Skandia Team GBR on fire

Brits top the match racing, 470 Men, 49er and Finn classes at Rolex Miami OCR

Thursday January 27th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

Day four of the Rolex Miami OCR proved frustrating with light and fickle winds across Biscayne Bay resulting in a delay ashore.

In the Women's Match Racing, Lucy Macgregor's team of Mary Rook and Kate Macgregor suffered just one defeat [to France's Claire LeRoy) in the Gold Round Robin to take the lead ahead of Russia's Ekaterina Skudina and with the four other boats all on just two wins.

“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!”

As previously reported, Mary Rook is standing in for Annie Lush, Macgregor's usual middle crew, who suffered 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,“ said Macgregor. “We’re not so focussed on each opponent on their own, we’re looking for the whole fleet really and if we keep sailing how we have been then we’ve got a good chance of going all the way.”

Tomorrow Macgregor’s team will face off with New Zealand’s Stephanie Hazard/Susannah Pyatt/Jenna Hansen, who finished second in Repechage behind USA’s Sally Barkow/Alana O’Reilly/Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham. Hazard and Barkow got their repechage - French for 'second chance' - by beating out four other teams in their group to become the two teams from this group to advance to the semifinals.

“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, who has been serving as Assistant PRO for the match racing. “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. Baylis explained that in each of last year’s ISAF Sailing World Cup Series match racing events there was a different winner  from a different country, and the eventual winner, Claire Leroy of France, who is sailing here with Elodie Bertrand and Marie Riou and is seeded sixth going into tomorrow’s eight-team semis - never won a single event.

Elsewhere on Biscayne Bay, light air challenged competitors as well as race officials, especially on the RS:X (windsurfing) course, where colorful sails layed 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 couldn’t get its act together, and sailors returned to shore shortly after 2 p.m. Results stand from yesterday with The Netherlands’ Dorian van Rijsselberge and Spain’s Marina Alabau leading the men’s and women’s fleets, respectively.

The 470 women’s class also did not complete a race, but the Men’s 470 managed one. This was won by Israel veterans Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela, with the top three all scoring relatively highly (for them), which they all discarded. Skandia Team GBR still holds an iron grip on this class with youngsters Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell still ahead of team mates Nic Asher and Elliot Willis by four points, with World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page, nine points from second.

In Stars, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada finished 11th in both races today 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 today; you had to be confident and take one side or the other, and we missed those decisions.”

Sweden's Freddie Loof and Max Salminen took a tumble today, dropping down to seventh from second yesterday. The team finished 47th in race one, and used it as a throw-out, then added a 36th to their score line in the second race. With only one throw-out allowed, the second double-digit finish was a devastating blow.

France's Xavier Rohart 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 today’s two races and now lies three points ahead of Canadian Volvo Ocean Race sailor Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn.

In the 49ers, Skandia Team GBR’s crews continue to dominate, British teams holding the top three spots. John Pink and Rick Peacock today extended their lead after posting a 1,2,1 and are now 11 points clear of Dave Evans and Ed Powys, with Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith a further eight behind.

The Finn class endured a long day on the water, but managed two races won respectively bythe USA's Bryan Boyd and Ben Ainslie. It was a mixed day for Ainslie who's win came after he was handed a second yellow flag penalty in the opening race of the day, turning an otherwise impressive fourth place into a disqualification for that race, dropping him to seventh overall. Giles Scott posted a 7-4 today and continue to top the leaderboard with Australian Brendan Casey now up to second six points adrift of the young Brit, while Andrew Mills had the best of the day’s results, 4,2 taking him up to third overall.

The Laser Radials managed one race today which was won by local favourite Paige Railey. World Champion Marit Bouwmeester bombed, posting at 34, allowing Belgium's Evi van Acker to draw level with her on points, just three ahead of Railey. 

Paige Railey commented: “Honestly, I was surprised because the forecast said to expect dying breeze. When we started, all I was thinking is how we were (racing) so close to the key, and I knew the wind filled in from right. Right from the start, I literally stayed on a lifted tack and focused on staying in a lifted breeze. I held my lane all the way out to the layling and was thinking about how to be ready when a shift comes.
“First, I accepted that the race would be really tight betwne me and the other girls. Then, I tried to stay relaxed and focus on my sail and body position, and staying focused on where the other girls went. I actually got passed by an Italian (Francesca Clapcich), and I knew she had better wind. It was so close between us; we were even going downwind, straight to the finish. I’m really happy with the position I’m in. The top three are really close in points and I’ll keep plugging away so we can go into the medal race with a good chance to win.”

On the penultimate day of racing for the Paralympic classes there was disappointment in the protest room for the Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, who lost their series lead after being disqualified for sailing to the wrong mark after a change of course. They’re now third overall, on equal points with second and just one point adrift from the gold medal spot so will have all to play for on Friday.

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are currently fourth in the SKUD event, while Skandia Team GBR’s 2.4mR sailors Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas advanced up the leaderboard on Thursday, with Pascoe now in fourth and Lucas sixth.

Full results here



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