Sailors rise to the occasion in unexpected Miami conditions
Thursday, January 23, 2020 9:29 AM
The athletes were faced with similar conditions on Tuesday, but Wednesday's overall shifty conditions and wind chill presented an even greater test of their physical and tactical skills.
Sailors raced under mostly sunny skies and wind speeds ranged from 16 to 18 knots on the low end and 23 to 24 on the high end this morning. The wind was not quite as strong in the afternoon and ranged from 13 to 16 knots on the low end and 16-18 on the high end. Similar to Tuesday, the conditions were shifty and puffy.
Heading into Wednesday's racing the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, and Men's and Women's 470 had completed four races over two days, while the Men's and Women's RS:X finished six. Wednesday morning's conditions forced some short postponements for the Finn, Laser Radial, and Men's 470 classes.
World Cup Miami is the final opportunity for North American nations to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games across the 470, RS:X, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn fleets.
Mexican representatives Juan Perez Soltero and Alejandro Perez Ontiveros are going up against Rockall Evans of Bermuda for the North American Tokyo 2020 spot in the Finn class.
Evans performed well in the breezy conditions today and placed fifth and third. He is in sixth place overall and leads Soltero by four points, who posted two seventh place finishes.
"Today was really windy, choppy, and cold. Nice conditions for the Finn class," said Soltero. "Today was a rough day for me but a great day for sailing. I thought it was going to be a little bit windier today (than Tuesday) and it got super windy. It was super fun downwind and super physical upwind. I just tried to sail my own race, keep it simple, keep my boat fast the whole time and try to keep my boat upright and not capsize. Tomorrow is going to be light and I am very good in light winds so I'm excited for tomorrow."
The American selection process also continues this week in the 14-boat Finn class. Caleb Paine is the overall fleet leader with seven points over six races. He was second twice today and leads American teammate Luke Muller by eight points. Muller was third and sixth today.
"It would mean the world to me to qualify to the Olympic Games," said Muller. "It's obviously been a long-term goal in my life. It will be the culmination of a lot of hard work. If I don't qualify, it won't be the end of the world as there's a lot of sailing opportunities for me. Caleb certainly has a few more years' experience in the Finn. He's been to the Olympics and he's been under a lot of high-pressure scenarios. He's a great sailor and a formidable competitor. I look forward to racing him every day."
Ireland's Oisin McClelland is in third place and trails Muller by three points. McClelland won Race 6 and placed fourth in Race 5.
"I managed to come out with a fourth and a first. A few people tipped it in, but I managed to stay upright and took the win," said McClelland.
As Miami is the final opportunity for North Americans to qualify for Tokyo 2020, the final European stop of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series in Genoa is their last shot.
"The major goal for me is the Genoa World Cup and the European continental spot. The only one left for Europe. I'm 100 percent focused on that and this event is a good warm-up. There's a couple of us here who are going for the spot - Ukraine and Russia. It's a good early test to see how we're going. "We had some goals in mind for what I wanted to get out of this regatta - technique wise - but if the week goes well then I'd be really be pleased with a podium."
The race for Olympic qualification for the Men's 470 in North America is between Canada and Mexico, who have three teams respectively.
Luke Ramsay and Hunter Lowden of Canada are one of the teams vying for position and they are currently ahead of their Olympic qualification competitors with two days of fleet racing remaining this week.
"We were seeing 22 to 26 knots and it was really steep with choppy waves, which made it really hard to keep the boat rumbling all the time," said Ramsey. "All of the top guys in the top 20 are here so it's a really good gauge to see where you're at. We've been going well at times, but our losses seem to come in the really tricky spots."
Ramsey and Lowden know what is at stake and have their eyes on teams from Mexico, especially. "When it's windy you don't really have a lot of influence on other boats. We've tried to sail our own track. When it gets a bit lighter that might change, and you've got to keep a closer eye on them and see where they're going and what's happening. Today was just trying to keep the boat fast, do the right thing and not focus on everybody else."
Moving into first place in the Men's 470 class today was the Mat Belcher and Will Ryan of Australia, who placed third in Race 6 and won Race 5. Dropping into second place was Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom of Sweden.
Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis of Greece are in third place and six points behind the leaders.
"It was very difficult to manage and stay in the same position," said Mantis. "We had one good race and one bad. We've got two more days before the Medal Race. It was very cold in the morning and it's a bit of a shock for us. Everyone was expecting something a little bit warmer. There have been some very good moments so far this week but there have been some bad. We're happy with our performance."
Women's 470 Tokyo 2020 medal favourites Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) hold the initiative in their 16-boat fleet. A race win and a fifth from Wednesday's action has given them a eight point advantage over Poland's Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar. The day's other race win went the way of Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol of Slovenia who are third overall.
The USA will confirm a spot in the Women's 470 fleet at Tokyo 2020 this week and the event acts as a team qualifier. Twin sisters Carmen and Emma Cowles hold an initiative with four fleet races remaining.
Olympic qualification is on the line for 23-boat Laser Radial fleet. Aruba's Philipine van Aanholt, St. Lucia's Stephanie Devaux-Lovell, Mexico's Elena Oetling and Sofia Ximena Palacios, Puerto Rico's Sylvette Perez Figueroa and Trinidad and Tobago's Kelly-Ann Arrindell all have their sights set on Tokyo 2020.
Oetling has the edge over the other five competitors so far this week and is in sixth place overall. She was fourth and eighth today and has a 17-point lead over van Aanholt.
American Erika Reineke has a hold on first place by a five-point margin over Vasileia Karachaliou of Greece. Karachaliou made gains on Wednesday by winning both races, while Reineke placed second to Karachaliou twice.
Argentina's Francisco Guaragna Rigonat continues to lead in the 40-boat Laser fleet after posting a third and a first. Peru's Stefano Peschiera is six points off the Argentine having won the opening race of the day. Enrique Jose Arathoon (ESA) is in third.
Andrew Lewis of Trinidad and Tobago is in fourth, chasing the leading pack. He currently leads the way in the North American qualification battle but he has five Canadian sailors directly behind him chasing hard to overthrow him.
Pedro Pascual's (USA) grip on top spot in the Men's RS:X strengthened on Wednesday after he posted two thirds and a second. He is ten points clear of Mexico's Ignacio Berenguer who is also in the driving seat to qualify his nation for Tokyo 2020. Geronimo Nores (USA) moved up the leaderboard after a pair of race wins and a second. He is third overall.
There is a tight tussle in the Women's RS:X as just six points separate the top four. Demita Vega de Lille of Mexico holds the lead on 20 points and is trailed by Farrah Hall (USA) on 22, Megumi Komine (JPN) on 24 and Mariana Aguilar (MEX) on 26.
Aguilar took the first race win of the day before Komine hit back in the second. The third race win went to Canada's Nikola Girke who is on course to qualify her nation for Tokyo 2020.
Racing resumes at 11:00 local time on Thursday 23 January.
Find out how to follow the event below:
Click here for further information on Miami and the Hempel World Cup Series - https://miami.ussailing.org/.
ENTRIES / RESULTS / SCHEDULE
Click here to view the entry list in full.
Click here for the schedule.
Results will be available here - http://sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php.
Daily highlights and live streamed Medal Races on Saturday 25 January will be available across the World Sailing YouTube Channel.