Outdoors

Two U.S. teams excel at Sailing World Cup Miami despite short partnerships

The first stop of World Sailing's 2017 World Cup Series will see over 450 competitors race across the ten Olympic classes from Regatta Park at Coconut Grove from Jan. 24 – 29.
The first stop of World Sailing's 2017 World Cup Series will see over 450 competitors race across the ten Olympic classes from Regatta Park at Coconut Grove from Jan. 24 – 29. Marina Garcia/Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Two hurriedly-formed U.S. partnerships proved their compatibility Saturday with promising finishes in the medal races at Sailing World Cup Miami as Biscayne Bay tested sailors’ skills with another afternoon of light, shifty breezes.

Ian MacDiarmid of Delray Beach and David Liebenburg of San Francisco have been together only three weeks on their 49er, a speedy boat which requires agile athletic harmony out on the wings. They were pleased to finish 10th.

“We had to make a lot of instantaneous decisions out there,” said MacDiarmid, 18, who trains often out of Coral Reef Yacht Club. “Every time we launch it’s a new adventure.”

Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chaffee, who paired up via a Facebook message, have spent only 12 days in their boat together yet managed to take sixth in the co-ed catamaran Nacra 17, the fastest boat in the 10-class regatta.

“We’re pretty psyched given we were up against some very experienced teams,” said Chaffee, a 2016 Rio Olympian from Warwick, R.I.

Gibbs, a southern Californian, took a break from his kitesurfing endeavors to join Chaffee.

“The conditions were pretty random, every day a new shuffle of the deck but we kept our heads out and found the pressure,” he said.

Medal races in Laser, Laser Radial, men’s and women’s 470 and Finn start at noon Sunday. Spectators can watch live action on a jumbo screen in Coconut Grove’s Regatta Park Fan Zone.

The women’s windsurfer final was thrilling and exhausting. China’s Yunxiu Lu, pumping furiously to fill her sail, twice made up ground on downwind legs to secure gold. Rio Olympics gold medalists Martine Soffiati Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil won the final race and gold in 49erFX.

Stu McNay and crew Dave Hughes of Miami hold an eight-point lead in the 470 that assures them a podium finish. Luke Muller of Fort Pierce has an outside shot at a Finn medal.

Pedro Pascual of West Palm Beach placed 25th in windsurfer.

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