Six out of six for Marina Alabau
Day three of racing at Rolex Miami OCR got off to a slow start as a front passed over southern Florida. All but one class was held ashore due to light winds that followed the morning showers, but the entire fleet of 716 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls from 53 nations were on the water on Biscayne Bay by the afternoon, as the sun came out but the breeze remained shifty.
In the 41 boat 470 Men's fleet, former World Champions Nic Asher and Elliott Willis had their top spot on the leaderboard usurped by Skandia Team GBR teammates Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. Patience/Bithell won today’s single race while Asher/Willis were sixth, using it as their discard, now three points behind the new leaders, with Australian World Champions Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page five points behind in third.
“It was a tricky day,” said Asher. "The wind was off the land so it was shifty and gusty, lots of places changed, but our sixth was solid. Tomorrow it’s all to play for.”
Patience said his victory today came after a disappointing start. “We didn’t pop out in front until about two-thirds up the second windward leg; that’s pretty late in the race, but as it developed, the lanes opened up. There was not much pattern to the wind, which went from 10 knots up to 15 knots, so it was an active kind of sailing-- a lot of dividing our time between looking around and driving.”
Leaders from day one in the 24 boat 470 Women's class, France's Ingrid Petijean and Nadege Douroux had a “disappointing” race, finishing 12th, but still hang on for a one-point lead over today's Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes, who won today's race ahead of Skandia Team GBR teammates Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clarke. The duo's win today came despite Hughes falling the water...
“On the first reach I had a little bit of a swim!” explained the 21-year-old Hughes. “Somehow I hadn’t managed to hook on to my trapeze elastic as well as my hook or something, and it ended up snapping. Fortunately I managed to grab it on the way down and only got dragged for a little bit before I managed to scramble back in the boat so we didn’t really lose too much. We had quite a big lead from picking our way well up the first beat.”
Clark added: “It was all about trying to find the pressure today, so on the first beat we were looking out for the cloud, figuring out how that was going to affect it. That gave us a really good lead and then down the first run the same thing, looking for the pressure. It was just a case of racing smart and just not doing anything stupid to stay there, so we’re pretty pleased!"
The 470s are in for a long day tomorrow, as it is anticipated they will sail three races to catch up with their two-races-a-day schedule.
With two races today in the 56-boat Star class, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada still shine. While today's two races were won by Germans Johannes Polgar and Markus Koy, and US team Andrew Campbell and Ian Coleman, the Brazilians finished 9-7 to hold a four point lead over Sweden's Freddie Loof and Max Salminen with France's Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot third.
Andrew Campbell commeted: “It’s good to go out and do what we need to do. It was the second day in a row that we’ve had a tough first race and then redeemed ourselves in the second. We’re always happy to end on a good note. Of course, it would be good to start on a good note and end on a good note tomorrow. It’s a real confidence builder to know we can go out and do that. It makes us want to work all the more the harder."
Skandia Team GBR continue to dominate the 49er, the Brits holding all three positions on the podium but with the top two boats John Pink/Rick Peacock and Dave Evans and Edward Powys now 11 points adrift of Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith. Evans/Powys won today's penultimate race with the leaders won the final one, both teams discarding a sixth.
“It’s going well – we’ve had some great races really and a mixed bag with conditions,” said Pink, noting a total of five victories in his team’s nine-race score line. “Yesterday was very boat speed-oriented and we managed to crack that quite well and today was a lot more shifty so it was more about minimizing risk. The results could have been a lot worse today, so we battled through and we’ve been enjoying it.” Pink and Peacock were second here two years ago - the first major regatta success in their Olympic career.
“You get a little confidence boost,” said Pink about being lucky enough to do well here among so many of the world’s leading sailors, “and aside from that it’s just a nice place to be with good weather and good training conditions.”
In the Finn, Giles Scott' perfect scorecard saw a blemish when he was called OCS in today's only race. Dubbing himself a “starting idiot today”, 23-year-old Scott still crossed the finish line ahead of the rest of the fleet, and remains in first place overall, discarding the OCS. Skandia Team GBR’s other two Finn competitors, Ben Ainslie and Andrew Mills, also sailed their discards today – Ainslie was eighth and Mills 16th. On the ascent in the Finn fleet is Australian Brendan Casey, winner of today's race and now up to second place two points ahead of the USA's Zach Railey.
Paul Goodison’s otherwise excellent day of 2,1 took a disappointing turn when he was disqualified from the first race of the Laser fleet for not taking penalty turns after being yellow flagged by the jury. The Beijing gold medallist maintained he didn’t hear their signals – with the DSQ his discard, Goodison is now in second place on equal points with teammate Nick Thompson who had 1,5 for his efforts today. They trail Sweden's Rasmus Myrgren by four points.
In the Laser Radial, a 4-1 today was enough to launch World Champion Marit Bouwmeester into the top spot, overhauling Belgium's Evi van Acker by a mere point. American favourite Paige Railey is getting in her stride following a BFD in race two and with a 2-5 today is up to third. Britain's top sailor Alison Young is up to seventh.
In the Women's Match Racing, the teams have now been divided between Gold, Repechage and Silver fleets. Half of the gold fleet racing has taken place with four teams in pole, each with two wins and one loss. They are Lucy Macgregor (who lost to Claire Leroy), the USA's Anna Tunnicliffe (lost to Finland's Silja Lehtinen), France's Claire Leroy (who lost to Anna Tunnicliffe) and Russia's Ekaterina Skudina (who also lost to the American team).
In the RS:X classes today's wins went to Israel's Nimrod Mashiah and Britain's Nick Dempsey, however it is the consistent Dutchman a now mohican-free Dorian van Rijsselberge who still leads, three points ahead of Dempsey with Mashiah third.
Star of the whole regatta remain's Spain's World Champion Marina Alabau in the RS: X Women, who today added two more bullets to her still perfect scoreline after six races. Bryony Shaw's long runs of seconds behind Alabau were tarnished today with a seven placed finish in the final race, however she still holds second four points ahead of France's Charline Picon.
In the Paralympic classes, Britain's John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas maintain their lead in the Sonar event, picking up second in their only race of the day, while World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell found some pace to win the only race for the Skud class, where Australia's Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch still lead. Finally in the 2.4m it remains tight at the top with France's Damien Seguin tied in the top spot with Canadian Allan Leibel, both one point ahead of the Netherland's Thierry Schmitter.
Full results here
More images from Daniel Forster/Rolex
And from Ingrid Abery of www.ingridabery.com...