With the wind and sea state failing to moderate during the day, at 13:30, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 fleets were told they would not be sailing on Day four of the 2018 World Cup Series in Miami, USA.
A similar message to the other seven fleets participating in the event followed later in the afternoon. The reports from Biscayne Bay were of winds averaging nearly 30 miles per hour, with gusts close to 40.
While sailors pride themselves on competing in just about anything, there are limits, especially given the number of sailors competing in some of the classes.
“We had some hope because yesterday the forecast indicated that the wind strength would drop at midday but it didn’t,” said Antonio Gonzalez de la Madrid (ESP), World Sailing’s Technical Delegate for the regatta.
“Instead it increased and the average was above 25 knots. In the afternoon the average wind strength was 27 to 28 knots and gusting up to 35 knots.
“World Sailing’s Race Management policies prioritize fairness and safety when conducting races. The policies recommend not starting a race when the wind is above 25 knots and this is reduced to 22 knots for the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 when the sea state is rough.
“It was not safe to go sailing today and it would have resulted in a lot of broken equipment and it’s not good for the sailors to have this problem before the Medal Races.”
For five of the fleets competing this week—the Nacra 17, 49er, 49erFX and Men’s and Women’s RS:X—today marked the end of the full-fleet portion of the regatta. The top 10 in the overall standings going into the day will advance to tomorrow’s double-points Medal Race, which will decide the overall podium positions.
While the Medal Race has been a part of Olympic sailing for more than a decade, opportunities to participate in one are inherently limited by the format. And it’s different enough from a normal race—the course is shorter and features on-the-water umpires. So sailing in a Medal Race is a valuable experience even for those athletes who may not have a chance at the podium in this event.
“This is our first World Cup Series in this class and our first Medal Race,” said Enia Nincevic (CRO) who sails with Mihaela De Michell Vitturi (CRO) and qualified for the Medal Race by just two points. “We are far from the medals, but of course we want to win (the Medal Race). We came here to keep up with the best teams and practice in preparation for the World Championships.”
For Nacra 17 skipper Ravi Parent (USA) just making the Medal Race is a something worth celebrating. Despite not finishing the final race yesterday, Parent and crew Christina Persson (USA) are 10th, four points ahead of teammates Sarah Newberry and David Leibenberg (USA).
“I’m really happy with how our progress has gone, having only sailed the boat for a little over a month now. I’m really looking forward to getting a shot at the medal race tomorrow,” he said.
“Being that it’s my first World Cup event, against all these amazing sailors, it’s really just an honour to be here in the first place. It took a lot of effort, from talking with professors and getting time off school to organizing all the logistics to get down here, and it’s been my first time doing something this serious. The fact that we’ve reached so much success, it really shows what we’re doing is working and we’re happy to be working with everyone else who’s pushing the sport really hard.”
While the course configuration is fairly standard for most of the classes, the RS:X divisions will try something different, with a reaching start a lap or two of a traditional windward leeward course and then a reaching finish.
“It should be good,” said double Olympic gold medalist Dorian Van Rijsselberghe (NED), “Definitely makes it entertaining for spectators and competitive between sailors. I am looking forward to it. We had the same race format at the last World Championships and I liked it. It looks a bit faster and looks like there is a lot going on.”
Van Rijsselberghe will start the Medal Race in an unfamiliar position, 10th place, with no hope of moving onto the podium, even though the points from this race count double.
“I am in tenth spot and I’d hoped we could’ve sailed today so I can catch up but 10th is okay,” said Van Rijsselberghe, who is returning to competition after a long layoff. “I am confident that I will get around the course in one piece, but the competition is solid, especially between the top three. It’s a lot of work for me, but it should be fun racing with these good guys.”
The five remaining classes—Laser, Laser Radial, Men’s and Women’s 470 and the Finn—will finish their full-fleet series tomorrow and sail their Medal Races on Sunday.
The wind is expected to remain strong. For those sailors who struggled in the light air on Day one and Day two, or had a tough result yesterday, it’s a chance to put those scores behind them and focus on moving up in the rankings.
“It’s a good competition and we have a good level of sailors which makes it interesting,” said 470 skipper Benedetta Di Salle (ITA). “The first few days were light and not so great for us, but since yesterday the wind picked up and we managed to perform better. We prefer windy conditions, so we were happy to sail the next races in these conditions.”
The results remain the same and there is no movement on the leaderboard for any of the fleets. You can view the results here.
by Stuart Streuli & Aadil Seedat