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1 February 2008, 09:17 am
Light-Air Shake Up In Miami
Maciej GRABOWSKI
Maciej GRABOWSKI regained the lead in the Laser fleet

Rolex Miami OCR 2008
Miami, Florida, USA

Another light-wind day at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR ensured there was plenty of chopping and changing at the top of the leaderboards.
For another day of light-air races, 369 sailors from 34 countries took to Biscayne Bay for US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, one of the world's most revered ISAF World Sailing Ranking regattas for sailors in Olympic and Paralympic classes. With racing having started on Monday, only one racing day remains before winners can be named in the Paralympic classes for SKUD18, Sonar and 2.4 Metre. As well, Friday's racing will determine the top ten competitors in the Olympic Classes for Laser, Laser Radial, Star and Yngling, who will advance to compete in a single Medal Race on Saturday, replicating the Olympic format that will be followed this August when the Olympic Sailing Competition is held in Qingdao, China.

For Star sailors John DANE and Austin SPERRY (USA), their performance today was all-important in the gold fleet, which was determined yesterday after five races and now is comprised of the top 33 teams, leaving the remaining 33 teams to compete in a consolation silver fleet. DANE and SPERRY, US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics members who will represent the USA in the Olympic Games this year, posted a fourth and 13th in today's races, bringing them up to 12th from 16th overall yesterday and putting them well within striking distance of the top ten.

"We had a good day," said DANE, unperturbed that in the second race they were fifth at the first mark and then lost 15 boats in a wind shift. "If you had a bad start and chose the wrong side today you were dead. You can see how it effected teams such as Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS [(NZL)], who had a 27-24 today [dropping them from fourth to ninth] and before that, they had nothing worse than a seventh. It was somewhat humbling for everyone, but if Austin and I have a day like today again tomorrow, we'll be in the top ten."

Leading the Star fleet now is Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (SUI). With a 2,4 today, they displaced yesterday's leaders Rick MERRIMAN and Brian SHARP (USA), who finished 9,18 today to topple to fifth overall.

While DANE has a fighting chance to experience Saturday's Medal Races, another notable sailor, Greece's Sofia BEKATOROU, has conceded that her current 20th-place position has made that option an impossibility for her in the 28-boat Yngling class. BEKATOROU, a Rolex "testimonee" and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for 2002 and 2004, knows her focus now must be on next week's Yngling World Championships, where that class's last four Olympic qualifying berths will be determined.

When asked to evaluate her performance here, BEKATOROU, Greece's Women's 470 Olympic gold medallist in 2004, answered, "I haven't fully adapted yet to the Yngling style. Tactically, there are things you can do with a 470 [a two-person dinghy] that you can't do with an Yngling [a three-person keelboat]. The boat does not have the privilege of speed that a 470 has, and I'm not fighting with the weapons I used to have, but we have all the potential to qualify our country."

Indeed, fewer unqualified countries are ahead of her in the standings here than are behind her. France's Anne LE HELLEY, Catherine LEPESANT, and Julie GERECHT are currently in 13th while Norway's Siren SUNDBY, Lise Birgitte FREDRIKSEN and Alexandra KOEFOED are in 17th.

Mandy MULDER, Marije FABER and Merel WITTEVEEN (NED) have moved to first place in this class from second on Wednesday, while Sally BARKOW (USA), US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, remains in eighth after Thursday's racing and hopes to hold solid for tomorrow, so she and crew Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI can sail in Saturday's Medal Race, which counts double for scoring purposes and, unlike with the fleet races, cannot be discarded as a worst-race throwout.

In the Laser Radial fleet, the ding-dong battle at the top continued, with Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) getting the edge on her fellow American Paige RAILEY to move into a two-point overall lead. Penny CLARK (GBR) is a distant third overall. The Laser fleet is still very tightly bunched at the front, with just 12 points covering the top five. Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL) had a great day on Thursday to reclaim the top spot ahead of Kyle ROGACHENKO (USA).

In the Paralympic Classes, Athens gold medallist and reigning IFDS World Champion Damien SEGUIN (FRA) leads the 2.4 Metre fleet. Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER (USA) have a near-perfect scorecard to top the SKUD18 standings, whilst the German crew of Jens KROKER, Tobias SCHUETZ and Siegmund MAINKA are dominating the Sonar competition.

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

Barby MacGowan (As Amended By ISAF)
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