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Top ranked Irish Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy is back in European action on Saturday as part of a four boat Irish team competing at the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapfre, to be sailed in the Bay of Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

It's another important marker on the road to the London Olympics in 100 days time and Annalise will be anxious to put in a strong performance against her arch rivals, current world champion Marit Boumeester of Holland and Evi Van Acker of Belgium. 

900 sailors from 53 nations will take part at the 43 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapfre, to be sailed in the Bay of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, from 31 March to 7 April.

Competing alongside Annalise is also London qualified Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er dinghy as well as 470 pairing Ger Owens and Scott Flannigan and Laser singlehander James Espey, both still seeking a last chance of Olympic qualification.

The opening of a free access village for all sailing enthusiasts to follow the racing and as meeting point for all sailors and participants, located at leisure centre Pabisa Beach Club in Playa de Palma and the extension of the racing programme with an official training day are the main novelties presented today at the main sponsor's headquarters in Palma.

The presentation act has been presided over by Javier Morente, Sports General Manager of the Govern de les Illes Balears; Fernando Gilet, Sports and Cultures councillor of Palma City Council; Rafael Lleonard, Vice president of the Federación Balear de Vela; Gabriel Dolç, president of Club Nàutic S'Arenal; Javier Sanz, president of Real Club Náutico de Palma; Juan Antonio Cardona, president of Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa; José Antonio Continente; regional manager of Mapfre in Baleares, and Ferran Muniesa, general manager of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre.

A tasting of the new Sofia Mapfre

"We have already introduced some novelties in this edition that will mark the future of the regatta", explained during the presentation act the spokesperson of the Sofia Mapfre. The new regatta's social centre and the inclusion of the official training day are the first changes put to the test this year and that will serve as a tasting of the new Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre we will be seeing from 2013, with its inclusion in the renewed ISAF Sailing World Cup.

This Olympic and Paralympic sailing circuit was formed up to now by five European events, one in the US and another one in Australia. With the objective of having a more global concept, the International Sailing Federation has extended it to Asia and Africa and has cut down to two the European events included. After a fierce battle against strong European candidates, the Sofia Mapfre and the Semaine Olimpique Française were selected as the two European venues of the new 2013 and 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup.

In words of the Sofia Mapfre general manager, this selection confirms the regatta is part of the world elite: "We continue to be a point of reference. Our regatta, because the Sofia is our regatta, it belongs to all of us, is one of the top five regattas in the world. We must be proud of this achievement, attained thanks to everyone: the organising clubs, our sponsors and the media for your coverage".

"I would like to congratulate publicly all those who participated in the Sofia Mapfre bid for the ISAF Sailing World Cup and thank the support of Mapfre, a company that has just very well deservedly been selected as best sponsor company of the year by the Real Federación Española de Vela", added Muniesa.

"We are very proud to sponsor this regatta because it exalts the values of effort, preparation, acknowledgment of work well done, the will to succeed and perseverance which are also linked to Mapfre, and this is why we will continue to and guarantee our support for many years", stated José Antonio Continente.

An edition marked by London 2012

The 43 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapfre, first European stop of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, will be covered with Olympic colours. After last year's long sailing season which started in spring and ended at the ISAF World Championships in Perth (Australia), the Mallorca regatta marks the beginning of the countdown to the Olympics. For many it is the first big event of the season in which the progress made by sailors and their rivals during the winter trainings will be put to the test.

The fact of being an Olympic year is shown by the number of International Olympic teams training since January in Mallorca as winter training base. Club Nàutic S'Arenal has hosted 314 sailors and 37 technical staff from 31 nations from all around the world in its Arenal Training Camps.

Nine classes in action

Nine classes (49er, 470 M, 470 W, Finn, Laser Standard, Laser Radial, Star, Women Match Racing and 2.4mR) will meet in Mallorca over Easter at the first European stop of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, following the regattas in Melbourne and Miami.

The Laser Standard and Laser Radial fleets will be based at Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa. Club Nàutic S'Arenal will be the venue for the 470 M, 470 W, 49er and Finn. Real Club Náutico de Palma will be host to Olympic keelboat classes Star and Women's Match Racing while Paralympic class 2.4mR will be based at Escuela de Vela Calanova.

New social events programme

The 43 Trofeo Sofia Mapfre also presents a new social events programme to take place at the new village located at Pabisa Beach Club. The closing event scheduled on Friday 6 is the big party of this edition but it will also be accompanied by other smaller events. For instance, on the last day, there will be the unique opportunity to follow the Medal Races live from this exclusive leisure premises located on the seafront, halfway between Club Nàutic S'Arenal and Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, two of the Organising Clubs together with Real Club Náutico de Palma and Escuela de Vela Calanova.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#BACARDI CUP – London Olympic pair Peter O'Leary and David Burrows took another race win in their new boat in Miami yesterday to put them two points off the overall lead gonig into today's final two races of the prestigious cup.

