Qualifying clashes at World Cup Miami

Published on January 20th, 2020

Miami, FL (January 20, 2020) – Today the 182 sailors from 45 nations demonstrated their skills on Biscayne Bay in the first of six days of racing at 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami. Hempel World Cup Miami marks the second installment of the 2020 Series and the only stop in North America.

The competition this week consists of fleet racing for all seven classes on Monday through Friday (January 20-24) and Medal Races on Saturday, January 25 featuring the week’s top teams. Medal Races will be broadcast live on World Sailing’s YouTube Channel.

As the racing heats up in Miami this week, the sailors here also have their sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition, only six months away. World Cup Miami is the final opportunity for North American nations to qualify for the 2020 Games across the 470, RS:X, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn fleets.

Principal Race Officer (PRO) Maria Torrijo of Spain had this to say about the forecasted racing conditions this week. “I think the conditions here on the Bay this week will be perfect. We should have 10 to 15 knots every day, and we believe it will be quite windy later in the week. The classes we have here are good enough to race in 25 knots. We are quite confident we will get in all our races this week.”

Olympic qualification is paramount for 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 aiming for Tokyo 2020.

Oetling got off to a strong start by finishing third in Race 1 and 12th in Race 2 and she is in fifth place overall. Devaux-Lovell is in seventh place after posting a 6-15 scoring line on today.

“It’s such a small fleet, you can really see who is out there and I may have struggled with that today,” said Devaux-Lovell. “I’m going to take that forward and tomorrow I’m going to just sail my own race. Usually I’m strong in these conditions. It was quite shifty with pressure differences. Sometimes you have to get your head out of the boat and see what’s going on and sail to the breeze.”

Leading the Laser Radial fleet is Viktorija Andrulyte of Lithuania, who placed first and second today. The top American is Erika Reineke who is in fourth place (4-3).

Over in the Laser, the biggest fleet at the regatta, two bullets for Joaquin Blanco (ESP) puts him top, with Andrew Lewis (TTO) and Stefano Peschiera (PER) close behind.

Three Canadian sailors stayed at the top of the Laser fleet throughout today’s races. Leading that group is Luke Ruitenberg, sitting in 5th overall with a 9 & 8 place finish in the two races. Fellow teammate, Robert Davis is currently sitting in 6th, with Matti Muru not far behind in 10th overall. The top American, Nick Sessions, is in 7th overall with 22 points.

The American selection process also continues this week in the Finn. After one event, Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Fla.) has an eight-point advantage over Rio 2016 bronze medalist Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.). Muller earned the bronze medal last year in Miami. Bermuda’s Rockal Evans is going up against Mexican representatives Juan Perez Soltero and Alejandro Perez Ontiveros for the North American Tokyo 2020 Finn spot.

Despite having the element of the U.S. Olympic trials in play, Paine felt comfortable focusing on what he could control. “I just focused on my own stuff, just going out and sailing like I know how,” he said.

Rather than worrying about the trials, Paine made sure to keep the small Finn fleet in mind today. He added, “One of my goals for today was to do some fleet management and minimize splitting away from the fleet to look for crazy leverage on the racecourse. Because the fleet is small, I wanted to stay in touch.”

Following wins in both Race 1 and Race 2, Paine takes an early lead in the Finn. Two Americans are in the top four, as Muller is in fourth place (5-3).

“I’m just focused on my own sailing this week,” said Paine. “I’m working on fleet management and trying to minimize splitting away. We are also emphasizing downwinds, but it was a bit of a struggle today trying to get the right feel for the downwinds. But all-around it’s been much better, just a few minor mistakes that can be easily corrected.”

Canadian Finn sailor Kyle Martin set the tone with a 2nd and 4th place finish, placing him in 3rd overall. “We had some shifty and puffy conditions out there, but we were able to get some good racing in. There is decent competition here, which will make for an interesting week and I’m feeling confident going into tomorrow,” said Martin.

Bermuda’s Rockal Evans is going up against Mexican representatives Juan Perez Soltero and Alejandro Perez Ontiveros for the North American Tokyo 2020 Finn spot.

“Today was a tricky day on the racecourse,” said Evans. “We got a clear start in the first race, got a good lane, and just played the shifts upwind and downwind, so I’m happy with my results. The breeze picked up a bit in the second race and they put up the free pumping flag. We had another good start and two good downwinds for another good result.”

Along with racecourse and shifting conditions, Evans is also tracking his primary competition this week. “It’s a lot about the racecourse, but also the other countries, like Mexico, who are also going for the North American spot, so it’s a lot about keeping my eyes on them, plus playing the racecourse and getting boats in between us. It’s a lot of work,” Evans commented.

The race for Olympic qualification for the 470 Men in North America is between Canada and Mexico, who have three teams respectively. Leading the way between these two countries are Hector & Jeronimo Guzman of Mexico who stand in 20th place overall after two races (14-25).

“We are trying our best not to be too aggressive this week,” said Jeronimo Guzman. “We want to sail as smart as possible and be faster than the other countries we are competing against for the Olympic spot. We need to focus on having good races so we can be at our best.”

Fronting the 30-boat Men’s 470 fleet overall is Anton Dahlberg & Fredrick Bergström of Sweden (3-2). The top American team is Stuart McNay (Providence, R.I.) & David Hughes (Miami, Fla.) in fourth place (1-11).

French duo Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz already have a good advantage in the 470 Women, with two race wins putting them ahead of nearest competitors Elena Berta & Bianca Caruso (ITA) and Frederike Loewe & Anna Markford (GER).

The U.S. Women’s 470 athletes have also officially qualified the United States for representation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by finishing the first race of the day. As the only North American team competing in the Women’s 470 at this event, the U.S. has earned the North American berth and the U.S. has officially qualified in nine of the 10 Tokyo 2020 Olympic classes.

Olympic implications won’t end today for U.S. Women’s 470s, the three boats will continue with the second of three events that determine which pair will occupy that berth and represent team USA in Tokyo. After finishing today’s races in fourth and ninth, Atlantic and Nora Brugman (Winthrop, Mass.) are currently the top Americans in the Women’s 470 fleet, standing in fifth overall, tied with Emma and Carmen Cowles.

In the RS:X Men’s fleet, two wins out of three for Pedro Pascual (USA) sets him ahead of David Mier Y Teran (MEX) and Ignacio Berenguer (MEX). Pascual finished the first two Men’s RS:X races in first place. Like Paine, he focused on managing the small fleet to stay at the top. “It was fun racing, today,” said Pascual. “The first two races, I focused on the start and had two really good ones, so after that, I just controlled the fleet.”

Mexico are also performing well in the RS:X Women’s fleet, with Mariana Aguilar and Demita Vega de Lille first and third respectively. Megumi Komine (JPN) is second. Olivia Mew led the Canadian windsurfers sitting in 6th overall after some solid racing. American Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) stands fifth in the Women’s RS:X fleet.

Racing resumes on Tuesday, January 21 at 11:00am (UTC-5) on Biscayne Bay and runs through to January 25 where seven Medal Races will decide the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami Champions.

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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: Jake Fish, Hempel World Cup Miami Press Officer

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