COCONUT GROVE, Fla.-- Paul Cayard and Phil Trinter will represent the U.S. sailing team in the Star class in the Athens Olympics, sealing their spot Sunday with a fifth-place finish in the trials.
Cayard, 44, and Trinter, 35, were consistently strong throughout the 16-race qualifying event, finishing no worse than sixth while winning four races and posting three second-place finishes.
Heading into the final day of competition Sunday, Cayard and Trinter needed just an 11th-place finish or better in any of the final three races to secure the Olympic berth.
They finished fifth in their only race of the day, and closed with a total of 40 points. The closest competitor in the field of 22 finished with 65 points.
"I didn't think it would be possible for anybody to be consistently in the top five in every single race, Cayard said. "This fleet's pretty tough and deep, and the first eight or 10 guys are all very good and capable of winning a race."
The eight-day trials were marked by blustery wind that resulted in three cancellations and frequent delays.
"It was windy all week, and that was to our benefit," said Trinter. "We're probably the strongest, most physical group here.
Cayard, from Ketfield Calif., and Trinter, from Lorain, Ohio, have teamed together in the Star class for two years, and won the 2003 Star North American Championship.
For skipper Cayard, the trip to Athens is a long-awaited reward.
In 1984, he finished second in the U.S. trials by sixth-tenths of a point, and went to Los Angeles as an alternate. In 1988, he was the Star World Champion, but finished third in the trials.
"Those two experiences kind of put me off a little bit," said Cayard. "This was something that I tried to do as a kid and missed at it, so it was really nice at 44 years old to come back and do it."
The Olympic trip will be the first for Trinter, who participated in two previous trials.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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