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31 January 2004, 11:52 am
Breathless Final Day
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Paul Goodison © Rolex

Rolex Miami OCR
Miami, Florida

To 503 sailors competing in the regatta's 11 Olympic and Paralympic classes, no wind on Biscayne Bay resulted in the cancellation of all racing.
The previous day's results, therefore, have determined class champions and left those who were within striking distance of the leaders disappointed. The regatta winners, most with sights set on competing in the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens, counted their performances here as critical, since this is one of North America's largest ISAF Grade One ranking events. The 323-boat fleet, flush with world champions, Olympic medallists and America's Cup veterans, represented 39 nations.

Star - Winning the regatta's Golden Torch Award for the best performance by a U.S. team was the winning Star duo of Mark REYNOLDS and Steve ERICKSON. Both Olympic medallists and Star World champions, Reynolds and Erickson topped a formidable fleet of 58 boats, but were going into today's racing cautiously. Only seven points separated them from Australia's Colin BEASHEL and David GILES, who today were ready to pounce on their U.S. adversaries. Beashel and Giles, too, are world champions and Olympic medallists--honours which, though impressive on their own, were merely common denominators in this extraordinary star-studded fleet. The Golden Torch Award is an actual Olympic Torch from the boycotted 1980 Olympics presented by the Russian Olympic Committee to US SAILING's Olympic Sailing Committee.

Tornado - Puerto Rico's Olympic representatives Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ made an impressive showing, topping 29 entries in the Tornado fleet, including Austria's Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER, who finished second, only three points behind the leaders. Hagara is the 2000 Olympic Bronze Medallist. Lars GUCK and Jonathan Farrar, in fifth-place overall, were the top American finishers.

Laser - Florida's Mark MENDELBLATT (St. Petersburg), who has secured a berth on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team, finished second out of 63 boats in the Laser class. He was a defending champion at this event, having beaten Great Britain's Paul GOODISON by one point last year. This year, Goodison topped the scoreboard, putting a seven-point lead on Mendelblatt. On the first day of racing, a squall ripped through the fleet and Goodison capsized, setting him off to a rough start for the regatta. "At that point, It was just about me getting results instead of watching anybody else," said Goodison, who will compete in his country's Olympic Trials in April.

Europe ˆ Successful defending champion Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE) led from early on to win in the 20-boat Europe class. Following in second, just six points back, was Meg GAILLARD (USA) who is a lead contender for a berth on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team.

Finn - The 1996 Finn Olympic Gold Medallist Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) put 12 points on his closest competitor to win the 35-boat Finn class. Denmark's Jonas Hoegh CHRISTENSEN, who led the regatta until yesterday, was going to be most concerned about who was behind him in scoring if he raced today--the shadow of two U.S. competitors loomed ominously. In the end, Geoff EWENSON (USA) had to settle for third, only two points behind Christensen, with Kevin HALL taking fourth, a further two points back. Both Ewenson and Hall are preparing for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in this class in February, while Kusznierewicz and Hoegh Christensen are heading into their respective nation's Trials.

49er - Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding (USA), also preparing for their U.S. Olympic Team Trials, topped the scoreboard in the 49er class, beating out Switzerland's Chris Rast and Christian Steiger who finished 16 points back in second overall. Another U.S. team going for the Olympics, Andy MACK and Adam LOWRY, finished third overall.

470 - The winners in the 470 Men's class, Mikee ANDERSON-MITTERLING and Graham BIEHL (USA) had finished second to Paul FOERSTER and Kevin BURNHAM at their Olympic Trials last fall. "It's too bad they weren't here," said Anderson-Mitterling, a young rising star on the circuit. "Since we've had our Trials already, this keeps our feet wet, and it is more about training than winning for us." Germany's Alina GROBE and Vivien KusSatz won the 470 Women's class.

Yngling ˆ The New Zealand team of Sharon FERRIS, Kylie JAMESON and Joanna WHITE topped the 17-boat Yngling fleet at the conclusion of nine races. Only five points behind were the 2003 Yngling World Champions Hannah SWETT, Joan TOUCHETTE, and Melissa PURDY.

2.4 Metre and Sonar - In Paralympic action, Udo HESSELS of The Netherlands finished only one point ahead of the Canadian team of Brian MACKIE, Brian MACDONALD and Paul TINGLEY in the 14-boat Sonar fleet that included several foreign teams hoping to qualify to compete in Athens next summer. Rick DOER, Peter WILSON and Mike ROSS finished third overall. In 2.4 Metres, Jeff MADRIGALI an able-bodied sailor and the 1996 Soling Olympic Bronze Medallist, beat out Sweden's Stellan BERLIN, a world champion. Madrigali and Berlin have been coaching and training with the USA's representative to the 2004 Paralympics in this class, Tom BROWN. Brown, winner of the bronze medal at the 2000 Paralympics, finished fifth overall.

Mistral - Antonia FREY of Greece, a wave and freestyle world champion in windsurfing who has only recently taken up racing, topped the Mistral Women's fleet while Joao RODRIGUES of Portugal won the Mistral Men's class.

U.S. Trials

Sailors from six of the competing classes at the 2004 Rolex Miami OCR will remain nearby to prepare for their upcoming U.S. Olympic Team Trials. From February 12-22, the Lauderdale Yacht Club will host the Europe and Finn; Key Biscayne Yacht Club will host the 49er and Yngling; and Miami Yacht Club the Tornado Trials. The Star class will have their Trials from March 18-28 at Coral Reef Yacht Club and the U.S. Sailing Center.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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