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29 January 2009, 11:59 pm
Getting Ready For The Showdown At Miami
The 470s in action on day four in Miami
The 470s in action on day four in Miami

Rolex Miami OCR 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

It's getting down to the wire at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR with the Medal Race line ups set to be decided on Friday giving the chance to guarantee points towards the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.
Medal winners and points towards the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings (20 points for first overall, 19 for second, down to 1 point for 20th place) will be determined on Friday in the three Paralympic events (Sonar, SKUD18 and 2.4mR) as well as in the Women's Match Racing event. The remaining nine Olympic event also have somewhat of a final hour tomorrow in that cumulative scores for their five days of fleet racing will determine who gets to move on to Saturday's Medal Race. In that race, which will count double for points, it will only be the top ten from each event competing.

View our photo gallery of the best action from Miami here.

Austria Lead 49ers

Even though Austrian 49er sailors Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH have been leading since the regatta's first day, they are still only 10 points ahead of Spain's Federico ALONSO and crew Arturo ALONSO and 13 points ahead of Great Britain's John PINK and Rick PEACOCK.

"After today, Spain is our main concern, because they gained a lot of places yesterday," said RESCH, who is a two-time Olympian with DELLE KARTH. He explained that with 22 aggressive teams sailing these feisty, high-speed skiffs, a rise to the top of the fleet can be as fast as a fall to the bottom of it. "Today it was so patchy that it was always quite tricky; to stay in the wind was difficult. In the first race it was 3-4 knots but the next two races were more perfect, as the breeze was more stable [6-7 knots]."

RESCH added that tomorrow he expects three more races and it is supposed to be a windier day. "In those conditions you can win a lot or lose a lot, and with the Medal Race counting double we have to do our best to have the lowest points going into it."

As the competition intensifies, Paige RAILEY (USA) appears to be finding her best form as she battles with Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE in the Laser Radial fleet. RAILEY and TUNNICLIFFE both scored won win apiece in today's two races, but RAILEY was more consistent and has knocked TUNNCLIFFE off the top of the leaderboard and now holds a one-point overall advantage. Canada's Jennifer SPALDING lies in third place 13 points off RAILEY, and looks unlikely to disrupt the two-way battle for victory.

There was also a change at the top of the Laser fleet, with Cypriot Pavlos KONTIDES, 2007 and 2008 gold medallist at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, swapping places with Nick THOMPSON (GBR). KONTIDES posted consistent 4,4 finishes in today's two races, whilst THOMPSON struggled with 23,5 scores leaving him 11 points off the top spot.

Spain's Men's 470 team of Onan BARREIROS and Aaron SARMIENTO, who finished fifth at the Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao, also hold a double-figure lead (10 points) over their closest rivals. The USA's Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL, lie in second place behind the Spaniards, who will be watching them closely tomorrow.

According to BARREIROS' Coach Jorge ANGULO, the US team came on particularly strong in three races today, finishing 2,1,2 to Spain's 1,2,1. "They might have been concentrating against their other US teams earlier [to position for making the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics], but now they are sailing like they used to sail against us." MCNAY and BIEHL also sailed in the 2008 Olympic Games, so they, like many other teams competing, are not meeting their international counterparts here for the first time.

The battle is even closer in the Women's 470 class between Danish leaders Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER and the USA's Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING, who are the reigning World Champions in their class. Only two points separate the two after three races were completed today.

"We haven't been in the boat since the Worlds," said MAXWELL, noting that KOCH and SOMMER seem to be sailing in every event on the European and World circuit. "We're just here to get back in it and enjoy sailing again. Out first goal was to make the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics but now that we see that this is very attainable, we've transitioned into how we are going to win the event."

Since there are nine boats in the fleet, it is not a do-or-die day tomorrow like it is in other classes; MAXWELL and KINSOLVING will automatically get to sail in Saturday's Medal Race.

"Our strategy against the Danish has been to beat them off the starting line and be aware of where they are at all times. It has been interesting because we have to pick them out among the men's teams, since both fleets stat together but are scored separately. Usually all boats matter; here all boats don't," MAXWELL explained.

Italy's team of Giulia CONTI, Alessandra MARENZI and Alessandra ANGELINI are the leaders in Women's Match Racing going into tomorrow's four-boat semi finals, which will then boil down to a finals match among two boats. In the semis, CONTI's team will sail in a first-to-win-three match series against today's fourth-place finishers, USA's Genevieve TULLOCH, Jennifer Morgan GLASS and Jamie HAINES, while today's second-place finishers, Great Britain's Lucy MACGREGOR, Annie LUSH and Alison MARTIN, sail against the third-place finishers, Denmark's Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN, Tina SCHMIDT and Trine PALLUDAN. The winners advance to the finals to sail for gold and silver medals, while the losers are left to battle it out for bronze in the petit finals.

Along with RAILEY in the Laser Radial, the hosts also lead in the Star fleet thanks to Rick MERRIMAN and Phil TRINTER (USA). The US pairing were 8,1,2 for the day and head a US quintet at the top of the Star leaderboard.

Marina ALABAU (ESP) appears to be back in the grove in the Women's RS:X fleet, with the Spanish windsurfer showing the consistent form that made her one of the stars of the past Olympic cycle. Third and first place put her fives points ahead of Zofia KLEPACKA (POL), with Blanca MANCHON (ESP), winner of round one of the ISAF Sailing World Cup at Sail Melbourne, currently lying in third place. In the men's windsurfer fleet, the battle for the lead took another twist as Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE (NED) reclaimed the top spot from Ivan PASTOR (ESP).

Chris COOK (CAN) had his worst score of the regatta so far, a seventh in today's first Finn race, but bounced back strongly with a first and second place in races eight and nine of the series to retain the overall lead. However, COOK's early slip has allowed Ed WRIGHT (GBR) to close the gap on the lead to just six points. Zach RAILEY, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, is seven points further back in third overall.

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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