Giles Scott and Clay Johnson Top The Scoreboard In The Finn And Laser As Early Leaders Stake Their Claim In Miami
There was plenty of action on the opening day of US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, with all 13 Olympic and Paralympic classes completing multiple races in 12-14 knot breezes.
On seven different courses on Biscayne Bay, 716 sailors from 53 countries worked hard to get to the top of the scoreboard. But with four days of racing left, only time will tell if early leaders are meant to be champions in the end.
In the 104-boat Laser class, the largest contingent in Miami, Michael Leigh
(CAN) made an early deposit, winning the first of two races in the blue fleet and then finishing sixth in Race 2 to wind up fifth overall when scores were merged with the class's yellow fleet.
Due to the size of the class the fleet has been split into two fleets, which also splits some of the top players from each other, but reunites them each day in a new mix. In the yellow fleet, Clay Johnson
(USA) finished 2-1 to secure his spot at the top of the overall leader board and regatta favourite Paul Goodison
(GBR) finished 1-2 to take second place.
Canadian Leigh said, "The phases were quite long [for shifts to come back] and the pressure was up and down. I haven't raced since the Worlds in September, so I'm here to get back in phase. I'm not targeting any one person to beat; there are ten good guys in each fleet who could win, so that's a few too many to watch."
In the Finn class (40 boats), USSTAG member and 2008 Olympic Silver Medallist Zach Railey
(USA) battled with Giles Scott
(GBR) and Ben Ainslie
(GBR). Scott won both races to top the scoreboard while Railey secured second overall with a 2-3. Ainslie finished third with a 5-2.
"It's only the first two races,"
said Railey, "so you can't read too much into it. Certainly Giles and Ben are going really fast, but I feel pretty confident in my boat speed. I had a big confidence booster in the second race, when I was 12th at the first mark and had a good comeback for third.
"Trying to stay in the top five is always what you're looking to do - trying to stay consistent at the beginning of a regatta - and I had two of those races here today.
"It's a great test for me to be out on the racecourse and sail against the Brits, the Slovenians and the Swedish sailors. It's great to see the improvements that we've made this winter in our training and identify the areas we need to improve before the European season this year."
Consistency certainly showed in the score line of Evi Van Acker
(BEL) when she topped the 58-boat Laser Radial fleet with a 2-2. USSTAG member Paige Railey
(USA) won the opener, while eventual second place overall finisher Marit Bouwmeester
(NED) won the second race. But it was Nathalie Brugger
(SUI) who filled the third place slot when Railey and six others were black-flagged at the start of the second race and suffered extra points because of it.
"I am very happy, since last year I had a shocker regatta here - nothing seemed to go right,"
said Van Acker. "I made a couple of small mistakes today, but twice I had good starts and I hit the left corner twice to get out front. Downwind was difficult, as it was quite gusty and the fleet was spread out.
"At this point in the regatta, I try to be in front, and whoever is around I try to control them or catch up from behind. I won't be concentrating on individuals until later in the regatta or during the Medal Races [Saturday]."
In the other events in Miami:
Star: Robert Scheidt
and crew Bruno Prada
(BRA) had a pay day with a 1-2 to lead 58 boats.
49er: The 49ers, with 30 boats, completed three races today, bringing Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith (GBR) to the lead after posting a 1-3-2.
Men's and Women's RS:X: Marina Alabau (ESP) won both races today to top a 31-boat fleet, while Nick Dempsey (GBR), with two seconds today, topped 37 competitors.
Men's and Women's 470: Ingrid Petitjean and Nadège Douroux (FRA) are leading 24 boats after two races and finish scores of 1-2, while Nic Asher and Elliot Willis (GBR) lead 42 boats with a 1-3
Elliott 6m (women's match racing): The 24 competing teams were divided into three groups: A, B and C. Three flights of round robin matches were completed today in all three groups, and in all three there were two teams that went undefeated.
In Group A, Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Olivia Price (AUS) and Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Syuzeva and Irina Lotsmanova (RUS) are tied with 3 wins, 0 losses.
Group B's undefeated teams are Claire Leroy, Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou (FRA) and Lotte Meldgaard pedersen, Christina Refn and Susanne Boidin (DEN).
And in Group C, the two undefeated teams are Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor (GBR) and Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Deborah Capozzi (USA).
In the three Paralympic classes:
2.4mR: Thierry Schmitter (NED) won both races today to lead 30 boats.
SKUD-18: Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) won both races today to claim first overall in the seven-boat fleet.
Sonar: In a 12-boat fleet, Udo Hessels, Mischa Rossen and Marcel Van de veen (NED) are leading after posting a 2-1 today.
For full results, go to http://rmocr.ussailing.org/2011/Results.htm
And keep up-to-date on all the ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas here www.sailing.org/worldcup