Disappointing result for Skandia Team GBR
British sailors came away with five medals from the final day’s races at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, bringing their regatta total to nine across the 14 Olympic and Paralympic classes.
But although they finished with more silverware than any other nation at the Grade 1 event, Skandia Team GBR rued missed opportunities in a number of the Olympic classes - the chance of gold melted into silver for Leigh McMillan and Will Howden in the Tornado class, and Bryony Shaw was unable to hold on her overnight lead in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event and had to settle for a bronze after an eighth place in the final double points scoring medal race.
Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield in the men’s 470 class were the only Brits to clinch gold on the final day of racing in Biscayne Bay. With an almost unassailable 19 point lead heading into the final day - they just had to avoid any on water incidents which could see them disqualified - the Athens silver medallists produced a final flourish, with a second place from the medal race providing the icing on the cake.
"The whole event has gone really well for us," explained Rogers, whose eagerly anticipated comeback year to the Olympic sailing scene in 2006 with Glanfield suffered a setback when he broke his wrist at the start of the season. Consequently, the only major events they competed in during 2006 were the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, which they won, and the 470 World Championships immediately afterwards, where they finished tenth.
"All of the world’s best sailors in the 470 fleet are here - some might not have their best boats with them, but still it’s been really pleasing to win against the top guys, to get racing and to see where there are areas we need to work on.”
In the Tornado class, overnight leaders Leigh McMillan and Will Howden - already assured of a silver - just needed to keep within four boats of the Australian World Champions Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby to secure a second gold for Great Britain. The race course was tucked under the land over at Key Biscayne making for shifty and exciting racing. Will and Leigh got a great start wining the committee boat end and immediately tacking onto Bundock/Ashby. A spectator boat in the course meant Will and Leigh had to luff around him while Bundy/Glenn went to leeward giving them some breathing space. A small tacking duel occurred while the rest of the fleet sailed off to the left hand corner. Bundock/Ashby broke free and never looked back making gains into the fleet. Will and Leigh did the same in the chase to the finish with the Boys still in gold going around the final top mark. All was looking good until the boys sailed into a huge hole and never recovered from it allowing Bundy and Glenn to go on and take the gold.
Will Howden commented: "Its a real shame not to have won today, but we have to look at the positives of this result. It was only four weeks ago we were coming 19th at the Worlds so this is a huge improvement for us. Our goal for this regatta was a top 6 and we have easily achieved that, we are now looking forward to the next regatta starting on Monday, the North Americans here in Miami. We would like to thank all the supportive e-mails from the last few days, and all our sponsors..”
Bryony Shaw and Nick Dempsey also suffered with the 35° wind shifts which beset the RS:X course. Shaw could only manage an eighth place in the women’s medal race to see her fall from first to third overall, and Dempsey trailed across the line in tenth in the men’s final to push him out of the medals from his third place overnight.
In the Yngling women’s keelboat event, Athens gold medallists Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb along with Pippa Wilson secured their first Grade 1 podium position as a new crew. The trio were poised in second place heading into the final race, two points behind the USA team of Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi. Ayton’s team needed to beat the Americans to clinch gold, but were unable stay in front of the former match racing World Champion and had to settle for silver in their first major event together as a crew.
“It’s been a great event for us, and a great result for Pippa,” commented Sarah Webb. “We’re really happy with a silver in our first Grade 1 together, but mostly we’ve learnt a lot as a new team from this regatta. Our training so far has been focussed on speed – we haven’t really done any racing practice yet, so our performance on the race course this week has been encouraging.”
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes put on a solid display in the 49er final, finishing fourth to boost them up onto the podium in silver medal position after heading into the medal race in fifth place. Spanish Olympic Champions Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez saw gold slip from their grasp when they were called early over the start line.
Skandia Team GBR’s five medals from the final day’s races in the Olympic classes is added to the four won on Friday in the Paralympic disciplines, where British sailors Dan Parsons, Tom Pygall and Guy Draper won gold and John Roberson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas took bronze in the three person Sonar class, and also took silver and bronze in the single-handed 2.4mR category through Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas.
“Miami provided us with a good opportunity to see how the winter training programmes are paying off for the sailors,” concluded Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “While we didn’t set any specific performance targets for the team at this regatta, it’s pleasing that Great Britain has come away with nine medals across the 14 classes. That said, I’m slightly disappointed that in some classes we were unable to capitalise on some real opportunities that were out there - opportunities to convert leading positions in the Tornado and RS:X women’s events, and chances to convert podium placings into gold medals! It’s been a learning regatta for many of the sailors, and I’m sure that everyone will leave here having learnt a great deal and with plenty to think about ahead of the next Grade 1 event in April in Palma."
US sailors took home three medals in Olympic classes and three in paralyampic classes. Three of them were gold.
