Miami Olympic classes kicks off

Sacha Oswald outlines the Team GBR presence

Wednesday January 29th 2003, Author: Sacha Oswald, Location: United States
The Olympic class season kicks off today with the 2003 Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta, which takes place on Biscayne Bay. Competing in the eleven Olympic classes and the two Paralympic classes, over 470 athletes representing 30 countries have turned out to assess the competition as the Olympic and Paralympic Games becomes ever closer.

A number of RYA Team GBR's top sailing athletes have made the trip to Miami to get their first taste of the competition after a winter of training. Olympic Laser hopeful and European and world bronze medallist Paul Goodison will be hoping to make it a hat-trick in Miami, and win the title for a third time, after previous wins in 2001 and 2002.

Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell made history last year when they became the first ever British sailors to win the Star class world championships, after a short break away from the boat they are back in force and will be facing stiff competition in the 64 boat class. With the elimination of the American teams from the Americas' Cup, sailors that have returned from New Zealand have stepped into the Star class for the Miami Regatta. Percy and Mitchell and fellow British sailor Jez Fanstone sailing with Luke Chapman, will face top competition from the likes of Paul Cayard, Vince Brun and Terry Hutchinson, as well as past Star champions such as Fredrik Loof (SWE) and Mark Reynolds (USA).

Other RYA Team GBR sailors that have made the trip over to America include Tornado sailors Hugh Styles and Adam May who are ranked number four in the world. Last years winners Lars Guck and Jonathan Farrar (USA) will be looking to defend their title, but the competition will be tough as the European champions and world silver medallists Olivier Backes/Laurent Voiron of France and Olympic Test Event champions, Roman Hagara/Hans-Peter Steinacher of Austria are both present at the event.

In the 2.4mR Paralympic class, the racing is guaranteed to be close in the twenty-boat class. A showdown looks inevitable between last years Miami Regatta winner and 2000 Paralympic bronze medallist Thomas Brown (USA) and Germany's 2000 Paralympic gold medallist Heiko Kroeger of Germany. RYA Team GBR sailor Allan Smith is on good form after finishing fifth at the recent U.S 2.4mR midwinter's and fellow Brit Val Millward will also be looking for a steady result in Miami.

Competition in the Yngling class, which is set to make its Olympic debut in 2004, also looks set to be tight. Skippers to watch out for will be the 2002 Yngling world champion, Monica Azon of Spain, and the worlds bronze medallist Betsy Alison of America. Team GBR sailors that are using the regatta to gauge themselves are the newly formed team of Cathy Foster, Jane Norris and Annie Lush, and sisters Lizzie and Caroline Edwards sailing with new recruit Sarah Webb.

Between seven to twelve races will be sailed in each of the classes with the exception of the Tornado and 49ers, who will sail a total of sixteen races. Racing begins today and continues through until Saturday February 1st, where it is stated in the notice of race that no race will begin after 1500 with the awards and closing ceremony at 1800.

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