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International debut at World Cup Series Miami is worth the wait for Gulari and Scutt

by Stuart Streuli, World Sailing 24 Jan 2018 04:33 PST 21-28 January 2018
Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.) – World Cup Series Miami © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

The international regatta debut for Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.) came nearly a half-year after it was initially scheduled.

Not surprisingly, the Nacra 17 duo was chomping at the bit to get going on day one of the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, which is taking place on Florida's Biscayne Bay through Sunday, January 28. The regatta is the second of four stops on World Sailing's 2018 World Cup Series tour.

A lack of wind this morning made them wait just a little bit longer, but it eventually filled in enough for three light-air races. Of the 10 classes competing on Biscayne Bay in the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, the Nacra 17 fleet was one of just two to get in the scheduled number of races, with four classes getting completely shut out.

"Today was our first international regatta together ever, so we were very excited about that," said Scutt, who finished 10th in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the 49erFX class before switching the coed Nacra 17 catamaran. "We were postponed on shore for a while because it was very light, but it ended up getting sailable. I thought the committee did a great job of getting off three races with the conditions that we had."

While the breeze never built into the double digits, it was enough for the catamarans to utilize their lifting foils—a new addition for this Olympic cycle—on the downwind legs, hitting speeds in the low to mid-teens.

"It was definitely too light to foil upwind, and honestly sometimes we were just trying to even fly one hull," said Scutt. "But except for the last race, we could foil downwind. These boats can get foiling downwind in very light air. Then it's a game of looking for the puffs and just trying to stay on the foils as long as possible, which is not easy when it gets that light."

The difference in speed between a boat up on the foils and one still dragging a hull through the water is dramatic.

"Downwind most people pop up [on the foils] at the same time, after the offset mark," said Scutt. "The real game is coming out of a gybe—how good is your gybe, and how soon can you get back foiling because you can't foil-to-foil gybe—so there's definitely some focus demanded there."

As for Gulari and Scutt's overall results, it was a bit of a mixed bag: a second in Race 1, followed by a 16th in Race 2 and a fifth to close out the day. But that was the case for most of the fleet, with all but one of the 19 teams recording a double-digit result. With their lowest score dropped from the results, Gulari and Scutt currently sit sixth, two points off the lead.

"It was a fun day for us," she said. "Our middle race was not great, but our other two were really solid. We're happy and we're excited for more."

The highest-placed American after Day 1 is Laser sailor Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.), who started off strongly with a second in the first race and then had to grind out of the cheap seats in Race 2 to score a 21st. He is fifth in the 70-boat fleet, the largest of the regatta.

Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Graham Biehl (San Francisco, Calif.), who sailed in two Olympic Games together and have reunited for this event while McNay's regular crew, David Hughes (Miami, Fla.) recovers from a knee injury, finished ninth in the single Men's 470 Race.

In the Women's 49erFX, Stephanie Roble (Easy Troy, Wis.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmiette, Ill.) are sixth after two solid races, while in the 49er class, Judge Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) and Alain Sign, who is substituting for Ryan's normal crew Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.), are 13th of 38.

A young group of U.S. women's 470 teams struggled in today's lone race, with Madeleine Rice and Laura Slovensky leading the way in 25th.

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