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21 August 2005, 09:16 am
Toss-out Tosses Up Standings
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Keane Star North American Championship 2005
Marina Del Rey, California

George SZABO and Eric MONROE took the lead in the Keane 2005 Star Class North American Championship after the fifth and penultimate race of the four-day series, when California Yacht Club race organizers threw out each team's worst finish.
SZABO humbly noted he had discarded a score of 42 - the result of an OCS (over early) on the first day of the regatta. That left the San Diego team with a record of 1-2-1-6 and a three-point lead over their closest rival.

'We don't have the luxury of a throw-out going into tomorrow,' SZABO revealed. 'It makes it a little harder … a lot harder and we will just have to get off the line well, but conservatively.' As the frontrunner in a highly competitive fleet, SZABO admitted, 'I hope they don't come after us!'

But second place Rick MERRIMAN, sailing with Rick PETERS, felt the competition was too tight to target any one competitor. 'I think there are still enough guys that are so close, you can't just go after one. We're going to have to watch a couple of people and just try and win the race.'

MERRIMAN and PETERS had been leading the regatta with a steady performance of 3-3-4-3 before Saturday's last race, where they took tenth place: their throw-out. Now, with 13 points overall, they trail SZABO and MONROE by three points, and hold a slender three point advantage over third place Erik LIDECIS and Michael MARZAHL.

Following a promising start to the day, LIDECIS and MARZAHL logged a close second in Race Four after sparring up and down the course with SZABO and MONROE, their luck turned. LIDECIS, who underwent back surgery in December, said, 'I had a tough time with two races and just wasn't physically ready.'

'I was in pain and couldn't get the groove; I couldn't get off the line.' After that, LIDECIS noted, 'we were chasing all the time, going the wrong way.' A disappointing finish put them in third place overall with 16 points, but still the will to duke it out.

'Tomorrow we're going to sail our race and try to win it and hope George [Szabo] has a bad one,' LIDECIS said. 'If I try to take him out then we can push ourselves back and lose third, and I don't want to do that: I wouldn't mind being third: this is our first North American championship.'

Principal Race Officer Bill STUMP noted that in some regattas, after five races the winner might be determined and not have to sail the last race. 'But that's not true in this one. It's all going down to the last race: there are quite a few in contention here.'

In Race Five, Stump remarked, 'The top 10 boats changed quite a bit around the course, and were different at the finish than they were at the first mark. It's a long course [2.6 nm legs] and in the middle of the racecourse a lot can change, particularly when it's light or shifty.'

STUMP, a 'retired Star crew' reminisced about 'when I used to race with Benny [Benny MITCHELL, currently in 15th place in this event] and we used to love days like today … shifty and light enough that is wasn't just a drag race; and we'd go out there and pick the shifts and go fast.'

Those conditions have a produced a regatta which is 'very exciting' he said, with the majority of the fleet very close - as evidenced by the close finishes on the 10.5 nm courses, and volatile result page. His one suggestion for competitors going into the final race of the regatta which takes place Sunday August 21, 2005 on Santa Monica Bay was: 'Nobody has been over early after the first race and they don't want to be over early in race six. That would be very painful!'

Betsy Crowfoot (As Amended by ISAF)
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