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30 January 2008, 11:09 am
SCANDONE Shines At Miami OCR
Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER
Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER had another perfect day in the SKUD18

Rolex Miami OCR 2008
Miami, Florida, USA

After postponements due to light wind, competitors basked in sunshine and steadily increasing breezes on Biscayne Bay, completing day two of US SAILING's ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR.
Ynglings, Lasers and 2.4 Metres have now completed five races, while the Laser Radials, Stars, SKUD18s and Sonars have each completed four. The regatta, as important for establishing a sailor's ISAF World Sailing Ranking as it is for providing a warm-weather elite training option for Europeans, has this year attracted dozens of teams selected by their countries for the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions, set for August and September, respectively, in Qingdao, China.

One of those teams is Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER (USA), the USA's Paralympic representatives in the SKUD18 class and the only ones at this regatta with a perfect score. With four points overall, they are eight points ahead of fellow US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members Scott WHITMAN and Julia DORSETT (USA). The duo has turned in significant margins of victory in the 10-boat fleet, including a 2 minute lead at the finish of race 1 today.

"So far so good," said SCANDONE, who has perhaps the most SKUD18 sailing experience of all competitors here. "We're going real well and playing the shifts correctly; our extra time in the boat has paid off."

The SKUD18, because it is built in Indonesia and did not have an established class before it was chosen to make its Paralympic debut in 2008, has been difficult for teams to acquire. US SAILING bought the first handful built, and SCANDONE bought his own only after the progression of his ALS (Lou Gehrig's) disease, diagnosed in 2002, made it impossible to sail his initial Paralympic boat of choice, the 2.4 Metre.

"You have to be rated a 'one' (the highest level of disability) to skipper the SKUD18," said SCANDONE, who was rated a 'three' when he was named US SAILING's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2005 for his 2.4 Metre prowess. "Four years ago at this regatta, I was a 'six' [seven being the lowest level]."

While many Paralympic athletes here began sailing after they became disabled, SCANDONE's experience goes back to his childhood and continued through college where he was an ICSA All-American - a history that sailors think will bode well for him at the Paralympic Games.

"It's all about China," said SCANDONE, "making sure I'm healthy enough to attend." After dealing with more immediate adversity just before the regatta - SCANDONE's father-in-law died and MCKINNON-TUCKER's two-year-old son underwent brain surgery - SCANDONE says it has also been about putting those distractions, however sad and difficult, aside: "Stay in our game; do our best to bring home the gold."

According to skipper Paul CALLAHAN (USA), who currently sits in seventh in the Sonar class where Germany's Jens KROKER leads, "Today's gently oscillating seabreeze proved to be more challenging as the day went on. As for the competition here, it's deadly if you make a mistake."

Twenty-eight Yngling crews are competing this week in Miami, in a dry run for the Yngling Worlds, scheduled to start on the same waters on 8 February. Defending World Champions and world #1 crew Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) hold the lead after the opening five races with 6,6,1,23,1 scores. The Russian team of Ekaterina SKUDINA (RUS) are second overall, just three points behind.

In the Laser Radial fleet, Paige RAILEY (USA) had a great day with two bullets lifting her above Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) in the overall standings. These two skippers are already stretching away from the rest of the fleet, with Penny CLARK (GBR) a distant third on 23 points, 16 off the lead. Amongst the Laser fleet, Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL) held on to his overall lead with 6,4,2 scores.

There is more of the same, weather- and competition-wise, in store for tomorrow when fleet racing resumes. It continues through Friday for all classes, with the top-ten from each Olympic Class staying on for Medal Races on Saturday.

Star Report

by Lynn Fitzpatrick

Rick MERRIMAN and Brian SHARP (USA) have taken the overall lead after a strong performance today in the 66-boat Star fleet.

The US pair had started the regatta with a bullet and had a fourth place finish in Monday's second race to trail the regatta leaders, Marazzi and de Maria (SUI), by one point going into the second day of racing.

During Tuesday's first Star race, MERRIMAN and SHARP committed to the right early and crossed the fleet one third of the way up the first beat. They sailed most of the beat starboard tack and only needed to take a short hitch onto port to lead the fleet around the first mark, down the run and up much of the second beat. Eivind MELLEBY and Petter Morland PEDERSEN (NOR) snuck out in front of them in a 10-degree left shift up at the top of the second beat.

As the breeze came on and veered further right, MERRIMAN and SHARP benefited again in Tuesday's second race and for the second time in the regatta, took the gun as they crossed the finish line. It has been an impressive performance so far from MERRIMAN, whose mother died on Sunday before racing started.

Never far behind MERRIMAN and SHARP throughout the day were the Norwegians. MELLEBY and PEDERSEN posted a fifth in the second race and are sitting in second place four points ahead of Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL), who have a total of 18 points. The teams at the top were able to hit some 10-15 degree shifts that weren't always righties. The wind started out at 115 degrees and went as far right as 170 degrees as the seabreeze filled throughout the day. Afonso DOMINGOS and Bernardo SANTOS (POR) had a fabulous day (they scored a 5,4) that would have been all that much better had they been able to keep their well established first place position in a race that was abandoned early in the day as the wind tried to settle in.

Results - click here
Rolex Miami OCR - www.rolexmiamiocr.org

Barby MacGowan (As Amended By ISAF)
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