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Kerner Wins in Yachting Trials

April 22, 1996

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) _ After nearly breaking his mast the previous day, Sam Kerner of Hawaii won both Finn class races Sunday in the U.S. Olympic Yachting trials to launch himself back into contention for the Olympic team.

``I’m losing myself in self-euphoria,″ said Kerner, the No. 1 ranked Finn sailor in the United States. ``This event is so stressful and to come out with a day like this is really something.″

Kerner moved up to fifth place overall in the trials, while Mark Herrmann of Bothell, Wash., took over first place by finishing fifth and second in Sunday’s two races.

1992 Olympic silver medalist Brian Ledbetter, a two-time Olympian, is in second and Will Martin, dropped from first to third.

Sailors get one point for winning a race, two points for finishing second, three for third, etc. After discarding the worst three results of the regatta, the sailor with the lowest overall score is the winner.

In the Star class, America’s Cup veteran John Kostecki and crew Tom Olsen moved into sole possession of first place overall with two second-place finishes Sunday.

Having the best day in the class was the team of Eric Doyle and Brian Terhaar, who won both races after not finishing a race Saturday.

Paul Cayard, Dennis Conner’s helmsman in the last America’s Cup, and crew George Iverson are in second overall and John MacCausland and crew Chris Reynolds are in third.

Two-time Olympic Star medalists Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel are in fourth.

Sailing continues through Sunday, with a day off Wednesday. The winners claim a spot on the Olympic team; the other eight spots on the Olympic yachting team will be decided in Savannah May 4-12.

In Saturday’s first race, Kerner’s sail became detached from his mast, except at the top and bottom.

That almost created enough pressure to snap the piece of carbon fiber, which would have meant not only that Kerner would have to retire from the first race, but that any chance of racing in the second race was shot.

But miraculously, the mast didn’t break, Kerner managed to get his sail back up, and he recovered to finish fourth in the second race.

And Sunday, that fortune continued to smile on the 29-year old Hawaiian, as he won both races to launch himself back into contention.

Kerner aggravated an old rotator cuff injury Saturday while trying to re-hoist the sail _ with several gallons of water trapped in it.

``A stray cat we’ve taken in woke me up early this morning and I just couldn’t get back to sleep,″ Kerner said.

In Sunday’s first race, Kerner trailed Russ Silvestri by nearly a minute at the first mark, but blew past Silvestri on the reach _ or off-wind _ leg.

From there, he just covered the fleet to retain his lead.

The second race wasn’t quite so easy, however. In sixth place after the first mark, Kerner again showed his speed off the wind, making up three spots.

He caught up with everyone except Herrmann by the last downwind mark, and turned in some spectacular sailing to overtake the leader on the last upwind leg.

Catching a wind shift halfway up the course to gain a slight lead, Kerner out-tacked both Herrmann and David Shelton the last quarter of a mile and slid ahead of Shelton by a half-boat for the win.

``That was pretty tricky, because you had to decide who you wanted to make up ground on and who you wanted to let catch you,″ Kerner said. ``I was caught in the middle, but I played off each of them and luckily it worked out.″

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