Sailors from 64 nations are gearing up for the first big showdown of Olympic and Paralympic sailing in 2016, Sailing World Cup Miami presented by Sunbrella.
More than 780 athletes will feature across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic events from Monday 25 to Saturday 30 January. Whilst the Paralympic racing wraps up on 29 January, the Olympic competitors will be fighting it out to appear in Saturday’s live television broadcast of the Medal Races.
Set to be shown in front of a live audience on the World Sailing TV YouTube channel and on more than ten global broadcasters, Sailing World Cup Miami will provide sailing fans with a window of opportunity to see who is looking strong on the Road to Rio.
If World Cup glory was not enough to drive the sailors forward, those from North and South America will be aiming to qualify their nation for Rio 2016 as the event acts as the Continental Qualification regatta for both regions.
The 66-boat 49er fleet features a strong and seasoned contingent of skiff racers. London 2012 Olympic gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) are amongst the entrants. They are joined by defending champions Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) and Beijing 2008 gold medallist Jonas Warrer and crew Anders Thomsen (DEN).
Newly crowned 49erFX World Champions Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) are amongst the 36-boat 49erFX fleet in Miami. The Italian duo won their first World Championship together in Buenos Aires, Argentina last year and will be looking to bring that form into Miami.
They will be joined by World number one duo, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA), defending Miami champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) as well as three leading Danish crews.
Partnerships from Aruba, US Virgin Islands and USA will be aiming for the North American Rio 2016 place and Chilean sailors are the only representatives from South America.
Forty-nine sailors will compete in the Finn class. London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN), World number three Jake Lilley (AUS) and national favourites Zach Railey (USA) and Caleb Paine (USA) will all be in the running for the medals. Sailors from Argentina and Chile as well as Canada are looking to qualify for Rio 2016 from South and North American.
In the Men’s and Women’s 470, fleets of 24 and 18 will sail on Biscayne Bay across the week. Stu McNay and Dave Hughes (USA) and two-time World Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) will lead the charge in the Men’s and Women’s fleets.
South American Olympic Qualification will be between Chile and Ecuador in the Men’s and Argentina and Chile in the Women’s. As for North America, Canadian and Mexican sailors will compete for the Men’s Rio 2016 slot and Canada’s Allie Surrette and Ali Ten Hove are left uncontested in the Women’s.
Paralympic sailors had a fast paced finish to 2015 with back to back regattas in Melbourne, Australia. The Para World Sailing Championships was quickly followed by Sailing World Cup Melbourne in December and for those in the 2.4mR and Sonar, they’re back on the Paralympic campaign trail in Miami.
2015 Sonar Para World Sailing Champions John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR), runners up Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden (AUS) and bronze medallists Aleksander Wang Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR) will all be in Miami.
Paralympic sailing regular Paul Tingley and his crew of Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes (CAN) will join the fleet, as well as the strong French trio of Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont Vicary.
Twelve boats will compete in the 2.4mR. London 2012 gold medallist Helena Lucas (GBR) will be wanting to break her Miami hoodoo and take a maiden victory on the American waters. However, four Canadian and three American sailors will be aiming to put a halt to the Britons charge.
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 will bring Sailing World Cup Miami to a close with the races to be broadcast live on the World Sailing TV YouTube Channel.
by Daniel Smith