France’s Damien Seguin, the 2.4mR class’s early leader, finished 3-1 today to post 17 points overall and win a gold medal that he can now hang next to his Paralympic Gold from Athens and his Silver from Qingdao. Seguin’s performance increased his lead over Canada’s Silver Medalist Paul Tingley (with a 2-7 today) to a staggering 25 points--quite an accomplishment in a fleet of 25 boats.
“Damien is very good and very consistent and has been at this a long time,” said the USA’s Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.), whose finish of eighth overall here (over the 11th posted by fellow US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics member John Ruf) will finally give him his shot at a Paralympic medal. “Hopefully we can train together.”
LeBlanc explained that he was in the Paralympic Trials in 2007 and tied for first but, losing out to tie-breaker rules, did not go to the Games, which was heart breaking. “To be honest, looking back now to where I am versus then I can say I wasn’t ready then,” said LeBlanc. “I had no idea what was going on and was just going out and sailing, but this time around I’m well prepared and ready to go to the Paralympics.”
The Netherlands’ Barend Kol snatched bronze with a 4-4 today for 48 points, displacing Great Britain’s Megan Pascoe, who was in that position going into today. (Pascoe fell to fourth.)
In Skud-18s, Daniel Fitzgibbon/Liesl Tesch (AUS) won the gold medal after finishing 4-1 today and edging out by only one point silver medalists Alexandra Rickham/Niki Birrell (GBR), who turned in a 3-3. The two teams had been tied on points going into today, with the USA’s Jennifer French/Jean-Paul Creignou trailing in third, a position they maintained today for bronze (as well as a spot on the USA’s Paralympic team).
“We had a terrible first day,” said Fitzgibbon, whose team won here last year and was named to represent his country at the Paralympics after it finished third place in this year’s World Championship. “It has been a week of us just chipping away, coming back, coming back, until we were third, second and then last night we got up to first, and today we were able to win in the last race. We were in second going into the final race and we had to beat the British team (Alexandra Rickham/Niki Birrell) to win the regatta. I’m really happy about how it worked out.”
Yesterday in Sonars, Udo Hessels/ Marcel van de Veen/ Mischa Rossen (NED) were one point out of first, but today the team secured a gold medal with a 1-2 for a five-point margin over silver medalists John Robertson/ Hannah Stodel/ Steve Thomas (GBR). Taking the bronze was Aleksander Wang-Hansen/ Marie Solberg/Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR).
Another battle for a U.S. berth in that class made for some of the best sailing of the day when Paul Callahan (Cape Coral, Fla./Newport, R.I.), sailing with crew Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.), had to finish within two boats of Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.)/Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.)/Hugh Freund (S. Freeport, Maine) in the last race of the day. A bad start was looking to thwart those chances, and, trailing far behind at the first top mark, Callahan used the next two laps of the course to make up time and finish with a seventh to Doerr’s eighth.
“After our three years as a team we were confident we could win (the Paralympic berth),” said Callahan, who is a 2000 Paralympian. “Today the racing was rugged on Biscayne Bay, but I’m feeling like I’m ready to continue on and win a gold medal in Weymouth.”
In Star class, the neck-and-neck race between Brazil’s Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada and Sweden’s Fredrik Loof/Max Salminen was further complicated by Norway’s Eivind Melleby/ Petter Moerland Pedersen when that team won the first of two races today. With the Brazilians taking fourth and the Swedes taking third, the performance tied Melleby/Pedersen with Scheidt/Prada going into the second race, while Loof/Salminen had a one-point edge on their closest competitors. The nod went to Scheidt/Prada in the end, however, when the Brazilians, who are the current World champions, won the second race, putting Loof/Salminen two points behind them in fourth (with 33 points) and Melleby/Pedersen in third (38 points).
Melleby had said earlier in the week that the top ten here are so good that getting to the medal race would be tough. “We have here nine of the top 15 teams from Perth (where the most recent World Championships were held), so the fleet is quite strong.” With five of those now off the final-race roster, Melleby’s goal tomorrow will be to power through for a podium position.
