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Racing in winds up to 15–knots, the opening race of the 2016 Laser Radial Worlds in Mexico produced some untypical results yesterday with top seed Marit Boumeester of Holland in an untypical 17th position in the 71–boat fleet. Both of Ireland's campaigners finished just outside of the top half of the fleet with Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club one place ahead of Annalise Murphy of the National Yacht Club in 33rd and 34th respectively. Download full results below as a PDF file.

In yesterday's second qualifier, both Irish competitors recovered form with Annalise taking a seventh and Aoife 16th to put Annalise 43rd and Aoife 52nd overall. Qualifying continues today with two more rounds. The race to make the gold fleet cut at the end of the 32-nation qualifying series by Monday is well and truly on.

The event doubles as the final of three Irish Olympic trials to decide who Ireland will send to the Rio Olympics, a series that London 2012 veteran Annalise currently leads.

Wind conditions at Vallarta Yacht Club on Banderas Bay on Mexico's Pacific coast are expected to continue in the 15–knot range.

Event website is here

 

 

 

 

Published in Olympic

Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins are the two Irish entries in a 72–boat fleet drawn from 32 countries for the 2016 Laser Radial Women's World Championships this Thursday. As well as an important build–up to the Olympics in Rio the championship is the last of three Irish Olympic selection trials for the Irish place. 

Of the 72 sailors competing, ten finished in the top 20 at the 2012 Olympics in London, including Ireland's Annalise who finished fourth.

The National Yacht Club's Annalise (25) leads the 2016 trials with some comfort from 17–year–old Aoife of Howth Yacht Club after an expensive series of regattas, first in December at the 2015 Copa Brasil de Vela and then January's 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, USA. 

 

I've had three days training here in Mexico so far and it has been absolutely amazing!!! I reckon this is the definition of champagne sailing ;) I'm loving the conditions and can't wait to start racing on Thursday. I may have gotten a little bit of sunburn bare arm sailing though...You can follow the event at http://www.laserworlds2016.org/ Howth Yacht Club CH Marine ISA Performance 2016 Laser World Championships

Posted by Aoife Hopkins Sailing on Monday, 11 April 2016

The championship is taking place on the Pacific Coast of Mexico on the waters of Banderas Bay which Hopkins believes is the definition of 'champagne sailing' after three days of training on the race area.

Thanks to the shape of the bay and surrounding land area, Banderas Bay is fortunate to have a very predictable daily thermal wind. Locals say they enjoy about 5 hours of good winds per day, from 13:00 to 18:00. The direction of the thermal is generally 220-240 degrees, and speed varies between 4kts at the beginning and end of the thermal period, up to approximately 18 knots at during peak periods.

 

Published in Olympic

Annalise Murphy from the National Yacht Club has dropped back to 28th overall after nine races sailed in the gold fleet of the Laser European Championships at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this morning. The Irish sailing star was seventh at the beginning of the week. 

14 out of the World's top 20 female Laser Radial sailors are competing in the 50 boat gold fleet. Conditions for the second last day of the championship ranged between 5-6 knots and 10, with less waves than previous days. The final three races will be sailed today. Time limit for the last race is 16:00.

11 male and female Laser sailors from around the Irish coast are competing in the important regatta. Nicole Hemeryck from the National Yacht Club is 72nd, Aoife Hopkins from Howth Yacht Club is 73rd and Aisling Keller 76th in a total fleet of 99.

The female leader board is headed by Dutch girl Marit Bouwmeester followed by Swedish Josefin Olsson.

267 sailors from 47 countries participate in this Championship, organised by the Real Club Nautico de Gran Canaria, the European Laser Association (Eurilca) and the Real Federacion Española de Vela (RFEV).

In the mens division after nine races sailed, Ireland's only gold fleet competitor Finn Lynch is 32nd from 63. In the silver fleet, Belfast's James Espey is 69th, Baltimore Finn Lyden is 77th and Kinsale's Darragh O'Sullivan is 115th. Seafra Guilfyole did not compete.

Although sailors with Rio Sailing Olympic ambitions are competing in Gran Canaria, Ireland is also represented in the mens Radial where after eight races sailed Ewan McMahon from Howth Yacht Club posted is sixth. Former Topper World Champion Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club is seventth. Conor O'Beirne from the Royal St. George YC is 14th

Results are here.

 

Published in Olympic

After nine races sailed in the Laser Radial class of the Miami Sailing World Cup, the National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy has put a further 28 points between herself and her rival for the Rio berth, Aoife Hopkins of Howth. The plucky Howth Yacht Club teen was neck and neck in the silver fleet with Murphy (25) until the final races yesterday. Murphy finished 48th overall and Hopkins 64th in the 81–boat fleet.

