Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network)-
One quick look at Phil Trinter and you think he should be playing professional football somewhere, not a member of the United States Olympic Sailing Team.
However, growing up on the beautiful waters of Lake Erie, Trinter followed in his parents' footsteps and fell in love with sailing. In fact, he sailed in his first race at the age of six. Three years later, he was involved in competition and began steering his own boat.
Trinter had two passions in life - football and sailing. He loved football so much he received a scholarship to Indiana University. Trinter, a 6-foot-6, hulking offensive tackle, was a four-year letterman for head coach Bill Mallory and the Hoosiers from 1988-91. He even appeared in four college post- season bowls, including the 1990 Peach Bowl.
With his football behind him, Trinter now set his sights on sailing. He went into the working world, seeking some for employment. He when on to meet Joe Londrigan, who lured him onto a Star crew and the rest became history. Trinter and Londrigan went on to win the 1992 Star North Americans and a year later they were world champions.
Trinter became a member of the United States Sailing Team in 1993 and even sailed with Dennis Conner aboard STARS & STRIPES in the 1995 America's Cup in San Diego.
"I've done two America's Cups already, sailed with Paul (Cayard) in '99 and 2000 with his team AmericanOne out of the St. Francis Yacht Club," said Trinter. "Then I was with Oracle BMW with Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle) in 2002 and 2003. It's 80-foot boats, 16 people. I was a grinder on that boat."
The 35-year-old Trinter was now set for another challenge - the Olympics. He missed qualifying for the 1996 and 2000 games by the narrowest of margins. A sixth place finish in 1996 and a fifth place finish in four years later, had Trinter re-thinking his future.
|After competing in two Amerca's Cups, Phil Trinter is now set for another challenge - the Olympics.|
Despite his setbacks in Olympic qualifications, Trinter's work ethic grabbed the attention of Cayard, one of the most recognizable sailors in the world. Cayard, who is 10 years older than Trinter, has a resume that others just envy.
He was the 2003 Star North American Champion, 1998 Yachtsman of the Year, 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race winner, 1998 Star World Champion and was an alternate at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Cayard hooked up with Trinter in 2002 and the two of have ironed out a path to Athens that will hopefully bring them gold.
Last summer they had a test event - a dress rehearsal - in Athens and the two clicked and adjusted well to the winds of the Aegean Sea.
"You end up with two different winds - Northerly and Southerly," explained Trinter. "One comes rolling in off the mountains and the other is a sea breeze. Both are very shifty at times. You end up relying a little bit on luck than true sailing skill and boat speed."
They qualified for the 2004 Athens Games back in May with a dominating performance. They were mathematically ahead on points, thus they sat out the final two races.
"The regatta was sweet," added Cayard. "We put a lot more preparation in this time."
Trinter also was ecstatic with his team's trials.
"That's the beautiful thing about sailing, no matter how old you are, even in the paralympics as physically challenged as you might be, if there is an avenue in sailing you can compete," said Trinter. "I've known Paul for 10 years. He's the best, very professional, funny, just as good as there is."
The sport of sailing has been very good to Trinter, but not very lucrative in the United States. It's much better overseas. Most Americans know very little about the sport and, with the exception of the America's Cup, sailing gets little coverage in the United States.
"We don't have American baseball, football and basketball - explosive and hard sports," quipped Trinter. "Those type of sports kind of rule European, Asian federation domination."
So, it's off to Athens for Trinter and his skipper Cayard. What does he expect from his first Olympics?
"I can't explain how excited I am about being in the Olympics," added Trinter. "Right now, I hope to get a great experience from the Games. Ten to 20 years down the road, I think that's where I will get the most out of it."
The duo will have their hands full during the Olympics. A total of 17 countries have qualified for the Star Class, including two-time World Champion Feddy Loof of Sweden, 2002 Star World Champions Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell of Great Britain and 2003 Star World Champions Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France.
By Kevin Spiegel, Olympic Contributing Editor