Richard Langdon /

Patience and Willis pick up 470 gold

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami medal races

Saturday January 31st 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

For the medal races at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Biscayne Bay served up the perfect mix of sunshine and 14-19 knot breeze.

For Team GBR it conjured up a solid medal haul with Giles Scott and Bryony Shaw having got the golds in their respective Finn and RS:X Women's classes sewn up a day in advance. In the 470 Men, Luke Patience and Elliot Willis boosted the British Sailing Team’s medal tally to three golds with Laser sailor Nick Thompson, Ben Saxton-Nicola Groves in the Nacra 17 and Hannah Mills-Saskia Clark in the 470 Women’s event claiming final day silvers along with Megan Pascoe and Alexandra Rickham-Niki Birrell’s silvers from the Paralympic classes on Friday.


Laser Radial

The Laser Radials were the class where anything could happen at the top. Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) took the gold, but going in, only three points separated Marit Bouwmeester (NED), Rindom and Evi Van Acker (BEL), in that order. And only Paige Railey (USA) was close enough to play the spoiler, if one of those three had a really bad, horrible, awful day.

And it almost happened to Van Acker.

"I put a move on her that forced her to the wrong gate," Railey said. "For a while she was looking dead last."

Which would have been enough to put Railey, who is recovering from a horrific bicycle crash, on the podium for the first time in a long time. "Then," said Railey, "a lefty came in, and that gave her a lane to the finish." So Railey settled, instead, for a win in the Medal Race and a smile on her face as she packed for the airport and a redeye to Rio.

Big smiles also for Rindom as she and her mother packed away a sail that had done its job.

"We were here two weeks ahead of the regatta," Rindom said, "and we've been here the last three years, so we know Biscayne Bay pretty well. And then, the regatta was totally different. Much windier, much shiftier than we would call normal."

As for going into a Medal Race second by one point, she said, "It's very hard when you have two opponents. You can't control both, so you have to sail to win the race, and that's what I did."

A sixth was good enough for a 47-point total. Van Acker was second at 53 points, Bouwmeester third at 54.

Team GBR's Ali Young was sixth in the medal race to conclude her regatta in fifth place.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Paige Railey (USA) and Andrea Aldana (GUA).


Nick Thompson (GBR) woke up this morning with a one-point lead over Philipp Buhl (GER) with neither of them at risk of falling below second.

Initially it was playing into Thompson's hands. Thompson did a good job of staying in front and covering his German rival on the first lap, looking comfortable for gold. But a broken kicker block soon put paid to that.

“I went in with a loose tactic of a bit of a match race and I thought I did a pretty good job to be fair,” Thompson explained of the race. “I managed to control him on the start and then got the better of him most of the way around the track. Then unfortunately at the first leeward mark my kicker block broke and that was kind of the end of that race. I had no speed upwind and couldn’t sail it downwind. So that was it.”

The Santander Worlds bronze medallist was frustrated not to have been able to close off the victory, but nonetheless took positives from his strong performance in a hugely competitive fleet.

“I sailed a pretty solid week and to drop the 12th was pretty good sailing. So I am disappointed, but the flipside was that I did sail fantastically. I didn’t really make too many mistakes this week and I feel like my sailing’s coming together. It’s mixed emotions if I’m honest. I really put a marker down for this event to try and win it. All things aside I got pretty close and should be pretty pleased with how I sailed I think.”

On a race course not characterised by consistency, extracting consistent results was a bigger than average challenge for everyone.

The Medal Race went to Argentina's Julio Alsogaray, and the bronze to Australian Matthew Wearn.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Charlie Buckingham (USA) and Julio Alsogaray (ARG).


Austria’s Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch came out victorious in a top of the table duel between Joel Turner and Iain Jensen (AUS).

A point separated the pair coming into the Medal Race meaning it was all to play for. However the Austrians were comfortable on the race course and kept their in spite of an early close call against their rivals, “We had a decent start and went to the left. Fortunately the Australians dropped to our stern and they had to tack away so that gave us a leading position.

“There was a left shift and from there we managed to covere the Australians. We didn’t really feel the pressure because we are really happy with the way we’ve sailed this week. We wanted to continue the nice flow we had and it worked our perfectly fine.”

