Who will get to go to the Olympics?

by RYA 
Sonar Class - John Robertson, Stephen Thomas, Hannah Stodel (GBR)
© Rolex / Dan Nerney

The Battle to represent Britain has stepped up a gear at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, with the leading British sailors vying for Olympic and Paralympic selection feeling the heat in Miami on Wednesday. Penny Clark retains her lead in the Laser Radial but Charlotte Dobson has dramatically closed the gap. Megan Pascoe has overtaken Helen Lucas in the 2.4mR and Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham are now within one point of their GBR rivals, Allan Smith and Jackie Gay, in the Skud event.

Laser Radial sailor Charlotte Dobson and Paralympic hopefuls Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham, competing in the SKUD class, reignited their bids for Beijing selection and have closed in on the main British rivals ahead of them in the points tables, while Megan Pascoe has leapfrogged Helena Lucas and is currently the top Skandia Team GBR sailor in the 2.4mR Paralympic event.

On a day of light and tricky racing conditions, Dobson’s was the best performance of all the British sailors competing across Biscayne Bay. The 21-year-old Scot, one of four sailors contesting the trials in the women’s single-handed class, pulled off an impressive 2,3 in her fleet’s two races today to boost her position to fifth in the overall standings, and reduce the point deficit against her main British rival, Penny Clark, to seven points. The 32-year-old Clark is currently in third, posting 9,2 today, while Lizzie Vickers and Andrea Brewster are in 14th and 17h places respectively.

A consistent day’s sailing paid off for Megan Pascoe, who now holds a two-point lead over her only British rival, Helena Lucas, in the 2.4mR single-handed Paralympic class. Pascoe placed seventh and sixth in the fleet’s two races today, while Lucas managed 16,5. The pair are now in fifth and sixth places respectively, but have three able-bodied sailors ahead of them in the overall results table.

In the two-person Paralympic SKUD class, Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham have narrowed Allan Smith and Jackie Gay’s lead to just one point, boasting a third and a fourth from their two races on Wednesday, while John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas are still among the podium positions in the Sonar class, in third place and just one point adrift of the second-placed French boat.

Elsewhere, in the Yngling class, the Beijing-bound Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson posted uncharacteristically high numbers of 13 and a discarded 24 to see them in overall sixth place at the end of day three, while Shirley Robertson, Annie Lush and Lucy Macgregor are 18th.

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson continue to be tested by their brand new Star keelboat in the Miami waters – they’re in 22nd place overall after coming 20th in their race today, but Simpson remains philosophical about their progress testing out the new boat.

“Yes, it’s frustrating,” the 31-year-old crew admitted. “But sometimes you have to take a few steps back to make bigger strides in the long run.”

Racing at the Rolex Miami OCR 2008 runs until 2 February – for results and regatta information visit www.skandiateamgbr.com

Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3

Laser (24 boats) -- 7 races
1. Marcin Rudawski (POL), 19pts
2. Kyle Rogachenko (USA), 20pts
3. Maciej Grabowski (POL), 20pts

Laser Radial (39 boats) -- 6 races
1. Paige Railey (USA), 10pts
2. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), 10pts
3. Penny Clark (GBR), 25pts

5. Charlotte Dobson 32pts
14. Lizzie Vickers 61pts
17. Andrea Brewster 84pts

Star (70 boats) - 5 races
1. Rick Merriman/Brian Sharp (USA), 8pts
2. Flavio Marazzi/Enrico De Maria (SUI) 13pts
3. Eivind Melleby/Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) 14pts

22. Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson 46pts

Yngling (28 boats) -- 7 races
1. Ekaterina Skudina,/Diana Krutskikh/Natalia Ivanova (RUS), 23pts
2. Mandy Mulder/Mary Faber/Merel Witteveen (NED), 34pts
3. Monica Azon/Sandra Azon/Graciela Pisonero (ESP), 35pts

6. Sarah Ayton/Sarah Webb/Pippa Wilson 50pts
18. Shirley Robertson/Annie Lush/Lucy Macgregor 82pts

2.4mR (25 boats) -- 7 races
1. Damien Seguin (FRA), 14pts
2. Paul Tingley (CAN), 20pts
3. Stellan Berlin (SWE), 23pts

5. Megan Pascoe 40pts
6. Helena Lucas 42pts

SKUD-18 (10 boats) -- 6 races
1. Nick Scandone/Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (USA), 5pts
2. John McRoberts/Stacie Louttit (CAN), 13pts
3. Scott Whitman/Julia Dorsett (USA), 14pts

5. Allan Smith/Jackie Gay 24pts
6. Niki Birrell/Alexandra Rickham 25pts

Sonar (11 boats) -- 6 races
1. Jens Kroker/Tobias Schuetz/Siegmund Mainka (GER), 8pts
2. Bruno Jourden/Herve Larhant/Nicolas Vimont Vicary (FRA), 17pts
3. John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Steve Thomas (GBR), 18pts