Light Wind Limitations at Hempel World Cup Series Miami; Offshore DH Event Begins in Ft. Lauderdale

2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy 23 January, 2020.

MIAMI, Fla. (January 23, 2020) – Through four days of action-packed racing on Biscayne Bay, the athletes competing at the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami have experienced a vast array of conditions. Cold temperatures, wind chill, rain, strong breeze, and more typical South Florida conditions have challenged the 182 sailors from 45 nations.

The challenge has been real on the Bay and this has created exciting racing and a level of unpredictability adding more intrigue to this year’s annual Olympic class regatta in Miami.

Heading into Thursday’s racing the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, and Men’s and Women’s 470 had completed six races, while the Men’s and Women’s RS:X finished nine.

However, the breeze failed to cooperate for most of Thursday, as rain showers sporadically dampened the sailing venue, and racing was limited after lengthy postponements.

The RS:X women and men managed just one race each. Japan’s Megumi Komine won her third race of the regatta in Race 10 and is now in second place behind fleet leader Demita Vega de Lille of Mexico by three points. Farrah Hall of the United States is in third place and five points back.

On the men’s side of the RS:X fleet, Pedro Pascual (USA) won his fourth race of the regatta to take a nine-point lead through 10 races. He leads Ignacio Berenguer of Mexico, who is in second place, and fellow American Geronimo Nores, who is in third. Nores was second to Pascual today and has placed either first (4) or second (2) in each of the last six races to make a charge up the leaderboard.

American Caleb Paine won his fourth race of the regatta in Race 7 of the Finn class. He was third in Race 8 and leads by 17 points over Luke Muller (USA). Oisin McClelland of Ireland is in third.

Hugh Macrae of Canada won the only Laser race of the day and has placed in the top two of the last couple races of the regatta. Argentina’s Francisco Guaragna Rigonat came in second and continues to lead the pack through seven races.

“We launched mid-morning and the race didn’t start until 3 o’clock, so there was a lot of waiting, trying and failing,” said Macrae. “We finally we got one off. There was hiking but again it changed midway to light wind, but I managed to get away with a win. I didn’t make the mistakes I’ve been making and it’s now showing.”

There was no racing today in the Laser Radial class, however, Aruba’s Philipine van Aanholt is excited to be back in Miami and sailing again in the Laser Radial after some time away. The two-time Olympian and several other sailors representing North American and Caribbean nations are also trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

“This week has been quite challenging. We’ve had lots of different conditions – mostly breezy. I’ve really enjoyed it,” said van Aanholt. “Yesterday was a bit too much. In the last race I was really tired, but it was fun and very shifty like Miami always is. The first couple of days I could really read the shifts well and yesterday in the last race I had some problems. Everybody is bringing it so it’s fun.”

“I came in really late for this campaign,” she added. “I sailed the Rio and London Games, but I haven’t been full-time sailing in a really long time. I do have a full-time job, which is why I came early to prepare. I have had to focus on myself but, of course you look at the competition and it’s tough. There are a lot of girls going for that one spot.”

As it stands, Elena Oetling is poised to take the single North American spot with van Aanholt 17 points off. However, with today’s Laser Radial racing postponed, three races will be sailed on Friday with plenty of possibilities.

The Men’s and Women’s 470 fleets attempted to sail but the fickle and shifting wind made things tricky for the Race Committee team so no racing was possible.

Heading into Friday’s action, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) top the tree in the men’s division and France’s Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz are in control in the women’s.

An additional race is scheduled for the 470s, Laser Radial and Laser on Friday, January 24 with an earlier start time of 10:30 am for the Radials and 10:40 am for the Lasers.

New Doublehanded Offshore Event Underway at Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race

Ken Read and Suzy Leech racing Alchemist, a Jeanneau 3300, at the start of Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Race. Photo by Sharon Green/

While the 2020 Olympic class hopefuls competed around the buoys in Biscayne Bay, further offshore was a fast downwind start to the 45th edition of the Ft Lauderdale-Key West Race, hosted by Lauderdale Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club. Within the fleet of 28 entries in this 160-mile offshore race was a new mixed-gender Doublehanded class similar to the Mixed Two-Person Offshore Keelboat discipline that is coming to the 2024 Olympic Games.

“South Florida is a natural venue for the class, given the history of the Olympic Classes/World Cup Regatta on Biscayne Bay and the terrific sailing conditions in the winter,” said Race Chairman Chip Sabadash of Lauderdale Yacht Club.

In the ORC Doublehanded class Ken Read and Suzy Leech are racing Alchemist, a new Jeanneau 3300, and Mike Hennessy and Katie Pettibone are sailing Hennessy’s Class 40, Dragon. Both feature water ballast and sail control systems suited to Doublehanded racing, and with the new ORC Doublehanded certificate ratings they can have fair racing under handicap between themselves and the remainder of the ORC fleet as well, despite differences in boat size and type.

“We worked hard with US Sailing and ORC to get these boats rated in time for this race,” said Chris Woolsey of the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC), where this is the third in a four-event offshore series. “We used a special scoring model that reflects the mostly downwind conditions the fleet will see today and tonight, and therefore fairly calculate an overall winner based on ORC ratings.”

With the 15-20 knot breeze trending from NE at the start and veering through E and SE into the evening and tomorrow, the fleet is expecting a fast reaching and running passage in its westward arc closely hugging the Florida keys, a track necessary to steer clear of the Gulf Stream flowing fast in the opposite direction.

Leading the ORC pack and speeding down the track are two full-crewed carbon speedsters, Jim Grundy’s Dunning 42, Baby B and Sledd Shelhorse’s brand new Carkeek 40 MkII Meridian XI, while not far astern is Hennessy and Pettibone on Dragon and another full-crewed Class 40, FK Day’s Longbow.

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Hempel World Cup Miami Press Officer
Jake Fish

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Daniel Smith
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