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26 January 2005, 09:28 am
Paralympic Sailors Find Paradise
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Rolex Miami OCR 2005
Miami, Florida, USA

Disabled sailing got the spotlight on Biscayne Bay today as the two classes chosen for the 2008 Paralympics-the Sonar and the 2.4 Metre-completed a second day of competition at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR and as Shake-A-Leg Miami, one of the regatta's hosts, announced the launching of TeamPARADISE.
The Rolex Miami OCR, which has returned to Miami for 16 consecutive years, is devoted to preparing disabled and able-bodied sailors for elite-level competition and is the largest Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta in the country. Over 320 sailors, representing 26 countries, are competing through Friday.

Before today's single race in the Sonar class, the British crew that finished sixth at the Paralympics in AthensJohn ROBERTSON, Steve THOMAS and Hannah STODELhad to return to the dock for a mast repair. They accomplished it in time to make a delayed start and maintained their fleet lead from yesterday after winning. The American team of David SCHROEDER, Keith BURHANS and Bradley JOHNSON (Miami, Fla./Rochester, N.Y./ Hollywood, Fla.), currently in second after finishing second to the Brits today, welcomed the chance to sail against their closest competition. 'They've worked together five years and are well-oiled,' said Burhans. 'All of us others are just putting together our teams.' Burhans, a Paralympian from 2000 who coached the Greek sonar team in Athens and calls tactics on the boat, explained that he and Schroeder have sailed only two other times together and Johnson, who won a bronze medal for the USA in 2004 as crew in the Sonar, was a new teammate for them both. 'All things considered,' said Burhans, 'we're highly pleased with the level of our sailing.'

Disabled sailors are given a classification rating-from 1 to 7, most to least disabledbased on their stability, strength and functionality in the boat. A Sonar team can share no more than 14 points in total.

Disabled sailors everywhere got a boost when Shake-A-Leg Miami (SALM) announced this morning its launching of TeamPARADISE and its plan to utilize the talents of acclaimed Olympic medallists and world champions to create an advanced sailboat-racing program dedicated to elite disabled and blind sailors from around the globe. The program, which will be headquartered from the SALM facility near the US Sailing Center in Coconut Grove, gets its lead energy from local Magnus LILJEDAHL, who brought home a gold medal for the USA from the 2000 Olympics sailing a Star.

According to Liljedahl: 'Some of the really promising disabled sailors don't get the opportunity for input from able-bodied sailors, and their learning curve is flat. World-class sailors such as Freddy LÖÖF (Sweden), Augie DIAZ and Kevin BURNHAM (both Miami) have committed to spending time with the program and acting as ambassadors globally.'

In the 2.4 Metre class, Sweden's Stellan BERLIN is leading, with Canada's Allan LEIBEL in second.

Other Action

All but two of the 11 Rolex Miami OCR classes were deprived of at least one of their scheduled races due to a dying afternoon breeze and the 49er class did not race at all. Across the board, there were no lead changes from day one.

USA's 2004 Olympic Silver Medallists John LOVELL/Charlie OGLETREE (New Orleans, La./Kemah, Texas) posted two first-place finishes today giving them three victories in four races so far. 'The wind was shifty and puffy, but we sailed in the ocean instead of in Biscayne Bay, so it was really great-no motor boat traffic and a ground swell instead of flat water.' Multiple world champion and 2004 Olympians Roland GABLER with crew Gunnar STRUKMANN (DEN) are Lovell and Ogletree's closest competition, trailing by six points.

Turning in a 1-4 today were the 2004 ISAF Women's Match Racing World champions Sally BARKOW (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie HOWE (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Deborah CAPOZZI (Bayport, N.Y.) in Ynglings. 'It's being patient, confident and in the right spot for the setup after the start that is important in this fleet,' said Howe.

Other class leaders: Andrew HORTON and Brad NICHOL (Newport, R.I./Hanover,N.H.) in Stars; Paige RAILEY (Clearwater, Fla.) in Laser Radials; Chris COOK (CAN) in Finn; Morgan LARSON/Pete SPAULDING (Capitola, Calif./Miami Beach, Fla.) in 49ers; Brad FUNK (Belleair Bluffs, Florida) in Lasers; Amanda CLARK/Sarah MERGENTHALER (Shelter Island, N.Y./Matawan, N.J.) in 470 women's; Sven COSTER/Kalle COSTER (NED).

Full results are available on the event website via the link below.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF), Image: © Rolex Miami OCR
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