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31 January 2009, 11:57 pm
Medal Races Determine Champions And ISAF Sailing World Cup Medallists At Rolex Miami OCR
Anna TUNNICLIFFE in action at Miami
Anna TUNNICLIFFE added victory in Miami at her earlier World Cup success at Melbourne

Rolex Miami OCR 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

The USA led the way winning nine ISAF Sailing World Cup medals on an action-packed final day at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR.
It's not often in a sailing regatta that a single 30-minute race decides the outcome, but that's exactly what happened on the last day of competition for US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, serving as the second of seven stops in the 2008-2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup series. The event, which began on Monday, hosted 444 sailors from 41 countries racing in the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic event, with nine of those Olympic fleets participating in today's spectacular finale in which top-ten sailors, determined from scores after five days of fleet racing, competed in Medal Races that counted double for points and could not be used as throw-outs. (Paralympic and Women's Match Racing medals were determined yesterday, according to schedule - read the full story here.)

As at Sail Melbourne last month, it was the host nation who led the way, with the US team claiming nine medals in total, two of them gold. The teams from Spain, Great Britain and Denmark will also leave Miami well satisfied with their efforts, having picked up two gold medals each. View Medal Tables from Miami by clicking here.

Laser Radial

The top battle in the 41-boat Laser Radial fleet was between long-time U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) and Paige RAILEY (USA). TUNNICLIFFE, a gold medallist from Qingdao who has been named US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, finished third today to RAILEY's fourth, leaving RAILEY the silver medal.

"Paige had a good start," said TUNNICLIFFE, with a nod to the 15-18 knot winds. "My plan was to be top-three and at worst be two boats behind her. I had a decent start and was fourth at the top mark with Paige in front of me and the two Danish teams in first and second." TUNNICLIFFE explained that one Danish team fell back and she split at the gates with RAILEY. "That put me ahead of Paige, so I just covered her from there."

TUNNICLIFFE also won the first round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup at Sail Melbourne. Thanks to victory again at Miami, she now sits atop of the World Cup Standings on a perfect 40 point score (points are awarded to the top 20 finishers at ISAF Sailing World Cup events - 20 points for first, 19 for second, down to 1 points for 20th).

About this event being part of the inaugural ISAF Sailing'World Cup, TUNNICLIFFE said: "There's a bit more pressure to perform. It was a nice way to start the quadrennium."

Laser

In the 63-boat Laser class, the largest here, Nick THOMPSON (GBR) had to keep Pavlos KONTIDES (CYP) at bay today to win the gold.

"First I pinned him to the left and then I pinned him on the right," said THOMPSON about his tactics on two different upwind legs, which left KONTIDES to settle for silver. "It was good fun, very shifty," said THOMPSON, "but I wasn't really playing shifts; I was spending so much time looking behind me."

Another one he loosely covered was Brad FUNK (USA), who took bronze and is now on the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. "Brad had to beat me or finish within four boats, but I had more of a speed edge on him," said THOMPSON.

Star

"We didn't necessarily expect to win the gold today but thought we had as good a chance as anybody," said the USA's Phil TRINTER after he and skipper Rick MERRIMAN turned in a performance that secured their spot at the top of the 31-boat Star fleet and the podium. TRINTER, an Olympian in this class, described a disappointing start where being "the pickle in the middle" could only go from bad to worse. "By the time the dust settled," he said, "we were ninth around the first weather mark [of a twice-around windward-leeward course]."

Still in ninth after rounding the bottom mark, the team leveraged a right wind shift when everyone else went left and worked its way back to second at the second weather mark .

"We knew we only needed to be fourth to win, so we sailed the downwind leg conservatively," said TRINTER, explaining that a final race finish of third sufficed for their purposes. The performance also earned the team a spot on the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics 2009, for which this regatta is the only qualifier.

49er

In the 49er class, Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH (AUT) finished sixth today to take the gold, after having lead their 22-boat fleet since racing began.

"It was quite shifty and not the best race for us, but it was good enough," said RESCH. "It would seem that we have to do more with our boat handling; we didn't feel that confident in our jibes, and our teamwork wasn't perfect like it was four months ago when we last sailed together. We were really pleased the competition was so good."

