by Cora Zillich
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami is being held from Monday 27 January to Saturday 1 February 2014. Over 550 sailors from 50 nations will head to Miami, Florida, USA to race.
470 mens/ Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) - Sail Melbourne 2013
The third of five instalments of the 2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup will see some the world's top competitors race across ten Olympic and three Paralympic events in Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
Australian Olympic gold medallist Mat Belcher (QLD) and World Champion crew Will Ryan (QLD) will look to extend their unbeaten streak in the Men’s 470 when racing in Miami commences on Monday, January 27, 2014.
2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mathew Belcher made it 18 consecutive wins in a row since November 2011 when he took gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. It was his tenth in a row with Ryan since the duo started sailing together in late 2012 and the pair has coped well with the weight of expectations:
'The pressure has been difficult at times with it accumulating over the years,' said Belcher. 'But we are in the business of sport. Our job is to perform under pressure. It is something you just have to manage. Miami is a strong event and it shows by all of last year’s world medallists being there. For us, this is why we come over, to get good racing. The fleet have a lot of respect for us and we for them. We are really looking forward to racing the other guys and starting 2014 off well.'
Also crew Ryan is cherishing the challenge as well as the opportunity of facing the highly competitive and experienced 31-boat fleet:
'The results streak of the past year is not really something we focus upon. The Olympic Cycle is about focusing upon your own team and development, as it is a long road. Miami just starts another chapter and the competitive side of me always wants to go out and do well.'
'It has been a long time since we have raced the whole fleet. Last time was at the Worlds in August and we miss the close racing. It is fantastic being able to sail with the best in Mat and our coach Victor (Kovalenko) and I'm really enjoying it! I just feel lucky to know we have the chance to do well in each race we compete in and I’m in a spot many sportspeople would be envious of!'
Joining the Australians in the fleet is 2013 470 world championship silver and bronze medallists Pierre Leboucher and Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) as well as Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis. World number three pair Sime Fantela and Ignor Marenic (CRO) pushed the Australians at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne and Britons Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield will also prove a stern test.
The high-calibre of entrants in Miami could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, an event Laser World number one and ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winner Tom Burton (AUS) will look to make his mark in. With ninety-eight sailors the Laser is the biggest fleet in Miami, and features many of the leading athletes.
For Burton Miami will be the kick-off to his build towards Santander and he is looking forward to facing the best Laser sailors, including 2013 World Champion Robert Scheidt (BRA): 'This is my first time sailing in Miami so I don't really know what to expect. I have heard it is mainly a lighter wind venue and some shifts which suits me fine, but we will see what we get.'
'Coming off the back of Melbourne I took some time out of the boat getting ready for the big preparation towards Santander, which will start here in Miami. I have been concentrating on getting my weight back up to a reasonable level after losing some for the Worlds in Oman. This meant more time in the gym and not so much time sailing. The fleet is looking strong and I’m looking forward to racing these guys throughout the year and slowly building towards Santander later in the year.'
Competition in the Finn will be just as tight and the Australian Finn squad with Olympian Brendan Casey (QLD), Melbourne World Cup second placed Oliver Twedell (VIC), and Melbourne World Cup third placed Jake Lilley (QLD) as well as Tony Parks (VIC) are looking forward to make their mark in the 41-boat fleet. Recently crowned Australian Finn Champion and Australian Sailing Squad member Jake Lilley (QLD) is excited about the challenge: 'Since we got to Miami we have been training really hard as a squad and learning a lot about the venue and improving ourselves. So as a team we are both positive and confident going into the event.'
'Personally I am looking forward to what promises to be a tough regatta and I am pretty confident off the back of becoming national champion. I’m always excited to continue improving and working on a higher level of performance. The fleet here is pretty hot and full of Finn class superstars, so in combination with challenging conditions, it's going to be a fantastic regatta.
The Nacra 17 made its international debut at the 2013 edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Within the 33-boat fleet ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winners and Olympic medallists Darren Bundock (NSW) and Nina Curtis (NSW) will do battle alongside fellow Australian Sailing Team members and Olympic silver medallist Lucinda Whitty (NSW) and Euan McNicol (NSW) as well as Lisa Darmanin (NSW) and Jason Waterhouse (NSW). Miami will be the first overseas test for Bundock and Curtis after a warm-up tenth place at the North American Championships, where McNicol and Whitty were sixth this week. 'We just wrapped up the North American Championships here in Miami, which was a well timed regatta, good practice before the World Cup kicks off and we got a good taste for the conditions: light winds, flat water, and very shifty. I am really looking forward to racing again. The competition is quite high but it is good timing for us to touch base with the fleet and to be able to see what we can do', Curtis said.
And for the tasks ahead Bundock added: 'Obviously we would like to win, if we do then that would be an outstanding achievement considering this will only be our second regatta in the class. Miami is shaping up to be the best calibre of fleet assembled since the inception of the Nacra 17 class. Almost all of the top competitors are here and for us it's about getting a taste of the level of competition in the class and to know how high the bar is before the main races start in Europe.'
'We are in the initial stages of our campaign with this only being regatta number two and we will ramp up the campaign during the European season with the goal being a top result at the Santander World Championships.'
Caitlin Elks (WA) and Tess Lloyd (VIC) are the only Australian Sailing representatives in the 49erFX class at this regatta.
Racing commences across ten Olympic and three Paralympic Classes on Monday 27 January. Medal Races on Saturday 1 February bring the regatta to a close.
Event website: click here