Strong start for Mills and Clark
Sunshine and 12 knot winds greeted sailors out on Biscayne Bay for the opening day of competition at Rolex Miami OCR, but over the course of the afternoon the breeze died for the 529 sailors from 41 countries sailing on 354 boats.
Canada’s David Wright took two first-place finishes in the Laser Blue Fleet, putting him in second place overall and three points ahead of his prime competitor Chris Dold. Dold, in third place overall, behind Beijing gold medallist Paul Goodison with a 2-3 today in the Yellow fleet, is duking it out with Wright for Canada’s berth at the London 2012.
“This is the second part of our Olympic championship qualifiers, and he (Dold) is leading me by three places, so I have to outperform him,” said Wright, adding that Dold was in a different fleet from him today. “When we are in a split fleet like that we have to just make sure to finish with little points. I did it today, so hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”
“It was a good day - light, but good,” said Chris Dold adding that he has been training against Wright for about five years. “I’m excited and sticking to my guns; if there’s any match racing between us it’s going to be later on in the week.”
In the Laser Radials, Dutch World Champion Marit Bouwmeester's 1-2 today got her off to a solid start, to lead Canada's Danielle Dube and Skandia Team GBR's Charlotte Dobson.
One team which doesn’t have to worry about snagging an Olympic berth is Miami’s own Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih, who finished a solid 3-4 today in the Star class to take second overall on tied points with Sweden’s leader Freddie Loof and Max Salminen. They were named to the USA’s 2012 Olympic Sailing Team after finishing third at Perth 2011. “This is not a major regatta for us in the same regard, but we definitely want to train and improve our standing in the World Cup,” said Fatih, adding that this will be his first time to the Olympics after four times trying and this will be Mendelblatt’s second Games having finished eighth in the Laser in Athens.
Fatih said the wind was 8-9 knots at best for today’s Star racing, and he felt badly for the Finn sailors who would “have a tough time” racing - according to the staggered-start schedule - in dying winds on Course D after them. (There are four competition circles, each for multiple classes, and a fifth reserved solely for Women’s Match Racing.)
For Loof/Salminen, today they practiced 'no risk' sailing to end the day ahead of World Champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. “We were not hitting the corners or anything, just one thing at a time,” said Loof, the 2004 World Champion, adding that he even wisely held back, but only “a bit,” for the second black flag start. “Our two goals were to have good starts and hold the lane for a while to control our own destiny on the first shift.”
In the 470 Women’s class, with 16 boats, Great Britain’s Olympic-bound Hannah Mills and crew Saskia Clark battled the light wind and came out on top, taking first in the only race of the day, winning by an impressive four minute delta due to the dying breeze ahead of Dutch former double World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout.
“The fleet size is similar to what the Olympics will be like, so it’s quite good practice,” said Mills who added that there are a handful of teams competing against her this week who are also qualified for the Olympics. “We came here to do as well as we possibly can and have goals that we want to achieve throughout the week. We are excited to be back in Miami and really love it here.”
Britain's Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth finished fourth.
In the Men's 470, the Netherland's Coster brothers, Sven and Kalle claimed today's only race from Greece's Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis, with Australia World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page holding third. Skandia Team GBR's Ben Saxton and Richard Mason lie in fourth with London 2012-bound Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell holding 11th.
Mat Belcher reported: “We had a late start today and unfortunately the breeze died right out, it was extremely light, only two or three knots at times and Mal wasn’t out on the trapeze. Saying that we had a solid start with a third place but there’s a long way to go in this one.
“There was a lot of weed on the racecourse which was playing havoc, I think we must have gotten the weed off the boat about 30 times during the race, but it was the same for everyone. The conditions were quite shifty and there were some good guys who found themselves towards the back of the fleet so we were happy to get a solid result in early."
The US team of Erik Storck and Trevor Moore got off to a strong start in the 49ers with a 2-1 to lead Austria's Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch by five points. While in the one race for the Finns, US sailors are ahead with Zach Railey and Caleb Paine leading Jones Hoegh Christensen.
In the rather depleted RS:X fleets, Britain's Nick Dempsey and Elliot Carney lie in first and second overall in the 14 board Men's division, while the USA's Farrah Hall leads the women.
In the Women's Match Racing, Finnish hopefuls Silja Lehtinen/Silja Kanerva/Mikaela Wulff got off to a good start to lead Sally barkow's team from the USA. Britain's Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor had a lay day for the first day of competition and will line up first again 'Canadian' skipper Sharon Ferris-Choat tomorrow.
The first day of racing was a solid one for Skandia Team GBR's SKUD World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell. Having claimed their fourth consecutive IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship title in Port Charlotte, Florida, continued their form into this World Cup series regatta with a 1,2 for their opening day’s efforts.
The Skandia Team GBR pair lead USA’s World Championship silver medallists Jennifer French and Jean-Paul Creignou after the first day’s racing, with Rickham admitting they were relatively pleased with their performance.
“We’ll take that. It was a good start – sometimes starting has been a bit of our downfall in racing terms,” she explained. “In the first race we definitely got a good start, got off the line well and managed to control the fleet pretty effectively and from then on we led all the way out. In the second race we had a horrible start, we were in last position and just dug in really and worked our way back up. Niki threw in a few tactical little bits of genius and our speed was good so we managed to battle our way back up to second, which was ideal!”
After peaking for the World Championships to ensure the best possible start to their Paralympic year, Rickham admitted that this World Cup series event, although important, has a different emphasis in the bigger picture of their 2012 preparation.
