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#OLYMPIC SAILING – A 4, 10 and 11 gives Ireland's Star sailors Peter O'Leary and David Burrows fifth overall, six points behind Germany's Johannes Polgar and Markus Koy after three races sailed at the Semaine Olympique Française - Hyères yesterday.

It was a breeze lovers day in Hyères and a long second day on the water for 13 competing Olympic classes.

A point behind The Irish pair in the 25-boat class is Frederick Loof and Max Salminen of Sweden who although counting a 1 and 2 are relegated to sixth with a black flag penalty in the opening race.

Race management issues yesterday forced long delays before the Star's second race yesterday and when it finally did get underway it had to be abandoned due to a drifting windward mark.

Another Irish sailor Dun Laoghaire's Anthony Shanks who is sailing with Britian's John Gimson lie 12th overall.

O'Leary and Burrows, the Irish Olympic pairing who qualified for the London Olympics last December in Perth reiterated their medal aims for Weymouth this summer at a pre-Hyeres interview.

Meanwhile, in the 49er class yesterday Ireland's Ryan Seaton and MattMcGovern, who are also Olympic qualified, counted 14,13,7 in 16-18-knots of breeze and lie 20th from 50 starters.

Ireland's other Olympic qualified sailor Annalise Murphy is not sailing in Hyeres in spite of the presence of some of her arch rivals for Weymouth Evi Van Acker of Belgium and Marit Boumeester of Holland lying third and fourth. Britain's Alison Young is leading the 80-boat fleet.

There are under 100 days to go and nine regattas before the Olympic regatta in July. Irish team officials say they are expecting six medal race finishes and two medals in the run-up to July as a sign that the team is on track to deliver its Weymouth promise of a place on the podium.

Published in Olympics 2012

#FFVoileEvt – Olympic class racing was scrubbed in Hyères, France for Ireland's Peter O'Leary and David Burrows in the Star class yesterday as a strong local Mistral wind blew away any chance of competition in the fragile keelboat class. Others classes got afloat however and there was plenty of Mediterranean capsizes.

The 49ers got out for one race where only 11 boats managed to finish. Ireland's Olympic qualified Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern got across the line with only seconds to spare. Semaine Olympique Francaise, the French Olympic Sailing Week continues all this week.

 

Published in Olympics 2012
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#OLYMPIC SAILING – Ireland is on course for an Olympic sailing medal in London according to yesterday's Irish Sailing Association Olympic briefing.  The sailing team will be 'on the podium' this summer according to the 'vision' unveiled by team manager James O'Callaghan. All three qualified crew for the Weymouth regatta in 100 days time were at the event held in Jury's hotel, Dublin. O'Callaghan says that the there are nine events left before the Olympics and to be on target for a medal the team,  Annalise Murphy, Peter O'Leary and David Burrows and Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern will need to take six medal race finishes and two medals from these warm up events to stay on target. The ISA also expect at least one more boat to qualify for the Games  (from a possible three still campaigning) at next month's final qualification events. Irish Times Sailing Columnist David O'Brien has more on the story this morning here.

Published in Olympics 2012
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Although there is little likelihood that any of the five Irish boats sailing in the Olympic classes regatta at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia ISAF World Cup in the Bay of Palma, Mallorca will feature in the medal races on Saturday at least one Irish sailor moved closer to securing his Olympic dream.

The absence of both London qualiffied boats (Laser radial and 49er) from tomorrow's medal race will be a disappointing outcome after several days of tricky light conditions.

With only 100 days to go to the Olympic regatta itself three Irish boats are still attemtping to qualify and with respect to this goal there was some good progress made by James Espey in the Laser class who finished top 10 in 4 of the 8 races so far leaving him lying 21st in the 138 strong fleet. This is Espey's last event before the Laser World Championships in Germany in May which is his last chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

Other Irish campaigns hoping to qualify  include 470 sailors Ger Owens and Scott Flanigan who made the Gold Fleet lying 43 in the 93 strong fleet in Palma and Finn sailor Ross Hamilton who is lying 49th out of 57.

It was a poor regatta for Laser radial sailor Annalise Murphy who qualified for the Olympics in Perth in December 2011. After a run of successful results over the last 13 month period, and after a long period of training at the Mallorcan site, Annalise did not reach top form in the challenging conditions.

In the 49er class Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern had great starts in the 12 races completed so far with a number of top 10 finishes.

Usually known for their strong wind skills, the Australians are performing well in the light conditions and are leading three classes. While Tom Burton is keeping a narrow lead in the strong Laser fleet from British Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson, the Australians have also claimed top positions in both 470 classes.

Friday will see the last chances for sailors to select for the Medal race and the semi finals in the Women Match-Racing.

