The nuisance imposed by the postponement ashore for 14 one-design classes was understandable, since for many, this regatta - in its 18th year and sailed on Biscayne Bay - plays a critical role in fulfilling Olympic and Paralympic dreams. As the only ISAF Grade 1 regatta in the USA for Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, the Rolex Miami OCR helps determine national and ISAF World Rankings and, for some countries, the actual teams that will attend the 2008 Games in China.
By early afternoon winds hovered around 6 knots and most classes had been sent out or put on standby to go racing, but the Tornados, with a circle several miles down the bay, were told to stay put. Their cancelled racing left Monday's standings intact, with Australia's multiple Tornado World Champion and Darren BUNDOCK and crew Glenn ASHBY leading the 43 boat fleet. The team faces stiff competition from such top players as 2005 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP), currently fourth; two-time Olympic gold medallist Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT), currently sixth; and Athens silver medallists John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA), currently 14th.
The Star class' pool of talent also runs deep, with an even more overwhelming number of World Champions and Olympic medallists competing. At the top of his game - and the scoreboard after one race today in 5-6 knots of wind - was two-time World Champion Fredrik LOOF and crew Anders EKSTROM (SWE). Finishing second today, they soared past current World Champion Hamish PEPPER and crew David GILES (NZL), who were second overall on Monday after two races and fell to 16th when they had to count a 28th place finish. Plummeting and rising are actions typical for this class, where today's lag-behinds may be tomorrow's leaders.
Even though competition is equally world-class in Lasers - Sydney Olympic bronze medallist and reigning World Champion Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) is leading, followed by fellow countryman Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), the runner-up at the 2006 Laser Worlds - there is still enough elbow room for underdogs to learn from top dogs. 'You can't sail anywhere else against competition like this,' said Kyle ROGACHENKO (USA), a teenage college student ranked fourth on the US Sailing Team and currently in 32nd overall. 'This year is definitely tougher because the top 20 world ranked teams are here, but I'm still young and the 2012 Olympics are really my goal.'
|Dan SLATER leads the Finn
fleet after four races
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
Jesse FIELDING (USA), another teen crewing on one of the speedy and wildly exciting 49er skiffs, shares ROGACHENKO's sentiment. 'Competing in this event is like playing on the PGA Tour without having to qualify,' said FIELDING, who is also a member of Disney's Morning Light Team of youngsters being trained for the Transpac Race.
While FIELDING and skipper Mike COE (USA) are humbly fighting for position at the back of the fleet, another US team - comprised of third ranked US Sailing Team members Tim WADLOW and Christopher RAST - rose from second to first overall today after finishing third in their one race on Tuesday. 'We were really fast; we had good upwind boat speed,' said WADLOW, who won two of Monday's three races. Echoing the refrain heard in every class, WADLOW added, 'The competition is incredible. There are 20 boats who can win a race, so it's hard to narrow down who the toughest competition is.'
49er European Champions Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES are in second place overall, just one point behind the series leaders WADLOW and RAST. Right behind them are world #1 crew Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO and Olympic Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xavier FERNANDEZ (ESP).
'We're really happy with today's race,' said the 28 year old MORRISON afterwards. 'It was a bit on the light side after yesterday's champagne racing, but we're pleased with how we adjusted out techniques to cope with the change in conditions.
'But my legs didn't enjoy all the crouching, that's for sure!'
It was a good day for the British sailors in the light winds as windsurfer Bryony SHAW, Athens 470 silver medallists Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD, and 2.4 Metre Paralympic sailor Megan PASCOE currently top their respective results tables. British Sonar crew Dan PARSONS, Tom PYGALL and Guy DRAPER - tuning partners to Skandia Team GBR's Paralympic campaigners John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS - lead their team mates by one point at the top of the Sonar leaderboard.
PASCOE and her 2.4 Metre compatriot and world silver medallist Helena LUCAS occupy the top two positions in the 2.4 Metre results table, with LUCAS describing Tuesday as 'tricky - a real head out of the boat day'.
|David COOK and Brenda
HOPKIN hold pole
position in the SKUD18
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
SHAW took at step toward the defence of the RS:X women's crown from the 2006 event thanks to a fourth from the windsurfing fleet's only race of the day, while an 11th in the sole 470 men's race was enough for ROGERS and GLANFIELD to hold on to the top spot, ahead of Gustavo MARTINEZ and Dimas WOOD (ESP).
In the Paralympic Two-Person Keelboat SKUD18, David COOK and Brenda HOPKIN (CAN) lead on ten points after five races, two points ahead of Karen MITCHELL and JP CREIGNOU (USA).
Dan SLATER (NZL) leads the Finn fleet over Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) after third and second places in the two light wind races. The Kiwis also sailed well in the Laser Radial, with Miranda POWRIE (NZL) and Jo ALEH (NZL) taking bullets in the blue and yellow fleets. World Sailor of the Year RAILEY posted a sixth place to move into a tie for the lead with Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTU). Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX) is one point behind in third place.
2005 and 2006 World Champions Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) held onto their lead in the Women's 470 after posting scores of 8,5, whilst Silja LEHTINEN, Maria KLEMETZ and Livia VARESMAA (FIN) moved top in the Yngling after going 2,1 for the day. In the Men's RS:X fleet, Byron KOKKALANIS (GRE) moved into first place, one point ahead of Ivan PASTOR (ESP).
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.