Pink and Bithell take the lead
Tight tactical racing was the name of the game on the second day of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami as light breeze tested the patience and nerves of the 580 sailors from 50 nations.
Sailors and their coaches made the most of morning down time for the second consecutive day, as the breeze refused to cooperate early on Biscayne Bay. AP flags began to drop around the five sailing venues in Miami between 14:00 and 15:00 local time. Race Committees prepared to fit in one race each during the afternoon session. The local breeze on the bay hit 4 knots by late afternoon, giving the committee hope that racing was possible.
Whilst the sun was out, the breeze came in slowly allowing one race per fleet apart from the RS:X and Nacra 17 fleets that managed to squeeze in two.
Italy's Flavia Tartaglini showed great technique and physical prowess to remain consistent in the Women's RS:X notching up the best score line of the day.
Tartaglini won the third race after a tight battle with Brazil's Patricia Freitas. The Brazilian worked her way up to the fleet, reducing a 30 second deficit to four seconds. With just metres separating the front pair Tartaglini stayed strong to cross the line ahead of her Brazilian rival.
Bryony Shaw (GBR) picked up the second race victory, finishing well ahead of Tartaglini but the Italian was pleased with how things went: "It was pretty tough with light conditions between 4 and 7 knots. I am pretty happy with the day. You need a lot of physical training and just time on the water in these conditions. There's lots of pumping but you need good technique so it's a combination between pumping and going out on the water when it's really light. Sometimes you don't want to go out in the light wind but you need to, to train on your technique.”
The Italian and British sailors are locked on four points apiece at the top of the leader board with plenty of race action to come.
Brazil's Freitas currently occupies the final podium spot with Team GBR's Izzy Hamilton posting two sixth places to sit in eighth overall.
After two bullets on day one, Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) added another and a third place as he displayed great consistency in the light breeze.
The Greek RS:X racer holds a four point lead over Makoto Tomizawa (JPN) who took the days other race win.
With the light breeze making proceedings tricky, Kokkalanis knows the combination of fitness and reading the situation plays a big part in tricky wind, "It was a good day in the end,” commented the Greek sailor. "The conditions were light, lighter than yesterday and all the athletes had to put a lot of effort in to make these boards go so it was a hard job for everybody.
"I just happen to stay on the right side all the time and make good choices. I have the speed so I try and keep up with the good guys in the fleet and if it's possible then stay clear and move in front of them.”
2013 RS:X Youth World Champion Mattia Camboni finished both races in second and sits third overall.
In the Blue fleet, 2013 Laser World Champion Robert Scheidt (BRA) won a hard fought battle in Race 3 that propelled him up the leaderboard. Balazs Tomai (HUN) took the lead at the first windward mark and had the lead for most of the race. After several lead changes, Scheidt took a slight advantage at the second windward mark and carried the lead through the final sprint. Tomai took second and Fredrick Vranizan (Shoreline, Wash. USA) took home third.
The London 2012 Olympic Star Bronze Medalist commented about the race and the lengthy delay, "These conditions are very testing as we were never sheeted block to block or sitting out of the boat. I like to sail in all conditions, but I am hoping for more wind for the rest of the week.
"During postponement, I stay focused by being active; I did a little bit of swimming and jogging. During today's race, it was important to trust the way you were going and stay on the right edge of the course in the pressure.”
In the Yellow fleet, ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao Gold Medalist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) won Race 3. Stipanovic garnered silver medal honors in Miami last year. He led after the first windward mark, but Pavlos Kontides (CYP) passed him downwind and led at the leeward mark. However, Stipanovic got the inside track at the gate and never relinquished the lead. Stefano Peschiera (PER) finished second and Giovanni Coccoluto (ITA) placed third.
Race 3 in the Laser Radial fleet was dominated by the Peruvians. Paloma Schmidt finished first and Caterina Romero placed third. Current leader Paige Railey (USA) was second. Schmidt was just seventh around the first mark, but she used a strong first leeward run to take the lead for good.
"It was very shifty out there,” said Schmidt. "I had a hard time deciding which way to go before the race, but I knew I had to get to an edge of the course for pressure. During the start sequence, I saw more pressure on the right so I lined up near the boat. Although I had a bad start, I was able to tack out to the right and recover by getting to that side. It was all about boat speed and having a free lane all the time.”