In further good news in the irish camp O'Leary's brother Nicholas in his first week saiing in the Star keelboat is 11th overall in the 67-boat fleet after taking a sixth, one place behind his brother in yesterday afternoon's fifth race of the series. WM Nixon has more on this brothers in arms story in today's Irish independent here.

For the second day in a row O'Leary and Burrows won the first race of the day in the Star class which is competing for the 85th Cup. Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (France) were second across the line, and when they won race two, they were propelled to the top of the overall standings with nine points. O'Leary and Burrows, after finishing fifth in the second race, have 11 points and are followed by 2008 Star World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (Poland) with 15 points after finishes of 9-3 today. Austria's five-time Olympian Hans Spitzauer, sailing with Gerd Habermueller, is fourth overall with 17 points, followed by 2007 BacardI Cup champion Hamish Pepper and crew Jim Turner (New Zealand) with 23 points.

"It was a really great day," said Xavier Rohart while admitting that he and Ponsot – with whom he has been sailing since 2008 – did not expect to do this well. "This was not our favorite weather, but we had good work with our coach. Miami is good training for Weymouth [site of the 2012 Olympic Regatta]. It's why we are here, and to know the people we will be sailing against. To win [the Bacardi Cup] would be a very good end for our training." When Rohart races in Weymouth, it will be his sixth Olympic Regatta. His best finish – a bronze medal – was earned at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Full results here

Racing concludes today Saturday, March 10.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#BACARDI CUP – With a large area of high pressure parked over the East Coast of America  generating strong easterly winds across the Florida peninsula, organisers of the 85th Bacardi Cup were forced to cancel racing for the second day in a row. Organisers have revised the schedule for the 67 registered Star teams to include a second race today and Friday.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#BACARDI CUP – Irish Olympic crew Peter O'Leary and David Burrows rounded the top mark 30th in the first race of the Bacardi Cup in Miami but got back to eighth by the finish line in the 51-boat fleet. A big shift on the first upwind leg caught them out but 'we fought back well' O'Leary said on coming ashore.

New training partner O'Leary's younger brother Nicholas sailing with Rodney Hagebols placed 18th in his second week sailing the Star as the Irish tune up partner at the Miami venue.

With just under 150 days to go to the Olympic regatta Peter O’Leary and David Burrows unveiled Ireland’s latest weapon in Miami for the Bacardi Cup, the next test-bed in their quest for Olympic gold this summer.

The Dublin-Cork duo are banking on an extra turn of speed from a brand new P-Star keelboat which they believe can put them on the London 2012 podium.

Conditions were near perfect as the Star sailors headed out on Biscayne Bay for the first day of racing in the 85th Bacardi Cup.

The Star class has only one race scheduled each day and today's series opener took place under cloudy skies with a northerly breeze in the mid teens. The Austrian team of five-time Olympian Hans Spitzauer, sailing with Gerd Habermueller, who had raced in Miami during the Rolex Miami OCR in late January, determined that they wanted to be on the right side of the course today. As the scoreboard attests, it proved to be a good move right from the start.

"Excellent day of sailing due to the winds, just perfect for the first day of this Bacardi Cup anniversary event!," said a very happy Spitzauer after racing today. "We made a really good choice, and extended to take the lead. Today was a really good race for us, we had a great lead, we were pushed by others but today was our day."

Finishing second were 2011 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) members Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.) and Ian Coleman (Annapolis, Md.), who finished 14th at the Star World Championship in Australia this past December. Third across the line was the Ukranian team of Arthur Anosov and Vitali Kushnir, followed by 2006 Etchells World Champion and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith (Marblehead, Mass.) who is racing with Brian Fatih (Miami, Fla.). Fatih, a member of the 2012 USSTAG, will represent the U.S.A. at the 2012 Olympic Regatta in England as crew for Mark Mendelblatt.

During the event sailors can enjoy the hospitality lounge, BACARDI Rum tastings, as well as the daily prize giving for the top-three finishers, plus the final awards dinner. The work of Rhode Island-based award-winning nautical photographer Onne van der Wal will be on exhibit in the North Hall of the Coconut Grove Convention Center, along with "150 Years of BACARDI," a collection of information, photos and artifacts from the BACARDI museum. The exhibits will be open to the public from noon to 7:00PM daily and are free of charge. The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club is coordinating on-water activities in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The U.S. Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Miami are also supporting the event. Racing will be held on three separate courses approximately two miles out on Biscayne Bay.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#BACARDI CUP – Ireland's Olympic keelboat duo Peter O'Leary and David Burrows have launched a new boat in time for Monday's Star class Bacardi Cup in Miami and the American organisers have tipped the Cork-Dublin pair as front runners in the 65-boat fleet.

Details of the new Irish boat and the pair's new 'secret' training partner are in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column.