Most sailors here are full time atheletes but I'm not so have to try and keep up with the schoolwork whenever I can.

Posted by Aoife Hopkins Sailing on Friday, 29 January 2016

Murphy has now won two of three Irish trials, the first being December's Copa Brazil regatta with some unexpected implications. The third trial is at the World Championships in Mexico in April.

At the top of the Radial fleet Marit Bouwmeester's string of firsts was broken. But the Dutch champion still sailed well enough to assure herself of at least a silver medal in the regatta in today's Medal race for the top ten. She will start the medal race with a 6-point lead over Evi van Acker (BEL), who has also locked up at least a silver medal. To claim the championship van Acker will need to put two boats between herself and Bouwmeester in tomorrow's medal race. A tough ask, but certainly not impossible, especially considering the caliber of the fleet. Sarah Gunni Toftedal (DEN) is currently third, with an eight-point advantage over Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) in fourth. Alison Young (GBR) and Emma Plasschaert (BEL) both have an outside chance at the bronze medal. In 10th place is Paige Railey (USA), who moved into the medal race after her best day of the regatta. This gives Railey at least 7-place advantage over Erika Reineke (USA), her primary rival for the U.S. Olympic Team. She has the enviable position of entering the medal race with nothing to lose. Any places she gains will add to her advantage in the selection series. But she cannot finish any worse than 10th.

Belfast's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern were 37th from 61 in the 49er.

Seven medal races will be broadcast live from the northern racing area on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida, USA today. You can view them on Afloat.ie above on this story. The schedule in EST (add five hours for Ireland) is: 

NORTH COURSE - LIVE
11:10 - Nacra 17
11:45 - Laser Radial (4.45pm Irish Time)
12:30 - Finn
13:10 - 470 Men
13:50 - Laser
14:30 - 49er
15:05 - 49erFX

SOUTH COURSE
11:40 - 470 Women
12:20 - RS:X Women
12:55 - RS:X Men

Published in Olympic

Torrential rainfall and a chill in the air, Miami isn't usually like this, but competition for World Cup honours and Rio 2016 Olympic spots are keeping the temperatures on Biscayne Bay hot. Ireland's crews are not in the running for medals this week but Belfast's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern took a race win in the silver fleet yesterday leaving them 38th overall in their 61–boat fleet. Irish rivals for the Rio berth Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins are placed 59th and 60th respectively overall in what is the second round of the Irish selection trial.

Competitiveness from the front to the back of each fleet has been evident and every sailor has something to fight for. Whether it's the coveted Rio spot, a Sailing World Cup honour, internal qualification for Rio 2016 or even striving to perfect their game, it's all on in Miami.

Sailors were made to wait for racing on Thursday as torrential downpours killed off the breeze and produced large quantities of surface water. When the breeze materialised it enabled the sailors to commence racing at 15:20 local time in building conditions that ranged from 12-17 knots from the south east.

49er IT

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern took a race win in Miami yesterday and made the headlines in this morning's Irish Times Newspaper. 

49er and 49erFX

A single race in the 49er Gold, 49er Silver and 49erFX was completed.

Diego Botin and Iago Lopez (ESP) and New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech held on to top spot in the 49er and 49erFX respectively. Race wins went the way of John Pink and Stu Bithell (GBR) in 49er Gold, Ryan Seaton and Matthew McGovern (IRL) in 49er Silver and Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) in the 49erFX.

On the Rio 2016 Olympic qualification front, there is plenty happening in all three fleets.

Chilean brothers Benjamin and Cristóbal Grez Ahrens haven't made things easy on themselves in their battle against Uruguay's Santiago Silveira and Philipp Umpierre for the South American 49er Rio spot. A disastrous start and up and down results gave the Uruguayans the advantage after two days.

The Uruguayans were positioned to make the gold fleet with the Chileans back in silver ahead of Wednesday's so they had it all to do. Match racing was the name of the game and the Chileans forced the Uruguayans hand with an OCS and BFD to squeeze them back into silver fleet.

Thursday was an opportunity for both teams to reset and from a single 49er Silver race, the Grez Ahrens brothers grabbed the initiative, leapfrogging the Uruguayans. A Chilean ninth compared to the Uruguayans 18th ensures they go into the final day of fleet racing with a six point advantage.

