Friday, 28 January 2011

RMOCR: Good days for Aussies as racing gets underway at Sailing World Cup in Miami

Katie Spithill and crew in Miami. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

by Craig Heydon

Australian crews have had a solid opening day of the second round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, with two crews sitting on top of their leader boards.

The Skud 18 crew of Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch had a great day on the water, finishing with two wins from two starts to end the day three points ahead of second place.

“Today was a really good day with two good wins,” said Fitzgibbon. “We won both races by a good margin and are sailing really well as a team at the moment.”

Fitzgibbon and Tesch are sailing in just their second regatta together, with Tesch, a three-time Paralympic medalist in Wheelchair Basketball, having her first taste of elite level sailing.

“Liesl is a gun out there, a real natural sailor,” said Fitzgibbon. “She’s seeing things that need to be seen and is sailing exceptionally well.”

“We’ve got a high quality fleet here, these are the guys who will be going to the Games and we’re enjoying having the chance to race against them this week,” he said. “Liesl and I are sailing confidently and we’ll just keep chipping away for the rest of the week.”

In the Women’s Match Racing competition the Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Olivia Price sit at the top of Group A following three wins from three races.

Fellow Australian’s Katie Spithill, Nina Curtis and Angela Farrell ended the day tied for second in the group, one win behind Souter and crew.

This week is the first ISAF Sailing World Cup event that the crews have raced at in their new combinations and both have a further four races on day two to finish the opening round robin.

Reigning 470 World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page ended the opening day in fourth position, just six points off the lead following a second and an eighth in the first two races.

“Today was a good solid start to the regatta,” said Page. “Every regatta is a marathon and this one will be no different, so we’re happy with where we sit after the opening two races.”

“In the first race we round the top mark in fourth and got ourselves through to second on the downwind and stayed there, the leaders had gotten a great start and we couldn’t catch them,” he said. “Then in race two we were in the top six at the first mark but were caught up in a fight with the group around us which allowed the guys ahead to pull away and the guys behind to catch up. We dropped back to about 14th but fought back well to cross the line in eighth.”

The Australian Sailing Development Squad crew of Sam Kivell and Will Ryan also began their regatta well in the 470 fleet, ending the day in 10th following a 17th and a fifth.

Brendan Casey had a great opening day in the Finn fleet, with a third and a fourth leaving him fourth overall. Casey, who qualified for the 2011 Australian Sailing Team following his 10th overall at the 2010 Finn Gold Cup, ended the day tied on points with Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie, and just five points off the lead.

Jessica Crisp sits in sixth in a highly competitive RS:X women’s fleet after picking up a 10th and a third from the first two races.

In the Laser Radial fleet Krystal Weir is the best placed Australian in 11th, two places ahead of ASDS athlete Ashley Stoddart, with fellow ASDS member Gabrielle King in 18th.

Racing continues in Miami on Tuesday with the regatta running through until Saturday, 29 January.

Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta
Australian Sailing Team