The Bacardi Cup headlines the week-long regatta in Miami, and, with 65 Star teams registered to date, will continue its tradition of excellent competition. Among the notable sailors vying for the 85th Cup title are 2007 winner Hamish Pepper with crew Jim Turner (New Zealand) and 2008 Olympian O'Leary and Burrows (Ireland). Three of the top-seven finishers at the 2011 Star World Championship in Australia will also compete, including 2008 world champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (Poland) who finished fourth in Perth, as well as Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (Norway) and Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (France) who were sixth and seventh respectively. Leading the American contenders are 2009 Star World Champion George Szabo (San Diego) who will sail the BACARDI Cup with Miami's Magnus Liljedahl, who was both world champion and winner of Olympic Gold in 2000.

Next week the red carpet will again be rolled out for the annual Miami Sailing Week (BMSW) when it returns to Coconut Grove in Miami, Fla., from March 4-10, 2012. BMSW's hospitality is the foundation on which this event is built, and when combined with great race management and an unbeatable winter sailing location draws the world's best one-design sailors to South Florida for competition in five classes.

The third annual running of BACARDI Miami Sailing Week will mark several milestones starting with the 150th anniversary of the BACARDI Company, as well as the 50th year that the BACARDI Cup is being held in Miami for the storied Star class which just celebrated its own 100th anniversary. Also being celebrated during the week will be Jose E. "Tito" Argamasilla Bacardi, who lost his battle with cancer late in 2011. During his 40 year career with the company he not only hosted the BACARDI Cup for several decades but also founded the BACARDI museum in Miami.

The BACARDI Cup headlines the week-long regatta in Miami, and, with 65 Star teams registered to date, will continue its tradition of excellent competition. Among the notable sailors vying for the 85th BACARDI Cup title are 2007 winner Hamish Pepper with crew Jim Turner (New Zealand) and 2008 Olympian Peter O'Leary and David Burrows (Ireland). Three of the top-seven finishers at the 2011 Star World Championship in Australia will also compete, including 2008 world champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (Poland) who finished fourth in Perth, as well as Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (Norway) and Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (France) who were sixth and seventh respectively. Leading the American contenders are 2009 Star World Champion George Szabo (San Diego) who will sail the BACARDI Cup with Miami's Magnus Liljedahl, who was both world champion and winner of Olympic Gold in 2000.

Racing for the Stars gets underway on Monday, March 5. Starting on Thursday, March 8, the Stars will be joined on Biscayne Bay by sailors in the Viper 640, Audi Melges 20, and Melges 24 classes, along with the J/80 class which makes its event debut following their successful participation in the 2011 BACARDI Newport Sailing Week. Racing, for all classes, will conclude on Saturday, March 10.

Favorites in the 20-strong Melges 24 class are Alan Field (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Riccardo Simoneschi (Milan, Italy), who drove to podium finishes of second and third, respectively, in 2011. Kristen Lane (Tiburon, Calif.), the 29erXX North American Champion, is another sailor to watch in this competitive fleet.

Entries are up in both the Audi Melges 20 and Viper 640 classes, with the top-three finishers from each class in 2011 returning to compete on Biscayne Bay. In the Audi Melges 20, which has 36 boats registered to date, Mary Anne Ward (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) will look to defend her title against two-time ('11, '10) class national champion Michael Kiss (Holland, Mich.) and Paul Reilly (Chicago, Ill.). For the 17-strong Viper 640 fleet, BMSW defending champions Glyn Locke, David Chapman and Ian Nicholson (Isle of Wight), will again face Justin Scott (Greenwich, Conn.) and Joseph Healey (Stormville, N.Y.).

During the event sailors will be able to enjoy themselves in the hospitality lounge, at BACARDI Rum tastings, as well as the daily prize giving for the top-three finishers and the final awards dinner. The work of Rhode Island-based award-winning nautical photographer Onne van der Wal will be on exhibit in the North Hall of the Coconut Grove Convention Center, along with "150 Years of BACARDI," a collection of information, photos and artifacts from the BACARDI museum. The exhibits will be open to the public from noon to 7:00PM daily and are free of charge. The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club will coordinate on-water activities in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The U.S. Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Miami will also support the event. Racing will be held on three separate courses approximately two miles out on Biscayne Bay.

Published in Olympics 2012
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#OLYMPIC – Ireland will be hoping for repeat performances at this year's Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta this June having previously won medals on Olympic waters in both 2010 and 2011.

Entries for the 2012 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta are now open, with an 'early entry discount' available to those who get their entries in before the 30th April 2012. To enter online or download the Notice of Race visit the event website, which is now live at www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk

In 2010, Peter O'Leary won Gold in a breathtaking performance (with German stand in crew Frithjof Kleen) when he left a string of world champions and Olympic medallists including Torben Grael, Robert Sheidt and the current Olympic Gold Medallists, Britain's Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson in his wake. Last year Annalise Murphy took Bronze and showed the Laser Radial world her true speed in big breeze at the Weyomuth venue.

Skandia Sail for Gold 2012 takes place between 4th-9th June at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the host venue for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing regattas. All 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes will compete across seven courses in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour, in what will be the seventh installment of Skandia Sail for Gold.

