Perfect first-day conditions greeted sailors at US SAILING's ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR, where 369 sailors from 34 countries are competing in four Olympic and three Paralympic classes.
As an ISAF Grade 1 event, the regatta figures into the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and some countries are selecting their 2008 Olympic and Paralympic teams based on results here.
One sailor who doesn't have to worry about whether she'll make it to Qingdao in August is the USA's Olympic representative in the Laser Radial class and US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member Anna TUNNICLIFFE
(USA). After winning the US Olympic Team Trials for Sailing in October, TUNNICLIFFE changed her focus. "I used to have one drive - to win the Trials. Now I have a new drive; it's to win in China."
The Florida sailor today won the second of her class's two races after finishing third in the first. The performance put her in first place overall for the day.
"It was only 7-9 knots, which made for tricky sailing,"
said TUNNICLIFFE, acknowledging that China will have similar wind conditions but with much more chop and swell than Biscayne Bay had to offer today. "It's still early,"
she said about this regatta. "With it being light and fluky, it's still wide open."
In second overall after today's racing was Paige RAILEY
(USA), another Floridian (from Clearwater) whose name seems magnetically drawn to TUNNICLIFFE's whenever they enter the same events. RAILEY swapped out with TUNNICLIFFE to win today's first race and then finished fourth in the second. After she finished behind TUNNICLIFFE in the Trials, she decided to go "back to the basics and have fun with sailing."
She re-set her goals, both long-term (the 2012 Olympics) and short-term (the Laser Radial Worlds in New Zealand this March).
"This regatta is part of my build-up to peak at the Worlds,"
said RAILEY. "It's too early to tell what will happen here. The fleet is completely stacked with good sailors."
Great Britain's Penny CLARK
sits in third overall, having to watch the Americans closely as well as four of her own national team mates who are, like CLARK, still trying to secure for themselves their country's single Olympic Laser Radial spot.
"Whoever goes from our team, there is huge medal potential," said CLARK, "Because of how good everyone is, and we have a strong squad. Come China, we will be a pretty hard force to be reckoned with."
Great Britain sports the third largest competitor contingent here with 15 entries; the USA has 50, while Canada has 33. In the Laser Radial class alone, 11 Canadian women are competing, all with Olympic aspirations for down the line.
"It's individual competition, but we like it when our team mates do well," said Jessica LOMBARD (CAN) of Montreal, who humbly sits in last place while Canadian Lisa ROSS has secured seventh.
In the 23-boat Laser fleet, Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL) tops the overall standings after 2,1 scores on the opening day.
The Star class is the largest with 70 entrants, which each day are split into blue and yellow fleets. After Wednesday, they will be re-designated as gold and silver based on their combined overall scoring and the top ten in the gold fleet at the end of fleet racing on Friday will move on to the Olympic Medal Races on Saturday. The other Olympic classes, as well, will participate in top-ten format Medal Races, while Paralympic winners will be determined by fleet racing standings calculated through Friday.
Amongst the Stars 2006 World Champions Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) hold the early lead, whilst the Chinese team of Xiaqun SONG, Xiaoni LI and Yanli YU lead the Yngling fleet.
Results - click here
Rolex Miami OCR - www.rolexmiamiocr.org