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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Annalise Murphy's Road to Rio Starts in Miami

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#olympicsailing – Annalise Murphy (22) embarks on her road to Rio on Monday in the USA for the second round of the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) World Cup series off Miami.

The National Yacht Club (NYC) sailor is no stranger to Floridian waters having finished in the top ten on Biscayne Bay on both previous visits in the build up to London 2012. She was ninth in 2012 and fourth in 2011 as reported in the Irish Times Sailing Column.

Murphy came up just short of winning an Olympic medal this summer in the Laser Radial with her fourth place finish in Weymouth/Portland. Her quest for Rio 2016 begins in Miami. "I am just getting back into training after taking a long break," said Murphy. "All my plans for the next four years start here and it's great to do it in Miami."

Miami is the second of four regattas included in the 2012-2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup, the fifth edition of the annual series for Olympic sailing.

Although radial entries have been received from 11 countries there is no sign of any of the Weymouth medallists; Lijia from China, Marit Boumeester of Holland or Belgian Evi Van Ecker so it looks like the Dubliner, who lost out on a medal in the final moments of London 2012, will get 2013 off to a somewhat gentle start in warm waters.

A Florida local though, Paige Railey who is four times world champion and who took eighth at the Games is slated for competition and looks like Murphy's main competition for what would be her first win of an ISAF World Cup event.

Joining the fray in Miami from Ireland is Wexford's Philip Doran. As 2011 Irish National champion (and fellow NYC sailor) Philip Doran – who recently celebrated success at the U19 Europe Cup Regatta - is competing in the Laser full rig, a build up no doubt to the Laser Europeans championships on Dublin Bay in September.

Ten time paralympic sailor John Twomey from Kinsale, the new President of the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS), is also back in Florida in the Sonar keelboat. He is joined by fellow 2012 Paralympic teammate Ian Costello from Co. Kerry and American sailor Bradley Johnson in the three-man boat.

For the 24th time in ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami history, excellence in Olympic and Paralympic class racing will take place on the emerald waters of Biscayne Bay. This six-day regatta gets underway on Monday, with over 300 of the best sailors in the World representing 35 countries. The regatta marks the second of four stops on the 2012-2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.

Coconut Grove was energized on Sunday in anticipation of the start of racing, as sailors finalized registration details, toured the event's five sailing venues, fine tuned their equipment, and acclimated to the conditions on Biscayne Bay with some practice. Sunday's Miami Marathon added to the electric scene at "The Grove" in celebration of fitness and athleticism.

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami provides an opportunity for U.S. and international Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to begin their campaign for Rio 2016. Olympians, World Champions, and a cast of rising stars will be tested.

All eyes are on the Nacra 17 (mixed multihull) and 49er FX (women's skiff) as the two new Olympic class events. The Nacra 17 will be making its debut at the ISAF Sailing World Cup this week in Miami. The 49er FX made its first appearance on the international stage at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne last December. Many of the sailors in each of these events are making the transition from another boat or class. ISAF World Cup Miami will provide the perfect opportunity for these sailors to build camaraderie with new teammates and make progress with their new boats.

The Nacra 17 fleet is headlined by Puerto Rico's Enrique Figueroa. Joining the three-time Olympian as crew will be his wife Carla Malatrasi. "My objective this week is to get as much time in the water as possible in order to learn as much as I can about the Nacra 17 and place well in the regatta," explained Figueroa. "We have only sailed the Nacra 17 for a few hours over the past couple weeks, but we are definitely getting better."

U.S. skippers Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead will be making a move from the SL16 to the Nacra 17 this week. As a team, Reiss and Whitehead placed sixth at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds in Croatia. Reiss will be sailing with Sarah Lihan, who represented Team USA in the Women's 470 at the 2012 Olympic Games. Whitehead will be sailing with Sarah Streater. Also competing in this intriguing fleet will be Canada's Luke Ramsey and Nikola Girke. Ramsey and Girke represented Team Canada at the 2012 Games in the Men's 470 and Women's RS:X, respectively. Another interesting tandem includes Women's Match Racing standout Elizabeth Kratzig (USA), who will be teamed up with Jonathan Farrar.

There are some familiar names in the 49er FX fleet, including 2008 Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) in the Laser Radial. Tunnicliffe represented Team USA with teammate Molly O'Bryan Vandemoer in Women's Match Racing at the 2012 Games.

A pair of Italian Olympians Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich will be joining forces in the 49er FX. Conti is making the switch from the 470 and Clapcich transitions from the Laser Radial. Brazilians Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are also strong contenders following their win at the 49er FX North American Championship.

Portuguese 49er Olympian Francisco Andrade and teammate Andre Fonseca will be a factor in the men's 49er. They recently won the 49er North American Championship earlier this month on Key Biscayne Bay. Swedish 470 Olympian Sebastian Ostling will be making a shift to the 49er, while teaming with Kalle Torlen.

Four-time Olympian Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) is fully committed to make a run at Rio 2016. The 8th ranked Laser Radial sailor in the world won the gold medal at Kiel Week in Germany last June. 2012 Olympian Paige Railey (USA) will be on hand in the stacked Laser Radial fleet. Railey is ranked 7th in the world. Finland's Tuula Tenkanen is the highest ranked Laser Radial sailor competing this week at #5.