"Tougher competition than the Olympics" was Ben Ainslie's summary of Skandia Sail for Gold 2011, and we can expect this years competition to be even fiercer, as the worlds best sailors – who by then should know if they have be chosen to represent their countries at the 2012 Games – battle to leave their mark on the Olympic waters for the last time before the Olympic showdown.

Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2012 is also the penultimate event of the 2011-12 ISAF World Cup series, meaning sailors will be looking to consolidate their place in the Series standings before the final takes place in Kiel, Germany just one week after Skandia Sail for Gold.

With a limited number of entries for the Laser Radial, only 80 places will be available in contrast to 120 in 2011, and the Women's Match Racing restricted to 18 entries, competitors are advised to register early. Entries received before the 30th April 2012 will qualify for the early entry fee. All other on-line entries must be received no later than 21st May 2012, other than the Women's Match Racing for which all applications must be received by the 30th April. Successful applicants for the Match Racing will be informed by 5th May 2012 and on-line payment must be received no later than 21st May 2012.

Skandia remains onboard as title sponsor for the event. The Southampton-based long term investment company is well known for its support of sailing, having been title sponsor since the event's inception in 2006.

Jo Rimmer, Skandia's Head of Brand Marketing said: "In terms of excitement, this year promises to be a real white knuckle ride. The eyes of the world will be on all the top sailors and the pressure will be on to do well and get on the podium."

Alongside Skandia, UK Sport continues as an official event partner. Skandia Sail for Gold is part of UK Sport's World Class Events Programme, which distributes around £3.5 million of Lottery funding each year to support the bidding and staging costs of major events on home soil, as well as providing specialist support to organisers.

RYA Event Director Tim Hall commented, "I think it is safe to say that this is the most important sailing regatta of 2012 besides the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is the last opportunity for sailors to experience the sailing waters and conditions in Weymouth and Portland before the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. We are well prepared to give the sailors and their support teams a fantastic experience both on and off the water with World Class race management and event organisation at the Olympic and Paralympic venue."

Esther Nicholls, Head of Major Events at UK Sport, added: "UK Sport is committed to bringing world class sporting events to the UK ahead of London 2012, and this event is part of what we believe to be the most comprehensive pre-Games events programme ever staged by an Olympic and Paralympic host nation.

"Skandia Sail for Gold 2012 will provide an invaluable opportunity for British athletes to experience international competition on home waters, to prepare them for their home Olympic Games, as well as a chance to build on the event staging capabilities of the sport."

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Friday 1st June – Event office opens for registration

Sunday 3rd June – Briefing for coaches and team leaders

Sunday 3rd June – Meeting with umpires – Women's Match Racing

Sunday 3rd June – Opening Ceremony

Monday 4th June – Racing day 1

Tuesday 5th June – Racing day 2

Wednesday 6th June – Racing day 3

Thursday 7th June – Racing day 4

Friday 8th June – Racing day 5 (final day of racing for Paralympic classes)

Saturday 9th June – Medal Races (no warning signal after 1530)

Published in Olympics 2012

Sixteen crews have so far confirmed their participation at the 420 Class's Mid-term Training Camp at Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre in Schull, County Cork.

 Coaching will be provided by Irish Olympic Sailor Ross Killian, Tom Mapplebeck, Christian Birrell and double 470 World Champion Nic Asher.

 Further information on the Training Camp, which runs from Monday 13th to Friday 17th February, can be found on http://www.sail420.com/

Published in Racing

#BEN AINSLIE – As Britain's sailing superstar awaits a hearing with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) over the incident at the World Championships in Perth last December, the consensus in the electronic media is that he has been hard done by and blame should be attributed to the media boat that caused the wash that was at the centre of the row. While quite a few of the commentators believe that the two race disqualification for gross misconduct that cost Ben Ainslie the World Championship is more than adequate punishment, Water Rat sees some similarities with soccer star Eric Cantona's transgression in 1994 that resulted in 120 hours community service and an 8 month ban from the sport.

To re-cap, Cantona was sent off in a Manchester United v Crystal Palace game for a kick on a Palace defender. As he reached the sideline Cantona launched himself into the stands and kicked a supporter in a kung-fu style following up with a series of punches. Cantona was arrested and convicted for assault, but the original two week sentence was overturned and replaced by 120 hours of community service.  His team, Manchester United, suspended Cantona for the remaining four months of the season and he was fined £20,000. The Football Association increased the ban to eight months and fined him a further £10,000. Football's International body, FIFA confirmed the suspension as worldwide.  Cantona also lost the captaincy of the French team.

The International Jury found as fact that Ainslie had committed an act of physical aggression, that was not only a gross breach of good manners but also brought the sport into disrepute.

