USA reaches podium at inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final
Published on November 30th, 2014
Abu Dhabi, UAE (November 30, 2014) – Racing at the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final on Nov. 27-30 attracted 270 competitors from 38 nations in all 10 Olympic events.
The first-ever event of its kind, the Sailing World Cup Final brought together the top performers from the ISAF Sailing World Cup international racing series for Olympic classes, as well as standout performers from the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships held in September.
As a bonus, prize money was awarded to the top three overall finishers in each of the Olympic events from a total prize purse of US$200,000. Winners received $10,000, with second place getting $6,500 and third place earning $3,500.
Canada accepted invitations to compete in 3 events, while USA competed in 7 events. US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes made medal races in 5 of their events, earning bronze medals in the Men’s 470 and Finn.
“Our team’s goal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final was to gain small-fleet and Medal Race experience, which we accomplished in the excellent conditions served up in Abu Dhabi,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of US Olympic Sailing. “Congratulations to Stu McNay, Dave Hughes, and Caleb Paine for their podium finishes, and to ISAF for pulling off its first Sailing World Cup Final.”
The Men’s 470 team of Stuart McNay (Providence, R.I.) and David Hughes (San Diego, Calif.) continued their string of top results in the venerable double handed Olympic dinghy by earning a bronze medal in Abu Dhabi. Along with event winners and World Champions Mat Belcher and Will Ryan of Australia, McNay and Hughes are the only men’s team to make the medal race at every major 470 regatta this year. The American team was also coming off a career-best 5th overall at the Worlds leading into this event.
“Here in Abu Dhabi, we had a thinking man’s race course,” said Hughes. “We had tricky racing, coupled with the intensity of our fleet’s top players. All in all, every race has been thrilling, with lead changes, disasters, and massive opportunities.” Hughes also noted that the sea state and breeze conditions found in Abu Dhabi are reminiscent of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s training grounds in Miami, Florida. The US Olympic Sailing program has been made a concerted effort in the past two years to conduct more quality training inside the US, and that strategy continues to bear fruit.
2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup series champion Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) added to his list of World Cup successes with a bronze medal in the Finn class. Paine finished 2nd in the London 2012 Olympic Trails and since then has been a consistent top performer in the men’s heavyweight dinghy. “I would just say my equipment and time in the boat is the key to my current success,” said Paine. “I was happy with how it went here in Abu Dhabi, since the first day of the event was my first time back since [the ISAF Sailing World Championships in] Santander, Spain. I’m just here trying to put together some good races.”
The Women’s 470 team of Annie Heager (East Troy, Wisc.) and Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) came into the event with a hard-earned #2 ISAF World Ranking, but finished tantalizingly close to the podium in Abu Dhabi, ending up in 4th overall. “The racing was really tight in a small fleet, which left little room for error,” said Provancha. “The venue is spectacular, and the entire city got into the event, which was cool to see.” Haeger noted that the unfamiliar venue kept all competitors on their toes. “With the tricky conditions, we had to rely on our downwind boatspeed for most of our gains.”
The event marked the return of 2012 Olympian and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) to action after recuperating from a training injury suffered in September. Railey finished in 6th, and noted her enthusiasm for getting back in the saddle. “I very happy and grateful to be here. It’s been tough on my body, but all the hard work I have put in to getting here has been worth it. I’m thankful for my wonderful family, my coach Mark Littlejohn and the US Sailing Team for doing all that was possible to help get me back. I am happy with my results given my lack of sailing in the past few weeks. I went out and gave everything I had to represent all those who have supported me.”
Report by US Sailing and ISAF media. Above photo: Stu McNay (Providence, R.I) and David Hughes (San Diego, Calif.). Photo © Nikos Alevromytis/470 Class.