The last remaining British berths for the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events will be at stake this week when the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta gets underway in Biscayne Bay on Monday (28 January).
While sailors for ten of the eleven Olympic disciplines have already been named by RYA selectors, the British trials are still ongoing in the women’s single-handed Laser Radial class, and in the three classes which make up the Paralympic sailing competition.
Southampton’s Helena Lucas took an early advantage in the race for Paralympic selection, winning the 2.4mR Midwinters yesterday – the first of the trials events for the single-handed Paralympic class – with Swede Stellan Berlin in second and Skandia Team GBR teammate Megan Pascoe in third.
The event was a warm-up event ahead of the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, which also forms part of the trials for the 2.4mR class.
The Miami regatta is the first event of a potential three-regatta trials series in the Laser Radial class, in which the race for the single British spot for Beijing will be between Andrea Brewster, Penny Clark, Charlotte Dobson and Lizzie Vickers.
As the only British boat in contention in the three-person Paralympic Sonar class, two-time World Champions John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas will be hoping to put their disappointing sixth-placed finish at the 2007 IFDS Worlds behind them with a strong showing in Miami to earn the green light from the RYA selectors.
Meanwhile the battle for selection in the SKUD-18 – the new two-person Paralympic boat for Beijing – will be between Allan Smith and Jackie Gay, and Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham.
“With Beijing places still up for grabs in four of the Olympic and Paralympic events, we can certainly expect some pretty competitive racing out here this week,” said Skandia Team GBR Manager Stephen Park.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the trials process pans out, and hope to gain a clearer picture of what our final team for China will look like by the end of the regatta.”
Yngling World Champions Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson, already selected for the Beijing Games, will also be in action for Skandia Team GBR out in Biscayne Bay, while Shirley Robertson also makes a return to competition, racing with Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor in the Yngling for the first time since missing out on the 2008 Olympic berth to her former crewmates.
One year on from their very first regatta together in the Star class, Beijing-bound sailors Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson will be in the hunt for medals in the two-man keelboat event.
Racing at the Rolex Miami OCR 2007 will run from 28 January - 2 February – for results and regatta information visit www.skandiateamgbr.com