The Football Association's statement is worth quoting: 'The members of the FA Commission are satisfied that the actions of Eric Cantona following his sending-off at Crystal Palace in the Manchester United match on January 25 brought the game into disrepute. Eric Cantona has therefore been in breach of FA rules. After taking into consideration the previous misconduct of Eric Cantona, the provocation he suffered, the prompt action taken by Manchester United, Eric Cantona's expression of regret to the Commission, the apologies he conveyed to those affected and the assurances he gave to his future conduct, the members of the Commission decided that Eric Cantona should be suspended forthwith from all football activities up to and including 30th September 1995 and in addition fined £10,000.'

It is worth noting that Ainslie also apologised, but his reaction to the Jury's decision was to criticise their reaction. RYA's Olympic Manager also denied that an assault occurred.

Respected sailor, sailing author, judge and America's Cup umpire  Brad Dellenbaugh commented:  "It's interesting to see the spin, particularly from the RYA. While not condoning Ainslie's actions, it seems they are trying to lay this at the feet of ISAF for inappropriately trialing new television initiatives at the Worlds, then at that feet of the Jury for not letting the Championship be determined by the sailors on the water. The chance to win his sixth Worlds was taken away from him.

What fails to get mentioned is that he WAS winning the Worlds despite getting screwed by the wake. Stay in his boat; win the Worlds. The reason he didn't win the Worlds is because he couldn't control his anger and he boarded another boat. Period! I wonder how Elvstrom would have reacted."

The RYA Tribunal will now consider the incident and the sailing world will be fascinated to see how they deal with Ainslie. RYA's own guidance to Race Officers rates physical or threatened violence as 4-5 on a scale of 1-5.

Despite the apparent overwhelming sympathy it is difficult to see how RYA can avoid further sanction in this case. The question probably is what is an appropriate penalty.  Given the strength in depth of Britain's Finn sailors, a ban of Cantona-like proportions would not cause great damage to GBR's prospects, but many would feel that denying (for the time being anyway) Ainslie's opportunity to become the greatest sailing Olympian would be too harsh.

Ainslie won the British trials comfortably securing the nomination almost a year in advance. Maybe a re-trial would be a just punishment, opening the door a crack for Giles Scott and Ed Wright.  For Ainslie, being asked to prove himself again might not be much more than an inconvenience, but the message sent by the Tribunal would clearly state that no person, however great their stature, is beyond reproach.

Published in Water Rat

#MOCR – A fourth place finish in light winds in the double points medal race saw Peter O'Leary and David Burrows move up one place to fifth overall at the Miami Olympic classes regatta in Florida yesterday. Single-hander Annalise Murphy who qualified for the medal race in the Laser Radial finished ninth overall when she placed tenth in her medal race.

The Miami results show an improvement in consistency for both members of the Irish Olympic team, O'Leary and Burrows scoring nine top ten results from 11 races. Annalise's scoresheet included two race wins and three other top ten results.

In the lightest breezes yet over six days of sailing on Biscayne Bay, ten Olympic classes racing in US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR still managed to put on quite a show as they competed in their final medal races to determine gold, silver and bronze winners.  Following the same format as the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, the event also hosted three Paralympic classes (which determined medal winners yesterday) and a total of 529 sailors from 41 countries.

In Star class, Brazil's two-time Olympic medalists and that country's most successful and celebrated sailors, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, won the gold after finishing third in today's medal race.  "When you go into the medal race, many guys can win," said Scheidt.  "You cannot focus only on one guy, so our strategy was to try to make a clean start, especially with speed, because the wind was very light; that was more important than getting to the favored end."

Sneaking into the top-three overall, where they had not been all week, was France's Xavier Rohart/Pierre Alexis Ponso, who finished second today.  The performance secured them the silver medal with just the edge they needed over the bronze medalists Eivind Melleby/ Petter Moerland Pedersen (NOR), who finished sixth today and also had been in third at racing's end yesterday. Losing what seemed to be a sure podium position going into today was Fredrik Loof/Max Salminen's (SWE), who finished eighth in the medal race and fell to fourth overall from second yesterday, only one point out of medal reach.

"The wind made a big shift to the left on the first beat," said Scheidt, "but we weren't there. We were trying to cover the Swedish, and then we were able to tack on them two times and bounce them to the right.  Then the left paid big, and we managed to round sixth at the top mark. From then on our race was a little more comfortable, but we were still afraid of the French who were doing really well. We climbed to fourth, and they were in third; in the end, we nailed a third and the French got second."

Scheidt added that all of the top four teams plus more here will be competing at the Olympics, "and they will be stronger, so I think it was very nice for us to win the first regatta of the year. It gives us confidence but we know we have a long way to go until Weymouth."

For Paul Goodison (GBR) and Bruno Fontes (BRA), it was all equal (point scores of 20 each) going into the Laser race today, so it was literally who-beat-whom that would determine gold.

"I decided to engage a little before the start but nothing too much," said Goodison, the 2008 Laser Olympic Gold Medalist and 2009 World Champion, who finished second to Fontes's fifth.  "I won the right hand side of my competition and just pulled away from there. Once I was in front, it was just about extending the lead." With Fontes not able to sail away with anything less than a silver medal, it was David Wright's (CAN) focus to win the bronze, which he did by finishing fourth.

