Heading for Miami
Olympic, World and European medallists provide the backbone of the British challenge at the Grade one regatta, which boasts entries from over 260 boats and 560 sailors, and which will be the first major test of the new Yngling threesome of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Victoria Rawlinson.
Rawlinson, a former ISAF Youth World Champion, joins the Olympic gold medallists in their quest for glory at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games after they went their separate ways from Shirley Robertson post-Athens.
Skandia Team GBR development squad sailors Gemma Farrell, Rachel Howe and Diana Shanks join Ayton’s crew as the second British boat in a Yngling fleet which will also feature USA’s 2005 World Champions Sally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi and Carrie Howe, and New Zealand’s world number four ranked Sharon Ferris, Raynor Smeal and Ashley Holtum.
One of four British pairs in the 49er class, world silver medallists Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks will be looking to exact revenge on Ukrainian world champions Rodion Luka and George Leonchuk following defeat at their hands at the Moscow Worlds in September. Fellow Skandia Team GBR performance squad sailors Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes will be pushing for a podium finish to add to their gold from the 2005 Holland Regatta, with John Pink and Alex Hopson, and Mark Asquith and Paul Campbell-James completing the British 49er line-up.
European Champions Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, and Andy Beadsworth and David Carr comprise the Skandia Team GBR challenge in the Star fleet, and will go up against Brazil’s eight-time world Laser champion Robert Scheidt, who teams up with Bruno Prada for the men’s keelboat event in Miami.
Fresh from their victory at the 470 North American Championships last week, also at Biscayne Bay, Nic Asher and Elliot Willis will be confident heading into the same waters at the Rolex Miami OCR, although will face competition from world number one pair Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes of Portugal at this week’s Grade one regatta. Luke Patience and Chris Grube are the only other British pair in the 470 men’s fleet.
Placed third in the 470 women’s fleet at last week’s Championships, Pippa Wilson and Sheena Craig will be looking for another medal-winning finish at this week’s event, while world silver medallists Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark will be hoping for a boost into the podium places after finishing fifth last week.
In the single-handed classes, Skandia Team GBR has single entries in both the Finn and Laser classes through Ed Wright and European Champion Paul Goodison, while Laura Baldwin, Andrea Brewster and Harriette Trumble will face fierce competition from World Champion Paige Railey in the Laser Radial class.
In the Tornado class, Leigh McMillan and Will Howden are in good form after their silver medal-winning performance at the recent Sail Melbourne regatta, and join Mark Bulkeley and Rob Wilson, and Andrew Walsh and Ed Barney as the British contenders looking to defeat world champions and 2005 ISAF World Sailors of the Year, Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz from Spain.
For windsurfers competing in the new Neil Pryde RS:X class, the Rolex Miami OCR will be one of the first ISAF Grade 1 events since the board was selected for the 2008 Olympic Games. Athens bronze medallist Nick Dempsey and Leo McCallin will contest the RS:X men’s event, with Lucy Horwood and Christine Johnson racing in the women’s fleet.