Test for USA at World Cup Series Miami
Published on January 21st, 2018
The United States began competing in Sailing at the 1928 Olympic Games, and while they did not win any medals, the country soon became the most successful nation in Olympic history. However, their edge has been slipping, with Britain now trailing by just two medals: 60 to 58.
The US Olympic Sailing Program became the victim of heightened international competition and a national system that focused on participation over preparation. While the situation is now well-recognized, developing a new generation of elite-level athletes, and increasing the support needed, takes time.
While improvement is ultimately measured at the Olympic Games, the international circuit of World Cup Series events provide a view of progress. After the US team won just one medal at 2017 World Cup Series Miami, here’s our medal expectations from the US Team for the 2018 edition on January 23-28:
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Continuity is king in the Olympic game, and Stu McNay already has been to three Olympics, and while still without a medal, had his best finish (4th) in Rio 2016 with Dave Hughes. Stu and Dave won in Miami a year ago, but with Dave rehabbing an injury, Stu’s previous crew Graham Biehl is pinch hitting. Medal chance: moderate
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
USA had two teams vying to represent the country at Rio 2016, with both capable of medaling. A tough last race in Rio erased that hope, and now both teams have tapped out. Having to start from scratch, not much is expected before 2024. Medal chance: none
Heavyweight Men’s One Person Dinghy – Finn
Caleb Paine won the only medal for the team in Rio, and he had to put forth his best effort ever to do so. Caleb has only recently returned to the class, sailing his first event at the Finn Midwinters a week ago. Caleb will be pushed by Luke Muller, who finished fourth in Miami a year ago, and has taken a break from school to campaign full time. Medal chance: good
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
As one of the few active Olympic classes in the USA, it has not translated to success in this event. Charlie Buckingham, who just missed being the rep at the 2012 Games and finished 11th in Rio, needs to turn the corner this quad. While there is good depth behind him, no one is consistently yet among the leaders. Medal chance: slim
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Erika Reineke, who only began campaigning full-time last June, dominated the final major event of 2017, held at the sailing venue for the 2020 Games. She leads a deep team that now includes 2-time Olympian Paige Railey who had been off the circuit since finishing 10th in Rio. Railey, who has been dealing with health issues, is set to go full on again but needs to catch up on her conditioning. Medal chance: good
Men’s Skiff – 49er
With the USA finishing 19th out of 20 at Rio 2016, and that team tapping out, this is another rebuild program. While the depth has improved, and despite some good resumes among the field, progress comes slow in this class. Medal chance: none
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
It was supposed to be a learning event for the USA team at Rio 2016, and their strong tenth place finish bode well for their chances at Tokyo 2020. But the pair split up, with skipper Paris Henken only now getting back into the boat for Miami to see if she and 2008 Laser Radial gold medalist Anna (Tunnicliffe) Tobias can become a viable team. Steph Roble/ Maggie Shea, just a year into their campaign, have been training hard and gathered their first victory at a recent tune-up regatta. Medal chance: slim
Men’s Windsurfer – RS:X
While this is becoming a strong event for neighbor Mexico, windsurfing will remain a struggle in the USA until grassroots activity becomes more widespread and encouragement improves at the youth level. Pedro Pascual, who finished 28th out of 36 for USA in Rio, has sights on improving that finish for Tokyo 2020. Medal chance: none
Women’s Windsurfer – RS:X
USA lost an opportunity for progress when promising sailor Marion Lepert, who finished 16th out of 26 in Rio, opted to tap out. With only longtime campaigner Farrah Hall entered for Miami, it is a sore reflection of the status of this event in the country. Medal chance: none
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
After a very late start to their campaign, Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee outperformed expectations in Rio with an 8th and both are continuing toward Tokyo with new partners. But Bora incurred a hand injury last summer and has yet to compete with new teammate Helena Scutt. Chafee and new skipper Riley Gibbs finished 6th a year ago in Miami, their first regatta together, and appear capable of being a legitimate threat. Medal chance: slim
Racing at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami will commence on Tuesday January 23 at 11:00 local time.
The format for each Olympic event will be an opening series with the top ten advancing to the medal competition. Live Medal Races on Saturday and Sunday, January 27 and 28, will bring the week to a close before the series heads to Hyères, France in April.
Saturday (Jan 27) Medal Races – RS:X, 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17
Sunday (Jan 28) Medal Races – 470, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial
The World Cup Series is an annual circuit of Olympic sailing for elite and professional sailors, and a key touchpoint for fans and media to connect to the sport of sailing and develop support for athletes on their road to Tokyo 2020 and beyond. Over 2,000 of the world’s leading sailors, representing 75 nations, have competed in the World Cup Series since its inception in 2008.
2017/2018 World Cup Series
October 17-22, 2017 – World Cup Series #1 – Gamagori, Japan
January 21-28, 2018 – World Cup Series #2 – Miami, USA
April 22-29, 2018 – World Cup Series #3 – Hyères, France
June 3-10, 2018 – World Cup Series Final – Marseille, France
Source: World Sailing