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12 February 2013, 09:24 am
Florida Gold Rush For Caleb Paine
Caleb Paine in control
Caleb Paine in control

Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta
Fort Lauderdale, USA

At the inaugural Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta, an event that's grown out of hosting the Finn Midwinters and Laser Radial North Americans at the Lauderdale Yacht Club, Caleb Paine's (USA) gold rush in the Finn continues.
Paine took gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami just a short while ago and in a strong fleet continued to prove his worth as one of the rising stars of Finn racing.

At this year's regatta the Laser, 29er and 420s were added to the programme with over 60 boats being treated to three days of outstanding conditions and racing in the ocean just south of the Port Everglades inlet. Entrants came from all over the world with nine countries represented in the fleet.

Friday's racing began with a somewhat unusual west wind of around ten to twelve knots and relatively flat seas. A strong current at the top mark, along with patchy wind made for tricky conditions, and the Finn class saw a different winner in each of the day's three races. In the radial class, Canada's Brenda Bowskill followed an initial twelfth with two bullets once she figured out the conditions. In the Laser Estonian Karl-Martin Rammo had no difficulty reading the winds, firing off a perfect score sheet of three firsts. In the 29ers, Nic Muller and Kai Friesecke used their local knowledge to take the lead in the twelve-strong fleet, winning two of the three races. Finally, in the 420 fleet, Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick, sailing with Lauderdale's Haley Fox enjoyed a perfect triple-first day.

On Friday night a weak cold front moved through the area so Saturday dawned a bit cooler and the winds had moved to the northeast. The race committee set up a windward-leeward, twice around race course, and started the first race in a nice 14 knot breeze. The winds had also pushed up the sea state and waves of two to four feet covered the course. The day began overcast with a little rain, but quickly cleared into a gorgeous day. In the Finns recent ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami champion Paine renewed his duel with Australia's Brendan Casey and between them they won all three of the day's races. In the Laser fleet, Karl-Martin Rammo continued his dominance, winning two out of three. In the Radials two Canadians were pushing each other. Bowskill maintained a narrow lead over Sandy Beatty by combining her sole first of the day with a pair of deuces. There were no changes on the 29er and 420 leader board.

On Sunday, the weather gods tossed everything at the competitors. Winds were from the southeast at sixteen knots with gusts over twenty. The seas had been pushed up to five to seven feet with the occasional eight or nine footer thrown in for good measure. Two races were planned for all fleets. Before the first start numerous boats were capsizing all over the race course. It kept the four safety boats busy standing by each one to make sure all were safe. The first Finn race quickly turned into the Paine and Casey show as they led the fleet to the top mark. They battled all day with Casey taking two hard earned victories. Still, that wasn't enough to overtake Paine who, by virtue of his two seconds, won the regatta by three points. Finishing third was Estonian Lauri Vainsalu. At 77-years-old August Miller (USA) was the oldest competitor in the fleet and finished 13th having successfully finished each race.

On the final day in the Laser Rammo held a pretty commanding lead over Canada's Robert Davis. Even though Davis took the horn for both races, it wasn't enough to catch Rammo, so Robert settled for second. Rounding out the top three was Trinidad and Tobago's Andrew Lewis. In the Radial, Bowskill and Beatty went one, two and two, one respectively, allowing Bowskill to hang on for the two-point victory. Local Lauderdale Yacht Club skipper Ethan Lounsbury took third. Several of the 29ers really struggled to finish their first race. In light of the worsening conditions, and the number of capsizes, the race committee made the decision to send them and the 420s back to the yacht club. Holding onto the victory were locals Nic Muller and Kai Friesecke. They were joined on the podium by Duncan Williford and Mathew Mollerus in second, and Campbell D'Eliscu in third. In the 420 Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick and Haley Fox took the day's only race leaving them with victories in four out of seven races and the title. Second and third went to Jack Parkin and Hailey Ullman respectively.

John Payne
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