AmericaOne Report



SAN FRANCISCO -- Russ Silvestri and John Myrdal survived physically and mentally taxing marathon regattas Sunday to win the Finn and Laser class trials, respectively, for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. It is the first team berth for both singlehanded sailors. The two classes were decided in rainy, windy conditions at the Berkeley Circle on San Francisco Bay. Two other class trails, the Star and Europe, were decided Saturday when Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl (Star) and Courtenay Becker-Dey (Europe) clinched their events.

Silvestri and Myrdal, however, were locked in struggles that needed all 16 races to decide. Silvestri, a 38-year-old San Franciscan, could've clinched his spot on the team Saturday but fell one point short. That set up Sunday's showdown with Mark Hermann of Bothell, Wash., breathing down his neck. Hermann, 40, finished first or second in the eight races since Wednesday's day off but couldn't overcome the nine-point lead Silvestri built up in the first half of the regatta. "I'm disappointed," Hermann said while reflecting on numerous races where he could've saved a point or two. He capsized twice early in the regatta, once while leading.

While Silvestri is assured of making the Olympic Team, the U.S. still has to qualify to participate in the Finn class at Sydney. Because of the enormous amount of athletes now participating at the Games, quotas were placed on the sailing classes to help control the total number of athletes. Whereas countries used to be able to enter any class, they now must qualify at designated regattas in the years building up to the Olympiad. The U.S. has qualified for every class but the Finn. The last opportunity to qualify will be in June at the Finn Gold Cup in England, where Silvestri and Hermann will be sailing. Finishing among the top 13 countries not already qualified will assure the U.S. an entry in the 29-boat Finn class.

In the Laser class, Myrdal, 28, was locked in a titanic struggle with 27-year-old Mark Mendelblatt. The two traded the lead back and forth over the final three days, with Myrdal entering the final races three points ahead. He stretched that gap to six points after winning the first race while Mendelblatt placed fourth. But victory still wasn't assured. Mendelblatt, of St. Petersburg, Fla., rebounded to win the second race and increase the suspense. Myrdal, however, finished third and the berth was his. "I sailed the best regatta I could've sailed; John just out-sailed me. He deserved it," said Mendelblatt.

Ten of the 11 representatives for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team are now secure. This weekend's winners join six qualifiers from trials held last fall. The Soling is the last class to be determined. Those trials will be held in early June. -- Sean McNeill, Quokka Sports

Full story: Complete results


About AmericaOne

AmericaOne was the USA's leading challenger for the America's Cup 2000. The team competed in Auckland, New Zealand for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to challenge New Zealand for the America's Cup in February 2000. AmericaOne built two boats based on four years of technology development and innovation. Top level technology partners are Hewlett-Packard Company, Network Solutions, Telcordia Technologies, SAIC, Ford Motor Company/Visteon and United Technologies Corp. AmericaOne represents San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club.

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Gina von Esmarch
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