That dratted rodent that pops out of his heated condo in Pennsylvania and divines how much longer winter will hold us in its icy grip saw his shadow this morning, which means we’re still not out of the woods yet. But there are signs of hope: The Strictly Sail Chicago boat show drew some solid numbers over the weekend [including Sailing World editors-at-large Gary Jobson and Peter Isler], and a vast fleet of one-design sailors are doing their final road checks before their trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the first Sailing World NOOD regatta of the year, slated to begin February 13. On the West Coast, the Mexico races are ramping up, and down at the Derecktor yard in Dania, Fla. Farr 40 and other boat’s captains are getting their rides ready for the Acura SORC, which starts on Feb. 26. Crew looking to get a ride to Bermuda in June are starting to get serious about attending one of the many Safety at Sea seminars offered, and their navigators have already started looking at Gulf Stream data. In short, it’s now time to stop worrying about whether or not Janet Jackson meant to be exposed, or why the Carolina Panther’s coach told his team to try for two points, and start getting ready for the upcoming racing season.
**There’s a little over a month until the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Star class. Anyone who’s followed that class over the past decade knows that this is the time when four-time Olympian Mark Reynolds begins to turn up the heat. The San Diego sailmaker won the Star class at the 2004 Rolex Miami OCR, defeating 57 of the best teams in the world, and putting the other American teams on notice that he and new crew Steve Erickson will be on top of their game at the Star Trials in mid March.
The Star class is always one of the toughest at the OCR, and this year was no exception. Eight different countries finished in the top 10, with the U.S. putting three teams into that elite group. Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter, who have been the most consistent of the U.S. Star teams in the past year and will likely be considered the favorites for the Olympic berth, finished fifth, and Howie Shiebler and Will Stout were 10th.
Like the competition, Reynolds and Erickson had their ups and downs. They counted an 18th, threw out a 46th, and averaged more than seven points in their five scoring races. But it was enough for a 7-point win over Colin Beashel and David Giles of Australia. Sweden’s Freddie Lööf and Anders Ekstrom were third.
In the 49er class, the win by Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding just confirmed what most everyone knew heading into the regatta, that they will be the ones to beat the U.S. Trials, which start Feb. 14. They finished ninth in the first race, but then reeled off a string of nine straight top-three finishes, only one of which was a third. They finished with just 15 points, less than half of the total recorded by the second-place boat, the Swiss team of Chris Rast and Christian Steiger. Wadlow and Spaulding’s top competition in the Trials will likely come from Andy Mack and Adam Lowry, who were third in the OCR, and Dalton Bergan and Zach Maxam, who finished fourth.
Great Britain’s Paul Goodison, ranked third in the world, won the Laser class over Mark Mendelblatt, who won the U.S. Olympic Laser berth in November. The win avenged a 1-point loss to Mendelbatt at last year’s OCR. Other winners included Enrique Figueroa and Jorge Hernandez of Puerto Rico in the Tornado, Czech sailor Lenka Smidova in the Europe, 1996 gold medalist Mateusz Kusznierewicz of Poland won the Finn class, U.S. Olympic Trials runners-up Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and Graham Biehl won the Men’s 470 class while Germany’s Alina Grobe and Vivien Kussatz were the top women’s team, and the New Zealand trio of Sharon Ferris, Kylie Jameson, and Joanna White took the Yngling title. Udo Hessels of The Netherlands won the Sonar class while 1996 Soling bronze medalist Jeff Madrigali won the 2.4 Meter class. For complete results, www.ussailing.org
**JOYON EXPECTS TO FINISH TUESDAY
**Since November 22, French singlehanded sailor Francis Joyon has been sailing around the world in his 90-foot trimaran Idec, trying to beat Michel Desjoyeaux’s 93-day record, set during the 2000-2001 Vendee Globe. As of late Monday afternoon, Joyon’s position was 46 24 N 08 40 W, and if “Vit” means speed, he was doing a cool 22.15 knots, steering 057 degrees.
If all goes well, Joyon expects to finish sometime tomorrow. Check his all-French, all-the-time website, ; it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out when he finishes, because most of the superlatives that will be used are readily understood, even by those of us who don’t read French: “Superbe, magnifique, incroyable.”
**For the Newport Bermuda Race, a minimum of 30 percent of all crewmembers, including at least two of the following: captain, navigator, port and starboard watch captains, shall have attended a sanctioned Safety-at-Sea Seminar within three years prior to the start of the race. For AMERICAP II Double-Handed yachts, both crew shall meet this requirement.
If you are planning to race in the Newport Bermuda 2004, make reservations now to attend the US-Sailing Safety at Sea Seminar March 6-7, 2004 in Newport RI, at the Hyatt Hotel on Goat Island. The seminar is hosted by Cruising Club of America and sponsored by Cruising World and Sailing World magazines, as well as West Marine. Register at www.cruisingclub.org/sas/
Saturday is an all-day Safety at Sea Seminar satisfying the training requirements for the Newport Bermuda Ocean Race. Seminar participants receive a certification from US SAILING. Sunday’s program includes valuable race and medical preparation tips from race organizers, veterans, and marine industry professionals.
All sailors are welcome to attend including those racing in other offshore events and those planning extended offshore cruises. Contact Rush Hambleton at: [email protected]
See www.bermudarace.com for entry details and to sign up for “Newport Bermuda Newswire” updates. Phone: (978) 526-7829 FAX: (978) 526-9610 Email: [email protected]
**Steve Fossett and the crew of Cheyenne are still on hold for their
round-the-world record attempt, after a near miss on weather near the end of January.
**ENGINE DUMPING CHARGED
**According to Mercury Marine, an American outboard engine manufacturer owned by Brunswick Corporation, the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined that an investigation into possible dumping practices by Japanese outboard-engine companies will begin immediately. The Commerce Department’s determination, issued last Thursday as the International Trade Commission staff was conducting its initial conference in Washington, D.C., on import-caused injury, confirms that there is sufficient evidence supporting claims of illegal dumping by the Japanese outboard-engine manufacturing industry asserted by Mercury Marine in a petition filed Jan. 8 to launch a formal antidumping investigation. United States laws forbid dumping, which occurs when a country’s industry sells products in other countries at prices significantly lower than in its own country.
A final ruling against the Japanese companies could result in import duties being imposed. The International Trade Commission is expected to announce a preliminary determination by Feb. 23.
Grand Prix Sailor is compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you’d like to subscribe, see Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger ([email protected]), Dave Reed ([email protected]), Stuart Streuli ([email protected]), John Burnham ([email protected]