The Austrians sealed the deal with a third place with Turner and Jensen holding on to silver with a seventh.

Delle-Karth and Resch’s victory gives them a spot on the World Cup Final start line in November, ensuring a stress free season, “We are happy about qualifying because it takes a lot of pressure off. We won’t always need to be at the top of the fleet so we can test a few things ahead of Rio and Abu Dhabi. It will make things a bit easier for us.

“We went to Abu Dhabi last year and it’s a huge event already. I expect it to be even bigger this year. Everybody will be there and we’re looking forward to a nice final.”

Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen (DEN) claimed the Medal Race bullet, promoting them up into bronze medal position.

Team GBR's Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign and John Pink-Stuart Bithell ended their regatta in fourth and fifth places respectively.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Brad Funk and Trevor Burd (USA) and Marco Grael and Gabriel Borges (BRA)


You can’t win a regatta on the opening day, but you can certainly damage your chances. That was seemingly the case in the 49erFX as Alex Maloney and Molly Meech’s nearest rivals all used up their drop with a DNC or a DNF in the single race in Monday’s big breeze.

“Winning the first race on the opening day, whilst many others failed to finish, definitely helped,” said Maloney. “It gave us a bit of a point’s buffer but anything could have still happened. It definitely wasn’t over until it was over.”

With a handsome buffer the odds were heavily stacked in their favour yet across the week, consistency was an unheard of commodity in the 49erFX. It turned out to be the highest scoring ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta ever as Maloney added, “The whole fleet had its moments. It was all about being consistent this week but no one quite found that consistency.

“But it’s good to start the year with a win and it’s great to secure our spot for the Abu Dhabi Finals. We won it last year. It’s an exciting place to sail with really great weather and it’s good for the future of sailing.”

The pair had wrapped up gold ahead of the Medal Race and a ninth proved irrelevant at the end of the day as they ended up 34 points clear of Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA).

The real battle of the day was for the silver and bronze medals. It was fight between the Italians and Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) who were separated by a single point. Conti and Clapcich remained in front of the Brazilians throughout the race and took out the bullet and with it, silver.

Defending champions Grael and Kunze settled for bronze. Team GBR's Charlotte Dobson-Sophie Ainsworth were tenth.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Erin Rafuse and Danielle Boyd (CAN) and Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA).

Women's 470

The 2012 Olympic gold medalists from New Zealand, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, wrapped up first place here on Friday. That made the Medal Day "enjoyable," Powrie said. "The pressure was off, so we just went racing and enjoyed the day."

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark held on to their silver medal position amid a tight finish. The Japanese team of Kondo Yoshido-Yoshioka was pushing for the medal spots and won the medal race by almost a minute. Mills and Clark had to finish the race better than eighth to keep hold of the silver, and pulled back to sixth in a bunch finish to ensure they finished the job.

“It was really, really difficult conditions – kind of how it has been all week with bands of pressure coming down each side,” a relieved Mills explained. “When you’re trying to play it safe that makes for a particularly hard race. But we had a particularly exciting last run with pretty much the whole fleet on a big line and we just managed to get the boats we needed to stay second.”

“Definitely we came here to get a medal in Miami. 2015 is a really important year for us,” Clark added. “It’s a good building platform but something really important to remember is that me and Hannah weren’t even a partnership at this point in time for the 2012 cycle. So there’s lots of training still to be done, lots of sailing still to be done. We’re looking forward to it.”

Team GBR's Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre were also in 470 medal race action, finishing eighth in the race and seventh overall.

Japan's Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka won the Medal Race and finished third, for a bronze, by five points. It's not their first time on the podium.

As obvious medal prospects for Rio in 2016, the duo look forward to "some local racing around Auckland," Powrie said, "enjoying the rest of the summer, and then getting ready for Hyères."

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Anne Haeger & Briana Provancha (USA) and Fernanda Oliveira & Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA).

Men's 470

Team GBR's Luke Patience and Elliot Willis went into the Medal Race leading their Australian opponents and wrapped it up the same way.

Patience and Willis, sailing at their first Miami World Cup regatta together since teaming up last February, had sailed an impressive opening series to guarantee themselves a podium finish, and with a good chance of gold with a 15 point advantage over the Australian World Champions Belcher-Ryan heading into the double points medal race.

