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.
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.
Ninety eight sailors will compete in the Laser, the biggest fleet in Miami, and features many of the leading athletes.
The line-up includes World number 1 and ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winner Tom Burton (AUS), 2013 World Champion Robert Scheidt (BRA), ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and the dangerous Pavlos Kontides (CYP).
Kontides holds two silver medals from his last two regattas, finishing runner up to Stipanovic in Qingdao and second to Scheidt at the 2013 Laser Worlds.
The Cypriot, who won his nation's first ever Olympic medal at London 2012, will be gunning for top spot in Miami, 'I am at the stage where I should always aim to win major events or at least be on the podium,' exclaimed Kontides. 'Sailing against Robert and the other top guys is always challenging and fascinating and I am really looking forward to it. I am trying to sail the best I can and the results will come.'
The high-calibre of entrants could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, an event Kontides will look to make his mark in, but for now he's looking forward to facing the best Laser sailors once again, 'The strength of the fleet is at the highest level possible and this is what I love, the challenge. But sailing Lasers at this level is always tough and many other sailors can sail at the top.
'With good entries it justifies why World Cups are considered as 200-pointers in the World Rankings.'
Competition in the Laser Radial will be just as tight and within the 53-boat fleet Olympic medallists Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) will do battle again alongside current European Champion Annalise Murphy (IRL), 2013 Miami gold medallist Paige Railey (USA) and British hopeful Alison Young.
Following her bronze medal at London 2012, Van Acker had a quiet 2013. Taking in two events, she finished fourth at the European Championship and eighth at the World Championship. Miami marks the start of a packed schedule for the Belgian as she gets back into swing, 'I am fully back into sailing and training physically after finishing all my courses at university last summer. I will do most of the World Cups, the Europeans, Test Event in Rio and the Worlds in Santander.'
In the build-up to London 2012 and during the Olympic Sailing Competition itself Van Acker was embroiled in tight racing with Bouwmeester, Murphy and Young and those rivalries will resume in Miami, 'I am very much looking forward racing against them,' added Van Acker. 'Racing is most fun when the all the good girls are there. I am not sure who is the strongest at the moment so we will have to wait and see. It will also depend on the conditions. Some girls are really good in the light winds, others excel in the more breezy conditions.
'I always want to do well so I will try very hard to get a good result. Of course the Worlds in Santander is the biggest goal in 2014 and I will use all the events before to get ready for it.'
As two of the standout 49erFX crews, World number 1 duo Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Danish force Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen will go head to head in Miami.
Alongside New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech the Brazilians and Danes have been the frontrunners in the 49erFX over the last 12 months.
In eight regattas the Brazilians have amassed four golds and two silvers whilst the Danish duo took top honours at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma and the European Championship.
Having come up against the Brazilians on several occasions Olsen is eager to face them once again, 'It is always very fun to race against Martine and Kahena. The racing is very close between the two of us so there is high intensity, every meter counts. And for sure we will be close to them in this regatta as well. In 2013 only a few points have been between us in all the regattas.'
Thirty three boats will be on the Miami start line and the Brazilians know it will be tough to defend their 2013 title, 'There are heaps of good teams this year,' said Grael. 'It will be a much stronger event than last year, and as the Olympic Games approaches more and more teams will come.
'Our goal is to sail as good as we can. And if we are able to defend our title then that will be great.'
Brazilian, Canadian, Danish, British, Swedish and American crews make up the majority of the 35-boat 49er fleet.
The Nacra 17 made its international debut at the 2013 edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami with a small fleet of North American crews finding their way in the Mixed Multihull. Several international teams will compete in Miami including former World number 1 Austrian pair Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank.
Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA) took gold in 2013 and will be back to defend their title whilst ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winners Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) will test themselves overseas for the first time.
The 2.4mR fleet will see 27-entrants including London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas (GBR) and Miami 2013 gold medallist Megan Pascoe (GBR). Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) will be favourites in the four boat SKUD18 fleet.
Eight Sonars have registered to race in Miami with top competitors in abundance. Paul Tingley, Logan Campbell and Scott Lutes will lead the Canadian charge whilst top British, French and Norwegian crews will be fighting for top spots.
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.
ISAF Sailing World Cup website
by ISAF Sailing World Cup
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1:30 PM Wed 22 Jan 2014GMT
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