In the north, gold fleet racing will decide the spot. USA in the driving seat with Thomas Barrows, III and Joseph Morris seventh on 71 points. Canada follow with David Mori and Justin Barnes 29th on 104 points and British Virgin Islanders Alec Anderson and Christopher Brockbank are down in 31st.

American sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt as well as Emily Dellenbaugh and Elizabeth Barry have put their nation in a strong position to qualify in the 49erFX. Henken and Scutt are 18th on 142 points and their compatriots, 21st on 161. Their nearest rivals are U.S. Virgin Islanders Mayumi Roller and Agustina Barbuto who trail on 181 in 23rd. Aruba's Odile and Philipine Van Aanholt hold 226 points in 32nd.

Chile's Arantza Gumucio and Begoña Gumucio are the only South American entrants who have not yet qualified for Rio 2016 so will qualify this week.

Laser and Laser Radial

A very fluid weather pattern (in more ways than one) made for a challenging, albeit short, day on the water for the Laser and Laser Radial fleets. The threat of thunderstorms kept the fleet ashore through the early afternoon. Once the sailors launched, the compressed time left the sailors with little time to properly research the breeze. Adding to the confusion, the weather changed just as the Radials were halfway up the first leg.

"In the beginning it was quite light,” said Evi van Acker (BEL). "But then the rain came and along came the wind. So it was quite windy in the race, which was nice to have a little bit of difference compared to the first three days.”

It was also quite shifty and, with the visibility reduced, tough for the sailors to formulate a plan of attack. As is often the case in difficult conditions, the cream rose to the top, with Marit Bouwmeester (NED) nipping Sarah Gunni Toftedal (DEN) by just two seconds and adding to her impressive string of four first-place finishes in the qualifying races. But Bouwmeester was hard-pressed to describe how she won the race.

"I don't really know,” she said with a laugh. "The weather was quite tricky with the rain so I think I was just a bit lucky being on the right side of the wind shifts.”

Bouwmeester, who won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 Laser Radial World Championships, is probably being modest. But her day did have one significant, and totally unexpected, hurdle that she handled with a veteran's poise.

"A 470 trailer, they didn't put it up right after the 470 went into the water and it fell down and it fell straight through my sail,” she said. "So just before [launching] I had a hole in the sail. But thank God it didn't influence the racing too much

"I didn't like it. I was like, 'Bloody 470s.' But there's not much I can do about it. This guy gave me some sail tape and I tried to cover it up as good as I can.”

In third in the race, and sitting solidly in second overall was van Acker, who was a little more expansive when asked about the path to success in Race 6.

"I think play the shifts on the first beat and the first reach and the downwind,” she said. "But I could've done a bit better. So not super happy with today, but plenty to play for tomorrow.”

Van Acker is the defending Olympic bronze medalist, but there's a lot of Laser Radial talent in Belgium and she won't know until late spring whether she'll return to the Olympics.

"We have a selection committee that will decide at the end of May or the beginning of June,” she said. "But as I said, I'm not really busy with the selection, just trying to do my best in every race.”

Currently sitting third in the overall standings is defending Olympic gold medalist Lilja Xu (CHN) who finished 35th, by far her worst race of the regatta. After discarding that finish she is just two points out of second and eight points off the lead.

Paloma Schmidt was the only South American sailor, who had not yet qualified for Rio 2016, to make the Laser Radial gold fleet. As a result, she has qualified Peru in the Laser Radial.

North American sailors from the Cayman Islands, Cuba, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago missed out on the gold fleet as Bermuda's Cecillia Wollman and Mexico's Natalia Montemayor advanced.

Nine points separated them before Thursday's racing but they ended up even on 95 points apiece after the single race. Wollman finished 39th and Montemayor, 40th. Results would lead to suggest some strong tactics coming in to play with three races on Friday to determine who will go to Rio de Janeiro this August.

After sailing a nearly flawless qualifying series, Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) had his first significant bobble of the regatta when he was caught over the line before the gun and didn't return to start correctly, recording a 50-point OCS. As he's able to discard that score, he retains the overall lead, but the margin has narrowed. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) is currently second overall after getting a fourth today.

While the Radials started in light breeze, the wind had picked up substantially by the time the Lasers started sailing. Still, the weather was difficult to read.

"I didn't have [a really solid plan for the first beat],” said Bernaz. "I just say, 'OK, let's sail and watch; what you see is what you get.' I was on the right, but when I saw the left gaining, I just go on the left side of the fleet. I was losing a lot and I re-gained what I lost. I was fourth at the top mark, third, then fourth again. It's good to sail in front.”

