November 18, 2002 NEW ORLEANS, La.—Hobart and William Smith assistant sailing coach Colin Merrick ’01 and Hobart senior John Cline (St. Georges School/Stuart, Fla.) joined four other sailors on Team Silver Panda to outrace thirteen other teams this past weekend at the 2002 Hinman Championship, the United States Team Racing Championship, to qualify for the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Championships on Jan. 13-Feb. 7, in Auckland, New Zealand.
“We trained together all summer for the event,” Merrick said. “We headed into the competition thinking we could finish in the top four, but we didn’t expect to finish first.”
Competition was tight throughout the weekend, with the title up for grabs until the final race of the Championship. Team Silver Panda, comprised of Carols Lenz, Elizabeth Hall, Pete Levesque, Merrick, Cline, and team captain Patrick Hogan emerged victorious in the final race overtaking Team WHishbone in the end.
The finals went the full five races with Silver Panda and WHisbone tied after the first four. In the final race, Silver Panda fouled once at the start line and again on the downwind leg. Appearing as though WHishbone was on their way to their first Hinman Championship, Hogan helped his team regain control of the race at the last mark to win within a boat length of the finish line.
A native of Portsmouth, R.I., Merrick was a three-time member of the Coed All-America Skippers Team as well as a two-time IYCRA All-American during his four years at Hobart. Cline represented HWS on the Mid-Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association All-District Team for the fall of 2001.
The Hinman Championship features 14 top team racing trios competing for the spot in the ISAF World Championships. Entry into the competition is difficult, as 21 teams with strong sailing resumes applied for the 14 spots in the competition this year.