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15 September 2003, 12:59 pm
Local Sailor Tops Continents best
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Andy PIMENTAL (USA)© Event MEdia

US Laser Masters Nationals
Newport

On the third and final day of the Rolex Laser Masters North American Championships, local sailor Andy PIMENTAL (Newport, R.I.) claimed victory over an impressive 132-boat fleet and locked up his Masters Class for ages 45-54 as well.
His closest competition on Narragansett Bay, where the event was held and hosted by the New York Yacht Club, came from another local sailor, Scott FERGUSON (Jamestown, RI), who topped the younger Apprentice Masters Class (ages 35-44) and finished second overall in fleet. Pimental won the Gay Lynn Memorial Trophy and was awarded an engraved Rolex timepiece.

"I looked at the whole fleet and didn't really think about my particular competition in the Masters Class," said the 45-year-old Pimental, who finished fourth and as top American in Apprentice Class at last year's Masters World event, "but I knew Scott would be a threat, along with Marc Jacobi." Jacobi (Norwalk, Conn.) finished third overall and second behind Ferguson in Apprentice Masters class, while Master sailor Augie DIAZ (Miami, Fla.) finished fourth overall.

Pimental regularly sails Snipes and recently won the Snipe Nationals. Asked if local knowledge helped, Pimental said, "Ironically we sailed on a part of the Bay (north of the Newport Bridge) where I often practice but where I don't usually do that well racing."

Though most of the sailors would have preferred stronger wind during the six races held, they were ecstatic that a weekend forecast of relentless rain never came to fruition. Yesterday's single race, delayed due to light air but successfully sailed in 4-10 knots, emphasized the extreme talent of the fleet's older sailors in Grandmasters (55-64) and Great Grandmasters (65+) Classes, when Great Grand Master Class winner Peter Seidenberg (Portsmouth, R.I.) stretched a lead on the fleet to 100 yards at the finish. "It was inspirational," said Great Grand Master second-place finisher Dick TILLMAN (Syracuse, Ind.) about Seidenberg's performance. "I had eight points on him going into today, but that kind of lead can be gone in a heartbeat in a fleet like this." Winning Grandmasters Class was Joe Vanrossem (Ontario, CAN).

According to Steven WOLFF (Fairfield, Conn.), who co-chaired the event with Susan DALY (Newport) and Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.), the combined age of the fleet was 6388 years. "The oldest sailor was 77-year-old Bob Saltmarsh of Mattapoissett, Mass," said Wolff, "so I'd say we've covered a little territory." Organizers had anticipated approximately 80 boats but were pleasantly surprised when the fleet count raced past the 100 mark.

Prizes went to the top-three finishers in each class plus the top Apprentice Woman, which was Frances FLAM (Philadelphia, Penn.) and top Master Woman, which was Sally SHARP (Enfield, N.H.). All classes sailed together using "standard" rigs, except that Great Grandmasters and Women were allowed to switch between standard rigs and "radial" rigs at anytime during the regatta. The ILCA's North American Masters handicapping system was used so older competitors could compete evenly with younger ones and an overall winner can be determined.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
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