Sailing World Cup: Latin Flair for racecourse built of shifts

Published on January 29th, 2015

Miami, FLA (January 29, 2015) – One measure of the success of Olympic class racing on Biscayne Bay is the steadily growing participation. The numbers in 2015, 599 boats from 63 countries, make this a record turnout. But make that 64 countries. Add Cuba to the list.

At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, Cuba’s Yuseily Gonzalez Luis is coming in late (obviously) with no hope of qualifying for the Medal Races on Saturday. Even so, she wants to bring her RS:X windsurfer to the start line, if only for a day, to put her punctuation on the thaw in international relations. And see some friends on the water. And in a small way, make history.

Luis is likely to find single-digit winds on the course on Friday, down from the teens on Thursday. Once again, the racecourse was built out of shifts; whichever one of six racing areas you might have in mind. Once again, everyone struggled, but a few people turned in the kind of results that don’t show it.

The US Sailing Team Sperry made steady gains in the Laser, Laser Radial and 49er classes as gold fleet racing approaches its conclusion. In the men’s Laser, Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, CA) scored a 3rd place in the first gold fleet race today, which helped him move from 15th to 9th overall.

The energy and tension was palpable today on the women’s Laser Radial course, and manifested itself with numerous general recalls as sailors refused to concede an inch to their neighbors on the starting line. Paige Railey (Clearwater, FL) recorded another solid day with a 4,8 in two races to move up to 5th place, and 13 points out of bronze position.

Sitting only seven points behind the World Champion Railey is 18-year-old high school senior Haddon Hughes (Houston, TX), a 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds silver medalist here to compete in her first-ever World Cup regatta. Hughes stands in 6th overall, and says that her first experience at this level of the sport has been nothing but positive.

In the Sonar, Rick Doerr (Clifton, NJ), Brad Kendell (Tampa, FL) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, ME) will go for gold tomorrow in the final day of Paralympic racing. The veteran team is just shy of gold medal position and will enter the final day of racing on Friday with a one-point deficit to erase. Sitting in third, with four points behind Team Doerr, the Canadian team of Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell, and Scott Lutes threatens to stay in podium position.

“The breeze is going to be light enough tomorrow that we can’t count on sailing one race or two, so we aren’t going to go out for blood right off the line,” said Freund. “Sailing somewhat conservative and calculated has paid off for our team so far, so we’re going to stay that course. We actually need to put a boat between us and Norway, which could be tricky in light air. If the opportunity is there we will take it, but we always do our best sailing without other boats clouding our strategy.”

In the 2.4 Metre class, Allen Leibel (CAN) sits in podium contention currently in third place, eight points behind second place.

Britain’s Nick Thompson, who says that his favorite boat is the foiling Moth, is doing nicely here in a Laser, in contact with the surface of the water. The former youth world champion leads the 106-boat fleet with an eight-point margin going into the final day of racing ahead of Saturday’s double points Medal Race. In second place, Philipp Buhl of Germany has burned his throw-out race on a 34th, so he has more to lose than Thompson (a 12th to throw out) if the wheels fall off on Friday. Behind them are serious threats still within range, depending, and it remains a difficult racecourse.

Young Andy (“Pain is temporary; glory is forever”) Maloney of New Zealand has had his moments of late. He won the Palma version of this event in 2013, and in 2012 was second at Hyeres. As race day five beckons, he is seventh in the standings and found Thursday’s conditions not quite as challenging as the races on Wednesday. “They moved the Thursday start into the morning,” he said. “By comparison it seems to get a lot more patchy in the afternoon, as things heat up.”

The second race of the day was ripe to be abandoned, and it was. “Between races, we were seeing 40 degree shifts with pressure drops to 5 knots,” Maloney said, “and then pressure building to 15 knots and back to 5. They got a start off, and a massive lefty came down with heaps of pressure. It was a lay to the weather mark, so that race was abandoned, and we waited around for a bit. I think they were hoping it would stabilize, but finally they set up at an average angle and got on with it. There were lots of little shifts, but the thing was to be sure you were in phase with the big ones. When it’s that tricky, nobody can get everything right.”