Bernaz has been on a tear of late, with top-five finishes in his four of his last five major regattas. The lone blip, a 54th at the 2015 Laser World Championships, has knocked his world ranking down to 22nd, but he's sailing like a medal contender at this event.

"It's the year of the Games, some [Olympic selection series] for different countries, so everyone is 100 percent, maybe 110,” he said. "It's a really hard fleet and it's really hard to be consistent. Now we start the finals, so it's the top 49, so it's really hard, really compact.”

Sailing to his fourth second in the last four races, five-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA) moved into third in the overall standings.

"The first few races I had bad starts and it was difficult conditions, it was shifty and light, and I just made bad decisions at the beginning of the race,” he said. "I knew I had the speed to do better and the ability to do better. From the third day I started to sail more with the fleet, more consistent, better starts.

"Today was a full-on race, it started to blow very hard just a few minutes before the start and we knew we'd have to be out of trouble, have a clean start, and use the speed and hike hard. It was a tough race. The breeze kept increasing throughout the race. I just sailed clean, sailed a solid race. I'm really happy about that.”

Scheidt won three medals in the Laser class, gold in 1996 and 2004 and silver in 2000 before switching to the Star, where he won silver in 2008 and bronze in 2012. With the Star eliminated from the Olympic roster, he was forced to choose between missing the Rio Olympics or returning to the grueling 14-foot dinghy,

"The goal is to try to do the Olympic Games in my home country,” he said. "Unfortunately the Star is not anymore an Olympic class. I wish it was. It's not easy to come back to the Laser after a certain age. But I'm enjoying it. I'm still having fun out there. I'm still competing at a high level. Of course, it's not easy because physically it's a quite a demanding boat. Right now I'm in a good moment, free of injuries and really looking forward to the next six months.”

He hasn't been as dominant as he was at his peak, when he won eight world championships, but Scheidt is a serious medal threat, and anyone who thinks the pressure of competing in his home country will compromise his performance should check Scheidt's track record. Among other accomplishments, his final Laser world championship was won on Brazilian waters. He knows what to expect, and how to handle it.

"It's going to be a different Olympics with the crowd the expectations, competing in Rio, a place I've sailed all my life, for an Olympic medal,” he said. "It's going to be very special. That's why I'm still doing it. That's the reason why I'm still training hard, pushing hard. To be able to join the Olympics one last time would be a great thing for me.”
Mexico's Yanic Gentry made the gold fleet in the cut and with none of his rivals from Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico making it, he has qualified his nation in the Laser.

All of the South American sailors aiming for Rio 2016 are in the silver fleet and no racing was possible on Thursday. As it stands, Venezuela's Jose Gutierrez is 65th on 139 points, Uruguay's Federico Yandian 66th on 140, Ecuador's Matias Dyck on 145 and Colombia's Andrey Quintero 84th on 180.

Published in Olympic

Tricky conditions have got 2016 off to an inauspicious start for Ireland's Rio Olympic sailing team with neither Laser or 49er making the gold fleet cut of the World Sailing Cup in Miami, the first major event of the Olympic year. 

The 49erfx crew of Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey was not able to start due to injury. The Irish Paralympic Sonar crew of John Twomey, Austin O'Caroll and Ian Costelloe are lying seventh from nine.

In the second round of the Irish Laser Radial trial being sailed as part of the Florida–based regatta, the 2020 prospect Aoife Hopkins from Howth Yacht Club lies 60th, just one place behind the National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy in the 81–boat fleet. Results after five races indicate both will race in the silver fleet for the balance of the regatta that concludes on Saturday. Murphy will be disappointed at scoring two penalties in the early stages but also with the fact that she was unable to make the top ten in any race, just seventh months out from the Games itself.

A premature start in race nine added to a black flag penalty scored in race two puts Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast Lough in 39th overall from 61 in the mens 49er class. Nine races have been sailed.

Full results are here.

The regatta got off to a flukey start on Monday and Tuesday and although the breeze blew stronger yesterday, Irish boats had a mountain to climb in order to get back into any sort of gold fleet contention. Unfortunately for Team IRL, however, Rio rivals appear to be able to knock in top results in any weather. A case in point is the unstoppable performance of Murphy's London 2012 rival, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) who has won all five of her remaining qualifying races to open up a four-point lead. Evi van Acker (BEL) another veteran and fellow Olympic medalist, has won a pair of races herself and was able to discard a black flag disqualification from today to sit second. Defending Olympic gold medalist Lilja Xu (CHN) in third, a point further back.

