Even sailors who have committed in advance to another campaign traditionally take some time away from the sport after the Olympic Games. The question is usually how much time is needed to refresh the batteries without getting too stale. Decades ago these hiatuses were usually measured in years. Now it’s more likely to be weeks or months.
The British duo of Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves finished ninth at Rio 2016 in the mixed multihull and then took the rest of the year off. They got back into the Nacra 17 for the first time a few weeks ago and officially started their campaign for Tokyo 2020 at the 2017 World Series Cup Miami presented by Sunbrella.
The first day of racing had more than its share of bumps in the road, including two double-digit finishes and a race they were forced to retire from after sailing the wrong course.
Wednesday’s racing was a different story.
“We sailed well, we’ve got to be happy with a third and a first when we haven’t been in the boat for about five months since the Games,” said Saxton. “We feel a bit rusty compared to the guys that have been training though the autumn.
“Some of these guys are a little bit slicker than us. I think it’ll set us up well to be here. I can understand why other people aren’t here. But I’m happy to be here. I love racing and I love sailing so why wouldn’t you be in Miami racing?”
The four-point day was the best among the 17-boat fleet and moved them right into contention for the overall lead. They are currently fourth, six points behind Lorenzo Bressani and Caterina Marianna Banti (ITA) and Tom Phipps and Nicola Boniface (GBR) who are tied on points for first.
Nico Delle-Karth and Laura Schöfegger (AUT) are in third. Both are experienced skiff sailors—Delle-Karth finished fourth at London 2012 in the 49er and has competed in three other Olympic Games—but are new to each other and the speedy catamaran. They finished today with a second and a fourth.
“I am really surprised by our performance today,” said Delle-Karth. “Laura did an excellent job and considering it was our 12th [day] together and on the Nacra, we are more than happy.”
The top American team of Riley Gibbs and Rio 2016 Olympian Louisa Chafee also had a solid day. A fourth and a sixth was good enough to move them into seventh place, with 25 points.
Jorge Zarif (BRA), the defending champion in the Finn class, is determined to hold on to his title. He scored a second and a first in today’s two races and, counting four points, leads the regatta by three points over Alican Kanyar, of Turkey, and Ben Cornish, of Great Britain. Luke Muller is the top American sailor, in sixth, with 20 points.
It wasn’t a great day for Brazil’s Martine Soffiati Grael and Kahena Kunze. But a second and a ninth, which is now their discard, was more than good enough to keep the pair in the lead of the 49erFX. Standing on seven points, they have a six-point advantage over Victoria Travascio and Marina Branz of Argentina. Ragna and Maia Agerup (NOR) are third.
After opening the regatta with a 17th, Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell have rattled off four top-four finishes and now have a four-point lead over Yago and Klaus Lange (ARG) in the 49er class. In third are Carl Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark (SWE).
It’s very tight at the top of the Laser with Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) and Karl Martin Rammo (EST) tied for first with 12 points apiece. Great Britain’s Nick Thompson is third with 15 points.
Evi Van Acker (BEL) put on a clinic for the Laser Radial fleet, winning both of today’s races. She’s the overall leader, after four races, with four points. Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) is second with seven points. Erika Reineke (USA) had a strong day to surge into third with 19 points. Behind her are five boats within six points of the podium.
Kiran Badloe (NED) continued his consistently excellent performance in the Men’s RS:X class with a pair of second-place finishes and a first. He has eight points. Daniele Beneditti (ITA) is second with 15 points while Louis Giard (FRA) is third with 16.
Yunxiu Lu (CHN) was nearly untouchable today with a 2-1-2. She has 12 points, but has opened up an 11-point lead over second place Isobel Hamilton (GBR). Hei Man H V Chan (HKG) is in third, two points further back.
Pangiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) finished second and then first in the day’s Men’s 470 races, and have moved into the lead. Mathias Schmid and Lukas Mähr (AUT) are in second, just a point behind.
In the Women’s 470 fleet, three teams are bunched at the top of the leaderboard within one point of one another. Afrodite Zegers and Annaloes Van Veen (NED) are first with Bàrbara Cornudella Ravetllat and Sara López Ravetllat (ESP) tied on points with Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR).
The Men’s RS:X and 49er are scheduled to race first at 11:00 local time as the action continues from Regatta Park, Coconut Grove for day three of the World Cup Series Miami.
By Stuart Streuli