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23 January 2006, 09:16 am
Big Turnout - Big Stars
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Rolex Miami OCR 2006
Miami, Florida, USA

The 2006 edition of US SAILING's ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR is shaping up as the biggest in a decade, with over 570 sailors from 39 nations registered. The large turnout pays tribute to the event's significance on the world stage of Olympic and Paralympic sailing and Miami's reputation as the perfect winter training ground for world calibre one-design sailors. Racing is due to begin today and continue for five days.
No ALT tag specifiedTwo athletes at the very top of their game are Spain's Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP). The current World Champions in the Tornado, the two were bestowed with the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award in November. 'This is an important ranking regatta for us,' said ECHAVARRI, who with PAZ already sits at the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. 'Of course, we are here, too, because there are many good people attending, and it is very cold now in the north of Spain where we are based.'

The Americans, French and British teams head ECHAVARRI 's list of, 'competitors to watch.' The USA's star players are 2004 Olympic silver medallists John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE, who are also defending champions.

Another current World Champion team is that of USA's defenders in the Yngling, Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA). The trio is perhaps the most formidable on the world circuit, with BARKOW having recently been named US SAILING's 2005 Rolex Yachtswoman Of The Year.

Brits Come In Force

Of the 41 sailors on Great Britain's national sailing team, which calls itself Skandia Team GBR 2008, 30 are sailing in the Rolex Miami OCR. Among the notables is Star entrant Iain PERCY (GBR) who has medalled in the Star Worlds the last four years and took gold at the 2000 Olympics in the Finn class. 49er sailors Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS are number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and won the bronze in Athens. However DRAPER twisted his ankle in training and is 'touch and go' on whether he will make it to the starting line tomorrow.

Britain's gold medal Yngling skipper from Athens, Shirley Robertson, has not shown, but her crew from that event, Sarah AYTON (GBR) and Sarah WEBB (GBR) are entered, forming the nucleus of a new Olympic campaign for that country with Victoria RAWLINSON as crew (AYTON is skipper). 'There will be great interest here as to how they get on - whether the Sarahs have a credible challenge,' said Stephen PARK, the British Sailing Team's Olympic Manager.

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Andy HORTON and Brad
NICHOL form part of a top
class Star line up
© Dan NERNEY/Rolex
Five defending champions come from the USA. They are the 470 Women's team of Amanda CLARK and Sarah MERGENTHALER; 49er sailors Morgan LARSON and Pete SPAULDING; Laser sailor Brad FUNK; Laser Radial sailor Paige RAILEY; and the Star team of Andrew HORTON and Brad NICHOL.

Exciting Star Line Up

While the Laser has the largest fleet at this regatta, the Star fleet, second largest in size, also promises very exciting racing with every Star World Champion since 1999 is competing. Amongst the headliners are the top nine teams on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, including three-time Olympic medallist Mark REYNOLDS sailing with fellow Olympic medalist Hal HAENEL, and current World Champions Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA).

'It's an absolutely fabulous turnout, both in terms of numbers and quality,' said US Sailing Team Head Coach Gary BODIE. 'The forecast is for good breeze all week - a little lighter on Tuesday, then a cold front coming through after that.'

The competition will be raced in all eleven events selected for the next Olympic Sailing Competition: 49er, 470 (Men and Women), Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, Neil Pryde RS:X (Men and Women), Star, Tornado, and Yngling. Racing will also be held for the Sonar, one of the three events selected for the 2008 Paralympic Games.

The newly selected sailboard Neil Pryde RS:X will replace the Mistral in the 2008 Olympic Games. ''It's considered a hybrid design - wider and faster with a centerboard that can sail upwind and in lighter winds. I think it'll be an exciting class,'' BODIE said.

The Details

Sailors will begin racing each day at 1000 hours local time out of the US Sailing Centre and various yacht clubs in and around Coconut Grove. Winners in each class will be determined under a new format to be used in 2008. The top ten after four days of racing will compete in a final race that will count double points.

In addition to Rolex, sponsors for the Rolex Miami OCR are Nautica, Extrasport, Gill, Harken, McLube, New England Ropes, Nikon, Sperry Top-Sider, Vanguard Sailboats, Vineyard Vines, and Zodiac. Rolex and Nautica are also sponsors of the US Sailing Teams.

Headquarters for US SAILING's 2006 Rolex Miami OCR are at the US Sailing Centre, with classes hosted by the US Sailing Centre; Coral Reef, Key Biscayne and Miami Yacht Clubs; the Coconut Grove Sailing Club; and Shake-A-Leg-Miami. The event is organized by US SAILING, the national governing body of the sport.

For a complete list of all the news about the Rolex Miami OCR 2006 CLICK HERE.
Marlieke EATON (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from last year's regatta in Miami:© Daniel FORSTER/Rolex
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