#US SAILING – This weekend the Irish Olympic Star sailing team aka Peter O'Leary and David Burrows along with Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial is back in action in Miami at the first ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta of 2012. US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR will kick the 2012 calendar off following a busy 2011 that saw ten World Champions crowned at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Running from 22-28 January at Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA, the Rolex Miami OCR will feature all of the Olympic events as teams ramp up preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) will be the pair to beat in the Star class following their gold medal performance in Perth 2011. The pair also dominated the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup winning four of the five regattas they sailed in and are reigning champions in Miami.
With a winning margin of 49 points over Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen (SWE) at the 2011 regatta, a repeat performance would give the Brazilian World Champions a great start to their World Cup campaign.
In a fleet of 31-boats Loof and Salminen will join the Brazilians in Miami, as will Perth 2011 bronze medallists Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (USA) and 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup Star champions Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR).
Ireland's Peter O'Leary and David Burrows who are now certain of their Olympic slot for London will be attemptin to move up a gear and challenge the champions with under 200 days to the Olympic regatta itself.
O'Leary and Burrows are back on the Olympic circuit this wekend in Miami, Florida – Photo: Richard Langdon
In the Laser Radial Lijia Xu (CHN) will look to continue her good start to her Sailing World Cup campaign after victory at Sail Melbourne. The World #42 won Sail Melbourne after a dominating display following seven top three finishes during the regatta in the competitive 25-boat fleet. But the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and former Laser Radial World Champion will find Miami a harder nut to crack with 59 sailors registered to compete.
Among the fleet is World #1 Evi Van Acker (BEL), Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships Laser Radial gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester and Perth 2011 bronze medallist and winner of the 2011 Rolex Miami OCR Paige Railey (USA).
Dun Laoghaire's Annalise Murphy fresh from her sixth in Perth in December is competing and seeking further progress for London.
Bouwmeester is going for a third consecutive ISAF Sailing World Cup title after a six point victory over Veronika Fenclova (CZE) in 2009-2010 and a one point win over Van Acker in 2010-2011. But after one regatta Bouwmeester sits in 15th position with Xu leading the way followed by Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and Krystal Weir (AUS).
Annalise in action in Perth. She races this weekend in Miami. Photo: Richard Langdon
With 81 entries the Laser fleet is the largest at the Rolex Miami OCR. World #4 Bruno Fontes (BRA) is the highest ranked sailor competing World #5 Julio Alsogaray (ARG) and Beijing Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison (GBR) set to join him on the starting line.
In the Men's RS:X 14 sailors will compete for ISAF Sailing World Cup points with last year's World Cup runner up Nick Dempsey (GBR) set to line up. And in the Women's fleet, 13 windsurfers will compete.
A competitive 16-boat fleet will line up in the Women's 470. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan (USA) and Kathrin Kadelbach and Friederike Belcher (GER) sailed at Sail Melbourne and registered early World Cup points. The Americans finished third whilst the Germans came fifth. Another good performance from either crew will give them a superb start to the 2011-2012 campaign.
Joining the American and German crews will be World #2 Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR). Having already been selected to represent Great Britain for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition the pressure of qualification is off the girls and they will get some valuable competition time in Miami.
Israel's Gil Cohen and Vered Bouskila and the Netherlands Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout will also sail following strong performances at Perth 2011.
The Men's 470 fleet welcomes 24 crews to Miami including Perth 2011 gold medallists and World #1 pair Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page. The Australians finished second behind Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl (USA) at the opening ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta, Sail Melbourne, and are looking to defend the World Cup crown they won by 19 points last year.
World #3 Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlov Kagialis (GRE), World #7 Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela (ISR) and World #8 Luca Calabrese and Juan De La Fuente (ARG) are also set to sail.
Thirteen American Finn sailors make up half of the 26-boat fleet. World #6 Zach Railey (USA) will be the favourite to take the title with only Brendan Casey (AUS) and Caleb Paine (USA) the other sailors in the top 25 of the world's Finn sailors.
2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup 49er Champions Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) begin their World Cup campaign and will be joined by World #4 pair Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN) and the American team of Erik Storck and Trevor Moore whose dreams of world championship medals were shattered in Perth when their rudder broke in the Medal Race.
The Paralympic Classes also commence sailing with 29 registered 2.4mR entries, seven SKUD-18 and 11 Sonar entries.
Women's Match Racers enjoy a practice day on 22 January before competition for all the fleets kicks off on 23 January.