Getting off to a great start in Race 3 was Barbara Cornudella and Sara Lopez Ravetllat (ESP). The Spanish duo had a lead through each of the first four marks before Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre took over and won the race by three second in an exciting dash to the finish line on the downwind stretch Placing second was Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA).
Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) finished third, while Cornudellas and Ravetllat dropped to fourth.
World #3 Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) were dominant in Race 3. They captured first place and enjoyed a lead of nearly 90 meters on the final downwind stretch. It was a three way race throughout. Placing second was Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE). The team of Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) sailed through the finish line in third.
Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT) continue to show their strength in the Nacra 17 with a steady display. Two second places ensure they open up a five point lead over Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR).
Luke Ramsay and Nikola Girke (CAN) secured their first win in Miami in the opening race to move up to third overall. The days other race win went the way of Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco (ESP). The Spaniards are sixth in the 31-boat fleet.
Italy's Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich moved into the 49erFX lead after they won the day's sole race.
The pair led the 34-boat fleet from the off, maintaining a good distance between themselves and overnight leaders Noora Ruskola and Camilla Cedercreutz (FIN). The Finnish pair attempted to chip away at the Italians but it was not to be as Conti and Clapcich maintained their bright start that hasn't seen them drop out of the top three.
Ruskola and Cedercreutz dropped down to second with Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) in third.
John Pink and Stuart Bithell (GBR) picked up their first race win together in the 49er and with it, the overall lead. Sitting on six points the British pair are three points ahead of Julien D'Ortoli and Noe Delpech (FRA) and Jonathan Bay and Christopher Thorsell (DEN). Team GBR's Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube are fifth overall.
Former ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Champion Giles Scott (GBR) used a late surge to roll over on upstart Luke Lawrence (USA) on the final downwind sprint to win Race 3. The 2011 ISAF Sailing World Champion narrowly defeated Lawrence and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO).
Five-time World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell maintained their clean sweep of race wins so far to keep the overall SKUD 18 class lead.
Rickham and Birrell, Paralympic bronze medallists at London 2012, are this week chasing one of just two regatta titles that have eluded them during their lucrative six-year partnership – the other being Paralympic Games gold – and have made the perfect start to their race series and their Miami medal-winning ambition with three wins from three races so far.
The duo had a low key 2013 season, competing in just the European and World Championships, which they won, after which Rickham took three months off from sailing before returning to the boat just before this week’s World Cup regatta.
“I just think the residual of 2012 kind of caught up with me eventually,” Rickham said of her break.
“Our fleet’s not really up and moving yet, it’s probably just starting to kick off so it seemed like a really good time for me to take a break, step away from the sailing, get a little perspective, spend some time with my friends and family who all seem to think I don’t exist, and just generally enjoy the other things so I can appreciate my time on the water and appreciate sailing a bit more.
“All in all it’s been a good three months and it’s the first time I’ve spent that much time in the UK solidly for the last five years. That was quite difficult, staying in the cold that long! But it’s been worthwhile for me – I’ve come back a lot fresher, focussed and kind of knowing a bit more about what I want and don’t want as part of our campaign.”
In spite of their stellar start, Birrell is remaining level-headed about the pair’s prospects for this week’s regatta at this early stage, but admits that the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami is ‘one that got away’.
“So far Miami has been very unkind to us in terms of results – two years ago we were very close, maybe a point or two off winning but other than that we’ve done pretty badly here normally.
“We did do well in our trials here in our first ever SKUD event and made a big step towards [Beijing] selection so it’s not always been horrible to us, but we’re definitely missing the gold medal from here that we could do with at some point!
“Obviously we’d hope to do that this week, but there’s still a lot of racing to do yet and the fleet is doing OK and going quite quickly as well, so it’s not going to be that easy.”
The American team of Alphonsus Doerr, Hugh Freund and Timothy Angle lead the way in the Sonar but face pressure from France's Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont Vicary. The French trio took the one bullet of the day and sit just a point off of the leaders.
Megan Pascoe (GBR) continued her bright start in the 2.4mR and has steadily progressed in the three races. In Race 1 she came through in third, Race 2 in second and Race 3 in third. Canada's Allan Leibel holds the same scores and is tied on three points with Pascoe at the top of the leader board.
There is some optimism that the breeze will be sufficient on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday's forecast predicts 7 to 9 knots in the morning out of the south. Rain showers are expected to move through in the afternoon and possibly make for unstable breeze. Temperatures are expected to reach the high 70s.
Racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami continues on Wednesday 29 January, with medal races for the Olympic classes scheduled for Saturday 1 February.