Youth And Experience Come Together For Nacra 17 Debut At ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami
From 28 January to 2 February Biscayne Bay in Miami, USA will come alive with the sights and sounds of Olympic sailing as ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gets underway.
Held at US Sailing Center Miami, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-A-Leg, hundreds of sailors will kick start their Rio 2016 Olympic ambitions.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami will see the Nacra 17 make its first international appearance at a major regatta and seven teams have registered to sail the new mixed multihull.
The Nacra 17 entrants feature some exciting young talent coming through the ranks as well as experienced campaigners. Puerto Rican multihull legend Enrique Figueroa
is the most experienced sailor in the fleet with an Olympic career that goes back to Seoul 1988 where he finished 13th. Further Olympic appearances came at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 and now, he's back.
Hopping on board with Figueroa is his wife, Carla Malatrasi
and the pair will be aiming for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. "Even though the sport of sailing is a lot of fun, an Olympic campaign is serious business,"
said Figueroa. "Once you start racing the focus changes from easy going sailing to full regatta mode and that is when the tension begins.
"We have been sailing together since 1993; there is always tension when you race specially among couples. At high level regattas maybe a little more tension than usual but with so many years under our belts we have learned to separate the racing part from the couple's part. At the moment we are taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy ourselves as much as we can."
The talented couple won Hobie 16 gold together at the 1994 IYRU World Sailing Championship in La Rochelle, France and have experience and know-how that cannot be matched in the fleet. With a new boat to play with Figueroa is enjoying the task at hand, "We have only sailed the boat for a few hours last weekend but had a great time. Learning the boat and developing team work on new equipment is always a challenge. Different controls on the boat, curved foils, weight distribution, etc are among the more challenging aspects of the new Olympic catamaran."
Among the Puerto Ricans competitors will be Canada's Luke Ramsey, who sailed in the Men's 470 at London 2012, and Nikola Girke, who jumps from the Women's RS:X into the multihull.
Young Americans Taylor Reiss
and Matthew Whitehead
sailed the SL16 together at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds in Zadar, Croatia finishing sixth and have made the jump up to the Nacra 17. Reiss will be sailing with Sarah Lihan
, who represented USA in the Women's 470 at London 2012 whilst Whitehead will sail with 17-year-old Sarah Streater
Other teams include former Women's Match Racer Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham
who joins Jonathan Farrar
and Dalton Bergan
(USA) and Sarah Newberry
and John Casey
London 2012 Olympic Games Men's RS:X gold medallist Dorian Van Rijsselberge
(NED) will be the favourite to take gold in the fleet of 22 in Miami. Just six months ago the Dutchman blitzed the Men's RS:X fleet on the Weymouth and Portland waters and looked unstoppable. After a short break van Rijsselberge is excited to get back into the swing of things, "Miami is a nice event to start the next four years. It has been in my calendar for years so it is good to come back and compete. My aim is to have a fun regatta with my friends after having not competed for half year."
Olympic experience features heavily in the fleet with the likes of Ricardo Santos
(BRA), Zachary Plavsic
(CAN), Ivan Pastor (ESP), David Mier y Teran (MEX) and Sebastian Wang-Hansen
(NOR) all hopeful of closing the gap.
2012 Kona World Champion Adam Holm
(SWE) and 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Michael Cheng (HKG), who both competed at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds, join the senior circuit and they will be aiming to impress.
Finland's Tuuli Petäjä
recently won the Finnish athlete of the year award after her epic performance at London 2012 which saw her take a shock silver medal in the Women's RS:X fleet. Petaja will swap the gown for the wet suit in Miami as the Olympic cycle gets going once again. Joining her in the fleet is Olympic gold medallist Marina Alabau
(ESP), 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Blanca Manchon
(ESP) and Bryony Shaw
(GBR). All will be capable of mixing it up at the top.
Fresh from their victories at the 470 North American Championships Austria's Matthias Schmid
and Florian Reichsteaedter
and Lara Vadlau
and Jolanta Ogar
will compete in the Men's and Women's fleet at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.
Both crews took a stranglehold of the competition over the weekend on the same waters so will be familiar with their surroundings.
Out to go for gold in the Men's fleet are Canadian brothers Jacob
and Graeme Chaplin-Saunders
. The partnership got going in January 2011 with the ultimate goal of reaching Rio de Janeiro in 2016. London 2012 Olympian Stu Mcnay
is set to team up with the experienced David Hughes
which will make for a fantastic week of competition in the 11-boat fleet.
A strong Chinese contingent, including London 2012 Olympians Xiaoli Wang and Xufeng Huang, will test the Austrians in the Women's 470. Brazil will also be well represented with Fernanda Olivera and Ana Luiz Barbachan continuing their partnership and Renata Decnop and Isabel Swan teaming up for the first time.
With strong entry lists in the Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX and Finn, it will be an exciting week of competition that gets underway on Monday 28 January with the Medal Races bringing the regatta to a close on 2 February.
View the full entry list here
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website