Had a tough day on the water. Two more days left so will refocus and do my best. On wards & Upwards!Aoife x

Posted by Aoife Hopkins Sailing on Wednesday, 27 January 2016

With qualification completed, the fleet will be split into a gold and silver grouping and winning the races will be that much tougher over the final two days.

The top American in the fleet is Paige Railey, who is currently 17th with 36 points. That's good enough for a 9-point cushion over Ericka Reineke (USA), who is Railey's chief rival for the 2016 Olympic berth in the Radial class. That battle will be an interesting one to watch during the next few days. This event is Part 1 of the two-stage selection series for that class.

The Laser class, one of only two to start the Day three on schedule, sailed a pair of afternoon races. Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) won his final race of the day—as with the Radial fleet, the 98-strong Laser fleet has been sailing in two groups for qualification—and has built himself an impressive 16-point lead heading into the gold and silver fleet split. Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) sits second with 27 points, but there is a pack of four sailors all within 5 points of the silver-medal position. At the back end of this group is 5-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA), who has rebounded from a tough start with three straight second place finishes.

Charlie Buckingam (USA) is the top American in 11th. While he has his sights focused on the top 10—only the top 10 in each class qualify for Saturday's medal race, which will be carried lived on ESPN3—Buckingham has to be comforted by the knowledge that the next American sailor is 20 points behind. As with many of the other classes, this regatta serves as the first part of the selection trails for the U.S. Laser berth in the Rio Olympics.

49er and 49erFX

The 49er qualifying series concluded with three further races on Wednesday ahead of the fleets separating into Gold and Silver for the duration of the World Cup.

Diego Botin and Iago Lopez (ESP) advanced to top spot in the 49er, recording an 8-4-3 to leave them on 45 points. The Spanish duo tend to excel in the qualifying series and more times than not, come out at the top of the leaderboard.

When push comes to shove and they race in a top quality Gold fleet they fall down the pack. Six Gold races are ahead of them now to see if they can buck the trend. Carl P Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark of Sweden follow in second and Jorge Lima and Jose Costa (POR) are third.

Defending 49erFX champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) moved up to first after four good races. A pair of seconds, a seventh and a sixth hand them a ten-point advantage over Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN).

Published in Olympic

Irish Olympic class sailors were tested again yesterday in fickle Miami breezes on the second day of the World Sailing Cup on Biscayne Bay. The important regatta marks the build up to the Rio Olympics in less that 200 days.

After six races In the mens 49er skiff Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast Lough lie 30th in a fleet of 61, up 20 places from Monday's poor start when the Belfast Lough duo were black flagged for a starting line penalty in race two.

Only two races have been sailed so far in the Laser Radial class which forms the second round of the irish trial for the single Rio berth between Annalise Murphy of the National Yacht Club and Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club. It was another long day with only one race completed. Hopkins has moved into 36th and Murphy is in 53rd in the 81–boat fleet. An earlier start is planned today and three races scheduled.

 

Launching ! I'm with a very international group. My coach is from Uruguay and the other sailors are from Brasil, Peru and Uruguay.Hoping to be fluent in Spanish by the end of the week

Posted by Aoife Hopkins Sailing on Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A 'niggling' foot Injury has forced the withdrawal of 49erfx campaigners Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey who  are not competing.

In the Paralympic Sonar, John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O'Carroll are sixth from nine.

Click here for the results table.

Sailors opening their curtains in Miami yesterday morning would have been welcomed by a pleasant breeze that was enough to put a grin on their faces.

Upon arriving at the venues of Sailing World Cup Miami their grins were to turn into a smile as a 14 knot south eastern breeze whipped its way around Biscayne Bay.

Predicted to hold throughout the day, the breeze was unable to sustain its tempo, dropping early afternoon and in the words of Australia's Jason Waterhouse it was a day to 'have your head on a screw.'

In the end, only the 49er, Laser and Paralympic fleets completed their full schedule of racing for the day with the remainder either completing three, two, one or in the RS:X Women and Finn fleets case, no races.