“Miami is a process regatta for us – it’s just about cleaning things up, making sure that all the speed work we’ve done over the winter is coming together and just trying to race really cleanly,” she said. “Obviously we always try to win at everything, but that fact is that here we’re just trying to make sure we’re racing as we should be, and ticking all the boxes because at this point all we really care about is September and whatever comes in between is just about making us go in the right direction.”
In Sonars, the USA’s Paul Callahan/Tom Brown/Bradley Johnson finished 1-3 to finish second overall behind Norway’s Aleksander Wang-Hansen/Marie Solbert/Per Eugen Kristiansen and better their chances of being awarded a Paralympic berth at the conclusion of this regatta. “It’s one day at a time,” said Callahan, “but we are in an extraordinary groove, sailing extremely confidently, and appear to be peaking just as we planned after hundreds of days of training over the last year.” Although Rick Doerr/Brad Kendell/Hugh Freund, also sailing here and currently in third overall, are their rivals for the U.S. berth, Callahan says the 11-boat fleet is so competitive his team needs to keep its eyes on everyone. “Mainly, though, we just put the boat on the starting line and try to win.”
Skandia Team GBR's John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas hold third overall with a steady 4,2.
In the one-person 2.4mR class, France's Damien Seguin holds a commanding lead after posting a 2-1 today. Meanwhile Skandia Team GBR's Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe – both still vying for selection to the Games – are poised on equal points in second and third places respectively.
Results - top three places
470 Men (23 boats) – 1 race
1.Sven Coster/Kalle Coster (NED) 1 (1)
2.Panagiotis Mantis/ Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) 2 (2)
3.Mathew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) 3 (3)
470 Women (16 boats) – 1 race
1.Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) 1 (1)
2.Lisa Westerhof/Lobke Berkhout (NED) 2 (2)
3.Maria Fernanda Sesto/Consuelo Monsegur (ARG) 3 (3)
49er (23 boats) – 3 races
1.Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.)/Trevor Moore (Naple, Fla.) (USA) 1, 2, 6 (9)
2.Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) 5,4,5 (14)
3.Jon Ladha/Daniel Inkpen (CAN) 3,7,9 (19)
Finn (27 boats) – 1 race
1.Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla., USA) 1 (1)
2.Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif., USA) 2 (2)
3.Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN) 3 (3)
Laser (78 boats)-2 races
1.David Wright (CAN) 1, 1 (2)
2.Paul Goodison (GBR) 3, 1 (4)
3.Chris Dold (CAN) 2, 3 (5)
Laser Radial (60 boats) – 2 races
1.Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 1, 2 (3)
2.Danielle Dube (CAN) 2, 5 (7)
3.Charlotte Dobson (GBR) 3, 8 (11)
Star (30 boats) – 2 races
1.Fredrik Loof/Max Salminen (SWE) 2, 5, (7)
2.Mark Mendelblatt (Miami, Fla.)/ Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.) (USA) 3,4 (7)
3.Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada (BRA) 1, 8 (9)
RS: X Men (14 boats) – 2 races
1.Nick Dempsey (GBR) 1, 1 (2)
2.Elliot Carney (GBR) 2, 3 (5)
3.Sebastian Wang- Hansen (NOR) 5, 2 (7)
RS: X Women (12 boats) – 2 races
1.Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md., USA) 2, 1 (3)
2.Demita Vega De Lille (MEX) 1, 2 (3)
3.Carolina Mendelblatt (POR) 3, 3 (6)
Women’s Match Racing - Group A (Only A sailed)
Silja Lehtinen/Silja Kanerva/Mikaela Wulff (FIN) 8-1
Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.)/Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham (Miami, Fla.),/Alana o'Reilly (Charleston, SC) (USA) 6-0
Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.)/Molly O'Bryan (Stanford, Calif.)/Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) (USA) 6-1
Ekaterina Skudina/Elena Siuzeva/Irina Lotsmanova (RUS) 5-2
Juliana Senfft/Fernanda Decnop/Luciana Kopschitz (BRA) 4-3
Renata Decnop/Gabriela Nicolino/Larissa Juk (BRA) 3-3
Silke Hahlbrock/Maren Hahlbrock/Anlee Lukosch, (GER) 3-4
Nicky Souter/Jessica Eastwell/Katie Spithill (AUS) 3-4
Ru Wang/Pan Ting Ting/Li Xiaoni (CHN) 3-5
Vesna Dekleva Paoli/Katarina Kersevan/Lena Koter (SLO) 2-7
Rita Goncalves/Mariana Lobato/Diana Neves (POR) 1- 6
Jinnie Gordon/Laurel Gordon-Taylor/Catherine Belange (CAN) 0-8
2.4mR (29 boats) – 2 races
1.Damien Seguin (FRA) 2, 1 (3)
2.Helena Luca (GBR) 9, 2 (11)
3.Megan Pascoe (GBR) 7, 4 (11)
Skud-18 (6 boats) – 2 races
1.Alexandra Rickham/Niki Birrell (GBR) 1, 2 (3)
2.Jennifer French/Jean-Paul Creignou (USA) 2, 3 (5)
3.Daniel Fitzgibbon/Liesl Tesch (AUS) 5, 1 (6)
Sonar (11 boats) – 2 races
1. Paul Callahan (Newport, R.I.)/Tom Brown (Castine, Maine)/Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) (USA) 1,3 (4)
2.John Robertson/ Hannah Stodel/ Steve Thomas (GBR) 4, 2 (6)
3.Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.)/Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.)/Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine) (USA) 6, 1 (7)
Full results here