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Magnificent second place for O’Leary and Milne at Bacardi Cup

Peter  O’Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club and his crew Stephen Milne of Royal Ulster Yacht Club have scored a stunning second place overall finish that included a first and two third places  in the five race series in the 84 boat fleet at the International Star Class prestigious Bacardi Cup at Miami that finished on Saturday.

First-time winners Rick Merriman and Phil Trinter took the 2010 Bacardi Cup with a total score of nine points in five races.

Bacardi Miami Sailing Week blustered to an early conclusion Saturday on Biscayne Bay. Gusty west winds that damaged several boats prompted organizers to halt all racing by early afternoon; lightning and high winds Friday forced cancellation of all but two contests.

Sailing Week’s premier event — the 2010 Bacardi Cup — saw a team of first-time winners drink from the silver Trofeo Bacardi in Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park. Skipper Rick Merriman, a Fed Ex pilot from New York City, and crew Phil Trinter of Charlottesville, Va., won Saturday’s final race in a battered fleet of 84 Star-class boats with a total score of nine points in five races after discarding their worst result, Merriman and Trinter beat the runner-up Irish team of Peter O’Leary and Stephen Milne by eight points. Mid-week leaders Andy Horton and James Lyne, both of Vermont, took third place.

“It’s huge,” Merriman said of the victory. “The Bacardi Cup has always had a lot of great sailors to it. It’s a tough one to win. It’s big-fleet racing. I’d put it right up with the worlds.”

Trinter, a Star world champion, has come in second in the Bacardi twice previously. He and Merriman finished third in 2009 with O’Leary finishing in tenth position.

South Miami skipper Augie Diaz, the 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, came in 12th with crew Bruno Prada of Brazil. The defending champions, skipper Peter Bromby of Bermuda and crew Magnus Liljedahl, 2000 Olympic gold medalist, ended up 17th after breaking a mast in Saturday’s high winds and many other high profile Star Class names had to be content with low fleet placings.

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