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28 January 2006, 07:34 am
Strong Breeze For Finale
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Rolex Miami OCR 2006
Miami, Florida, USA

'One race...double points...must count' that was the last-day mantra for some of the 610 sailors from 40 countries competing in the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR. Yesterday's single race in the nine Olympic classes determined gold, silver and bronze medals for Olympic hopefuls. 18-20 knot winds set the stage for an exciting climax to one of US SAILING's largest Rolex Miami OCRs in the last decade.
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Adding the emphasis on today's finale was the new Olympic format, which stipulates that only the top-ten sailors from each class can participate in the Medal Race. Their non-discardable score from the medal race counts double and is added to their total point score from the series racing.

Three teams had already guaranteed themselves the gold medal following an exceptional performance throughout the championship. Those teams were France's current world champions in the Star class Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA); USA's reigning Yngling world champions Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Deborah Capozzi (USA); and USA's Olympic silver medallists in the Tornado class John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE. The latter two teams also won their final Medal Races for good measure.

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

In the Laser Radial class, USA's Anna TUNNICLIFFE turned in an outstanding performance to clinch the gold medal as well as US SAILING's Golden Torch Award, given to the American sailor deemed to have the best overall performance among all classes. She had ten points on Canada's Jennifer SPALDING going into the final day. 'I had to finish ahead of her or at least within five boats of her to win, and I knew because of the high winds that I had the advantage,' said TUNNICLIFFE. 'At the start, there were some boats over the line early. I wasn't sure if I was one of them, but Jennifer was 'bow out' on me, so I figured if I was, she was, too. In other words, I didn't need to go back if she didn'tI'd still win.' When at the first windward mark TUNNICLIFFE saw a posting that Jennifer was OCS, she knew she had won. Near the end of the race, TUNNICLIFFE capsized. 'I got a little excited and was caught off guard,' she said, adding that at that point it didn't matter that she lost four boats in the process and wound up finishing seventh. TUNNICLIFFE's nemesis, Paige RAILEY (USA) took the silver medal ahead of SPALDING's bronze-medal finish. RAILEY won last month's Laser Radial World Championship (TUNNICLIFFE finished third) and looked to be the favorite at this regatta until Thursday when she, too, was over the starting line early. It was the second in her one-dropout series, which meant she had to claim 48 points. 'That really helped me out,' said TUNNICLIFFE, referring to the fact that, mathematically, RAILEY had no way of winning the regatta, even by virtue of a good finish in the Medal Race, which she won.

TUNNICLIFFE is gunning for the number one spot on the US Sailing Team, and for her, as for all the Olympic classes here, this event was a team qualifier. The next qualifier for her will be the class's upcoming North Americans in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Rafa TRUJILLO clinches it in
the medal race
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
In the Finn Spain's Rafael TRUJILLO said 'I am happy with today.' TRUJILLO went into the Medal Race with only a two-point lead over Canada's Christopher COOK, a formidable contender all week. 'It is a good format, and the race committee did a great job with the distance and timing of the race,' said TRUJILLO. It was a narrow window in which to do his job, but TRUJILLO successfully covered COOK in the 30-minute race over a trapezoid course, finishing fourthjust ahead of COOK'S fifth to clinch the gold medal, while COOK earned the silver.

Great Britain's Paul GOODISON secured the gold in the Medal Race for Lasers by holding off France's Felix PRUVOT who took silver. In the final race, GOODISON finished second to PRUVOT's sixth. 'It was hard, as you start looking at everyone in this small fleet,' said PRUVOT about the 10-boat fleet as compared to the original 89 Lasers he sailed against to get to the finals. 'It is important to beat your other competitors, more than in normal racing.'

After watching Israel's Gideon KLIGER and Udi take the lead on Thursday, the 470 Men's team from Great Britain, Nic ASHER and Elliot WILLIS got to work to get back to the top of the scoreboard. They claimed gold, winning the Medal Race, while France's Benjamin and Romain BONNAUD took the silver with a second and Israel settled for bronze.

'We were anxious to get this race done,' said Asher. 'We weren't sure what it was going to be like, but the conditions helped make it a great event. It was pretty gusty with quite big waves. We were in front of the whole fleet today from the start....'

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Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege
DOUROUX claimed the gold
© Dan Nerney/Rolex
Upsetting the week-long British leaders in the 470 Women's class was the French team of Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX. The duo finished second in the medal race, while the UK's Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARK finished fifth and had to settle for the silver medal. About the new final race format, PETITJEAN said, 'I think we had to do something to make it better and more popular. I think it was a good thing.'

Great Britain's Bryony SHAW came back to knock out overnight leader Marina ALABAU (ESP), in the Neil Pryde RS:X . She finished third to ALABAU'S fourth, which handed her the gold and ALABAU the silver.

Great Britain's Nick DEMPSEY the leader since day one in the Neil Pryde RS:X Men's fleet, won the Medal Race to secure his gold medal. He shows an impressive eight first-place finishes in his 10-race lineup. Taking silver was Nicolas HUGUET (FRA).

Yesterdays leaders in the 49er class, Italy's Piero and Gianfranco SIBELLO finished second in today's Medal Race to clinch the gold medal over Great Britain's Olympic bronze medalists Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS. DRAPER and HISCOCKS had dominated the week until the Italian team took over.

Also included in racing here was the Sonar, one of the three classes chosen for the 2008 Paralympic Games, which have not adopted the new Olympic format. In that class, standings from Thursday determined class medallists when sailing had to be cancelled due to the high winds. David SCHROEDER, Keith BURHANS and Bill MAUK won the gold medal, with Rick DOERR, Ezra CULVER and Mike ROSS (USA) finishing two points behind with a silver medal

US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR is an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Grade 1 event, a designation that indicates its importance in world rankings. It also is a qualifying event for the members of the 2006 US Sailing Team and a country qualifier for the 2007 Pan Am Games.

In addition to Rolex, sponsors for US SAILING's 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. Tonight's shoreside activities for competitors feature a special dinner sponsored by Nautica.

Headquarters for US SAILING's 2006 Rolex Miami OCR are at the US Sailing Center, with classes hosted by the US Sailing Center; 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.
Barby MACGOWAN (As Amended By ISAF). Image, John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE gold in the Tornado :© Dan NERNEY/Rolex
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