Laser and Laser Radial

Dutch sailor Rutger van Schaardenburg continued his solid start to the regatta with a first and sixth today. It was a slight step down from his 2-1 yesterday, but it was still the best score of the day, nipping Filip Jurišić (CRO) by virtue of a tiebreaker. Van Schaardenburg retains command of the overall lead, six points ahead of Jurišić. Behind the Croatian sailor, however, lies a tightly packed mob of top Laser talent; just 23 points separates second from 22nd. Included in that group is five-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA) in 13th and American medal hopeful Charlie Buckingham (USA) in 14th. Buckingham is in the first stage of the selection series for the U.S. Olympic Team. While US Sailing Team Sperry teammate Chris Barnard (USA) is not off to a good start, Erik Bowers (USA) is just 2 points behind Buckingham in the overall standings. The Lasers will hope for two races tomorrow and then, regardless of how many races have been completed, the fleet will be split into Gold and Silver Groups for the final two days of full-fleet racing.

49er and 49erFX

'Keeping it consistent' is a term every racing sailor aspires to and that term could not be more appropriate in the Olympic sailing arena.

Sailors don't necessarily have to win a race to claim a medal. Regular results at the front of the pack can go a long way to ensure you're there at the end when it counts.

Argentina's Victoria Travascio and Maria Sol Branz are well known for their light breeze consistency and they personified that once again by picking up a 2-1-2.

"We did very good and it was really cool,” explained Travisco. "We managed three good starts and that was it really. The first we went on the left, had a good start and stayed on the left.”

The Argentineans demonstrated their light wind nous in the middle of 2015, winning Pan American Games gold on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Canada. Miami's conditions on Tuesday suited them and they have leapt up the leader board, tied for third with Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA).

Ragna and Maia Agerup (NOR) hold their overnight lead with Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) in second.

Defending Miami 49er champions Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) took over at the top of the pile after four races. They opened up with a 13th, which they discarded before swiftly following up with a fourth, second and a first. They occupy first overall on 12 points.

James Peters and Fynn Sterritt (GBR) are second on 19 and overnight leaders Jorge Lima and Jose Costa (POR) drop to third on 24 points.

Paralympic Classes

Three 2.4mR races have thrown out different victors in each. Bruce Millar (CAN) took the first bullet on the opening day and in Tuesday's two, Peter Eagar (CAN) and Helena Lucas (GBR) crossed the line first in races two and three.

As a result, the trio are separated by one point at the top of the leader board. Miller leads on three points followed by Eagar and Lucas on four.

Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes (CAN) grabbed the lead in the Sonar following a second and a discarded seventh. Race wins went to Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Jacob Haug and Per Eugen Kristiansen as well as Alphonsus Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund who are eighth and fifth respectively.

Racing resumes on Wednesday 27 January at 10:00 local time. The Laser, Laser Radial and 49er will complete their qualification series and many of the fleets will be looking to catch up on races lost over two challenging days.

Published in Olympic

Irish sailors were tried and tested in a light Miami breeze yesterday with mid fleet results at best for Ireland's Olympic crews. In the mens 49er skiff Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast Lough were 51 from 61. A 'niggling' foot Injury has forced the withdrawal of 49erfx campaigners Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey who stayed shoreside in Biscayne Bay. In the women's Radial  Annalise Murphy (36th) continues to stay clear ahead of Aoife Hopkins (47th) in the second round of the womens trial but both Irish single-handers will be happy to see the back of day one in their 60–boat fleet.

Yesterday, was the big start for Olympic and Paralympic sailing in 2016 with 711 sailors afloat.

Laser and Laser Radial

It was a 'head out the boat' kind of day with sailors looking to play the shifts and read the current to advance in large packs of racers. The morning opened with 4-6 knots from the north that slowly swung to the east, coming in at 7 knots and peaking at 10.

Only the Laser fleet completed the scheduled number of races in what was a challenging day for sailors and officials alike. Four days of fleet racing remain ensuring adequate time to catch up on races lost ahead of Saturday's live Medal Races that will be available to view on YouTube worldwide and on ESPN3 in the USA.

Racing resumes this morning at 10:00 local time. Having lost races on Monday, the Race Committee will use the day to catch up on the schedule.

Dutch sailor Rutger van Schaardenburg knows the importance of not risking too much during the first few races of the regatta. But he's not afraid of opportunity. So when the opening's presented themselves during the first two races in the Yellow group of the Laser division, he pounced. The reward: a pair of first-place finishes.

"It's obviously an ideal start,” said the lanky Dutchman. "For me it was important not to have very bad races because tricky wind conditions today—light wind [that] could come from any direction—so I didn't want to start with a bad result and that worked out.”

The first race was a wire-to-wire win, by nearly two minutes over the second place boat. The second required some work, and van Schaardenburg isn't afraid to say, a little help from above after struggling off the line. The comeback could be broken into two distinct components. Halfway up the first beat, a favourable shift helped him to get back in touch with the lead group. Then he was able to move from 10th to first on the run.

