Lucky Seven for Scheidt

Laser Worlds 2004
Courtesy Www.laserchampionships.org/worlds04/

Four years ago, at the Sydney Olympics the situation was eerily similar. Robert Scheidt, the most accomplished sailor in the history of the Laser class, was leading the regatta with one race remaining. However, the second-place boat, Ben Ainslie of Great Britain, could win the regatta by forcing Scheidt, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to have a bad race. A furious match race ensued and the tactically superior Ainslie won the gold. At the 2004 Harken Laser Worlds in Bodrum, Turkey, Michael Blackburn of Australia played the part of Ben Ainslie. Scheidt had put together a near perfect regatta, winning four of eight races and not finishing worse than sixth in any single race. But in the first race today, the final day of the regatta, Scheidt was flagged twice for kinetics violations and had to retire from the race. Blackburn finished seventh and the lead was just four points. More importantly Scheidt had burned the one throwout allowed during the finals, while Blackburn, who'd sailed nearly as well as Scheidt, carried a seventh as his worst finish and could afford to have a bad race, if he dragged Scheidt down with him. But apparently Scheidt has improved his match-racing skills over the last four years. He countered Blackburn's attack before the start of the final race and rounded the first mark in eighth, with his competition back in the 30s. From there, Scheidt did what he does best, methodically moving through the fleet and eventually finishing second. The only sailor to beat the seven-time world champion in that race was Mark Mendelblatt, the 2004 U.S. Laser representative for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Mendelblatt couldn't match either Scheidt or Blackburn's consistency, but he was better than everyone else in the fleet and finished third. This represents the best finish by an American sailor at the Laser Worlds since 1990 when Steve Bourdow finished second in Newport, R.I. Mendelblatt has maintained that he is not a favorite for a medal in Athens, however this performance will certainly elevate his standing within the class. For complete results, photos, and daily reports, http://www.laserchampionships.org/worlds04/