Finishing no worse than third over the course of five races, Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club sailor Rick Merriman took home the first-place trophy for the 51st annual Tomahawk Regatta, held over the weekend on Lake Hopatcong. Mark Reynolds beats Rick Merriman at the finish of the last race of the Tomahawk Regatta, raced out of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club (in background). Merriman won the overall event, and Reynolds finished in third. Rick Merriman and Phil Trinter, winners of the Tomahawk Regatta, race on Lake Hopatcong"This is really the pinnacle of my career," joked Merriman, a former US Youth Singlehanded Champion, college All-American sailor, Etchells World Champion, and a current Olympic hopeful. True, the Tomahawk Regatta, run out of the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club, isn't generally a world-class event. But the competition was intense for a small-fleet regatta on a covey lake in northern New Jersey: Merriman was racing against Peter Bromby, a multiple Olympian from Bermuda and current Bacardi Cup champion, and Mark Reynolds, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time silver medalist from San Diego, as well as 15 other sailors from Lake Hopatcong, Long Island Sound, Seneca Lake, Lake Ontario, Lake George, and Lake Sunapee.Peter Bromby and Brian Murphy, who won second place at the Tomahawk Regatta, race on Lake Hopatcong  "Coming to a place like this, this is what Star sailing is really about," said Bromby after the races on Saturday. "It's about being with friends."  Which explains why such world-class sailors who are used to competing out of cities such as Miami, Barcelona, and Newport would be drawn to Lake Hopatcong. In particular, Kevin Murphy—a Madison resident who grew up sailing on the lake—has been an ambassador for his home fleet as he has traveled the country competing as a crew at high-level sailing events. For the 50th anniversary last year, several world-renowned sailors made the trip to New Jersey at Murphy's invitation. This year, they came back, bringing a few more hotshots—among them, Reynolds and America's Cup crew Phil Trinter, who crewed for Merriman on the winning boat. Third-place finishers Mark Reynolds and Kevin Murphy on Lake Hopatcong at the Tomahawk RegattaKevin Murphy and his brother Brian ran the event, and both crewed in top boats: Kevin with Reynolds and Brian with Bromby for the second straight year.  Last year, the Bromby-Murphy duo was victorious; this year, they had to settle for second. Merriman won with nine points; Bromby came in second with 12, and Reynolds came in third with 13 after winning the last two races of the weekend. Mark Passmore and Doug Folsetter from Ontario came in fourth, and Clark and Rick Dhein of Lake George rounded out the top five.   For more coverage of the event, check out reports from local news media: Star-Ledger: Murphy family at center of world-class action during Lake Hopatcong's Tomahawk Regatta Daily Record: Olympian sails to win in annual regatta at Lk Hopatcong Yacht Club New Jersey Herald: Tomahawk Regatta churns Lake Hopatcong

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