"Downwind [it was] both being in the pressure and having the opportunity to go quick not having anyone on the back blocking the wind from me,” said van Schaardenburg. "Freedom, pressure and obviously the boatspeed was good.”

Milivoj Dukic of Montenegro also had a strong day with a third and a second, as did van Schaardenburg's countryman, Nicholas Heiner, who stands third with nine points.

With their start pushed back due to the mid-day lull in the breeze, the first of two fleets of Laser Radials didn't get started until after 15:00 local time, and the second didn't cross the line until after 16:00. In both groups a familiar face lead the way around the track. Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), the reigning world champion, won the earlier race, beating Emma Plasschaert (BEL) by 18 seconds. In the second group, it was London 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Lijia Xu (CHN) crossing the line first, followed by Silvia Zennaro (ITA).

49er and 49erFX

Following two races in the Blue and Yellow 49er fleets, Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) and Portugal's Jorge Lima and Jose Costa are tied on four points after a bullet and a third apiece.

However, the top of the pack could be different. Having won the opening race in the Yellow fleet Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen (DEN) crossed the finish line of the second thinking they had the perfect start with back to back victories.

Unfortunately, it was not to be as the pair were black flagged as Warrer explained, "We were a little surprised by the current. I think we got caught about a minute, half a minute before. We won the race even though we had a bad start and we sailed well, we're happy about that but it's a shame that we were over the line, that's life. It's important that we sailed well.”

Counting the 32nd the Danes sit in 25th but Warrer and Thomsen won't be disheartened. They know the venue well, taking bronze together in 2015 with Warrer winning gold in 2014 with Peter Lang.

"We like Miami and the shifty stuff as we're used to shifty conditions from back home,” said Warrer.

"It's good to come over here this time of year. We've come from cold, grey and raining in Denmark and Miami is a good place to sail.

"The level is high, it's always like this with a year until the Olympics. Everybody is improving, including ourselves and the level goes up. A lot of boats can win races. You can be punished for even small mistakes.”

Sailing World Cup Miami acts as a Danish qualifier for Rio 2016 but Warrer and Thomsen are left uncontested so will book their spot to the Olympic Games this week.

After a number of years of Danish skiff success, resulting in Warrer winning gold at Beijing 2008 and Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang picking up bronze at London 2012 the lack of strong Danish skiff crews in Miami can be seen as a bit of surprise.

"I guess I scared everybody away,” smiled Warrer. "It's a shame but most of the sailors were my age and stopped, wanting to try something else. We have good young crews coming up but they need one, two or three years more.

"It is a challenge for us as we need to find someone outside of Denmark to train and to push us. We've found that. We are training with the Germans and it's a really good cooperation and good teamwork. It's good for us as they're based in Kiel but it would be easier if we had some Danish crews at our level. Give it two years though and it will come.”

For now, the Danes are focusing on racing in Miami and have four further races on Tuesday that they will use to propel themselves up the leaderboard. The day's other race win went the way of France's Kévin Fischer and Yann Jauvin.

In the 34-boat 49erFX pack, Norwegian twins Ragna and Maia Agerup took the single race win late in the day. They were followed by Danish sisters Maiken Foght and Anne-Julie Schütt.

Four races follow for both fleets on Tuesday. The 49er Blue fleet will start at 10:00, Yellow at 10:20 and the 49erFX at 14:00.

Class leaders:
2.4 Meter (1 race sailed): Bruce Millar, CAN
470 Men (1): Asenathi Jim / Roger Hudson, RSA
470 Women (1): Fernanndo Oliveria / Ana Luiza Barbachan, BRA
49er Men (2): Jorge Lima / Jose Costa, POR
49er FX Women (2): Ragna Agerup / Maia Agerup, NOR
Finn (1): Jonas Hogh-Christensen, DEN
Laser Men (2): Rutger van Schaardenburg, NED
Laser Radial Women (1): Lijia Xu, CHN
Nacra 17 (2): Mandy Mulder / Coen de Koning, NED
RS:X Men (1): Chunzhuang Liu, CHN
RS:X Women (1): Lillan De Geus, NED
SKUD 18: no results posted
Sonar (1): Bruno Jourdren / Eric Flageul / Nicolas Vimont-Vicary, FRA

Full results here.

Published in Olympic

A mixed Irish sailing team of youth and experience compete in Miami this morning at the start of Olympic year that includes, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the second round of the women's Irish Laser Radial trial between Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins. 