Women's RS:X

In the Women's RS:X class, the 23-board fleet had more than a dozen countries represented, but it was Marina ALABAU (ESP) who took gold, on the strength of a second-place finish today. "It was a little difficult because of the strong wind," said ALABAU. "It is not my wind. But I said before the race, 'I can do it.'"

Like many sailors here, ALABAU, who represented her country at the 2008 Olympic Games, was happy to use this regatta as a kick-off training session for the new quadrennium.

Men's RS:X

In the 34-board Men's RS:X class, where ten different countries populated today's 10 racing spots and Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE (NED) has dominated all week, the Medal Race again showed him favour.

"It was quite a nice breeze with chop as well," he said, explaining that he had to keep his eye most on eventual silver medallist Ivan PASTOR (ESP). "I had to stay close by, but it was not that much of a problem," said VAN RIJSSELBERGE. "I spent quite a lot of preparation with a trainer and a coach before this regatta, so it's good to have confirmation that I'm heading in the right direction."

Finn

There were two primary battles going on in the 30-boat Finn class today: one for gold and one for bronze. In the end it was Ed WRIGHT (GBR) who took the top podium step, edging out yesterday's leader Chris COOK (CAN) by just one point.

"It was light wind all week and then for our medal race it started blowing (18-20 knots)," said WRIGHT, who won today while COOK finished second. "I got a bad shift off the line, and COOK got away and rounded the top mark ahead of me, but I passed him on the downwind leg. He sailed a great regatta; it was good to beat him, but it's a shame for him. The leading five sailors in the fleet have been knocking on the door all week. I came for a winter's worth of training and was pleased to get such good competition with this regatta."

The USA's Finn silver medallist from 2008, Zach RAILEY, secured the bronze, fighting off silver medallist from 2004 Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP).

"It was fun racing; that's what the Medal Race is all about: creating these situations." RAILEY also is now top-ranked on the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.

Women's 470

In the nine-boat 470 Women's class, Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER (DEN) took the gold over silver medallists Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING (USA), who are the current World Champions and now have a spot on the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.

MAXWELL explained that had it not been for a mishap yesterday (they capsized in the last race), things might have been quite different.

"We had a huge lead on the fleet in that race, and we were saying to ourselves 'all we have to do is beat the Danish [which we were doing] and don't flip!,'" said MAXWELL, explaining that had they not, they would have won and simply had to have beaten the Danish in the Medal Race today to take gold. "We knew it was going to be a big breeze in the Medal Race and that would be to our advantage."

As MAXWELL foreshadowed in her story, she and KINSOLVING won today's race while the Danish team finished second, leaving a point spread of four points between them.

Men's 470

In the 18-boat 470 Men's class Onan BARREIROS, with crew Aaron SARMIENTO (ESP) finished fifth in today's Medal Race to maintain their lead at the top of the scoreboard, while Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL (USA), secured the silver with a fourth today.

"Today was more of a conservative plan, because we knew that mathematically it would be easier for the boat behind to pass us than it would be for us to pass the Spanish team, so we decided to protect our silver," explained MCNAY, who as a U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member with BIEHL, is making a big push for the 2012 Olympic Games by planning to compete in all their class's World Cup events as well as European and World championships. "We're beginning to sort things out with the other international teams to see where we stand. We're at a good starting point to see where we can make gains," he said.

Cumulative points tallied from the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 will determine World Cup champions in each of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic classes. The series started with Sail Melbourne (Australia) last December and rounds out with the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia (Palma, Spain) and Semaine Olympique Française (Hyères, France) in April; Delta Lloyd Regatta (Medemblik, The Netherlands) in May; Kieler Woche (Kiel, Germany) in June; and Skandia Sail for Gold (Weymouth, Great Britain) in September.

Regatta results, photos and updates are posted at www.RolexMiamiOCR.org. Video highlights, produced by t2p.tv, can be viewed at the same URL.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-29 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the latest World Cup Standings, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

Barby MacGowan
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