"All week the racing has been glamour--really good breeze, but today was quite tricky with it being much lighter and quite patchy," said Goodison.  " Out of the first six races I won four of them, so I was really happy with that, and then going into the gold fleet (mid-week ), it was all about consolidating that lead."

Favored going into today's 49er race, Nico Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) finished second to secure the gold, while Erik Storck/Trevor Moore (USA) won the race to maintain their second-place position from yesterday and take home silver.

"This week has been perfect for us," said Karth, who with Resch is a two-time Olympian and has qualified his country for the Olympics but has yet to be named to the Olympic Team.  "We were struggling in the first few races, but by the end of the week we made it hard for them (Storck/Moore) to catch up."  (The Austrians had a 19-point lead going into the medal race.)  Winning the bronze was Lauri Lehtinen/Kalle Bask (FIN), who had been in third overall yesterday.

Lijia Xu, China's Laser Radial Olympic Bronze Medalist from 2008 and a 2006 World Champion, won the gold here after finishing eighth today to Marit Bouwmeester's (NED) ninth, which was good for silver.

"It was very competitive," said Xu, who positioned herself as close as possible to Bouwmeester today in order to control her. "We have the medalists from the 2011 World Championships in Perth and many other good sailors from all around the world."  The Perth champions are Bouwmeester, Belgium's Evi Van Acker, and the USA's Paige Railey, and while Van Acker finished fourth today to take the bronze medal, Railey won the race.  "Weymouth (where the Olympic Sailing Regatta will take place) could be light to medium breeze, so it is good practice," added Xu.

In 470 Men's, Australia's Mathew Belcher/Malcolm Page held the lead the entire week, and in today's medal race finished tenth to clinch the gold.  Ahead of them in eighth place were Sven Coster/Kalle Coster (NED), who took the silver, with fourth-place finishers Panagoitis Kampouridis/Efstathios (GRE) taking the bronze.

To secure the gold in 470 Women's, Lisa Westerhof/Lobke Berkhout (NED), who are two-time World Champions and heading to the Olympic Games, had to make top-six in today's medal race and ended up taking third. "It was very tricky and very light," said Westerhof, adding that waves from spectator boats sometimes stopped them in their tracks.  After day two, Westerhof/Berkhout had jumped ahead of Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clarke, who took the silver today after finishing fourth.  "The British spilled some points on one day, and we kept sailing very strong," said Westerhof.  The bronze was won by Sophie Weguelin/Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) after they won today's race.

Lucy Macgregor/Annie Lush/ Kate Macgregor (GBR) won the gold medal in Women's Match Racing with a 3-1 win over Olivia Price/Nina Curtis/Lucinda Whitty (AUS), who had to settle for silver after their fates were sealed in the final match of their first-to-three flight.   The race looked to be going the Aussies' way when GBR lagged as much as 12 boat lengths behind during the first lap of the twice-around course.  Their momentum was halted, however, on the second upwind leg when they hit some major waves and tried to tack with too little speed while GBR closed the gap.  Back in the game, GBR sailed to a lead that exchanged mouse for cat, and with plenty of further batting around, proved that match racing is one of the most exciting Olympic disciplines to watch.

Taking bronze in the Petit Finals after battling with Australia's Olivia Price/Nina Curtis/Lucinda Whitty was the USA's Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.)/Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham (Miami, Fla.)/Alana O'Reilly (Charleston, S.C.).

Demita Vega De Lille (MEX) considers her gold medal here in RS:X Women's another notch in the harness she wears while pursuing her Olympic dreams."This event will not give me any points for the Olympic Games, but it is very good for me for the training," said Vega De Lille, who has not yet made her country's Olympic Team.  "I am very happy to be here, and I hope to qualify in Spain at the World Championships."

Taking the silver was Farrah Hall (USA), who has won the right among fellow teammates to go to the Olympic Games but has yet to qualify her country, while winning bronze was Dominique Vallee (CAN).

Nick Dempsey (GBR), who will represent his country at the Olympic Games, was rehearsing all week for his victory today in the RS:X Men's windsurfing race.  In fact, this was his 11th straight win in as many races here. Fellow teammate Elliot Carney clinched the silver with 31 overall points to Dempsey's 11, while Sebastian Wang-Hansen (NOR) took the bronze with 38 points overall.

If anyone else's performance here could be called decisive for the gold it would have to be Zach Railey's (Clearwater, Fla., USA) in the 25-boat Finn class. With a 12-point lead over Denmark's Jonas Hogh Christensen going into today and nothing worse than a third-place finish in his 10-race lead-up series, Railey won today's race for good measure, leaving Hogh Christensen to take fourth for silver.  With 18 points separating those two in the final standings, Canada's Greg Douglas finished third today to add six points to his score line (another 12 points behind Hogh Christensen) and post a final 45 points for bronze.

