|MIAMI FL. USA-(26-1-2007) It's down to the wire now at US SAILING's 2007 Rolex Miami OCR, where 855 competitors from 49 countries have completed the five-day fleet racing portion of the competition, and the top ten from the overall standings in each of 11 Olympic classes are preparing for tomorrow's finals. Following the new Olympic format, the finals will consist of only one 'medal' race for each class, fired off in rapid succession. Two race circles -- pared down from the eight used in fleet racing -- will be utilized simultaneously to accommodate the races, which will take approximately a half-hour to complete. Points for finish positions in the medal race will be doubled before they are added to overall scores for the series.
'Because the scores, in effect, count as two races in a sailor's series, the pressure is really on,' said US Sailing Team Head Coach Gary Bodie. 'In addition, the medal race must be counted and cannot be discarded.'
For Yngling sailors Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.), mathematics will play as much a part in tomorrow's racing as boat speed and tactics. After today's three races, the U.S. team pulled ahead of Great Britain's Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, but only by two points in overall scoring. The two teams had been tied on points going into today, and all week they have been nipping at each other's transoms.
If Ayton wins tomorrow and Barkow follows in second, they will be tied in points, but Ayton would win the series after tie-breaker rules are applied. Therefore, the do-or-die reality for Barkow's team is that they must beat Great Britain, and they must finish no worse than sixth while doing it.
'We’re going to go at it with full force,' said Barkow, whose world-champion team has been together longer than any other in this class. 'The stakes are high, but it’s important to keep a cool head on the water. We’re all capable of taking on this kind of pressure and using it to our advantage.'
Barkow added that her team also has to watch the third-place Finnish team. 'It's hard to keep tabs on one boat, let alone two, so we have to take that into consideration when weighing the risks,' said Barkow.
Denmark's Jonas Hoegh-Christensen, the leader in the 49-boat Finn fleet for the second day in a row, will be equally challenged to keep his eye on fellow Nordic competitor Peer Moberg (NOR), who shares the same point score going into tomorrow's finals.
Hoegh-Christensen said it was 'very tricky, very shifty' during today's two races. 'The first race was looking good before a big left shift. I fell into the deep teens, but then I fought back to fourth.' Hoegh-Christensen's second race, a twelfth-place finish, became his throwout. To win the gold medal tomorrow, he absolutely must beat Moberg. 'It will be head-to-head racing, of course, tomorrow,' said Hoegh-Christensen. 'We will be fighting for this.'
One team that has it a bit easier tomorrow is Sweden's Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom. They are not untouchable, but there are 16 points between them and the second-place Portuguese team of Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos. 'We are starting to come together,' said Loof about his Olympic campaign.
USA's Erin Maxwell (Norwalk, Conn.) and Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.) are in third place in the 470 Women’s fleet, behind Marcelien de Koning and Lobke Berkhout of The Netherlands and Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux of France. In the 49er class, Athens Olympian Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.) and his crew Christopher Rast (Wake Forest, N.C.) are in second place, only one point ahead of Morgan Larson (Capitola, Calif.) and Pete Spaulding (Lafayette, Ind.) in third. For the second day in a row, the SKUD-18 team of Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Boca Raton, Fla.) hold on to first, ahead of David Cook and Brenda Hopkin of Canada and Karen Mitchell (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) and JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.). Sonar skipper Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.) and his crew, Tim Angle (Marblehead, Mass.) and Bill Donohue (Brick, N.J.), jumped to second after scoring two bullets today.
Online Information and Resources Updated Daily
For complete and up-to-the-minute regatta news and results, visit www.RolexMiamiOCR.org. Nightly video reports from America's Cup Hall of Fame inductee, author and sailing broadcaster Gary Jobson (Annapolis, Md.), will appear on www.NBCSports.com; for expanded video coverage, including more interviews and outtakes, visit www.RolexMiamiOCR.org or www.jobsonsailing.com
About US SAILING's 2007 Rolex Miami OCR
The Rolex Miami OCR is the only International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Grade-One ranking event in the U.S. for competition in all 14 Olympic and Paralympic classes selected for the next Olympic and Paralympic Games: 49er, 470 (Men & Women), Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, Neil Pryde RS:X (Men & Women), Star, Tornado; Yngling; 2.4mR, SKUD-18, and Sonar.
The regatta is especially important as a ranking regatta for American sailors hoping to qualify for the US Sailing Team and the US Disabled Sailing Team, which distinguish the top three sailors in each Olympic or Paralympic class.
Scheduled are five days of fleet racing through Friday, January 26, and one day of medal racing (for Olympic classes only) on Saturday, January 27. Saturday's medal races follow the new Olympic format, lining up the top 10 teams in each class on the starting line on the final day of racing.
Regatta Headquarters for the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR are at the US Sailing Center, with classes hosted by other area sailing organizations and parks, which include: Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Miami Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Shake-A-Leg Miami, and Crandon Park Marina. The City of Miami and the Miami Dade Sports Commission also support the event.
In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by all the partners that support the US Sailing Team: Nautica, Vanguard Sailboats, Zodiac, Gill, Harken, Sperry Top-Sider, Nikon, New England Ropes, Extrasport, and McLube. Rolex is also a sponsor of the US Sailing Team. The City of Miami has partnered with regatta organizers this year to help with the expansion of the sailing venues.