Light and inconsistent winds across Biscayne Bay frustrated sailors on the fourth day of the Rolex Miami OCR. But racing was eventually completed in nine of the 13 events on display in Miami.
Sailors in the three Paralympic classes have only one day of racing left at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, while those in the ten Olympic events still have today to make critical moves for securing spots in the final Medal Races on Saturday.
The one-on-one pairing in the world's top ranked Elliot 6m teams demonstrated all of the beauty and intrigue of match racing: a delicate dance in the dial-up before the start, aggressive challenges for position and expert boat and sail handling on short legs to the marks, with protests decided instantly by on-water judges.
Though winds were painstakingly light, both the Gold and Repechage groups completed their semi final round-robin matches determining who will meet whom in today's quarter finals.
Topping the Gold group for a #1 seed was Lucy Macgregor, Mary Rook and Kate Macgregor (GBR) with a 4-1 win-loss score. Ekaterina Skudina, Elena Syuzeva and Irina Lotsmanova (RUS) posted the next best score of 3-2.
"We've got a few areas we need to improve on," said Macgregor. "Starting - we could be much stronger, but other than that we're feeling really confident. We're sailing better than anyone else around the course. If I could just get the starts right then we'll be really good."
Macgregor explained that Annie Lush, their usual middle crew, had a serious accident - on land, falling off the boat - five days before the event started, so Mary Rook was flown out to replace her. "We've been trying to learn quite quickly with having her join us - getting the boat handling all sorted, getting the communication right between the three of us and it's slowly coming together."
Macgregor's team will come up against New Zealand's Stephanie Hazard, Susannah Pyatt and Jenna Hansen, who finished second in the Repechage behind USA's Sally Barkow, Alana O'reilly and Elizabeth Kratzig.
"This has been one of the most competitive of the World Cup women's match racing events," said Liz Baylis, Executive Director of the Women's International Match Racing Association. "We have 14 of the top 15 ranked teams competing, and there are plenty of names you'd expect to be moving on [in the rounds] who are not moving on."
Other teams advancing to the semi finals are defending champions Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Deborah Capozzi (USA), Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff (FIN) and Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Olivia Price (AUS).
Elsewhere on Biscayne Bay, light air challenged competitors as well as race officials, especially on the RS:X course, where colourful sails laid flat in the water during a wait on the wind. The women's fleet got through half a race but in the end the wind did not pick up and sailors returned to shore shortly after 14:00 local time. Results stand from yesterday with Holland's Dorian Van Rijsselberge and Spain's Marina Alabau leading the men's and women's fleets.
In the Stars, Brazil's Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada turned in an 11-12 yesterday in breezes that were as low as four knots. "Not great scores, but a lot of top guys did even worse," said Scheidt. "I should say we survived the day - we sailed too conservatively - you had to be confident and take one side or the other, and we missed those decisions."
Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen (SWE) took a tumble yesterday, dropping down to seventh from second yesterday. The team finished 47th in Race 7, and used it as a throw out, they then added a 36th to their score line in Race 8. And with only one throw-out allowed, the second double digit finish was a devastating blow.
Xavier Rohart (FRA) has been enduring a slow recovery from a biking accident, but at this regatta, he has hit his stride and is in second place now after yesterday's two races. His crew is Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, a Finn sailor.
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