Lake Hopatcong sailor Rick Merriman won the prestigious Bacardi Cup in Miami, finishing in first place in the fifth and final race, and standing at the top of a field of 84 of the world's top sailors. Lake Hopatcong sailor Rick Merriman, left, and crew Phil Trinter hoist the Bacardi Cup on March 13.Merriman sails Stars out of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club during the summer, and competed in the two-person keelboat for the six-day regatta.  It was his first Bacardi Cup win, as he and crew Phil Trinter finished the week with nine points—an eight-point lead over the second-place skipper, Peter O'Leary of Ireland. The wind built up over the week, ranging from light conditions early to a strong and gusty breeze by Saturday that resulted in at least five broken masts.  Peter Bromby of Bermuda, who won the cup last year and has sailed the Tomahawk Regatta on Lake Hopatcong the past two years, was leading the final race when he broke his mast.  "We were right behind [Bromby] until he broke his mast trying to jibe in one of the bigger puffs at the mark," Merriman told the Star Class race reporter. "Then the wind luckily backed off for us a little and we were able to survive the jibe, and after that, we just focused on sailing conservatively." Fellow LHYC sailor Kevin Murphy was also on the course, crewing for John Maccausland.  The team finished eighth overall, the third U.S. finisher, despite going over in the strong winds on Saturday. Past Olympic gold medalist Mark Reynolds, who has also sailed on Lake Hopatcong, finished in 15th place, and Bromby finished in 17th.  Canadian John Finch, a regular at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club, finished in 24th overall. For the full report and scores, visit the regatta page at the Star Class website.

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