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22 January 2008, 09:28 am
Heart Stopping End To US Youth World Qualifiers
The end of the final SL 16 race
MASON and SEGERBLOM (l.) lead MILLER and REISS (c.) across the line in final race to win multihull title

US SAILING ISAF Youth World Qualifier and US Youth Multihull Championship 2008
Long Beach, California. USA

Competitors were treated to rainbows, rain and light chilly breeze on the final day at Long Beach Monday 2008 US SAILING ISAF Youth World Qualifier and US Youth Multihull Championship.
As a day of rainbows, rain squalls and sailing through a full range of emotions in chilly 55-degree breeze ground down to dusk Monday, Andy MASON said to himself - but not to crew Chris SEGERBLOM, "There goes our trip to Denmark."

Meanwhile, on the same course inside the outer harbour breakwater, Judge RYAN and crew Hans HENKEN kept remembering the advice of their coach, two-time Olympic medallist Charlie MCKEE, to "keep an open mind on the race course. It's never over until it's over."

And when the 2008 US SAILING ISAF Youth World Qualifier and US Youth Multihull Championship at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club really was over, MASON, 18, and SEGERBLOM, 15, of Corona del Mar had come from far behind to beat Evan MILLER and Taylor REESE of Panama City, Fla. by a heartbeat to win the multihull title, while RYAN and HENKEN held off Oliver TOOLE and Willie MCBRIDE of San Diego in the 29ers.

Along with Laser winner Luke LAWRENCE of Palm City, Fla., Laser Radial winner Anne HAEGER of Lake Forest, Ill. and girls 29er winners Emily DELLENBAUGH, Eaton, Conn. and crew Morgane RENOIR, San Diego, the winners will represent the USA, in the 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Denmark in July.

MASON and SEGERBLOM, sailing a Nacra SL 16 catamaran, also received the Arthur J. Stevens Trophy for their national title.

The SL 16 and 29er leaders were separated by only one point starting the final day, and that narrowed to first-place deadlocks before the tenth and final race.

"It was by far extremely close racing," MASON said.

And heartbreaking at times. As MASON and SEGERBLOM ran fourth with their rivals far back in eighth on the second lap of the first race, the committee abandoned the race because of a 60-degree wind shift. Then they ran third to MILLER and REISS's second in the re-run.

The last race, beset by smaller shifts, was a wild ride. At the first windward mark MASON and SEGERBLOM were second with MILLER and REISS dead last in tenth. Almost a lap later that had flipped with MILLER and REISS leading and MASON and SEGERBLOM eighth. But the latter found some speed to regain third place before the final mark rounding, then slowly reeled in the leaders, who jibed toward the downwind finish line about 100 yards from the end.

MASON and SEGERBLOM then jibed inside of them and managed to cross in front three boat lengths before the line to pull off their comeback.

"My heart stopped," said SEGERBLOM, who with MASON had lost last year's youth title to MILLER and his previous crew by a half-point in their first catamaran regatta.

SEGERBLOM took a flopping dive into the water - not exactly a Kevin BURNHAM Olympic backflip but making a similar statement.

"We just went nuts," MASON said. "I didn't think we had it until I heard the whistle."

RYAN and HENKEN related to that. "It was the toughest regatta I've ever sailed," RYAN said. "We were just about dead even."

HENKEN said, "We just came from the 29er Worlds in Australia where we were practicing for this."

In that event, with MCKEE alongside, they sailed against the world's adult elite of the class and finished third in the silver fleet.

"That was our plan," HENKEN said, "to learn as much as we could, test some stuff and tune the boat. We also met some guys from Denmark who won [the Youth Worlds] last year."

So they should feel right at home come summertime.

There were no on-water protests requiring post-race hearings through the full three days.

Results - www.abyc.org/upload/2008Youth.htm
US SAILING ISAF Youth World Qualifier and US Youth Multihull Championship 2008 - www.ussailing.org/championships/youth/multihull/
Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/youthworlds

Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF)
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