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27 January 2007, 11:09 am
Down To The Wire
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Rolex Miami OCR 2007
Miami, Florida, USA

It is down to the wire at US SAILING's ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR, where 855 competitors from 49 countries have completed the five-day fleet racing portion of the competition. The top ten from the overall standings in each of 14 Olympic and Paralympic Classes are now preparing for the Medal Races.
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Following the new Olympic format, one Medal Race for each class will be fired off in rapid succession. Two race circles - pared down from the eight used in fleet racing - will be utilized simultaneously to accommodate the races, which will take approximately a 30 minutes to complete. Points for finish positions in the Medal Race will be doubled before they are added to overall scores for the series.

'Because the scores, in effect, count as two races in a sailor's series, the pressure is really on,' said US Sailing Team Head Coach Gary BODIE. 'In addition, the Medal Race must be counted and cannot be discarded.'

Yngling Shootout

Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser Radial
Men's 470
Women's 470
2.4 Metre

For Yngling sailors Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA), mathematics will play as much a part in the racing as boat speed and tactics. After Friday's three races, the US team pulled ahead of Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR), but only by two points in overall scoring. The two teams had been tied on points going into the day, and all week they have been nipping at each other's transoms.

If AYTON wins the Medal Race and BARKOW follows in second, they will be tied on points, but AYTON would win the series after tiebreaker rules are applied. Therefore, the do-or-die reality for BARKOW 's team is that they must beat Great Britain, and they must finish no worse than sixth while doing it.

'We're going to go at it with full force,' said BARKOW, whose 2005 World Champion team has been together longer than any other in this class. 'The stakes are high, but it's important to keep a cool head on the water. We're all capable of taking on this kind of pressure and using it to our advantage.'

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Sally BARKOW and her team
will battle the Brits in the
Medal Race
© Walter Cooper/Rolex

BARKOW added that her team also has to watch the third place Finnish team of Silja LEHTINEN, Maria KLEMETZ and Livia VARESMAA. 'It's hard to keep tabs on one boat, let alone two, so we have to take that into consideration when weighing the risks,' said BARKOW.

Close Fight In The Finn

Norway's Per MOBERG, the leader in the Finn class, will be equally challenged to keep his eye on fellow Nordic competitors who are just a point and two points away: World Champion Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), in second, and Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED), in third.

HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN, who led the 49 boat fleet after Thursday's racing, said it was, 'Very tricky, very shifty' during the day's two races. 'The first race was looking good before a big left shift. I fell into the deep teens, but then I fought back to fourth.' HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN's second race, a 12th place finish, became his throwout.

'It will be head-to-head racing, of course, tomorrow,' said HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN. 'We will be fighting for this.'

One team that has it a bit easier is Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE) in the Star fleet. They are not untouchable, but there are 16 points between them and the second place Afonso DOMINGOS and Bernardo SANTOS (POR). 'We are starting to come together,' said LOOF about his Olympic campaign.

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seized the lead of the 49er fleet
© Dan Nerney/Rolex

American Contenders

Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING (USA) are in third place in the Women's 470 fleet, behind World Champions Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED), who have an 11 point advantage over second place Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA).

In the 49er, Athens Olympian Tim WADLOW and his crew Christopher RAST (USA) are in second place, only one point ahead of Morgan LARSON and Pete SPAULDING (USA) in third. Consistent scoring in the day's shifty conditions saw Olympic Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) seize a six point lead going into the Medal Race.

In the Men's RS:X fleet, Przeymslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) was again a cut above, stretching his lead to 23 points to guarantee himself victory and add to the win he secured at the ISAF Grade C1 RS:X North Americans in Miami earlier in the month. João RODRIGUES (POR) and world #1 Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) will battle to decide the silver medal in the Medal Race.

Like MIARCZYNSKI, Sari MULTALA (FIN) also takes an unbeatable lead into the Medal Race. The Finnish star went 4,2,1 in Friday's three races and moved into a 21 point lead after her closest challenger Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU) went OCS in the final race.

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Tom SLINGSBY leads by
one point in the Laser
© Dan Nerney/Rolex

Things are much tighter in the Laser, where Tom SLINGSBY's (AUS) lead evaporated after he was DNC in Friday's final race. Gustavo LIMA (POR) is now just a point behind the Australian, with World Champion Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) also waiting in the wings.

Brits Looking Good

Eight Skandia Team GBR crews are in medal-winning positions heading into the final day, with Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) and Bryony SHAW (GBR) consolidating their leads in the Men's 470 and Women's RS:X fleets, and Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN (GBR) moving to the top of the Tornado leaderboard ahead of Australian World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) after Friday's racing.

