With six days of competition due to begin next Monday, organizers for US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR are making final preparations for hosting 436 sailors from 41 countries on Biscayne Bay.
A majority of the athletes are Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, drawn by a track record of world-class racing and, this year, the promise of something more: the event is not only celebrating its 20th anniversary but it is also the second stop of seven in the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup
, in which cumulative points will determine World Cup champions in each of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic events.
This is a record turnout for a year that directly follows one in which the Olympic and Paralympic Games were held. Some 323 boats have registered, which is 100-plus more than 2005 (217 boats) and more than double 2001's numbers (155 boats). In addition, 436 sailors have registered from 41 countries, compared with 25 in 2005 and 14 in 2001.
"We're honoured to be a part of ISAF's new Sailing World Cup,"
said US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR Organiser Gary BODIE, "and considering this is the beginning of an Olympic and Paralympic quad, we're excited about the huge participation."
The 10 Olympic classes competing at US SAILING's 2009 Rolex Miami OCR are: Laser Radial, Laser, Finn, Men's RS:X, Women's RS:X, 49er, Men's 470, Women's 470, and Star, with the SB3 Laser replacing the Elliott 6m only at this regatta (for the new women's match racing discipline). The three Paralympic classes are: 2.4mR, SKUD18 and Sonar.
The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 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.
US SAILING's 2009 Rolex Miami OCR is also the only ranking regatta for American athletes who aspire to make the 2009 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. Based solely on the results at this regatta, US SAILING will recognize the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class.
The Line Up
Among the American stars competing are Laser Radial Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE
, who was just named US SAILING's 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and US SAILING's 2008 SportsWoman of the Year for her outstanding achievement and performance in 2008, and fellow US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member Zach RAILEY
, who won a silver medal in the Finn class at the 2008 Olympic Games in China and was named US SAILING's 2008 SportsMan of the Year.
TUNNICLIFFE's main rival may very well be RAILEY's sister, 2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Paige RAILEY
, with whom she has been training in Florida, while Zach will be watching out for fellow 2008 Olympians and training partners Chris COOK
(CAN) and Rafa TRUJILLO
Other Beijing medallists competing are Paul TINGLEY
(CAN), Damien SEGUIN
(FRA), and John RUF
(USA), who took gold, silver and bronze, respectively, at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition in the 2.4mR class. In the SKUD18 class, the 2008 Paralympic bronze medallist skipper John MCROBERTS
(CAN) and his new crew, Brenda HOPKIN
(CAN), will compete. 2008 Paralympic gold medallist Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER
(USA) will join Paralympic teammate Rick DOERR
(USA) and newcomer Hugh FREUND
(USA) in the three-person Sonar.
2008 Olympians and Sail Melbourne silver medallists Stuart MCNAY
and Graham BIEHL
(USA) are expected to stand out in the Men's 470 class, while US SAILING's 2006 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud SMITH, sailing with crew Brad BALMERT (USA) will look to shake up the competition in the hotly-contested Star class.
Additional 2008 Olympians will take to the Men's RS:X course, including silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS
(FRA), King Yin CHAN
(HKG) and Ben BARGER
(USA). In Women's Match Racing, top match racer Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN
(DEN), will compete against the likes of Giulia CONTI
(ITA), who #1-ranked Women's 470 sailor in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings
, and 2008 Olympian Debbie CAPOZZI
(USA), who has recruited Jackie SCHMITZ
and Emily HILL
In the Star class, Andrew CAMPBELL
(USA), sailing with Brad NICHOL
(USA), is another Olympian who has switched classes for this event. CAMPBELL represented the USA in the Laser class at the 2008 Olympic Games.
A complete and final roster can be viewed at www.rolexmiamiocr.org, where regatta results, photos and updates will be posted daily once racing begins. Video highlights, produced by T2P.tv, will air Thursday through Saturday and can also be viewed at the event website.
Regatta Headquarters are located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training centre, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Florida. Event organisers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Clubs, Coconut Grove Sailing Club and Shake-a-Leg-Miami. These sailing organisations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as a mid-week dinner hosted by Nautica. In addition, the University of Miami's Sports Medicine Centre will provide on-site medical care during the event.
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.