The Laser fleet is the event's largest with 72 boats. Guatemala's Juan Ignacio Maegli will be a legitimate contender. He is a two-time Olympian at just 24. World #3 Bruno Fontes (BRA) returns to ISAF World Cup Miami where he finished with a silver medal last year. He also represented Brazil at the 2012 Olympics.

The Finn fleet is led by World #1 Brendan Casey (AUS), who won the gold medal at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne in December. He will be challenged by World #3 and defending ISAF World Cup Miami gold medalist Zach Railey (USA). Casey and Railey both represented their countries in Weymouth/Portland this past summer.

Another intriguing storyline in the Finn class includes Brazil's Bruno Prada. The 2011 Star World Champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist is making a shift to the Finn. Prada returned to the Finn three months ago and has been working hard to get re-adjusted to the heavyweight dinghy. "My objective in Miami is to hit the medal race and continue to improve," said Prada. "I'll be sailing all the big regattas this year, including the World Championship in Estonia."

There are two Austrian teams competing in the Men's 470. World #13 Matthias Schmid and Floran Reichstaedter are fresh off a win at the 470 North American Championship here in Biscayne Bay. Their Austrian counterparts David Bargehr and Lucas Mahr finished third. 2012 Olympian Stuart McNay (USA) will be teaming up with fellow American David Hughes. McNay is ranked #7 in the world and he narrowly missed the medal stand in last year's event with a fourth place finish.

Brazil's Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan performed admirably at the Summer Games in Weymouth/Portland with a sixth place finish, and have their sights set on gold in Miami. Oliveira won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics with Isabel Swan as crew. Swan is racing this week with Renata Decnop. 2012 Olympians Lara Vadlau of Austria and Jolanta Ogar of Poland have paired up as a new team representing Austria, and have won both events they contested together, including the 470 North Americans.

2012 Olympic gold medalist Dorian Van Rijssbelberghe of The Netherlands has arrived in Miami and is prepared to pick up where he left off in the RS:X. "The biggest thing for me this week is just getting back on the board," said Van Rijssbelberghe. "This is my first time racing since the Games." Van Rijssbelberghe is no stranger to success here at this event. He won three consecutive gold medals at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

The Men's RS:X fleet will feature several other Olympians, including Ricardo Santos (BRA), Zachary Plavsic (CAN), Ivan Pastor (ESP), David Mier y Teran (MEX) and Sebastian Wang-Hansen (NOR).

Olympic gold and silver medalists will duke it out along with a strong fleet of Windsurfers in the Women's RS:X. Finland's Tuuli Petäjä hopes to ride the momentum she gained by winning the silver medal Weymouth. She will face stiff competition against Spain's gold medalist and World #5 Marina Alabau, who has won the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami event in 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2007 (No racing in 2008). Alabau recently won the RS:One World Championships in December. The 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Blanca Manchon (ESP) will also be competing this week.

The 2.4mR (open) and Sonar (mixed) Paralympic classes will be racing this week in Miami. Nine Americans and nine Canadians make up the bulk of the 2.4mR fleet. However, Great Britain's Megan Pascoe is one of the fleet's strongest contenders. She finished third at the 2.4mR World Championship in September. World #4 Byornar Erikstad of Norway will also be making a bid for the crown. 2012 Paralympic bronze medalists Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen of Norway lead a talented Sonar fleet.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, established in 1990 by US Sailing, is open to boats competing in events chosen for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. Visit the event website for an updated competitor list at http://bit.ly/mocr13_competitors with complete ISAF bios for each sailor.

Six of the Olympic Classes, including RS:X men and women, Laser, Radial, 49er and 49er FX will test new racing formats under consideration for Rio 2016. The remaining Olympic classes will consist of a five-day opening series (Monday-Friday) and a double-point medal race (Saturday). The top 10 finishers in the opening series of each class will advance to the medal race. Competitors in the Paralympic classes will have five days of fleet racing (Monday-Friday) and no medal race. Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class on Saturday, February 2.

Regatta Headquarters will be located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training center, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Event organizers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-a-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami organizing committee, headed by co-chairs Gary Bodie and Meredith Muller, with support from Carol Ewing, announced the International Jury: Chris Atkins (GBR), Bernard Bonneau (FRA), Pat Healy (USA), Elliot Levy (VEN), Ana Sanchez (ESP), Luiso Fernandez (ESP), Lynne Beal (CAN), Charlotte Greppe (SWE), Sandy Grovsenor (USA), Marianne Middlethon (NOR), Jim Capron (USA), National Jury Kai Masuda (JPN), Chris Petracco (USA), Marty Ottenhimer (USA), Bruce Martinson (USA) and Pat Sheehan (USA).

The event's  Principal Race Officer is Christophe Gaumont (FRA) assisted by Deputy International Race Officer Mark Murphy with International Race Officers Tom Duggan (USA, Laser Radial), Bruce Greene (USA, 49er, FX), John Craig (USA, RS:X), Peter Van Muyden (CAN, Paralympic classes),  Jim Tichenor (USA, 470, Finn, Nacra17). International Measurer is Barry Johnson (AUS), with Equipment Inspector Dina Kowalyshyn (USA).

 

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