For 49er sailors Morgan Larson and Pete Spaulding, who were in bronze-medal position going into today's races, it took some impressive plays to make the top step of the podium theirs. When yesterday's leaders, Spain's Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernadez, started prematurely and failed to turn back, the gold medal was wide open. Larson/Spaulding quickly covered Tim Wadlow and Christopher Rast, fellow US Sailing Team members who were one position ahead of them in overall scoring, and forced them to the course's far right corner. However, the left side of the course paid off, resulting in the two teams rounding the first mark in next-to-last and last positions. Larson/Spaulding, however, went on to recover, picking off several boats before using a left shift on the last beat to pass the British team of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, who seemed to be the gold medal's heir apparents. Final race positions were third for Larson/Spaulding and fourth for Morrison/Rhodes, who had to settle for the silver medal. France's Lagraviere Morgan and Christidis Stephane took the bronze. Wadlow and Rast finished fourth overall.
"Going into this event, our ultimate goal was to be the top American and to be on the podium," said Spaulding, who crewed for Tim Wadlow in this class at the 2004 Olympics. "Given the short amount of time we have sailed together in the last six months, we didn't expect to win the fleet. We were very happy."
In the Yngling class, playing the numbers game became critical in the USA's battle for gold. "We had to play with points, play with the competition and try to control everybody," said Sally Barkow, who with Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi finished fourth to edge out their biggest threat - Great Britain's Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson - in the overall standings.
"When we started, we had two boats to deal with: Great Britain and Finland," said Barkow. "We were in a vulnerable position. We got pinned, so we jibed out and they passed us in the first run. Then we went into attack mode. We got on their breeze and did three or four jibes, rounded the gate we wanted and extended from there. It was a lot of fun. It was one of the best medal races we've had in a while."
Great Britain finished seventh to take the silver while France's Anne Le Helley, Marion Deplanque and Catherine Lepesant finished second for the bronze. "It was really tough here this week - the whole fleet has increased its skill in the Ynglings," added Barkow. "There are new team players and new ways to sail the boat; we have to make sure we stay one step ahead."
The USA's third gold medal was won by Paralympic sailors in the SKUD-18 class, which completed the Rolex Miami OCR competition yesterday, along with the Sonar and 2.4mR classes. The SKUD-18 will make its debut at the 2008 Paralympic Games, where Rolex Miami OCR winners Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett hope to be. The duo is as new to Paralympic sailing as the SKUD-18 is to the Paralympic sailors.
"I've been sailing all my life but only started Paralympic sailing back in March," said Whitman. "The SKUD-18s were available to sailors in this country in June, which at least puts us all on somewhat equal footing. It's a brand new boat - everyone is learning it."
Whitman and Dorsett won four of their 13 races and counted top-five finishes the rest of the time and throughout a variety of wind conditions. "Every regatta we keep getting better tactically," said Dorsett. "Scott and I just really clicked this time."
Winning the silver medal in the SKUD-18 class was Canada's David Cook and Brenda Hopkin, while taking home the bronze was another USA team, that of Karen Mitchell and JP Creignou.
In the 470 women's event, Amanda Clark and Sarah Mergenthaler finished ninth in the medal race to win the bronze medal. They had been in fourth place going into today.
In Sonars, the USA's Rick Doerr, Tim Angle and Bill Donohue won the silver medal. "We're proud to represent the U.S. Team," said Doerr. "It was a good year here; everyone's ramping up for the Games and starting to take their campaigns seriously, so this regatta was a good benchmark."
