Berge rides wind shift to win

June 10, 1994|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

After waiting nearly five hours for the breeze to come up and settle in, eight skippers and 24 crew opened the Santa Maria Cup Women's Match Racing Championship yesterday afternoon on the Inner Harbor.

And a few minutes after the breeze settled in, it started moving around, which was just fine for Melinda Berge of Baltimore.

Berge, trailing throughout her match with Paula Lewin of Bermuda, took advantage of a 30- to 40-degree wind shift on the last run to the finish line to win her match.

Race organizers started the first round of pairs about 3:45 p.m. in a southerly breeze that was well below 10 knots.

In the opening race, Katie McDowell of Barrington, R.I., was matched against Nancy Graham of St. Petersburg, Fla. At the first mark, McDowell had a slight lead, but problems with a spinnaker set allowed Graham to close ground and eventually take the lead, even though the Floridians' crew also had its tough moments with spinnaker handling.

"[McDowell's crew] had some troubles, too, but we all will get it straightened out," Graham said.

Graham and McDowell sailed a pretty close race until Graham lost track of the mark roundings and started an extra windward leg rather than running to the finish line.

Other winners yesterday were Karen Johnson of Canada and Diane Burton of Annapolis.

Johnson was matched against fellow Canadian Judy Lugar, who appeared to win the start but was quickly covered by Johnson. Johnson went on to lead at every mark.

Burton, a member of the U.S. Olympic sailing team in 1992, sailed aggressively against Stephanie Wendolleck of San Rafael, Calif., built an early lead and coasted.

Race organizers cut the field from 10 to eight teams earlier this week because personal problems forced Ellie Field of Rhode Island to withdraw. Field's withdrawal forced Kathy Weber of Annapolis from the field.

Weber had been a late replacement for Bridget Creney of Massachusetts.

Racing is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. today, weather and wind permitting.

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