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27 January 2009, 11:44 pm
TUNNICLIFFE On Top Form As Momentum Builds At Miami
The USA's Geoff EWENSON and Skip DIEBALL
The USA's Geoff EWENSON and Skip DIEBALL top the Star class standings

Rolex Miami OCR 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

Beijing Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE showed why she's the world #1 Laser Radial sailor as she seized the lead on the second day of racing at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, round two of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
A brisk morning breeze greeted 444 sailors from 41 countries as they embarked on their second day of competition in US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR. The conditions, combined with Monday's near perfection, has brought early momentum to the event, which is sailed on Biscayne Bay and based at the US Sailing Center, an official Olympic training center in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.

Of the 11 Olympic and three Paralympic events competing at Miami, the Laser Radial fleet features one of the most highly-anticipated battles. Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA), Beijing Olympic gold medallist and winner of round one of the ISAF Sailing World Cup at Sail Melbourne, faces off against her fellow countrywomen Paige RAILEY (USA). At the US trials 18 month ago, the two skippers' battle for Olympic selection came down to the final day, with TUNNICLIFFE prevailing and then going on to win gold in Beijing. Now looking towards London 2012, the two rivals teamed up as training partners for the US training camp preceding the racing in Miami.

TUNNICLIFFE believes the competition between the herself and RAILEY is set to benefit the both of them, "We had some very good sessions, probably some of the best training sessions I've ever had. We were both pretty keen to not lose to the other person, so we worked very hard and had some long runs before one of us got the better of the other. I'm very excited that we're training together and looking forward to where it can take us." After two days in Miami, the US pair are already sending an ominous message to the rest of the Laser Radial fleet as TUNNICLIFFE and RAILEY occupying the top two spots on the leaderboard.

It was TUNNICLIFFE who had the best of the today's exchanges, winning two races and finishing second in the other to top the leaderboard on six points. RAILEY was also going well with a second and a third until she pushed the line a little too aggressively at the start of race five and was scored OCS (premature start). She lies eight points behind TUNNICLIFFE with Canadian Jennifer SPALDING just two points further back in third.

In the Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser fleet, British skipper Nick THOMPSON holds the overall lead after two races wins and then an 18th in today's three races. THOMPSON is closely followed by Cypriot skipper and two-time winner of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Pavlos KONTIDES. Chile's Matias DEL SOLAR, who leads the World Cup Standings after winning the first round at Sail Melbourne, had a very mixed day. He was scored OCS in the first race, did not start the second before bouncing back with a win in the day's final race. He currently lies in 26th overall, outside of the World Cup scoring positions (only the top 20 score points towards the World Cup Standings).

The Stars completed their third and fourth races today, with the USA dominating the top of the leaderboard. "We had several really good downwind legs where we passed a lot boats," said Geoff EWENSON about his and crew Skip DIEBALL's (USA) rise to the top of the scoreboard after two races in Star class on Tuesday, "and Skip did an awesome job calling tactics. He got us out of any tight jams I got us into." The duo finished second in race one and won race two, while Monday's leaders, Switzerland's 2008 Olympian Flavio MARAZZI and crew Petter Morland PEDERSEN (NOR), won the first race, then suffered an OCS in the second race, adding 33 points to their score line and causing them to tumble to eighth overall in the 32-boat fleet.

EWENSON, better known for his prowess in the Finn class, switched to the Star when the boat became available to him for this event. "I had had it in my mind that I'd like to do it, and with the Finn, I was spending too much time seeing a chiropractor; it's a beastly boat and I'm not getting any younger." He was especially pleased about posting a 2,1 today, because DIEBALL's daughter turned three today. "On the way out to the course we said 'wouldn't if be nice to get three points for Mallory'; we were purely joking, but we'll take it," said EWENSON.

Thinking of loved ones was also a part of Scott WHITMAN and Julia DORSETT's (USA) day. The SKUD 18 sailors, who repeated Monday's performance with another two bullets today, are out to "win it for Nick." Nick SCANDONE, the USA's SKUD 18 Paralympic gold medallist from China, recently lost his battle with ALS; WHITMAN and DORSETT had been his and crew Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER's (USA) training partners. (MCKINNON-TUCKER is sailing in the Sonar class with Rick DOERR and Hugh FREUND.)

"Of all the Paralympic teams here, we are the constant," said DORSETT, who explained that, by happenstance, many of the Paralympic skippers here have mix-and-match crews while she and WHITMAN have been sailing solidly together for three years. "It definitely makes a difference in communication, which is so critical to boat handling."

Boat handling was certainly critical today for The Netherlands' Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE in the Men's RS:X fleet. He finished 1,4 to post eight points and maintain his lead from yesterday, while Spain's Ivan PASTOR nips at his heels with nine points. "I have to keep my eye out for everyone," said VAN RIJSSELBERGE, noting that he is pleased with the large turnout here. "It's a big course, and they can come from anywhere." The impressive 34-board fleet is all the more notable in that 19 countries are represented, including Portugal (João RODRIGUES in third) and France (Olympic silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS in sixth), which RIJSSELBERGE sees as additional threats to his throne.

Other sailors who have maintained their leads from yesterday are Chris COOK (CAN) in the Finn fleet; Paul CALLAHAN, Roger CLEWORTH and Tom BROWN (USA) in the Sonar fleet; Allan LEIBEL (CAN) in the 2.4mR fleet; and Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH (AUT) in the 49er fleet.

In the Women's Match Racing event, European Champion Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR) is showing the way with a perfect 11 wins from 11 matches. Two-time Olympian Giulia CONTI (ITA) is also looking strong on a 10-1 record. Spanish pairing Onan BARREIROS and Aaron SARMIENTO have opened up a four point lead at the head of the Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470 fleet. Amongst the women, Denmark's Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER lead reigning World Champions Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING (USA).


Fleet racing continues through until Friday, when Paralympic and Women's Match Racing medallists will be named. The top-ten from the remaining nine Olympic event will move on to a single Medal Race on Saturday.

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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