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27 January 2009, 09:44 am
First Day At Rolex Miami OCR A Beautiful Keeper
Canadians Billy GOODERHAM and Ian HOGAN compete in the 49er
Canadians Billy GOODERHAM and Ian HOGAN compete in the 49er on a beautiful opening day in Miami

Rolex Miami OCR 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

The skyline of Miami sparkled in the background as US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, the second round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, kicked off on Wednesday in perfect 8-12 knot breezes.
The venue of Biscayne Bay is "one of the finest for sailing in North America," said US SAILING's Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Dean BRENNER. The distinction is apropos, especially considering that this regatta is the second and only US stop for the ISAF Sailing World Cup, which moves to seven different countries for as many of its "circuit" events. The Rolex Miami OCR's solid 20-year track record also has figured in to attracting this year's fleet of 444 sailors from 41 countries who consider this their first milestone competition in a four-year cycle, one that culminates in July 2012 with the Olympic Games and August 2012 with the Paralympic Games.

"Not only does the Bay provide good breezes and protected water but also there's enough space for running six racing circles and 13 events simultaneously," added BRENNER. The 10 Olympic event 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, Star, and Women's Match Racing in the Laser SB3. The three Paralympic event are: 2.4mR, SKUD18 and Sonar.

Though being at the top of the leaderboard is always important, few would call Wednesday's results all-telling with still four days of fleet racing to go and a Medal Race on Saturday for the top-ten in the Olympic event. "Today just helped me to see who is going to be consistent," said USA's Mark LEBLANC, who is facing a daunting fleet of 20 in the 2.4mR class and thinks consistency is going to be what wins in the end. After three races today, LEBLANC posted a 7,7,6 for sixth place, while three Canadians (Allan LEIBEL, Paul TINGLEY, Bruce MILLAR, the latter two of whom are Paralympic medallists), filled the top-three positions in overall scoring. "I know that with this fleet, I can't afford to make mistakes," said LE BLANC, noting that other medallists in the fleet include the USA's John RUF, currently in fourth, and France's Damien SEGUIN, in tenth.

U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Coach Betsy ALISON says the ISAF Sailing World Cup has the potential to increase participation in Paralympic sailing worldwide. "We are excited that ISAF has included us; as the quad ramps up, we'll get more competitors," she said, noting that the USA teams of Paul CALLAHAN, Roger CLEWORTH and Tom BROWN and Scott WHITMAN and Julia DORSETT are currently leading in the additional two Paralympic event (Sonar and SKUD18, respectively), each with two first-place "bullets".

Another fleet that completed three races today was the 49er, in which the top three positions were filled by three different countries: Austria (Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH), Great Britain (John PINK and Rich PEACOCK) and Canada (Bill GOODERHAM and Ian HOGAN). The feisty two-man skiffs sailed closest to the shore, skipping along with crew members hanging out over the water on trapezes.

Another class that uses trapezes for crew leverage is the 470, for which there are both men's and women's fleets in the Olympic Games. Allison JOLLY (USA), the first-ever gold medallist for her class when the Women's 470 event was introduced at the 1988 Games, says the "fun" of the boat is what keeps her in the class and coming back to the Rolex Miami OCR. She has recruited as her crew the 19-year-old Darby SMITH (USA), daughter of Jud SMITH (USA), who was named US SAILING's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2007 and is skippering in the Star class here. "I just love the boats," she said, "and it's great to have a crew that is so excited about sailing in it, too." JOLLY laughed when asked about her youth in comparison to SMITH's college age: "I'm old enough to sail in masters, let's just say that."

JOLLY sits in eighth out of ten while U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING (USA) hold the lead after posting a 1,2 today. In the men's fleet, fellow team members Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL (USA) are leading, with a 3,1 from today.

In Women's Match Racing, a new Olympic discipline for 2012, the 12-team fleet is sailing a double round-robin which means they will complete 132 total races over the course of the regatta, if weather permits. Wednesday's solid breezes allowed for a total of 35 one-on-one matches. In the end, it was the USA's Debbie CAPOZZI, Jackie SCHMITZ and Emily HILL who posted the most points (six - one from each of the six races they won; they lost zero).

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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