Tokyo 2020: Critical qualifying in Miami
Published on January 14th, 2020
The world of Olympic competition arrives in the USA with the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series on January 20-25 in Miami, FL. As the second stage of the 2019-20 Series, 205 sailors from 50 nations will race across seven fleets on Biscayne Bay.
As the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 competitors are remaining in the Southern Hemisphere due to their December 2019 Worlds in Australia and February 2020 Worlds in New Zealand, the stakes remain high across the 470, RS:X, Laser, Laser Radial, and Finn fleets for North American competitors as Miami is the final opportunity for nations to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
While the Laser Standard and Laser Radial Rig divisions are missing some of the top sailors who are training in Australia for the February 2020 Class Worlds, there is no less pressure as the nations yet to qualify will be after the single North American spot that is available.
In the 48-boat Laser fleet, sailors and competitors from Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, US Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago will be vying for the bid.
Canada will have 12 Laser representatives all capable of qualifying the nation in Miami. Mexico will have four and Antigua two. The higher number of sailors, the better the chance but arguably the favorite to book his nations spot in Tokyo 2020 will be Trinidad and Tobago’s Andrew Lewis.
Lewis, a two-time Olympian after racing at London 2012 and Rio 2016, secured his first ever Hempel World Cup Series medal in Genoa, Italy last season in a tough fleet. Robert Davis of Canada will also strongly fancy his chances of qualifying after beating Lewis by two points to sixth place at the 2019 Pan Am Games, but with a high number of nations on the start line, the competition will be tense.
Peru’s Stefano Peschiera qualified his nation at the first time of asking at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships and with a good run of results behind him, he will be a firm favorite for gold, but expect Davis, Lewis, and Mexico’s Yanic Gentry to also fight for the podium.
The qualification battle will be on in the 23-boat Laser Radial fleet. Aruba’s Philipine van Aanholt, St. Lucia’s Stephanie Devaux-Lovell, Mexico’s Elena Oetling and Sofia Ximena Palacios, Puerto Rico’s Sylvette Perez Figueroa, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Arrindell are all targeting Tokyo 2020.
The sailors tested themselves against each other at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. Mexico’s Oetling finished ahead of her rivals then by a good distance, but the experience in these situations belongs to Aruba’s van Aanholt. A London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian, the Aruban knows what it takes to get to the Olympic start line.
A good number of leading Laser Radial sailors will be in the Miami fleet including 2019 bronze medalist and current World #4 Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE), 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Champion Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU) and Uruguay’s Dolores Moreira Fraschini.
The highest caliber of competition will be in the 470 fleets where 30 male and 18 female teams will race.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS), Jordi Xammar and Nico Rodriguez (ESP), and Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) have fought for major titles over the last 12 months and regularly share the podium.
At the Enoshima triple-header in August and September 2019, where the trio sailed at the 470 World Championships, READY STEADY TOKYO, and Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima, the Australians took three golds. The Spaniards took two silver medals and a bronze and the Swedes secured a silver, bronze, and a fourth place.
They will continue their fight in Miami as they aim to put a marker down ahead of Tokyo 2020. The race for Olympic men’s qualification in North American will be between Canada and Mexico who have three teams respectively.
In the Women’s 470, Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz of France have emerged as Tokyo 2020 medal favorites after they secured the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series title, gold at READY STEADY TOKYO, and the 2019 European Championship. They will spearhead the Women’s 470 fleet with further contenders including Afrodite Zegers and Lobke Berkhout (NED), defending Miami champions Frederike Loewe and Anna Markfort (GER), and Silvia Mas and Patricia Cantero (ESP).
The only nation not yet qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the running for the North American Tokyo 2020 spot in the Women’s 470 is the USA. The event also acts as an American team qualifier with Nikole Barnes and Lara Dallman-Weiss, Carmen and Emma Cowles, as well as Atlantic and Nora Brugman evenly-matched.
In the Finn, Bermuda’s Rockal Evans will face off against Mexican representatives Juan Perez Soltero and Alejandro Perez Ontiveros for the North American Tokyo 2020 spot. The fleet of 15 will also see the American selection process continue. After one event, Luke Muller has an eight-point advantage over Rio 2016 bronze medalist Caleb Paine.
In the Men’s RS:X, two nations are aiming to qualify for Tokyo 2020 – Dominican Republic and Mexico. The odds are stacked in Mexico’s favor, with five-time Olympian David Mier Y Teran and youthful Ignacio Berenguer leading the charge. The Dominican Republic’s Samuel Perez Hults is relatively inexperienced in comparison to the pair, with his best result a 24th at the 2019 READY STEADY TOKYO.
In total, 12 sailors will race in the Men’s RS:X fleet and the event will also act as an American qualifier for Tokyo 2020.
Nikola Girke (CAN) will make her competitive RS:X return in the 10-boat Women’s fleet. The Canadian represented her nation in the 470 at Athens 2004, the RS:X at Beijing 2008, and London 2012 and the Nacra 17 at Rio 2016. Canada is the only North American nation in the fleet who has not yet qualified so Girke will confirm the spot by completing the event.
Racing will commence at 11:00 local time on January 20 and run through to January 25 where seven Medal Races will decide the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami Champions.
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 Olympics 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.
2019-20 Hempel World Cup Series
Aug 27-Sep 1, 2019 – Enoshima, Japan
January 20-25, 2020 – Miami, USA
April 14-19, 2020 – Genoa, Italy
June 16-21, 2020 – Enoshima, Japan
Source: World Sailing