Final Series Results (Top-Three), Final Medal Race Counts Double
Finn (49 boats) -- 13 races
1. Peer Moberg (NOR), 7-8-2-6-1-5-3-4-7--4-2-2, 51
2. Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN), 9-2-4-5-10-3-1-9-1-4--1-6, 55
3. Daniel Birgmark (SWE), 5-1-5-4-8-4-10-10--5-7-4-4, 67
49er (47 boats) -- 15 races
1. Morgan Larson/ Pete Spaulding (Capitola, Calif./Lafayette, Ind., USA), 4-7-[25/DNF]-2-1-4-1-11-3-10-8-2-4-18-6, 81
2. Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes (GBR), 1-6-3-1-1-7-[25/BFD]-1-9-8-17-7-6-12-8, 87
3. Morgan Lagraviere/Stephane Christidis (FRA), 2-7-2-9-3-9-4-[25/OCS]-10-4-1-21-5-1-10, 88
470 Men's (31 boats) -- 13 races
1. Nick Rogers/Joe Glanfield (GBR), 2-1-4--6-2-1-2-7--7-4, 47
2. Mathew Belcher/Nick Behrens (AUS), 6--8-7-5-10-6-4-2-4-10-6, 68
3. Gustavo Martinez/ Dimas Wood (ESP), 4-3-13-3-10-1-14-11--5-9-2, 75
470 Women's (18 boats) -- 13 races
1. Marcelien de Koning/Lobke Berkhout (NED), 1-1-1-8-5-2--3-2-4-1-8-4, 40
2. Ingrid Petitjean/Nadege Douroux (FRA), 4-2-8-6-1--4-1-1-8-3--12, 59
3. Amanda Clark/Sarah Mergenthaler (Shelter Island, N.Y./Aberdeen, N.J., USA), 2-5-6-9-3-1--4-4-2-13-6-18, 73
Laser (69 boats) - 13 races
1. Gustavo Lima (POR), 1-2-13--12-8-2-12-12-1-3-2-12, 80
2. Tom Slingsby (AUS), 2-1-7-8-1-13-1-1-3-23-7-[58/DNC]-14, 81
2. Michael Blackburn (AUS), 2-6-1-3-5-2-6--21-5-19-4-2, 86
Laser Radial (69 boats) -- 13 races
1. Sari Multala (FIN), 1-1--15-3-1-5-2-1-4-2-1-10, 46
2. Gintare Volungeviciute (LTU), 3-2-5-6-2-5-2-7-12-6-7-[36/OCS]-2, 59
3. Evi Van Acker (BEL), [35/OCS], 3-7-3-7-3-16-12-8-2-5-4-12, 82
RS:X Men (44 boats) -- 12 races
1. Przeymslaw Miarczynski (POL), 1-5--10-3-2-1-1-3-9-3-10, 48
2. Joao Rodriques (POR), -3-6-6-9-74-4-2-10-10-2, 63
3. Samual Launay (FRA), [45/DNF]-9-2-7-13-5-8-6-15-9-12, 77
RS:X Women (28 boats) -- 12 races
1. Marina Alabau (ESP), -2-9-2-1-10-10-2-5-3-2, 45
2. Flavia Tartaglini (ITA), [29/DNS]-13-2-6-5-2-8-5-3-1-6, 51
2. Bryony Shaw (GBR), 4-5-4-3--6-6-6-1-4-16, 55
SKUD-18 (10 boats) - 13 races
1. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (Brick, N.J./Boca Raton, Fla., USA), 4--4-4-1-1-1-1-2-5-3-2-2, 30
2. David Cook/Brenda Hopkin (CAN), 2-4-3-1-5-2-[11/DNF]-3-3-2-4-4-4, 37
3. Karen Mitchell/JP Creignou (Deerfield Beach, Fla./St. Petersburg, Fla., USA), 6-2-1-2-[11/RAF]-4-3-2-5-11/DSQ-5-3-1, 45
Sonar (14 boats) -- 13 races
1. Dan Parsons/Tom Pygall/Guy Draper (GBR), 3-3-2-[15/OCS]-1-2-3-8-9-5-2-4-10, 52
2. Rick Doerr/Tim Angle/Bill Donohue, (Clifton, N.J./ Marblehead, Mass./ Brick, N.J., USA), 6-1-9-2-8--8-2-7-7-1-1-1, 53
3. John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Stephen Thomas (GBR), 2-4-1-3-7-1-4-6-4-3-3-[15RAF]-[15RAF], 53
Star (67 boats) - 9 races
1. Fredrik Loof/Anders Ekstrom (SWE), 3-2-2-1-2-4--2-16, 32
2. Hamish Pepper/Dave Giles (NZL), 4-1--2-13-14-11-3-2, 50
3. Afonso Domingos/ Bernardo Santos (POR), 1-11-1--2-1-7-9-20, 52
Tornado (43 boats) - 11 races
1. Darren Bundock/Glenn Ashby (AUS), 3-3-6-5-1-[44/OCS]-1-6-11-3-4, 43
1. Leigh McMillan/William Howden (GBR), 4-4-1--3-2-11-3-2-2-20, 52
3. Fernando Echavarri/Anton Paz (ESP) 6-2--2-10-5-8-4-9-6-12, 64
2.4 mR (25 boats) -- 13 races
1. Stellan Berlin (SWE), 1-5--7-7-1-1-2-5-2-2-2-4, 39
2. Megan Pascoe (GBR), 3-1-2-8-2-6-8-6-1-5--4-5, 51
3. Helena Lucas (GBR), 5--5-3-1-7-6-7-2-7-5--6, 61
Yngling (18 boats) -- 13 races
1. Sally Barkow/Carrie Howe/Debbie Capozzi (Nashotah, Wis./Grosse Pointe, Mich./Bayport, N.Y., USA) 3-1-4-6-4-2--6-1-2-1-2, 32
2. Sarah Ayton/Sarah Webb/Pippa Wilson (GBR) 1-3--5-6-6-3-1-2-4-2-1, 34
3. Silja Lehtinen/ Maria Klemetz/Livia Varesmaa, (FIN), 2-2-2-1--7-9-3-3-3-6-6, 44