Nacra 17s and 49er FXes in Miami

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami to fire up next week

Thursday January 24th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

In less than one week the second of four 2012-2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas will get going in Miami, USA. Taking place over 28 January to 2 February on Biscayne the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami will feature the northern hemisphere debuts of the two new classes chosen for Rio 2016 - the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran and the women's 49er FX skiff.

The Nacra 17 entrants feature some exciting young talent coming through the ranks as well as experienced campaigners. Puerto Rican multihull legend Enrique Figueroa is the most experienced sailor in the fleet with an Olympic career that goes back to Seoul 1988 where he finished 13th. Further Olympic appearances came at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 and now, he’s back.

Hopping on board with Figueroa is his wife, Carla Malatrasi and the pair will be aiming for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “Even though the sport of sailing is a lot of fun, an Olympic campaign is serious business,” said Figueroa. “Once you start racing the focus changes from easy going sailing to full regatta mode and that is when the tension begins.

“We have been sailing together since 1993; there is always tension when you race specially among couples. At high level regattas maybe a little more tension than usual but with so many years under our belts we have learned to separate the racing part from the couple’s part. At the moment we are taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy ourselves as much as we can.”

The talented couple won Hobie 16 gold together at the 1994 IYRU World Sailing Championship in La Rochelle, France and have experience and know-how that cannot be matched in the fleet. With a new boat to play with Figueroa is enjoying the task at hand, “We have only sailed the boat for a few hours last weekend but had a great time. Learning the boat and developing team work on new equipment is always a challenge. Different controls on the boat, curved foils, weight distribution, etc are among the more challenging aspects of the new Olympic catamaran.”

Among the Puerto Ricans competitors will be Canada’s Luke Ramsey, who sailed in the Men’s 470 at London 2012, and Nikola Girke, who jumps from the Women’s RS:X into the multihull.

Young Americans Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead sailed the SL16 together at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds in Zadar, Croatia finishing sixth and have made the jump up to the Nacra 17. Reiss will be sailing with Sarah Lihan, who represented USA in the Women’s 470 at London 2012 whilst Whitehead will sail with 17-year-old Sarah Streater.

Other teams include former Women’s Match Racer Elizabeth Kratzig who joins Jonathan Farrar (USA), Lindsay and Dalton Bergan (USA) and Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA).

While the Nacra 17 makes its debut on the international stage, the 49erFX makes its second appearance in the ISAF Sailing World Cup. For all competitors in the eight boat fleet it will be their first competitive action in the women’s skiff.

America’s Anna Tunnicliffe has teamed up with her former match racing crew Molly Vandemoer. Tunnicliffe has sailed on her own and as part of a trio at the Olympic Games and now she’s in a duo, and aiming for Rio 2016.

Joining Tunnicliffe and Vandemoer in the fleet is Italian pair Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich. Both sailors competed at London 2012 with Conti stepping away from the 470 and Clapcich taking the leap from Laser Radial to the 49erFX. With hours of winter training behind them on Lake Garda their in-depth preparations could see them pick up a podium finish.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) recently won gold at the 49erFX North American Championship as they got acclimatised to the venue. Despite early success in the boat Grael knows where her rivalries lay, “I think Anna and Italy’s Giulia Conti will be our greatest enemy. With light wind it is hard to say who is the best, but with a little more wind it will be difficult for all.”

Three Canadian crews, Erin Berry and Danielle Boyd, Laura Borden and Marie-Pier Alary and Kristine Williams and Jennifer Braem will join the fleet as will Americans Allie Blecher and Helena Scutt and Kristen Lane and Molly Carapiet.

Elsewhere in the regatta, Portuguese 49er Olympian Francisco Andrade will be teaming up with Andre Fonseca to fly the Brazilian flag in Miami whilst Swedish 470 Olympian Sebastian Ostling makes a transition from 470 to 49er to sail with Kalle Torlen. Both crews should be leading the pack as some fresh new faces amongst the 14 entrants are set to sail.

