After a seven-race, four-day series for the Soling Nationals last week in Punta Gorda, Fla., the still-No. 1 U.S. team of Kevin Mahaney, Doug Kern, and Annapolitan Jim Brady handily topped a fleet of 29 topU.S. and Canadian teams.
"Typically, the conditions were about 8 to 10, not terribly windy," Brady said. "We never even used our heavy-air jib the whole regatta. The morning races were typically lighter,and by the afternoon you'd have more like 10 knots of breeze as the sea breeze would take over."
Competition in the regatta was tight, and the results showed it.
"We were actually in third in the regatta going up the first beat of the last race," Brady said, "so we had to make some major comebacks."
Although the team was third at the finish in the final contest, it was beaten only by those who were farther behind, while its maincompetition for the top slot was behind it.
The Nationals, in which all of the competitors raced together as a fleet, were followed immediately by two days of match-racing between the top four American teams; in combination these events made up the Exxon 1991 Soling Olympic Pre-Trials.
Although Larry Klein of San Diego was sixth in the fleet-racing portion, his was the fourth-best U.S. team in the Nationals, and his team was ultimately the winner in the match-racing portions of the event.
This victory made him and crew members Bill Fortenberry and Wally Corwin the overall winners of the Pre-Trials and earned them the right to compete at the 1991 Olympic Practice Regatta, in Barcelona, Spain, July 25-Aug. 4.
Although Klein won the Pre-Trials, the Mahaney/Brady/Kern team is still ranked No. 1 in Solings onthe U.S. Sailing Team, and as such, it also will be going to Barcelona to compete.
This regatta, for which the Platinum Point Yacht Club was host, marked a dramatic reappearance of the Coleman brothers' team. That team was a familiar sight at the Severn Sailing Association and on the waters off Annapolis during the last Olympic quadrenniumas it practiced diligently and often, through the winter and into the spring preceding the 1988 Olympic Trials.
The Colemans, with Naval Academy graduate Gerard as the skipper and brothers Peter and Paulas crew, took an impressive second in both the fleet and match-racing portions of the regatta. They demonstrated that they are a force tobe reckoned with in the Soling class and are capable of a comeback after a long period of only occasional activity.
Gerard is now living in San Francisco, and Peter and Paul have made their homes in Rye,N.Y., since leaving Annapolis.
The other U.S. team that qualifiedfor the match-racing portion of the event was headed by Marblehead sailmaker Dave Curtis and included Brad Dellenbaugh and Annapolitan Paul Murphy. This team placed fourth in the fleet racing and tied for third with the Mahaney/Brady/Kern team after the match racing ended.
Like Mahaney/Brady/Kern, the Curtis/Dellenbaugh/Murphy team was part of the 1990 U.S. Sailing Team and also is part of this year's team.And although Klein is not a member of either the 1990 or 1991 team, his Pre-Trials crew were members last year when Fortenberry sailed with Californian Doug McLean, and Corwin was part of SSA member Don Cohan's team.
Unlike all other Olympic classes' regattas, the Soling Pre-Trials included a match-racing finale because Olympic Soling competition has been restructured recently to include match racing. 1992's games in Barcelona will be the first time match racing of any kind has been part of Olympic yachting competition.
In Punta Gorda, thebest-two-of-three semifinals, in which the Klein team was pitted against and beat the Mahaney/Brady/Kern team while the Coleman brothers faced and defeated Curtis, Dellenbaugh and Murphy in the series, werefollowed by a final sail-off the next day between the Klein and Coleman teams. Klein's team again won the first two races of the best-of-three series, and with them the regatta.
Exxon Corp., which was the title sponsor for the regatta, also recently has become a sponsor of the Mahaney/Brady/Kern team. Such corporate sponsorship is an important part of any Olympic campaign.
Brady says it is particularly important in the Soling class where match-racing experience and skill will be as telling to the final result as fleet racing. It increases the number and kind of regattas to which the team members must travelfor optimizing their practice opportunities. It is actually travel expense rather than the cost of boats, sails and gear, which makes up the greatest part of an Olympic campaign budget.
Earning a top ranking on the U.S. Sailing Team means additional support from the Olympic Yachting Committee for travel and other expenses. USYRU Olympic Yachting Committee director Jonathan Harley has estimated that an Olympic sailing campaign costs at least $55,000 to $60,000 per crew member -- and there are three sailors per Soling.