A seventh place finish in the race to the Australians’ third was more than enough for the Brits to wrap up the victory, and Patience was a delighted man afterwards.

“It’s a great place to be. Man, we’re so happy,” the 2012 Olympic silver medallist enthused. “We’ve worked really hard for this regatta. We’ve been in the boat together for less than a year still and I think everything just felt like it came together nicely this week. We were really hungry for this – what can I say? It’s pretty cool to be wearing the yellow jerseys for most of the week and finish the job off on the last day. We’re really chuffed.”

“It was a pretty random race course – quite a stressful place to be,” said the double World Champion Willis of the medal race. “As soon as you wanted to put any control on anyone it was not an easy thing to do. There was a bit of a shift halfway through the race on our part in terms of a really clear ‘race your own race’ and keep an idea of where the other two boats were behind us and from that point on we started to work our way forward and it was a bit more controlling.”

“The Australians are undoubtedly the dominant force in the 470 fleet and have been for quite some time. It’s great to go head to head with them in a regatta and come out on top,” Willis continued. “Not many people do that, and hopefully it will be a sign of things to come looking forward.”

To overtake the British team, a good race by Aussies Mat Belcher and Will Ryan was never going to be enough. For them to move into first, it was going to take that and a bad race on the part of Patience and Willis. Not a likely bet.

Belcher and Ryan in their turn had a cushion over third that made the strategic outlook, Belcher said, "Simple. Try to be in front; try to get as many points back as we could. When you get to this level of competition, it's about minimizing the risks. But it was a tricky day. There was more wind than we expected, 12 to 18 knots, and the water was chopped up by a lot of commercial boats. The fact is, this has been a difficult week for everybody."

Onan Barreiros and Juan Curbelo Cabrera of Spain entered the Medal Race third with only the New Zealanders, Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Wilcox, close at two points behind. A disappointing day for Snow-Hansen and Wilcox handed the Kiwi pair 20 points for a 10th-place finish, dropping them to fifth.

The Medal Race went to Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion, the defending champions from France.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Stuart Mcnay & David Hughes (USA) and Geison Mendes Dzioubanov & Gustavo Thiesen (BRA).

Nacra 17

Although gold was confirmed, Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) stylishly concluded ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, with a bullet in the Medal Race. The Italians put together several key top ten results throughout the testing 15 race series and that ultimately proved enough for a successful title defence.

Bissaro and Sicouri enjoy Miami, reasons behind it? “Well first of all, because we win,” smiled Sicouri. “It’s really nice, the sea is warm so it is very good sailing and it is very challenging because you never have the same conditions.

“You really have to use your mind to be at the top. The race area was so challenging and until the fourth day the top of the fleet was really close on points. It was just that yesterday, we managed to do what we did to win early.”

Bissaro and Sicouri sailed cleanly in the Medal Race, taking a comfortable 16 second race victory. With ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold around their necks they have qualified for the World Cup Final and Sicouri was pleased to confirm their spot just two regattas into the 2015 series, “The World Cup Final is very important. Abu Dhabi is the goal for everyone. We are happy that we’ve started our season this way and hope to continue.”

Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR) confirmed their silver medal with a fifth in the Medal Race. A second in the Medal Race promoted Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) into bronze.

Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves, competing in their second event since teaming up last October, consolidated their silver medal position in the Nacra 17 final race with a fifth.

“We’re taking this as our first proper event,” Saxton explained. “Abu Dhabi was really a warm up for here, so this is the first event we wanted to identify and do well in and learn about our team. Not many people beat us so we’re happy – we need to get the Italians next time!

“We were 17 points ahead going into the medal race so all we had to do was not come last. But we didn’t think of it that way – we wanted to try and put a good result in, which is why we were happy with our second lap when we came back to fifth. You have to get practiced at doing well in medal races – there’s no point just trying to come ninth!”

Groves was happy with how the new team is developing and her transition from the 49erFX to the mixed multihull class: “I’m tired, but I’m still feeling good. I’m looking forward to getting back to training and then into Palma and Hyeres. So a good future coming up! New challenges, new team, new year… it’s going to be a really good year I think. I’ve got a good feeling!”

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Enrique Figueroa and Franchesca Valdes (PUR) and Samuel Albrecht and Georgia da Silva (BRA).