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy will get her Rio 2016 ambitions underway in Miami after she came so close to glory at London 2012. The Irish Radial star had led the fleet early on at London 2012 but in a winner takes all Medal Race she was knocked out of the podium places and into fourth. After taking two months off from sailing Murphy is back and keen to get back into things, "I didn't really feel like I messed up in the races,” said the 22-year-old. “I did have a great experience and its definitely kind of driving me, it's the reason I'm training harder than I was before, for Rio."

Joining Murphy in the fleet will be World #8 Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), who at 34 and with four Olympics behind her is starting the familiar road to an Olympic Games. “Not all heights are reached yet,” said the Belarusian. “I have a childhood dream and I very much want to reach it. I go to every regatta with the highest aims and for Miami I am aiming for the podium.”

Drozdovskaya’s participation at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 has made a positive influence on sailing in Belarus and she wants that to continue, “People have learnt about sailing through my good results as all the previous thoughts were on rowing. I hope that children go sailing because I am often shown on TV.”

At just 24, Juan Ignacio Maegli (GUA) is one of the most seasoned sailors in the 71-boat Laser fleet having represented Guatemala at the last two Olympic Games. With a strong performance at London 2012 he will be one of the favourites in the young Miami fleet.

Among the Laser entrants are 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds podium finishers Zan Luka Zelko (SLO) and Giovanni Coccoluto (ITA). Both sailors have mixed it up in the senior ranks and will want to shine in the Miami sun.

A 30-boat Finn fleet will take to the water in Miami and will include three of the world’s top ten sailors in the ISAF Rankings. World #1 Brendan Casey (AUS) will come into the regatta as favourite having won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne in December. Nonetheless with an experienced field that includes World #3 Zach Railey (USA), World #4 Caleb Paine (USA), Bruno Prada (BRA), Jorge Zarif (BRA) and Greg Douglas, the competition for podium places will be fierce.

London 2012 Olympic Games Men’s RS:X gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) will be the favourite to take gold in the fleet of 22 in Miami. Just six months ago the Dutchman blitzed the Men’s RS:X fleet on the Weymouth and Portland waters and looked unstoppable. After a short break van Rijsselberge is excited to get back into the swing of things, “Miami is a nice event to start the next four years. It has been in my calendar for years so it is good to come back and compete. My aim is to have a fun regatta with my friends after having not competed for half year.”

Olympic experience features heavily in the fleet with the likes of Ricardo Santos (BRA), Zac Plavsic (CAN), Ivan Pastor (ESP), David Mier y Teran (MEX) and Sebastian Wang-Hansen (NOR) all hopeful of closing the gap.

2012 Kona World Champion Adam Holm (SWE) and 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Michael Cheng (HKG), who both competed at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds, join the senior circuit and they will be aiming to impress.

Finland’s Tuuli Petaja recently won the Finnish athlete of the year award after her epic performance at London 2012 which saw her take a shock silver medal in the Women’s RS:X fleet. Petaja will swap the gown for the wet suit in Miami as the Olympic cycle gets going once again. Joining her in the fleet is Olympic gold medallist Marina Alabau (ESP), 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Blanca Manchon (ESP) and Bryony Shaw (GBR). All will be capable of mixing it up at the top.

Fresh from their victories at the 470 North American Championships Austria’s Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstaedter and Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar will compete in the Men’s and Women’s fleet at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.

Both crews took a stranglehold of the competition over the weekend on the same waters so will be familiar with their surroundings.

Out to go for gold in the Men’s fleet are Canadian brothers Jacob and Graeme Chaplin-Saunders. The partnership got going in January 2011 with the ultimate goal of reaching Rio de Janeiro in 2016. London 2012 Olympian Stu McNay is set to team up with the experienced David Hughes which will make for a fantastic week of competition in the 11-boat fleet.

A strong Chinese contingent, including London 2012 Olympians Xiaoli Wang and Xufeng Huang, will test the Austrians in the Women’s 470. Brazil will also be well represented with Fernanda Olivera and Ana Luiz Barbachan continuing their partnership and Renata Decnop and Isabel Swan teaming up for the first time.

With strong entry lists in the Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX and Finn, it will be an exciting week of competition that gets underway on Monday 28 January with the Medal Races bringing the regatta to a close on 2 February.

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