"Miami is where I went to college and it all started here, training full time and wanting to make the push towards the Olympic Games," said Railey, who graduated in 2006 and won an Olympic Silver Medal at the 2008 Games, "and now I'm going back to the Games in 2012, and to have my first World Cup victory here in Miami makes it sweeter."

About today's race, Railey said, "I definitely knew that there was going to be some pressure from the Danish sailor.  We were locked in a pretty tight match race there before the start, but I was able to break away from him and sail my own race. The goal going in was to capitalize on my performance this week and go out in a good dominating fashion."

US Sailing's Golden Torch Award

US Sailing's Golden Torch Trophy, awarded to the U.S. sailor with the best overall performance at US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR, this year went to Finn Gold Medalist Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.).  The torch, from the 1980 Moscow Olympics, was presented by the Russian Olympic Committee to Andrew Kostanecki – United States Olympic Sailing Committee from 1985 to 1988.  Mr. Kostanecki gave the torch to US Sailing as an award for aspiring Olympians and Paralympians.  This is the first time that Railey has received this award.

US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR, established in 1990, is open to boats competing in events chosen for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. The event is significant as the second of seven stops on ISAF's Sailing World Cup circuit and is the only of those to be hosted in North America. The USA was represented with the largest contingent of teams (135), followed by Canada (85), Sweden and The Netherlands (25 each), Great Britain (22), then Argentina and Norway (both 14).  Fifteen nations were represented in Saturday night's Medal Ceremony. Taking away the most medals was Great Britain with eight (3 golds, 4 silvers, 1 bronze), followed by the USA and The Netherlands with five each (respectively, 3 silvers, 2 bronze, and 2 golds, 2 silvers, one bronze). Canada claimed four medals, while Norway and Australia each came away with three; Brazil and France with two, and Austria, Finland, China, Belgium, Greece, Denmark and Mexico each with one apiece.

(top-three finishes follow)

Sonar (10 boats) – 10 races

Gold: Udo Hessels/ Marcel van de Veen/ Mischa Rossen (NED) 3, [6], 4, 3,

5, 3, 1, 1, 1, 2 (23)

Silver: John Robertson/ Hannah Stodel/ Steve Thomas (GBR) 4, 2, 3, [6], 3,

4, 2, 4, 3, 3 (28)

Bronze: Aleksander Wang-Hansen/ Marie Solberg/Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR)

[7], 7, 2, 5, 1, 5, 3, 2, 2, 4 (31)

Skud-18 (6 boats) – 10 races

Gold: Daniel Fitzgibbon/Liesl Tesch (AUS) [5], 1, 1, 1, 4, 4, 1, 1, 4, 1

(18)

Silver: Alexandra Rickham/Niki Birrell (GBR) 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, [3], 2, 2, 3,

3 (19)

Bronze: Jennifer French (St. Petersburg, Fla.)/Jean-Paul Creignou

(St.Petersburg, Fla.,USA) 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 1, 3, [OCS], 1, 2 (23)

2.4mR (25 boats) – 10 races

Gold: Damien Seguin (FRA) 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, [9], 3, 1 (17)

Silver: Paul Tingley (CAN) 6, 7, 2, [9], 7, 5, 2, 4, 2, 7 (42)

Bronze: Barend Kol (NED) 5, 16, 4, 5, 3, 2, [DNF], 5, 4, 4 (48)

49er (23 boats) – 15 races + Medal Race

Gold: Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) 5, 4, 5, 1, 4, 7, 1,

1, 1, 2, 4, 1, 1, 1, [9], 4 (42)

Silver: Erik Storck(Huntington,N.Y.)/Trevor Moore(Naples, Fla., USA) 1, 2,

6, 2, 3, [OCS], 4, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 3, 8, 14, 2 (59)

Bronze: Lauri Lehtinen/Kalle Bask (FIN), 2, [BFD], 7, 13, 2, 3, 2, 5, 7,

10, 9, 7, 2, 3, 1, 6 (79)

Star (29 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold: Robert Scheidt/ Bruno Prada (BRA) 1, [8], 7, 5, 2, 1, 3, 7, 4, 1, 6

(37)

Silver: Xavier Rohart/Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA) 4, 9, 9, 8, 5, [12], 1,

1, 5, 2, 4 (48)

Bronze: Eivind Melleby/ Petter Moerland Pedersen (NOR) 8, 2, 4, 3, 8, 4,

5, 3, 1, [13], 12 (50)

Laser Radial (60 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold: Lijia Xu (CHN) 5, [35], 2, 1, 6, 2, 1, 2, 5, 2, 16 (42)

Silver: Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 1, 2, 1, 5, [9], 6, 7, 3, 2, 5, 18 (50)

Bronze: Evi Van Acker (BEL) 4, [18], 10, 2, 10, 9, 2, 1, 1, 6, 8 (53)

470 Men (22 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold: Mathew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) 3, 2, 1, 6, [7], 1, 6, 1, 1, 1, 20

(42)