Top three by class

470 Men

1. Mathew Belcher / Malcolm Page, AUS, 33

2. Lucas Calabrese / Juan de la Fuente, ARG, 40

3. Sam Kivell / Will Ryan, AUS, 42

470 Women

1. Elise Rechichi / Belinda Stowell, AUS, 53

2. Emmanuelle Rol / Helene Defrance, FRA, 54

3. Ai Kondo / Wakako Tabata, Japan, 61

49er

1. Jonas Warrer / Soren Hansen, DEN, 70

2. John Pink / Rick Peacock, GBR, 80

3. Manu Dyen / Stephane Christidis, FRA, 83

2.4 Metre

1. Thierry Schmitter, NED, 9

2. Helena Lucas, GBR, 23

3. Barend Kol, NED, 32

Laser Radial

1. Alicia Cebrian, ESP, 27

2. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 33

3. Evo Van Acker, BEL, 37

Laser

1. Tom Burton, AUS, 36

2. Paul Goodison, GBR, 38

3. Nick Thompson, GBR, 38

Finn

1. Ben Ainslie, GBR, 10

2. Zach Railey, USA, 33

3. Daniel Birgmark, SWE, 35

Star

1. Iain Percy / Andrew Simpson, GBR, 40

2. Robert Scheidt / Bruno Prada, BRA, 48

3. Hamish Pepper / Jim Turner, NZL, 49

Published in Olympics 2012
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Olympic Laser sailor James Espey who seeks a final shot at Olympic qualification next month in the single handed Laser is in the top 20 at the Trofeo Princesa Sofa MAPFRE after mastering another day of light, tricky conditions. The Belfast lough sailor lies in 18th place after four races sailed on the Bay of Palma, Mallorca. He scored a 10 and a 23 yesterday putting him only three points off a top ten position overall.

Espey missed out on qualification last December after a penalty at the world championships in Perth. His next qualification chance is next month at the German based World championships.

London qualified 49er pairing Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern have dropped back to 32 in their 76 boat fleet. The Belfast lough pairing scored a 32 and 12.

They scored a 'personal best' performance and eighth overall in the world championships in December and since then have been traveling the world in intensive training for the London Games now only 100 days away.

World #5, David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR) have added two more bullets to their score to take the lead in the 49er class: " Our objective is to be top 3 and first British. Racing was tricky today with different pressure over the course so we are happy with our results so far." They are on equal points with Danish Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen.

Early leader Peter Krüger Andersen and Nicolai Thorsell (DEN) suffered from the day's difficult conditions to fall from first to 15th.

For both top teams these results mean a lot as Palma is playing a role in their Olympic selection. The Trofeo Sofia Mapfre is one of a series of observation events for the British but for the Dane, good results could mean a ticket for London.

Things have not improved for Dun Laoghaire medal prospect Annalise Murphy who was in 49th place out of 89 starters in the Laser Radial fleet after a day one. She dropped back further yesterday to 75th when she scored a DNF and an OCS.

The 22-year old is ranked fourth in the world and will be hoping to boost results in the rest of the regatta this week.

Two other Irish boats are still seeking the Olympic standard but yesterday's fickle sailing conditions brought little in the way of progress to Weymouth.

Gerbil Owens and Scott Flannigan scored a 14 and 22 to move up to 47th out of 92 in the mens 470, a class in which Owens has represented Ireland at two Olympics. The Dun Laoghaire and Howth campaign's last chance for selection is at the 470 World Championships next month.

Ross Hamilton in the single handed Finn is 40th from 57.

Top three by class

Laser Radial

1. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 16 points

2. Alicia Cebrian, ESP, 16

3. Sarah Steyaert, FRA, 20

Laser

1. Simon Grotelueschen, GER, 19

2. Tom Burton, AUS, 21

3. Nick Thompson, GBR, 25

470 Men

1. Pierre Leboucher / Vincent Garos, FRA, 18

2. Alvaro Marinho / Miguel Nunes, POR, 20

3. Panagiotis Kampouridis / Efstathios Papadopoulos, GRE, 21

470 Women

1. Sophie Weguelin / Sophie Ainsworth, GBR, 24

2. Agnieszka Skrzypulec / Jolanta Ogar, POL, 28

3. Emmanuelle Rol / Helene Defrance, FRA, 29

49er

1. David Evans / Edward Powys, GBR, 19

2. Jonas Warrer / Soren Hansen, DEN, 19

3. Charlie Enlund Ekberg / Kalle Torlen, SWE, 27

2.4 Metre

1. Thierry Schmitter, NED, 13

2. Helena Lucas, GBR, 14

3. Bjornar Erikstad, NOR, 16

Finn

1. Ben Ainslie, GBR, 13

2. Daniel Birgmark, SWE, 17

3. Jonas Hogh-Christensen, DEN, 23

Star

1. Hamish Pepper / Jim Turner, NZL, 25

2. Fernando Echavarri / Fernando Rodriguez Rivero, ESP, 28

3. Iain Percy / Andrew Simpson, GBR, 29

Published in Olympics 2012
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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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