In Women’s Match Racing, Australia’s Olivia Price/Nina Curtis/Lucinda Whitty were the first to advance to tomorrow’s finals after they defeated Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.)/Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham (Miami, Fla.)/Alana O'Reilly (Charleston, S.C.) 3–1 in today’s first semifinals match. Then in the second match, Lucy Macgregor/Annie Lush/ Kate Macgregor (GBR), like they did yesterday, became entangled in a do-or-die match to advance to the finals. They prevailed against Silja Lehtinen/Silja Kanerva/Mikaela Wulff (FIN) winning the fifth race in the first-to-three flight.
Tomorrow the Macgregor team will face the young Australian team in the finals while the Finns will tip off with USA in the Petit Finals for bronze.
Yesterday’s upset by GBR’s Paul Goodison was usurped by Brazilian Bruno Fontes’s today for a spot at the top of the scoreboard in Laser class. Fontes won both races today and added the victories to three others in his ten-race series. Goodison’s 2-3 today was good enough to show tied points with Fontes but not enough to keep him from falling to second behind him due to tie-breaker rules, which favor the most first-place finishes. (Goodison has four total.)
“Tomorrow will be a fight for the gold so I will need a good start, and I’m prepared for some match racing on the course,” said Fontes, adding that the Rolex Miami OCR counts toward his country’s Olympic Trials. “I’m in a very good spot and excited for tomorrow.”
The only sailor here with a perfect score, Nick Dempsey (GBR) has won nine of his ten races on the RS:X windsurfing course and discarded an OCS (“on the course side” at the start) in race three as his worst finish. “Everything is going pretty well,” said Dempsey, who has already qualified for the Olympic Games. “I’m really here for a training regatta, really trying to make the most of the light winds.”
Other sailors maintaining their leads from yesterday and seemingly favored for tomorrow’s top-ten medal races were Nico Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) in 49ers, Lijia Xu (CHN) in Laser Radial, Mathew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) in 470 Men, Lisa Westerhof/Lobke Berkhout (NED) in 470 Women, Zach Railey (USA) in Finn, Nick Dempsey (GBR) in RS:X Men and Demita Vega De Lille (MEX) in RS:X Women
US Sailing’s Rolex Miami OCR, established in 1990, is open to boats competing in events chosen for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. The 10 Olympic classes for 2012 are: Laser Radial (women), Laser (men), Finn (men), Men’s RS:X, Women’s RS:X, 49er (men), Men’s 470, Women’s 470, Star (men) and Elliot 6m (women). The three Paralympic classes are: 2.4mR (open), SKUD (mixed) and Sonar (mixed).
For fleet racing in the Olympic classes, the Rolex Miami OCR consists of a five-day opening series (Monday - Friday) and a double-point medal race (Saturday). The top 10 finishers in the opening series of each class will advance to the medal race. For match racing (Elliott 6m), which makes its debut in the 2012 Olympic Games, the regatta will consist of an opening series, a knockout series, and a sail-off for boats not advancing to the knockout series. Competitors in the Paralympic classes have five days of fleet racing (Monday-Friday) and no medal race.
Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class on Saturday, January 28.
Regatta Headquarters are located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training center, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Event organizers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-a-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., the 2012 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by AlphaGraphics, Sperry Top-Sider, Harken McLube, Kattack, Gowrie-Chubb, Trinity Yachts and the University of Miami Hospital.
A complete roster of competitors can be viewed at the event website http://rmocr.ussailing.org, where real-time racecourse blogging, commentary and fan interaction, regatta results, photos and news updates have been integrated into a live coverage platform. Video highlights produced by T2p.tv and presented by Rolex will air beginning Wednesday, January 25, and will be available on-demand on the event website. Viewers also can follow the racing live using the Kattack feature in all medal races on Saturday. Fans can also follow the event on Facebook/RMOCR and Twitter/RMOCR.
Barby MacGowan, Media Pro Int’l for Rolex Watch U.S.A.
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