Eventually, about seven knots of wind crept into the harbour from the south southeast, and the Race Committee got the competitors off the line without a general recall. As the wind built slightly to ten knots, the competitors worked their way around the five leg, windward-leeward course in a mounting flood tide. At the finish - five legs later - local sailor LORING, who began the day with a comfortable 28 point lead over his nearest rival, clinched the World Championship title by crossing the line fourth. LORING pumped his sail in jubilation, and rocked his boat to weather, then he threw himself over backward into Charleston Harbour's green water as his boat sailed away.
This is the first time since 1995 that an American sailor has emerged victorious in the Sunfish Worlds, and it was LORING who also won that event. 'This is fantastic,' he said after crossing the finish line, celebrating, and then reclaiming his boat. Then he sailed toward his brother in law's powerboat where his extended family beckoned him with champagne. His wife, all three of his children, his father, his brother, his brother in law, and an assortment of nephews and nieces were all anxious to fawn over the champ and congratulate him.
LORING sailed a superlative regatta, setting a new standard for big fleet consistency. His worst score was a sixth place. After seven races, meaning that all sailors can discard their worst race score, LORING finished with a total of 13 points, which gives him a final margin of twelve points over David MENDELBLATT (USA) in second place. MENDELBLATT, who sails out of St. Petersburg, Florida., also performed superbly in the final three races, with scores of 1,1,2 in those contests, but it was not enough to overcome two finishes in the mid-teens he suffered earlier in the week.
The real race today was for second place overall in the regatta, with three sailors - MENDELBLATT, Tommy WHITEHURST (USA) and Peter STANTON (ISV) in contention. They entered the day with just three points separating all three racers. WHITEHURST showed flashes of speed in the light to moderate air, and sailed well enough today to pass LORING on the second beat and log a third place finish, but it was only good enough for third overall in the regatta. It was MENDELBLATT who showed the most consistency in Thursday's conditions, leading the race until the top of the second beat. He ultimately crossed the line in second, cementing his claim on second place in the regatta. STANTON, who finished ninth in yesterday's lone contest, could not find a way to stay with his rivals in the trying conditions and ended up in fourth place for the regatta.
Yesterday's front runners also had to deal with a few new faces at the head of the pack as Ned JONES (USA) and Dan NORTON (USA), worked their way up to the lead positions for almost the first time this week, though NORTON did log a fourth place in race three. JONES, who works for the Sunfish builder Vanguard Sailboats, won yesterday's race in convincing fashion. He trailed MENDELBLATT, who led the race until the end of the second beat when MENDELBLATT let him get free to the left. When the two next converged, some 100 yards from the weather mark, JONES crossed MENDELBLATT by less than two boat lengths, and managed to maintain his lead until the finish. Donnie MARTINBOROUGH (BAH), who won the World Championship in this class in 1983 and 1988, was also close, finishing fifth yesterday.
As LORING and his fellow sailors celebrated yesterday evening, imbibing their share of libations provided by Captain Morgan's Rum, the scoring volunteers remained busy crunching the numbers to determine the outcome of a regatta within the regatta. This event also serves as a Pan American Games qualifier for five countries. Already, four countries represented in Charleston have qualified for this quadrennial competition (USA, Bermuda, Venezuela, and Columbia). As of this writing, it appears that Guatemala will qualify. (Juan-Jose DELGADO, who celebrated his 21st birthday by finishing sixth in yesterday's race, putting him sixth in the event, made sure of that.) It is likely that the U.S. Virgin Islands (STANTON), the Bahamas (Donnie MARTINBOROUGH), the Dominican Republic (Sebastian MERA-CABRAL), and Canada (Oskar JOHANNSON) will be the other qualifying countries.
Top Ten Results
|6||GUA||Juan Jose DELGADO||6||11||14||11||(18)||10||6||58|
|10||USA||Martin WILLARD||9||15||10||8||(54) ZFP||20||33||95|