Silver: Sven Coster/Kalle Coster (NED) 1, 3, 3, [7], 5, 6, 3, 3, 2, 6, 16

(48)

Bronze: Panagoitis Kampouridis/Efstathios (GRE) 9, 6, 8, 2, 4, 3, 1, [12],

5, 5, 8 (51)

470 Women (15 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold:Lisa Westerhof/Lobke Berkhout (NED) 2, 3, 5, [OCS], 2, 1, 5, 4, 1, 1,

6 (30)

Silver:Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) 1, 1, 1, 7, 4, 7, [OCS], 2, 6, 7, 8

(44)

Bronze:Sophie Weguelin/Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) 4, 10, 2, 4, 3, 6, [OCS], 9,

7, 6, 2 (53)

Laser (Gold) (37 boats)-10 races + Medal Race

Gold:Paul Goodison (GBR) 3, 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, [11], 5, 2, 3, 4 (24)

Silver:Bruno Fontes (BRA) [7], 2, 4, 5, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 10 (30)

Bronze:David Wright (CAN) 1, 1, 1, 4, 1, 2, 5, 15, 8, [16], 8 (48)

Finn (25 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold:Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla., USA) 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, [3], 3, 1, 2

(15)

Silver:Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN) 3, 4, 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 2, [5], 8 (33)

Bronze:Greg Douglas (CAN) [26/BFD], 3, 10, 7, 3, 3, 5, 1, 5, 2, 6 (45)

RS: X Men (14 boats) –  10 races + Medal Race

Gold:Nick Dempsey (GBR) 1, 1, [OCS], 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 (11)

Silver:Elliot Carney (GBR) 2, 3, [OCS], 3, 2, 2, 5, 2, 3, 5, 4 (31)

Bronze:Sebastian Wang-Hansen (NOR) 5, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 2, 4, [6], 3, 8 (38)

RS: X Women (12 boats) – 10 races + Medal Race

Gold:Demita Vega De Lille (MEX)  1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, [3], 1, 1, 4 (16)

Silver:Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md., USA) 2, 1, 6, 6, [OCS], 2, 1, 4, 2, 3,

10 (37)

Bronze:Dominique Vallee (CAN) 5, 5, 2, 3, 2, 5, 6, [7], 5, 5, 2 (40)

Women's Match Racing

Gold:Lucy Macgregor/Annie Lush/ Kate Macgregor (GBR)

Silver:Olivia Price/Nina Curtis/Lucinda Whitty (AUS)

Bronze:Sally Barkow (Nashotah, WI., USA)/ Alana O'Reilly (Charleston SC,

USA)/ Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham (Miami Beach FL, USA) (USA)

Published in Olympics 2012

#MOCR – Two top ten results overall at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta means medal race participation is guaranteed for Ireland's Star and Laser Radial tomorrow even though medals are most likely just out of reach for both Peter O'Leary/David Burrows in the Star or Laser sailor Annalise Murphy.

With nine of the top 15 from December's Star World championships in Perth racing this week in Miami, including the world champions Robert Sheidt and Bruno Prada from Brazil, just getting into the medal race has been a tough job this week. It is something O'Leary and Burrows failed to achieve in Australia but have done so today and shown some consistent form too as the week progressed. An understated entry on the team facebook page simply says: '2 & 3 today. Medal race tomorrow'.

Today was the last day of fleet racing and conditions were not as favourable on Biscayne Bay as previous days with moderate winds of 9 to 12 knots in the morning, dropping to six knots this afternoon. The Cork-Dublin pair had a superb performance though coming home second and third in today's two races. They round up the fleet racing in sixth overall, poised for tomorrow's final race.

Annalise Murphy finished her final fleet race today with a race win, her second of the regatta. It's a result that moves her right up to seventh overall in the fleet of 60 Laser Radials and earns her a place in the Medal Race tomorrow.

Belfast's James Espey finished his racing in the regatta today. He was competing in the 78 boat Laser feet, the largest in the championship. Espey scored a 26th and a 20th which left him 24th overall.

At the front of the Star class, the neck-and-neck race between Brazil's Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada and Sweden's Fredrik Loof/Max Salminen was further complicated by Norway's Eivind Melleby/ Petter Moerland Pedersen when that team won the first of two races today.  With the Brazilians taking fourth and the Swedes taking third, the performance tied Melleby/Pedersen with Scheidt/Prada going into the second race, while Loof/Salminen had a one-point edge on their closest competitors.  The nod went to Scheidt/Prada in the end, however, when the Brazilians, who are the current World champions, won the second race, putting Loof/Salminen two points behind them in fourth (with 33 points) and Melleby/Pedersen in third (38 points).

Melleby had said earlier in the week that the top ten here are so good that getting to the medal race would be tough. "We have here nine of the top 15 teams from Perth (where the most recent World Championships were held), so the fleet is quite strong."  With five of those now off the final-race roster, Melleby's goal tomorrow will be to power through for a podium position.

Published in Olympics 2012
Page 14 of 26

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