Athens silver medallists ROGERS and GLANFIELD take a 19 point lead into the final Medal Race, recording 7,20,7 from their three races of the day, and will be joined in the Medal Race, featuring the top ten boats in a double-points scoring final showdown, by team mates and World Champions Nic ASHER and Elliot WILLIS (GBR), currently in eighth place.

SHAW picked up her first race win of the regatta to see her extend her lead to four points over world #2 Marina ALABAU (ESP) in the Women's RS:X class. Tornado sailors MCMILLAN and HOWDEN posted two solid seconds in Biscayne Bay's 12 knot conditions to put them into first place and assured of at least a silver providing they sail a clean race today.

'It feels great to be in this position,' said HOWDEN. 'We have really struggled over the last few regattas for no apparent reason, and it's easy to get your head down. We came here with no real expectations, just wanting to feel like our programme was moving forward again.

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Bryony SHAW takes a four
point lead into the Medal Race
© Dan Nerney/Rolex

'We haven't changed a thing since the Worlds,' he continued. 'I think this just shows how tight and hard this fleet is to compete in consistently at the top which is our short-term goal. Bundy [BUNDOCK] is really good in the Medal Races so we will have to be on top of our game tomorrow.'

In the Men's RS:X fleet, Przeymslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) was again a cut above, stretching his lead to 23 points to guarantee himself victory and add to the win he secured at the ISAF Grade C1 RS:X North Americans in Miami earlier in the month. João RODRIGUES (POR) and world #1 Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) will battle to decide the silver medal in the Medal Race.

Paralympic Classes Decided

While there is still everything to play for in the Olympic disciplines, there was a dramatic conclusion to the regatta for Sonar sailors John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS (GBR). With no Medal Races scheduled for the three Paralympic Classes, Friday's final fleet races determined the overall regatta winners. ROBERTSON, STODEL and THOMAS were overnight leaders in the Sonar class, but were left under pressure from their team mates and training partners Dan PARSONS, Tom PYGALL and Guy DRAPER (GBR) heading into the final race.

In an attempt to aggressively match race PARSONS' team out of contention in the last race, the two-time IFDS World Champions ROBERTSON, STODEL and THOMAS inadvertently broke Rule 22, which prohibits a boat from altering its course to interfere with another boat sailing a different leg. On learning of their mistake, ROBERTSON's team confessed to the jury and were subsequently disqualified from the two races of the final day. They finished the regatta with bronze, after starting the day in the gold medal position.

'The guys have never been in the situation before where they've had to win a race through any other means than just sailing as fast as they can,' said Skandia Team GBR Sonar coach Mark RUSHALL. 'It was a training regatta for them here, so learning was the most important thing for the team - they've certainly learnt a lot!'

Megan PASCOE (GBR) and Helena LUCAS (GBR) secured silver and bronze medals respectively in the 2.4 Metre Paralympic class, behind able-bodied sailor and five-time Open World Champion Stellan BERLIN (SWE). For 20 year old PASCOE, it was her best result to date, and 'a brilliant way to start the year'.

Scott WHITMAN and Julia DORSETT (USA) held on to first to score victory in the SKUD18, ahead of David COOK and Brenda HOPKIN (CAN) and Karen MITCHELL and JP CREIGNOU (USA).

Miami Video Reports

America's Cup Hall of Fame inductee, author and sailing broadcaster Gary JOBSON (USA) will provide a front row seat for spectators around the world with exclusive daily video reports from Miami. NBC will stream the reports as daily web casts on, which will be linked from JOBSON's production will culminate with a wrap up special on the last day of the regatta.

Regatta Headquarters for the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR are at the US Sailing Centre, with classes hosted by other area sailing organizations and parks, which include: Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Miami Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Shake-A-Leg Miami, and Crandon Park Marina. The City of Miami and the Miami Dade Sports Commission also support the event.

In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by all the partners that support the US Sailing Team: Nautica, Vanguard Sailboats, Zodiac, Gill, Harken, Sperry Top-Sider, Nikon, New England Ropes, Extrasport, and McLube. Rolex is also a sponsor of the US Sailing Team. The City of Miami has partnered with regatta organizers this year to help with the expansion of the sailing venues.

The Rolex Miami OCR will be included in the first running of the ISAF World Cup© series for the Olympic Classes. For more on the ISAF World Cup© CLICK HERE.

For a complete list of all the news about the Rolex Miami OCR 2007 CLICK HERE.
Marni Lane/Lindsey Bell (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON go into a Medal Race shootout today:© Walter Cooper/Rolex
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