters - boys and girls ages 13-18 - sailed inside the breakwater while the OCRs ran outside off Seal Beach, and both enjoyed Long Beach's fresh sea breeze of 10-12 knots all weekend.

While STEWART, 18, and MILLER, 16, edged first-time catamaran competitors Andrew MASON, 17, and crew Chris SEGERBLOM, 14, of nearby Orange County by half a point, the OCR classes were runaways for veteran Darrell PECK (USA), 42, in the 25-boat Finn fleet, John PEARCE (USA), 24, San Francisco, among 18 Lasers, and Erik GIDECIS and crew Michael MARSHAL (USA) of Bahia Corinthian YC in Newport Beach, who swept six races among five Stars before sitting out the finale.

Near Thing

STEWART arrived in town last week carrying a stomach flu that was running through his family, and when it hit MILLER on Friday their participation was doubtful. 'I thought we wouldn't be able to do it,' MILLER said, 'But we felt better Saturday, and [Sunday] we were fine. I guess we'll leave whatever we had in California.'

They stayed at MASON's house, which despite their illness must have benefited both teams. MASON and SEGERBLOM told them about sailing at Long Beach, while STEWART and MILLER offered tips about sailing multihulls to their rivals who had never sailed anything with more than one hull until six days before the event. MASON said, 'When someone told us the Youth Multihull Championship was here we said, 'That sounds like fun.''

They flipped four times on a windy practice day last week, started the regatta with 2,6,2,2 finishes Saturday and then won a race on Sunday to give the Floridians a run to the wire.

OCR Winners

PECK won three of the seven Finn races in conditions made to order for his taste in breeze.

'I love coming to this place,' he said. 'It was too windy when we were practicing last week but on the weekend it was just right.'

PECK has long held his own among the USA's top Finn sailors without nabbing the country's sole Olympic berth. He knows he may be a longshot, but said, 'I'm always trying to make the team and have had a lot of fun doing it - and I'm going to be at Newport Beach for the Trials [in October], and anything can happen.'

PEARCE, a sailing coach at San Francisco YC, defended the Laser title he won last year, but he gave a nod to ABYC's Kevin TAUGHER (USA), who won three of four races on Saturday and then was unable to sail on Sunday because of a personal commitment.

'It was a shame that Kevin didn't sail,' PEARCE said. 'He was awesome.'

PEARCE, who was third in the US Nationals in Texas, also has an Olympic ambition that he will chase at the Laser Trials in Newport this fall.

For all the latest news from the 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship CLICK HERE.

Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The SL16 fleet at the start in Long Beach:© Rich Roberts
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