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21 August 2005, 10:37 pm
Light Winds Make TAUGHER Work For His Victory
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U.S. Single-Handed Championship 2005
Long Beach, California

It may have looked like Kevin TAUGHER had his Laser on cruise control Sunday with a big lead before the last two races of the 2005 U.S. Singlehanded Championship for the George O'Day Trophy, but he's been sailing long enough to know that no lead is too big to lose.
Confronted by the lightest winds of the three-day regatta and a flock of Sunday boat drivers crossing the race course close to shore off Seal Beach, TAUGHER admitted, 'I was a little worried. It was very light, and with the power boats going through it was also very choppy', conditions that favored lighter and luckier competitors.

But even with two fifth places, his worst finishes in nine races, by day's end his agony had turned to the ecstasy of his first national championship. Runner-up Reed JOHNSON of Toms River, N.J., cut TAUGHER'S 18-point lead to a final 13 with a fourth and a first, 'but there was too big a gap,' Johnson said.

TAUGHER of Huntington Beach, is a member of the host Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.

Thomas BARROWS of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was the first-day leader and recaptured his form in more favorable conditions with a pair of seconds to finish third overall, followed by Peter PHELAN of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Vann WILSON of Long Beach.

TAUGHER'S performance mirrored the varying conditions. His best day was Saturday with finishes of 2-2-1-1 in 15 to 18 knots of breeze, following a 3-4-2 Friday in 12 knots. On Sunday the first race started in 5 knots, building to 8 through the second race.

'I'm glad the whole regatta wasn't sailed in these conditions,' he said. 'I was 15th or 18th [early] in the first race but finally went out to the left side and got back into it.'

JOHNSON said, 'I thought I was going to get lucky when he was so far back, but Kevin sailed well. Second's all right. When I sailed this regatta two years ago in Oklahoma City I was dead last.'

BARROWS had no complaints, either. 'It's a really friendly event. People talk to each other about what they're doing. I'm real happy.'

So was the host club to celebrate with one of its own, joining an elite list of national and champions and Olympic medalists in various small-boat classes.

'I'm really pleased to win it at my own club,' TAUGHER said. 'So many people here have helped me to improve over the years, it's a victory for all of us. It's a great honor to have my name on that trophy with all those great sailors.'

Peter BARRETT was the first O'Day winner in 1962, and the second winner, Finn sailor Henry SPRAGUE of Newport Beach, was present for the award presentations Sunday afternoon.

The event was once again sponsored by Vanguard Sailboats, which provided the Lasers, and Rolex Watch U.S.A., which has consistently recognized excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing dating to the 1958 America's Cup. Vanguard has been a dedicated sponsor of numerous U.S. national championships for more than a decade.

Top 5 (23 boats, 9 races):
1. Kevin Taugher, Huntington Beach, 3-4-2-2-2-1-1-5-5, 25 points.
2. Reed Johnson, Toms River, N.J., 7-3-3-1-7-8-4-4-1, 33.
3. Thomas Barrows, St. Thomas, USVI, 1-1-6-5-12-9-15-2-2, 53.
4. Peter Phelan, Santa Cruz, Calif., 5-6-7-3-5-6-9-6-10, 57.
5. Vann Wilson, Long Beach, 12-5-1-9-3-7-3-16-6, 62.

Event Media, Image: Kevin Taugher ©
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