World Cup Series Miami 2017, Presented by Sunbrella (January 22-29, 2017) will see the first medal races of the regatta take place on Saturday.
On day four, competition was intense as the final berths in each ten-boat, double-points medal race were decided. The United States will be represented in two medal races on Saturday, in the Men’s 49er and Nacra 17 classes.
Full-fleet racing will continue in five other classes on Saturday, and medal races for those fleets will take place on Sunday at North America’s premier Olympic-level sailing event. All ten medal races will be broadcast live around the world by World Sailing over the course of the weekend.
Watch: Live TV Broadcast begins at 12:00 EST (Medal Races – RS:X, 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17).
Medal Race Schedule (Saturday, January 28)
1. Men’s 49er: 12:05 EST
2. Women’s 49erFX: 12:45 EST
3. Mixed Nacra 17: 13:25 EST
4. Women’s RS:X: 14:05
5. Men’s RS:X: 14:45
Note: Five of ten classes will hold their medal races on Saturday, with the remaining five medal races held on Sunday.
In the Nacra 17, Olympian Louisa Chafee (Warwick, R.I.) and helmsman Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) qualified for the medal race, capping off an impressive performance for a team that lacked much experience together heading into this week. “We had an eventful four races out there today, finishing fifth three times and then unfortunately getting caught on the wrong side of the time limit when the breeze died during the third race,” said Chafee. “Overall, we were just really encouraged to be competing consistently around the top boats this week.”
Gibbs and Chafee will have a narrow chance to make the podium during Saturday’s medal race, as they are currently 19 points out of bronze medal position. “We’ll have our big U.S. flag spinnaker out there tomorrow, and hopefully we can make the US Sailing Team fans watching the broadcast at home and at the Regatta Park fan zone proud of us tomorrow,” said Chafee. “Our fellow American Nacra 17 sailors told us they’ll be on the water, on coach boats, cheering us on during the race. We’ll try our best to give them something to shout about.”
The U.S. will be represented in the Men’s 49er medal race by David Liebenburg (Livermore, Calif.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.), who after a slow start to their event charged up the leaderboard to record four top-five scores in their last six races. The pair will enter the medal race in 10th overall, and have a chance to advance as high as seventh in the standings. “We had no real expectations heading into this event, and are looking forward to representing the U.S. tomorrow,” said Liebenburg, who is embarking on his second 49er Olympic campaign after finishing fourth in the hard-fought Rio 2016 selection series.
“After the last campaign, I wasn’t sure what would happen next,” said Liebenberg. “Other teams have had full programs going for the past year, and it was hard to have some uncertainty around my own plans. Ian and I joined up a few weeks ago, and have crammed in as much training as we could. We’ll have nothing to lose out there tomorrow, and we plan to be aggressive, push hard, and just send it.”
MacDiarmid was similarly excited to have another chance to mix it up with the best. “This is my first World Cup event in any class, though I’ve done a lot of training in
skiffs heading into this. It was a little shocking to see just how good the top guys are. That being said, the 10th place position that we’ll carry going into tomorrow doesn’t define us. We’ll go at it hard, and see what happens,” said the Florida native.
Despite an impressive effort on Friday that saw them finish six, one in the final two races on Friday, the US Sailing Team 49er team of Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.) missed medal race qualification by one point, and will end the event in 11th overall. Trailing close behind in 12th was the family team of Andrew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.) and Matthew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.), who also recorded a standout score on Friday with a second in the final race.
U.S. Olympians Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) pulled into the overall lead in the Men’s 470 class after finishing fifth in Friday’s lone race. McNay and Hughes were able to put six boats in between themselves and the venerable Greek team on the final leg of the race, allowing them to claim a narrow four-point lead in the overall standings. The accomplished American pair, who finished fourth at Rio 2016 and are the defending champions in Miami, will look to stay consistent on Saturday, the final day of full-fleet 470 racing before Sunday’s 470 medal race.
Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) currently stands in fourth overall after finishing 11, 13 on Friday. While the four-time U.S. College Sailing Singlehanded National Champion is firmly in the hunt for the podium, Reineke will have to close a 28-point deficit with Mathilde De Kerangat of France during the final two full-fleet Laser Radial races on Saturday in order to be in the mix for the podium heading into Sunday’s Medal Race.
In the Men’s Laser, U.S. Olympian Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) faces a similar situation as Reineke. The leading American Laser athlete is currently 24 points from podium position in fifth overall, and will look to record a strong final set of races on Saturday to climb back into the medal hunt.
Finn sailor Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) recorded a race victory on day four, and also will look to flight closer to podium position on Saturday. The previous U.S. Laser national champion, who switched into the Finn heavyweight dinghy a year ago, stands in fifth overall and will try to shrink a 14 point deficit to third place on Saturday.
Notable US Standings: Day 4
• 1st overall, Stu McNay (Providence, R.I., Rio 2016 U.S. Olympian) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla., Rio 2016 U.S. Olympian)
Women’s Laser Radial:
• 4th overall, Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
• 5th overall, Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif., Rio 2016 Olympian)
• 5th overall, Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.)
• 5th overall, Louisa Chafee (Warwick, R.I., Rio 2016 U.S. Olympian) sailing with Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.)
• 10th overall, David Liebenburg (Livermore, Calif.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.)
• 11th overall, Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.)
• 12th overall, Andrew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.) and Matthew Mollerus (Rye, N.Y.)
• 10th overall, Atlantic Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Nora Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.)
• 13th overall, Steph Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Chicago, Ill.)
• 14th overall, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md., London 2012 U.S. Olympian)
• 25th overall, Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla., Rio 2016 U.S. Olympian)
by Will Ricketson