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23 October 2006, 08:30 am
Round Up Of 49er, Finn And Star Pre-Trials
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Beijing 2008

Morgan LARSON and Pete SPAULDING (USA) held on to win the 49er competition at San Diego, Bryan BOYD (USA) rallied for the Finn title at Newport Beach and George SZABO and Mark STRUBE (USA) cruised home in the Stars at Marina del Rey as the three-day US Sailing Olympic Pre-Trials wound down on Sunday.
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Dalton BERGAN and Zack MAXAM (USA), currently LARSON and SPAULDING's hottest rivals for the 49er US Olympic berth in 2008, overtook them by winning the first two races on the final day. Then, as the breeze on Coronado Roads cranked up from 12 knots, best of the weekend, to a peak of 23, LARSON and SPAULDING won the last race to prevail by one point.

The breeze also was better with 9 knots fading to 6 at Newport Beach, where BOYD came out of a three-way tie for second with a 1,2,7 scoreline for the day. That was good for a three-point edge over veteran Darrell PECK (USA), who with five races sailed was able to discard a 40 point hit for being OCS in the first race Saturday.

First day leader Andy CASEY (USA) was another point back in third, one point ahead of Zack RAILEY (USA), the highest ranked US competitor.

SZABO And STRUBE Back Together

SZABO and STRUBE had sailed together in a 2004 Olympic campaign and this weekend marked their reunion. The Californians' only win in seven races came in the first race Friday but it allowed them to lead comfortably throughout for a final ten point margin over Andy HORTON and Brad NICHOL.

'He's great to sail with,' SZABO said of STRUBE. 'Our really good first day was the difference. Now we'll go to all the events we can and see how it goes.'

Next October for the Trials they will be back in their light-air comfort zone on Santa Monica Bay, where SZABO also won the Star North Americans last year.

HORTON and NICHOL will be waiting for them. They were fourth and the top Americans in this month' s Star Words at San Francisco but dug themselves too deep a hole with a 7,11,12 performance on the first day. They had never sailed in Southern California but plan to return next August for an intense build up to the Trials.

Winds were 4-5 knots following a brief fog delay but grew to 8-10 for the second race Sunday.

BOYD, 30, a real estate developer, was not at his best the last time he sailed his Finn in California. He competed in the Olympic Classes Regatta at Long Beach last spring with a cast on one hand after driving a spike through it a week earlier.

'I just tried to stay out of trouble today,' he said. 'There was a lot of kelp in the water and I noticed a current sheer at the windward mark that worked out for me. It felt good to be back in the boat. I'll be going back to work now but will get ramped up for a full European tour next spring and summer.'

49er Shootout

Meanwhile, LARSON and SPAULDING and BERGAN and MAXAM seem destined for a shootout over the next year. LARSON in 2000 and BERGAN and MAXAM in 2004 just missed the Olympic Games with second place finishes in the Trials. Last year LARSON joined up with SPAULDING, who was Tim WADLOW's crew for an Olympic fifth place at Athens.

The Pre-Trials spectacle will finish on 26-29 October with four days of racing for the Men's and Women's 470s at the US Sailing Centre in Long Beach and the Men's and Women's RS:X just down the street at Alamitos Bay YC.

A year from now the same venues will host the formal Olympic Trials to select the one boat in each class that will represent the USA at the Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao, China in 2008.

For a complete list of all the news about the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games CLICK HERE.

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The 49ers in action:© Chris HENSCHEID
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