With about 18 months until the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, prospective Olympic sailors are taking every opportunity to see how they measure up against potential competitors.
There’s no better venue to perform that all-important, on-water research and development right now than Biscayne Bay, where more than 800 sailors from 63 countries are gathered for Monday’s start of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella.
All 10 Olympic and all three Paralympic (disabled) classes will race around the bay Monday through Saturday in the second of five events in the 2014-15 World Cup series. For U.S. sailors, finishing on the awards podium means a spot on the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Topsider, and anyone who wins gold here will qualify for the ISAF World Cup final Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“Right now in Miami, we have a combination of full-time campaigners doing everything they can to get in medal contention for Rio and new campaigners who will use this experience as a springboard to their Tokyo 2020 dreams,” said Charlie McKee, high-performance director of the U.S. Sailing Team.
“With all of the best teams in the world here to compete, you can’t get any better exposure than this.”
Racing begins Monday at 10 a.m. for the Olympic classes of 470 (men); 470 (women); Laser (men); Laser Radial (women); Nacra 17 (mixed); Finn (men); RS:X (men); RS:X (women); 49er (men); and 49er FX (women), as well as the Paralympic classes of Sonar; 2.4mR; and SKUD-18, all mixed. The top 10 finishers in each Olympic class when fleet racing concludes Friday will advance to Saturday’s final medal round. The Paralympic classes will finish sailing Friday with no medal round. The largest class is the Laser with 120 boats.
Several South Floridians are competing in a fleet chock full of Olympic medalists, world champions, and America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans:
2.4mR: Daniel Evans, Miami; Joseph Hill, Miami; 470 (men): Jordan Factor, Miami teamed with Matthew Wefer, Glen Head, New York; 49er: Brad Funk, Plantation teamed with Trevor Burd, Marblehead, Massachusetts; Finn: Craig Johnson, Fort Lauderdale; Laser Radial: Erika Reineke, Sophia Reineke, Christine Persson, all of Fort Lauderdale; Nacra 17: Cate Gundlach, Fort Lauderdale teamed with Garrett Brown, Long Beach, California; Mark Mendelblatt teamed with wife Carolina, Miami; Sarah Newberry, Miami teamed with Matthew Whitehead, Panama City; John Casey, Hollywood teamed with Kristen Lane, Huntington Beach, California; and Katelyn Flood, Miami teamed with Keenan Madewell; RS:X (men): Raul Lopez, Miami; Pedro Pascual, Boca Raton; Maximo Nores, Miami; RS: X (women): Kathleen Tocke, Miami.
Regatta headquarters is the U.S. Sailing Center in Coconut Grove. Other cohosts include Coral Reef Yacht Club, which will conduct opening and closing ceremonies; Miami Rowing Club; Coconut Grove Sailing Club; Key Biscayne Yacht Club; and Shake-a-Leg Miami.