by Craig Heydon
It was a strong day on the water at the Miami OCR, round two of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, Florida for the Australian Sailing Team.
In first place, Day 3, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS), 470-Men - Rolex Miami OCR
On day 3 470 crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page extended their lead at the front of the fleet, Brendan Casey moved into third overall in the Finn class and Women’s Match Racers Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty put themselves in the box-seat to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Belcher and Page started the day two points ahead of Dutch pair of Sven and Kalle Coster with the Australian pair finishing Wednesday’s two races in seventh and a first to open up a five point lead.
'Conditions were light again today, only getting into the low double digits, and continued to fade as the day went on,' said Page. 'We were in the afternoon shift and I’d say we had the best breeze when we were tuning up before the start. 'Once racing got underway we struggled a bit in race one, we couldn’t quite punch through the pack,' he said. 'We were in the mix the while time but couldn’t quite capitalize.
'Race two was a good one, we got a good start, got the first shift and took the lead three-quarters of the way up the first beat which made it a bit easier,' said Page. 'Another four fleet races and the medal race still to go so there’s plenty left in this one.'
In the Finn fleet Australia’s Brendan Casey has moved into third overall after a solid day of racing which included a race win, a fourth and a fifth.
'It was a long day for the Finns with three races on massive courses but it was a positive one for me,' said Casey. 'The first race was a solid start to finish win and I crossed the line about a minute ahead of second place. 'I couldn’t quite back it up in race two and found myself out on the right when the breeze went left which left me eighth at the top mark but I managed to get a few back,' he said.
'The last race was looking good and I was third at the last top mark but made a few tactical errors on the last run and a few guys got up the inside. 'The racing is really tight here, the two guys ahead of me both finished in the top 10 at the recent World Championships and we’re having some close racing,' said Casey. 'With three races today we had three different winners so it’s very close.'
In the Women’s Match Racing competition Australian’s Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty have moved a step close to the quarterfinals with just one race remaining in the round robin. Price and crew are currently second in their group, siting on seven wins and three losses.
'We had another solid day with two wins and just one loss against Lucy MacGregor of Great Britain,' said Whitty. 'The race against Lucy was a solid one however she just managed to get us on the finish line.
'We’ve still got one more race tomorrow, it’s very tight on the score board so we’ll have to wait and see but we’re really enjoying sailing here and looking forward to the next few days,' she said.
Fellow Women’s Match Racers Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill have just missed out on a spot in the quarterfinals, finishing fifth in their group after six wins and five losses.
'We sailed better today but unfortunately the first day’s results made it quite hard for us to come back and reach the quarterfinals,' said Souter.
'We finished fifth in our group meaning we were the first ones not to make the quarters which is disappointing. 'We knew that the format for this regatta was going to be cut throat and challenging and today we scored three wins and one loss,' she said. 'We had some good races against quality teams and now we have a few weeks training here in Miami to work on a few small things then we head back home in mid-February.'
In the 2.4mR class Matt Bugg is 10th overall, crossing the line fifth and seventh in the day’s two races. 'Today was a better day for me with a fifth and a seventh,' said Bugg. 'I had great starts and the nailed the first beat in both races. In the second race I cut it a bit close with a competitor and got hit by his mast and ended up having to do a penalty turn, he sailed off to win the race and I came seventh.
'I was really happy with my boat speed today, both upwind and downwind, and am finally feeling that we’ve got my settings just right,' he said. 'Today really was perfect sailing conditions, warm with good breeze and I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.'
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have held onto their second position in the Skud 18 fleet after another two races on Wednesday. The pair finished fourth in both of the day’s races to leave them just two points behind the leading British crew with four races left over the next two days.
Racing continues in Miami on Thursday with the final medal races to be held on Saturday.
Full results here
Australian Sailing Team website