Racing starts today for the 716 sailors who have signed up for US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR. Staff have been busy over the weekend registering the competitors and measuring sails at the US Sailing Center in Coconut Grove, and with 53 countries represented it is all set up to be an exciting week of racing.
US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Coach Luther Carpenter said, "The fleets are extremely deep with talent. If someone feels like they have a good chance to finish top-four in every race, then that usually means not all of the top players are here; I don't think there is any sailor thinking that way."
The USA has the largest contingent of sailors with 197, while Canada, Great Britain and Italy follow with 97, 39 and 36, respectively. The largest class is Laser with 105 entrants. Laser Radial is the next largest with 58 while Stars are close behind with 57.
The number of world champions and Olympic medallists competing are too numerous to count, and with over 130 national and private coaches registered; it means there will be some serious business going down on the water.
For Torben Grael
(BRA) in the Star, the business is proving that he has what it takes to get to the Olympic Games for a seventh time. The 2009 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year has won five Olympic medals, the highest number won by any individual in sailing.
"This is a [world] ranking event and the sailors are at a good level,"
he said. "It's hard to name one person that we will try to beat, as there are ten or more that could maybe win here."
And it is set to be a family affair for Torben with his brother, Lars Grael
(BRA) skippering in the Star class with Ronald Weifert and his daughter Martine Grael (BRA), aged 20, skippering in the women's 470 class with Isabel Swan
. Among them are current world champions Lisa Westerhof
and Lobke Berkhout
(NED), defending champions Amanda Clark
and Sarah Chin
(USA) and 2008 world champions Erin Maxwell
and Isabelle Kinsolving
(ITA), skipper in the men's 470 event (with Roberto Dubbini
crewing) is already on his national team and says this will be good preparation for his country's Olympic trials in April. "It is my first time to sail in Miami, and we came early to sail in the North Americans here,"
he said. "We finished 15th, which could have been better, and now we will see how we can do here."
However he will have tough competition from favourites Mathew Belcher
and Malcolm Page
(AUS) and Sime Fantela
and Igor Marenic
(CRO), both of whom have world championships to their credit.
Other Olympic classes competing are Finn, men's and women's RS:X, 49er and Elliott 6m. Paralympic sailors will compete in 2.4mR, SKUD18 and Sonar classes.
For fleet racing in the Olympic classes, the regatta the regatta will consist of a five-day opening series (Monday - Friday) and a double-point Medal Race (Saturday). The top ten finishers in the opening series of each class will advance to the Medal Race. For the women's match racing event in the Elliot 6m, which makes its debut in the 2012 Olympic Games, the regatta will consist of an opening series, a knockout series, and a sail-off for boats not advancing to the knockout series.
Competitors in the Paralympic classes will have five days of fleet racing (Monday - Friday) and no Medal Race. Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class on Saturday 29 January.
In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., the 2011 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by AlphaGraphics, Gowrie Group, Chubb Insurance, Sperry Top-Sider, Harken McLube, Trinity Yachts, University of Miami Hospital and Kattack.
A complete list of competitors can be viewed at the event website, http://rmocr.ussailing.org
, where real-time racecourse blogging, commentary and fan interaction, regatta results, photos and news updates will be integrated into a live coverage platform once racing begins.
Video highlights produced by Gary Jobson and presented by Rolex will air daily and are available on-demand on the event website. Fans can also follow the event on http://www.facebook.com/rolexmiamiocr
And keep up-to-date on all the Sailing World Cup regattas here www.sailing.org/worldcup