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25 January 2012, 09:49 am
Experience Of Olympic Proportions
Finn leader Zach Railey
Finn leader Zach Railey

Rolex Miami OCR 2012
Miami, USA

The 8-11 knot breeze on Biscayne Bay allowed three of the Rolex Miami OCR's 10 Olympic classes to catch up on the races they lost due to dying winds on the opening day.
The 529 sailors from 41 countries now have two days behind them in this important ISAF Sailing World Cup event. Three Paralympic classes also are competing here, adding to a total of 354 boats scattered across four racing circles plus a separate arena for women's match racing.

"It was way better than yesterday, and the Finns got the best of it because the wind was building all day," said Zach Railey (USA), adding that his class started racing an hour earlier (12:30) than scheduled to add three races to yesterday's single race. The leader going into the second day, Railey could do nothing wrong as he methodically picked off his competition-most notably Caleb Paine (USA) and Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN), to quadruple the victories in his score line.

"In the first race, I was in a great battle with Caleb,"
said Railey. "We were two boat lengths apart from each other and on the last leg back and forth the whole time. In the second race, it was a battle up the second windward leg with Jonas, but he got separated by two boats that were on his heels--he had to concentrate on them."

Railey said that even if he keeps doing well over five days of fleet racing, it will come down to the ten-boat Medal Race on Saturday to determine who takes home gold here, since only the top ten boats on the scoreboard at the end of Friday move on to that race, which counts double in the scoring. "Even going in with the lowest points, you could gain 18 points on that day," he said, adding that it replicates the format of the Olympics, to which he will go this summer as the USA's Finn representative. "Everything will be very much like here, even the 26- boat fleet."

For Railey, a bonus will be trying to win his second Olympic medal (his first was a silver in the Finn class in 2008) alongside his sister, Paige Railey, who qualified to compete for the USA in Laser Radial class.

"It has been a dream of ours to go together since I started sailing at age eight and she started shortly after me. We fell in love with the idea of walking into Opening Ceremonies together; I don't know if it really will sink in until we look over at each other and say, 'we did it!'"

Men's and Women's 470 sailors flip-flopped their afternoon race schedule (14:15 and 14:00, respectively) with the Lasers' morning slot (10:30 and 10:45 for blue and yellow fleets, respectively) to ensure they also would be able to fit in three races. Consequently, it allowed Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) to knock brothers Sven and Kalle Coster (NED) out of first place.

"It's too early in the regatta to tell, and a lot can happen, so we're just focusing on ourselves, but it was nice to come away with three good races today," said Belcher, explaining that he and Page, who posted finish positions of 1-2-6, also will be representing their country at the London 2012 Olympic Games. "Our stronger wind performance is certainly much better than our lighter wind, so these conditions are perfect for us, and exactly why we're here: to enjoy the challenge."

In the 49er Class, Erik Storck and Trevor Moore(USA) are still holding on to first place. "We were in first going into today and put up three solid races today so we're still standing in first," said Storck who added that within the 23-boat fleet, there are a handful of competitors who will be joining them at the summer Olympics, including the Austrian team of Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch, who are currently five points behind them in overall scoring. "We'll keep an eye on them going forward in the regatta, but it is still early. Our goal is to keep going out and putting up top-threes and going to the medal race with a little gap."

In the Women's Match Racing, Group B completed 11 flights, a full round robin, and though all of the teams were extremely close in scores, Mandy Mulder (NED) prevailed with 6 wins and 1 loss. On day one, Group A also completed 11 flights, and the leader was Silja Lehtinen (FIN) with 8 wins and 1 loss. For this discipline, medals will be determined by the "last women standing" in Saturday's two-boat Finals and Petit Finals.

Results

For more information on the ISAF Sailing World Cup click here.

Barby MacGowan
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