In addition to the usual need for tactics and boat speed, a certain level of toughness was required amongst the 855 sailors from 49 nations - even for elite sailors who train full-time in their pursuit of Olympic medals. With gusts up to 25 knots, rain and distinctly cooler temperatures providing a stark contrast to the previous Miami sunshine, the day's conditions were a test of survival skills.
Racers left the dock in a warm, light southwesterly breeze under 5 knots and returned several hours later in a cold, rainy, northwesterly wind. A frontal passage that passed through the course during midday caused the drastic change in conditions, whipping up strong winds that filled from the southwest. The remainder of the day exhibited squally conditions, gusts up to 25 knots out of the north and intermittent rain. 'We had four seasons in one day,' said Sven COSTER, a 470 sailor from the Netherlands. 'It was awesome racing.'
The RS:X windsurfers and 49er skiffs faced particularly challenging conditions as they struggled to stay upright on the course. RS:X sailor Karen MARRIOTT (USA) said she was often pelted in the face with rain and could not see the course, but nonetheless, it was 'a lot of fun.' The strong winds translated into boat speed and excitement, 'That's what windsurfing is all about,' she said.
Przeymslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL), bronze medallist at the 2006 RS:X Worlds, leads the men's fleet after scoring two bullets and a second place in Thursday's three races. World #1 Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) and Samual LAUNAY (FRA) follow MIARCZYNSKI by 11 and 12 points, respectively. Bryony SHAW (GBR), who won the windsurfing fleet at last year's Rolex Miami OCR, leads the women's fleet for the second consecutive day, while Marta HLAVATY (POL) and Marina ALABAU (ESP) lag slightly behind in second and third place.
The RS:X will make its debut in the windsurfing event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Qingdao, China, replacing the Mistral. The first men's windsurfing event debuted at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, USA, utilizing the Lechner II-brand board; the women's event was introduced in 1992. The RS:X is a hybrid board that combines qualities of the traditional raceboard for sub-planing conditions with exciting racing in planing conditions from 8 to 12 knots. The sheer speed of the boards makes it look as if they are flying over the water, barely touching. Because they stand while sailing, boardsailors depend on their upper-body strength and athleticism to support and control their rigs.
|World Champion Jonas
heads the Finn fleet
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
The Stars managed to get in only one race today. The 67 boat fleet had split into gold and silver fleets, which were determined on Wednesday by standings after five races. Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), who won the 2004 Star Worlds together, remain at the top of the scoreboard, where they've been for the last two racing days. 'We are sailing really consistently,' said EKSTROM, noting they are using a fourth-place finish as their allowed discard race. 'We will not do anything differently tomorrow.'
John DANE and son-in-law Austin SPERRY (USA), who led on day one, are now back to third in the overall standings, but the position is hardly secure. Olympic bronze medallists Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) are a mere four points behind them and Olympic silver medallists Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS (CAN) are only six points behind.
'The goal is to stay in the running and win the Medal Race,' said SPERRY, referring to the Olympic format that will be followed here on Saturday, whereby the top ten finishers from the fleet racing portion of the event will sail a final Medal Race, which will be worth double points and determine the gold, silver and bronze medallists in each class.
World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) recovered from an OCS in the day's opening Tornado race with a bullet and a sixth to move into a three point lead ahead of Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN (GBR). In the Finn fleet, World Champion Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) also leads overall, six points ahead of Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) and Peer MOBERG (NOR).
|Tim WADLOW and Chris
RAST lead the 49ers
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
The US Sailing Team's #1 ranked Yngling team of Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA) remains in second place, sharing 27 points with Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR). The British trio picked up a first and a second from the Yngling fleet's two races of the day, bringing them back up to first place after a 6,6,3 in the lighter winds on Wednesday had put them just outside of the medal positions.
'Yesterday we didn't do so well in the 0-5 knot range,' WEBB explained. 'We're optimized for Cascais which is obviously expected to be a lot stronger, so struggled a little bit in the light. But today was really good fun - the strongest wind Pippa has sailed in!'
Day one leader Sari MULTALA (FIN) is back in pole position after 5,2,1 scores in the Laser Radial gold fleet's three races. Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU) moves up into second place ahead of Karin SODERSTROM (SWE), as the former Europe sailors seemingly prospered in the stronger conditions. Overnight leader and world #1 Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) had a tough day, with 6,22,16 scores pushing her down to fourth, 24 points off the lead.
|Nick ROGERS and Joe
GLANFIELD opened up a
big lead in the 470
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) was bang at home in the heavy airs, posting two bullets and a third in the Laser gold fleet to open out a 21 point lead. Despite going OCS in the day's opening race, Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL) moves up to second overall, one point ahead of World Champion Michael BLACKBURN (AUS).
In the SKUD18 class, the team of Scott WHITMAN and Julia DORSETT (USA) hold on to first, ahead of David COOK and Brenda HOPKIN (CAN) and Karen MITCHELL and JP CREIGNOU (USA).
Stellan BERLIN (SWE) continues to lead the 2.4 Metre fleet ahead of Megan PASCOE (GBR) and Helena LUCAS (GBR), whilst 2005 and 2006 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Champions John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS (GBR) have moved into a seven point lead in the Sonar fleet.
The same weather conditions that wreaked havoc on the racecourse today will offer terrific sailing tomorrow. 'The frontal passage this morning made the conditions challenging for the sailors; however, the stronger northerly winds will continue tomorrow, providing a good day of sailing,' said Jennifer LILLY, the forecaster for the US Sailing Team and a meteorologist at Sailing Weather Services, based in Watertown, Massachusetts.
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 www.nbcsports.com, which will be linked from www.rolexmiamiocr.org. 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.