Men’s RS:X

London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) booked himself a spot at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi by taking a narrow victory in Miami. The Dutchman held a ten point lead over Thomas Goyard (FRA) going into the Medal Race but a late surge from the Frenchman saw van Rijsselberge edge it by two points.

“I had a poor performance in the Medal Race,” said van Rijsselberge. “I’m not super happy with how it went but I did just enough to win. I was lucky because I had enough places already for me to keep in the lead.”

A sixth for van Rijsselberge and a second from Goyard was enough for victory and a spot on the World Cup Final start line, “We’re going to the final,” smiled van Rijsselberge, “We’ve tried to make qualifying as easy as possible so now the big thing ahead is the World Championship and Olympic test event before the final.

Looking at the points score, a winning score of 77 can be seen in two ways. Work to be done ahead of Rio or as the Dutchman put it, “The top guys are so good and anybody in the top ten can win a race. It was amazing as I don’t think I have ever seen such a high scoring event. The fact that it’s a high score event shows that everybody is so close together.

“There were a lot of ups and downs. Everybody seemed to get like a first and then a tenth or a 15th.”

Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) won the Medal Race to put himself with a chance of pushing up the leaderboard but Goyard’s second solidified his silver. Team GBR's Nick Dempsey sailed a solid medal race to finish third and improve his overall standing to fourth.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Zac Plavsic (CAN) and Ricardo Santos (BRA).

Women’s RS:X

Team GBR's Bryony Shaw had gold in the bag in advance of the Medal Race and concluded her regatta with a fifth. But the race was on for the remaining medals and it was heartbreak for Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) who was OCS and dropped out of the medals.

Lilian de Geus (NED) claimed a silver whilst Olga Maslivets (RUS) was a major benefactor of Tartaglini’s OCS and a seventh pushed her up into bronze medal position.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Marion Lepert (USA) and Patricia Freitas (BRA).


In a class that has so often produced a dominant player, Giles Scott Britain is that dominant player of the moment. His 18-month winning streak continues without a crack. Scott wrapped up the gold position on Friday and went into the Medal Race with his position assured.

Nonetheless, the Medal Race was extraordinary. Following one postponement, the race went off in 15 knots and went to completion in 25 minutes. All ten boats finished within a 40-second window, with Scott taking second to Australia's rising star Jake Lilley, by six seconds.

Lilley won the start, boldly crossed the fleet and led all the way – by only one second, at the final weather mark. Yes, it was a heart-pounding contest.

Scott, winner of 5 of 11 races, won gold by a margin of 25 points and carried on with his usual, it's all about Rio, diffidence toward the result. He said, "I just had a good week, and we've been lucky to get some good racing in, especially after a bit of disappointing weather last year. Now, on to the next one."

Kljakovic Gaspic of Croatia captured silver, digging deep to do it. At 23 points behind he was never a threat to Scott, and a sputtering start to the week included a DSQ in race four. Over the second half of the week however, he matched Scott's points over the final six races. He served notice.

Meanwhile, the Medal Race win lifted Lilley into bronze. He served notice too.

Home continent qualifiers for the finale at Abu Dhabi were Caleb Paine (USA) and Jorge João Zarif (BRA).

Focus will now turn to the ISAF World Sailing Rankings release on 2 February 2015 where the top 30 competitors will receive an invitation to ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères.

For the ones out of the top 30, their chance will come. The next ten invitations will come from the Princess Sofia Trophy regatta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Hyères will host the world’s top 40 Olympic class athletes from 20-26 April.

As to the Team GBR performance RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented: “It’s been a tricky week with a full range of conditions for the sailors to contend with. There have been some unusual offshore winds, and very shifty too resulting in some significant place changes throughout all the fleets all week.

“The good news from a British team perspective is that we had people fighting it out not just for medals, but for golds in the majority of classes during the course of the week, and to come away with eight medals at this stage is a good place to be."

Park continued: “It was disappointing to have no racing for the Paralympic classes on their final day yesterday, as OCS penalties in both the Sonar and for Megan Pascoe in the 2.4mR on the penultimate day cost them both dearly. But overall the team should be pleased, our progress has been good but it doesn’t stop here. We’re looking forward to getting some more training hours in and to the start of the European regatta season in the spring.”

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