Maloney won a race on Monday. Today he went 7-11.

Laser Radial Women
Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindon had the lowest finishes of the top three Radial sailors today, but that didn’t knock her off the top of the leaderboard. An 11-14 day means that she is now eating an 11th and discarding the 14th. Previously, a 7th was her discard.

The day’s results tightened things up, with second and third both in striking range.

Evi Van Acker of Belgium is only five points back. Marit Bouwmeester is only two points behind that.
This sets up some interesting running-math problems for the Medals Race on Saturday.

The hard-luck story of the day was Annalise Murphy from Ireland, who was part of this conversation until she picked up a keeper 35th in race eight. “It was hard to know where you had to be,” she said, and left it at that.

Nacra 17
Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) held firm in the Nacra 17 to maintain their lead over Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves (GBR) and Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA).

The Italians celebrated their first ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medal in Miami 12 months ago and returned with the one aim – to defend.

They are on track to achieve their goal and were full of smiles after racing, “We are happy because it’s been a very tricky week,” commented Bissaro. “We’ve been consistent in most races and that’s why we’re still leading. There are three races and a Medal Race left so we don’t want to lose our good mood and we’ll look to stay consistent until the end of the World Cup.”

Sicouri added, “We won our first ISAF event here last year. We want to do the same again this year. This event is very important because the Olympic Games are in just one and a half years. This Miami fleet is very strong and everybody wants to beat everybody so from now on each race is going to be very important.”

Two points clear of Saxton and Groves, the job is far from a given. Three vital races remain and then it’s down to Saturday’s deciding Medal Race.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) hold a mammoth 56 point lead in the 49erFX. It’s still mathematically possible for them to lose their lead – but it’s hard to bet against the 2013 World Champions losing such an advantage.

Below the breakaway Kiwis, there’s a real ding dong battle forming for the remaining podium positions. Nine points separate second to sixth. Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) sit second whilst Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) occupy third.

The Italians finished runners up at the 2014 edition and are battling for a medal once again. Conti and Clapcich were first ashore after racing – helped by being the first across the finish line in the final race of the day. A fourth and a seventh preceded their bullet which won them the day and Conti was in a buoyant mood after racing, “Miami is nice and warm, it’s good and it was to escape a European winter,” she joked.

“We had a very good day with a fourth, a seventh and that first. That bullet was a good way to end the day. We’re enjoying the sun and Miami is always very good racing.”

Three further races will be decide the Medal Race places, in which a real dogfight will be on the cards if the points remain similar at this stage on Friday.

It’s a good old fashion game of snakes and ladders in the 49er with a new leader at the end of the fourth day.

Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) were the only team to finish in the top ten three times in a row. A 7-8-2 has enabled them to advance to the leading position.

Australia’s Joel Turner and Iain Jensen are just one point behind the Austrians, in contention, waiting patiently to pounce. Spanish brothers Carlos and Anton Paz are in third, 14 points off the top.

Early leaders Diego Botin and Iago Lopez (ESP) have dropped further down the leader board following another day at the back of the pack.

470 Women
The rich got richer in the Women’s 470 fleet, where the familiar series leaders had a 1-3 day to further tighten their grip on first. That would be the 2012 Olympic gold medalists from New Zealand, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, who are sitting on the enviable scoreline of 2-2-1-(7)-1-1-3. Pressure outweighed direction shifts, in Powrie’s thinking, but shifts were nothing to ignore, Aleh said, “Get both right and you were really looking good.

“There was a lot of close racing,” Aleh said. “We had downwind legs where the whole fleet was right there.”

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark of Great Britain, silver medalists at the 2012 Games, are 13 points back, with a 10-point margin over Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntire. Also from the UK, Weguelin and McIntire have the Japanese duo of Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka breathing down their necks.