Already qualified for Rio, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are racing in the 49er as is the three-man Paralympic Sonar sailing team of John Twomey, Ian Costello and Austin O’Carroll. Still seeking an Olympic nomination are hopefuls Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49erFX class.

In less than 200 days, many of the nearly 800 sailors gathered in Coconut Grove this week will walk in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. For the sailors with a confirmed spot in the Olympic Regatta, this event is about sharpening their tactical game, refining their equipment and improving their conditioning. Others have a more immediate focus as they are in the midst of a selection series for their respective countries or working to qualify their country for the Olympic regatta.

Team Seaton-McGovern will be looking to take last season’s ups and downs into what is a tough regatta, and with stiff competition from the world’s best skiff crews, the pressure is on. In the 49erFX boat, Team Brewster-Tidey will be looking to build on last year’s  performances in preparation for a final qualification bid.

“There’s a lot at stake this year at Sailing World Cup Miami,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “For the first time in the event’s 27-year history, it’s being used as part of the U.S. selection process and part of country qualification process for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

For American sailors in eight of the Olympic classes and the 2.4mR, this event is the first of two events that will determine the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team for this summer’s Games.

Sailing World Cup Miami is the second of six regattas in the 2016 series. From 25-30 January 2016, Coconut Grove, Miami, USA is hosting more than 780 sailors who are competing across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic classes on the beautiful waters of Biscayne Bay.

Sailing World Cup Miami is the second of six regattas in the 2016 series. From January 25-30, 2016, Coconut Grove, Fla., is hosting more than 780 sailors from around the world who are competing across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic classes on the beautiful waters of Biscayne Bay.

Competition in US Sailing’s premiere racing event gets underway this Monday in all 10 Olympic classes and two of three Paralympic classes. Saturday’s Medal Races will be carried live on ESPN3.

The Olympic classes competing this week will be: Laser Radial (women), Laser (men), Finn (men), Men’s RS:X, Women’s RS:X, 49er (men), Men’s 470, Women’s 470, Nacra 17 (mixed) and 49erFX (women). Paralympic classes included are the 2.4mR (open, Para World Sailing) and Sonar (open, Para World Sailing).

 

Published in Olympic

With under 200 days to go to the Olympic Games, Irish radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins are preparing for the second round of their Olympic trials at Miami Olympic Classes regatta next week. Murphy leads after the first round of the trials on Rio waters in December and now the Irish rivals will enter the second test at the ISAF World Cup on Biscayne Bay. Hopefully, there will be no unexpected implications in Florida as there appeared to be in Rio. 

Murphy has been busy over the Christmas period competing again in Rio, finishing ninth overall at the Brazilian championships, giving her more valuable race time on Olympic waters.

Apart from Irish interest in the trial for the single Irish place, the Laser Radial fleet will be the one to watch in Miami with a special trio facing off at the top of the 80-boat fleet. London 2012 gold medallist Lijia Xu (CHN) will be joined by silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and bronze medallist Evi Van Acker (BEL).

Alongside Murphy, Xu, Bouwmeester and Van Acker had a famous four way battle for gold at London 2012 with the Chinese racer coming out on top. Xu stepped away from the Laser Radial in 2013 but after a two-year hiatus she returned to Olympic sailing at the 2015 Laser Radial World Championship.

The rivalry with Bouwmeester and Van Acker resumed instantly as she finished sixth to their second and third. With more miles and training in the bag, Xu, who stole the hearts of the sailing world in 2012 will be aiming to make an impression in Miami.

Denmark's Anne Marie Rindom continues to excite in the Laser Radial and returns to Miami to defend the title she won 12 months ago. Rindom also comes into the American World Cup regatta off the back of a world championship victory last year and will be aiming for the medals once again.

Much like the Radial, the Laser fleet will feature many of the leading lights of sailing and is set to be a hot contest. There will be no Irish mens trial in Florida as the second trial after Rio has moved back to a European venue.

World #1 Tom Burton (AUS) and #2 Matt Wearn (AUS) will spearhead a fleet that includes key players on the road to Rio. Five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt (BRA), 2014 world champion Nicholas Heiner (NED), Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED), Andy Maloney (NZL), Jesper Stalheim (SWE) and Charlie Buckingham (USA) will be amongst the front runners looking to capture top honours.

Racing is set to commence at 10:00 local time on Monday 25 January across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic fleets. Medal Races on Saturday 30 January.

Also racing in Miami next week is Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49erfx, 49er duo Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern and the Paralympic trio John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O Carroll who have just launched a logo campaign.

Published in Olympic
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