Miami OCR - Brits remain strong at half way point

Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell, 470 Men - Rolex Miami OCR
Britain’s sailors remain in a strong position at the halfway stage of the Miami World Cup regatta, in spite of a disrupted schedule on Wednesday (26 January).

The start of day three’s racing at the Rolex Miami OCR was delayed while a weather front and the threat of storms passed over, but when racing did get underway Skandia Team GBR’s crews made the best of the shifty conditions.

The British 470 teams continued their good form, with Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell taking over the top spot in the men’s event from teammates Nic Asher and Elliot Willis thanks to a win from their sole race of the day, while Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes took the gun with a minute’s lead in the only race for the women’s fleet, with Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark finishing second.

Even the slight mishap of Hughes falling in the water didn’t impede her and Clark’s progress, and they’ve moved up to second place overall after five races.

'On the first reach I had a little bit of a swim!' explained the 21-year-old Hughes. 'Somehow I hadn’t managed to hook on to my trapeze elastic as well as my hook or something, and it ended up snapping.

'Fortunately I managed to grab it on the way down and only got dragged for a little bit before I managed to scramble back in the boat so we didn’t really lose too much. We had quite a big lead from picking our way well up the first beat.'

'It was all about trying to find the pressure today, so on the first beat we were looking out for the cloud, figuring out how that was going to affect it,' said Clark of the day’s conditions.

'That gave us a really good lead and then down the first run the same thing, looking for the pressure.

'It was just a case of racing smart and just not doing anything stupid to stay there, so we’re pretty pleased!

Giles Scott perfect scorecard saw a blemish today when he was called over the startline early in the only race of the Finn fleet. Dubbing himself a 'starting idiot today', the 23-year-old still crossed the finish line ahead of the rest of the fleet, and remains in first place overall, but now has an OCS disqualification alongside his four race wins earned earlier in the regatta. Skandia Team GBR’s other two Finn competitors, Ben Ainslie and Andrew Mills, also sailed their discards today – Ainslie was eighth and Mills 16th.

Britain’s 49er sailors still occupy the top three spots of the leaderboard, with John Pink and Rick Peacock just a point ahead of teammates Dave Evans and Ed Powys. Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith are third.

For Pink and Peacock the Rolex Miami OCR holds fond memories, as it was the site of their first major podium finish back in 2009, which Peacocks explains was a breakthrough for them as a team.

'It was the first big push season that we and me and Pinky had together really. It really kicked the season off well, you get that little confidence boost.'

'It’s going well here,' the 25-year-old explained. 'We’ve had some great races really and a mixed bag with conditions. Yesterday was very boat speed oriented and we managed to crack that quite well and today was a lot more shifty so more about minimising risk and I think we did not too badly today either.

'The results could have been a lot worse today so we battled through and we’ve been enjoying it.'

Skandia Team GBR’s windsurfers continue to fare well, with Bryony Shaw in second place overall in the women’s fleet, and Nick Dempsey also in second in the men’s fleet while development squad sailor Elliot Carney also remains inside the top ten.

Paul Goodison’s otherwise excellent day of 2,1 took a disappointing turn when he was disqualified from the first race of the Laser fleet for not taking penalty turns after being yellow flagged by the jury. The Olympic Champion maintains he didn’t hear their signals – he’s now in second place on equal points with teammate Nick Thompson who had 1,5 for his efforts today.

Lucy Macgregor, Mary Rook and Kate Macgregor won two out of their three gold group bouts in the women’s match racing event, losing a close battle to the French team helmed by Claire Leroy, while in the Laser Radial event Alison Young is the highest British contender in seventh overall.

In the Paralympic classes, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas maintain their lead in the Sonar event, picking up second in their only race of the day, while World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell found some pace to win the only race for the SKUD class. They’re third overall, with 2.4mR sailors Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas remain in eighth and 11th places respectively after no racing was held for the class today.

The Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta – the second leg of the 2010-11 ISAF Sailing World Cup series – runs until Saturday 29 January.

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John Pink-Rick Peacock, 49er - Rolex Miami OCR
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