Non-athletes need not apply. Trapeze boats make extreme demands in changeable conditions, with the sailors trimming sails and, we might say, trimming their body weight in and out for balance in a sort of ongoing emergency triage. Or as Aleh put it, “There was a lot going on out there.”

470 Men
Men’s 470 results echoed Women’s 470 results, with the rich getting richer. In this case, it was 2012 silver medalist Luke Patience and crew Elliot Willis sailing a throw-out 18th and keeping a race eight first.

Patience won his 2012 silver medal with Stuart Bithell, just two weeks after the pair teamed up. The new team of Patience and Willis wrapped up the European 470 Championship in 2014 with races to spare, and this pair from the UK are in form again.

Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan are 9 points back and still in touch. Then it’s an 18-point jump to Onan Barreiros and Juan Curbelo Cabrera of Spain.

On a 3-1 day, Giles Scott, the Finn class leader who hasn’t lot a regatta in 18 months, doubled his lead. The way he saw the racecourse, he said, “The right was stronger than the left, but there were routes out of the left. It was an oscillating day with bands of pressure, a shift and position day.”

It was, he said, about “joining up the gusts.”

Scott is 18 points ahead of Australian Jake Lilley and 18 points ahead of Ioannis Mitakis of Greece, with one more day of racing before the double-points Medals Race on Saturday.

Scott’s fellow Briton, Ed Wright, had a 5-12 day and took it a bit harder. “If I was left,” he said, “it went right. If I was right, it went left. It’s a shame I picked up an RTD [Retired] earlier in the week or I’d be looking good now.”

Race seven started the day and went to Croatia’s Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic, who “got a clear lane after the start and kept on the right hand side. At some moments it didn’t look so nice, but patience paid and I rounded the top mark just ahead of the fleet. On the downwind I got a bit of distance and then just controlled to the finish.”

The cut to make the top 10 is tight in the Finn fleet, with four boats close on points and another group not to be ruled out.

Men’s RS:X
It was mixed days all around for the Men’s RS:X fleet with high scores afoot for many of the fleet.

London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) grabbed the lead from Thomas Goyard (FRA) in spite of an up and down day. When he was up, he was up – securing an opening race bullet ahead of Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) which was then backed up by a sixth. When he was down, he was down – finishing back in 22nd, which he now discards.

Although his day was somewhat back and forth, his competitors experienced similar results, thus leaving the Dutchman with a three point advantage over Goyard. Kokkalanis’ daily string of 2-1-15 leaves him seven points off the top.

Italy’s Daniele Benedetti had something to prove to himself in the final race of the day after he was black flagged and scored over the line in the first two races. Perhaps it was his freshness on a warm Miami day that gave him an advantage but Benedetti grasped the lead early on and never looked back, taking the gun.

Benedetti sits in 12th.

Women’s RS:X
Bryony Shaw (GBR) has solidified her position at the top of the Women’s RS:X leader board, adding another race win to her impressive tally of four. Shaw is 21 points clear of Lilian de Geus (NED) and firmly in control, ready to defend the title she won one year ago.

Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) occupies third overall with Hayley Chan (HKG) two points behind.

Paralympic Events
Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) is now leading the way in the 2.4mR after his three main rivals were all on the course side in the final race of the day. He leads on 16 points with Megan Pascoe (GBR) second on 17 points.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winners Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) remain in the lead in the SKUD18. Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) are second whilst Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) are third.

Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg (NOR) grabbed the Sonar lead with both hands after a double bullet day. They are a point clear of Alphonsus Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund (USA).

John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (USA) dropped down to fourth after they used their discard up with an OCS.

Miami eventResultsISAF Sailing World Cup

Report by ISAF media. Photo by Walter Cooper Photography.

Background: ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami (Jan. 26-31) is the second qualification regatta for the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final scheduled for October 29 – November 1 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Miami gold medallists in each Olympic event will qualify for the World Cup Final. After Miami the season includes stops in France, Great Britain and an Asian venue. The ISAF Sailing World Cup is open to the sailing classes (equipment) chosen for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions.

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