The race for Paralympic sailing selection took another twist at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta on Thursday, with the top British boats upstaged as the event draws to a close.
Helena Lucas regains the lead over Skandia Team GBR teammate Megan Pascoe in the qualifying battle for the 2.4mR single-handed Paralympic class, while SKUD sailors Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham have pulled ahead of their main rivals for the British Beijing berth for the first time in the regatta.
With racing for the Paralympic classes set to conclude on Friday – one day earlier than the Olympic classes racing across Biscayne Bay – nine points now separate Lucas from Pascoe in the 2.4mR leaderboard, with the British sailors in sixth and seventh places respectively.
Meanwhile Birrell and Rickham, making their competitive debut in the two-person SKUD class, posted steady results of 5,5,5 on Thursday to put them ahead of Allan Smith and Jackie Gay, their rivals for the one British spot in the class for the Paralympic Games.
But for Birrell and Rickham, it was a day not without incident. “We had a bit of trouble with a fair few breakages out there today,” Rickham explained. “We had halyards breaking, the spinnaker got twisted, it was all going on – and to cap it all off we got caught up on a lobster pot!”
Birrell and Rickham are in fifth place heading into Friday’s final day of racing, with Smith and Gay in sixth place just four points behind.
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas remain in medal contention in the third Paralympic class – the three-person Sonar. They’re in the bronze medal position at present, just two adrift of the second-placed French crew.
Penny Clark has extended her advantage over her Skandia Team GBR rivals in the Laser Radial event, which is counting as part of the British selection trials for Beijing. Clark is poised in third place heading into the final two days of racing for the Olympic disciplines, with results of 10,5,4 today giving her a 16 point buffer over Charlotte Dobson, currently in seventh place.
Lizzie Vickers has bumper herself into the top ten with the help of a race win in her first race of the day, while Andrea Brewster remains in 17th place overall.
World Champions Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson saw consistent results of 10,9,10 from their three races in the Yngling fleet today. They were unable to improve upon their overnight position of sixth, but are just seven points away from a podium position with two days of racing to go.
But for a premature start in their second race, Thursday would have been a good day for Shirley Robertson, Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor with results of 2 and 5 sandwiching their hasty crossing of the start line. Meanwhile, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson had another up and down day in their new vessel but finished the last race of the day in second place to improve their overall position to 18th. Leading Results – Day 4
Laser (24 boats) -- 10 races
1. Maciej Grabowski (POL), 26pts
2. Kyle Rogachenko (USA), 29pts
3. Marcin Rudawski (POL), 33pts
Laser Radial (39 boats) -- 9 races
1. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), 22pts
2. Paige Railey (USA), 24pts
3. Penny Clark (GBR), 43pts
7. Charlotte Dobson 59pts
10. Lizzie Vickers 81pts
17. Andrea Brewster 106pts
Star (70 boats) - 7 races
1. Flavio Marazzi/Enrico De Maria (SUI) 19pts
2. Eivind Melleby/Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) 22pts
3. Xavier Rohart/Pascal Rambeau (FRA) 23pts
18. Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson 70pts
Yngling (28 boats) -- 10 races
1. Mandy Mulder/Mary Faber/Merel Witteveen (NED), 47pts
2. Ekaterina Skudina,/Diana Krutskikh/Natalia Ivanova (RUS), 58pts
3. Xia Qun Song/Xiao Ni Li/Yan Li Yu (CHN), 72pts
6. Sarah Ayton/Sarah Webb/Pippa Wilson 79pts
15. Shirley Robertson/Annie Lush/Lucy Macgregor 111pts
2.4mR (25 boats) -- 7 races
1. Damien Seguin (FRA), 26pts
2. Stellan Berlin (SWE), 40pts
3. Paul Tingley (CAN), 45pts
6. Helena Lucas 59pts
7. Megan Pascoe 68pts
SKUD-18 (10 boats) -- 9 races
1. Nick Scandone/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (USA), 10pts
2. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (USA), 18pts
3. John McRoberts/Stacie Louttit (CAN), 24pts
5. Niki Birrell/Alexandra Rickham 40pts
6. Allan Smith/Jackie Gay 44pts
Sonar (11 boats) -- 8 races
1. Jens Kroker/Tobias Schuetz/Siegmund Mainka (GER), 11pts
2. Bruno Jourden/Herve Larhant/Nicolas Vimont Vicary (FRA), 29pts
3. John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Steve Thomas (GBR), 31pts
Racing at the Rolex Miami OCR 2008 runs until 2 February – for results and regatta information visit www.skandiateamgbr.com