Tuesday, January 26, 2010

US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR: Day 2

British Sailor crashing through wave on Biscayne Bay(Credit: Walter Cooper/ US SAILING)
Shifty Wind Made for Challenging Racing in All Classes

Miami, Fla. (January 26, 2010) -- Today counted as a perfect day at US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR, the second of seven stops of the International (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2009-2010.Especially after yesterday’s weather interruptions, no one minded this morning’s slight cold snap that gave way to brilliant conditions on Biscayne Bay and allowed multiple races to be completed in the 13 Olympic and Paralympic classes represented here. The annual event, in its 21st year, has 45 nations represented on its roster of 448 teams (633 athletes), most of whom are top contenders for 2012 Olympic or Paralympic berths.

Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela took pleasure in “three good races” that launched them to the top of the scoreboard in the 470 Men’s class that runs 34 teams deep. (Racing was cancelled for this class yesterday.)Even with an impressive scoreline of 2-6-4, however, Kliger was humble about his team’s performance.“We only started sailing together one month ago, so I wouldn’t have put ourselves in ‘the teams to watch,’ but it was a good day.” Kliger skippered in two Olympic Games (Athens and Beijing) and has claimed three bronze medals at 470 class world championships.He was quick to point out that his crew also holds a bronze medal from the Junior World Championship.“All the best guys are here, like at the worlds,” said Kliger.Nipping at his heels in overall standings is Luke Patience with crew Stuart Bithell (GBR), showing 17 points to Israel’s 12, followed by Sven and Kalle Coster (NED) with 22 points.

Mikee Anderson-Mitterling (San Diego, Calif.) and David Hughes (San Diego, Calif.), comprising the top-finishing U.S. team (12th place) in this class, also felt a bit like newcomers today.“It was our first day back after not sailing for 2 ½ years since the Olympic Trials,” said Anderson-Mitterling.“We’re going to try to see at this point if we still think we have it, and if we feel we can do well, we might go full bore again for an Olympic campaign.” As for holding their own, he admitted, “It’s a deep fleet (in talent); if you make a mistake they make you pay.”

Only four points separated the top seven Women’s 470 teams, proving how experience ruled the day as sailors played to the shifty conditions. Two French teams and two U.S. teams rose to the top: Ingrid Petitjean and crew Nadege Douroux posted the fewest points (13) in the low-point scoring system, with Erin Maxwell (Norwalk, Conn.) and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar (New York, N.Y.) following close behind with 14.After that, it’s the same trade-out with France’s Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron posting 15 points, followed by Amanda Clark (Shelter Island Heights, N.Y.) and Sarah Chin (Hoboken, N.J.), also with 15 (but showing fourth because of tie-breaking rules).

“It was difficult, with very shifty winds,” said Petitjean, who noted that she knows Maxwell and Kinsolving almost as well as her own teammates here on the French national team.Such is the way of making friends the world-over while sailing an Olympic campaign. When asked who she would watch most closely tomorrow, Petitjean said, “After only three races, we are not watching anyone, we are competing against the whole fleet.”

Kinsolving Farrar agreed the conditions were tricky but exciting: “You had to keep your head out of the boat and look around the whole time. It’s never over until it’s over. There’s always room to be gained.”

This is Clark and Chin’s first major event after taking the last year off after competing at the 2008 Olympic Games, and they’re eager to get back into the mix. “Changing places with other teams was really fun,” said Clark. “The pumping flag was up, so we were able to be physical and play the waves.”

In the 24-boat Star class, four American teams finished in the top five after three races today, with Andy Horton (South Burlington, Vt.) and James Lyne (Granville, Vt.) in the lead. On their course, the wind shifted 60 degrees right by the end of the day. “The U.S. teams did what they needed to do today: they hit about 75 percent of the shifts and had single digits for the majority of the races,” said Mark Ivey (San Francisco, Calif.), who is here coaching the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics’ Star teams. “The goal for everybody was for everyone in the top eight at all mark roundings ... which is what you have to do in a small boat fleet.”

“It was pretty crazy,” said Horton, whose goal is to finish in the top five this week. “It was pretty shifty and puffy, so [we had to] change gears a lot.”

Horton said he felt lucky with their top results today, considering this is only the third regatta they’ve sailed together. “We’re still trying to figure things out working as a team. There’s so much communication in a Star boat – there’s two of you, big sails and lots of kinetics in a big boat.”

2009 Star World Champions George Szabo (San Diego, Calif.) and Rick Peters (Venice, Calif.) finished the three races in fourth overall today. Szabo noted that it was a tough day to catch all the shifts and he was glad they didn’t make any big errors that would take them out of the race.“It was really hard on the crews today; they had to work extra hard,” he said. - http://rmocr.ussailing.org/Press_Room/2010_Press_Releases/Day_Two.htm