BRITISH sailors made a solid start to their first World Cup regatta of 2014 yesterday, tackling light winds on the opening day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in Biscayne Bay.
Paralympic bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell picked up the perfect first day scoreline with two race wins out of two to sit at the top of the leaderboard in the two-person SKUD class.
Multihull pairing Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond, and windsurfer Bryony Shaw also took early leads in their respective events.
Shaw started her race series in the RS:X women’s class with a second and a race win, while Saxton and Diamond, world silver medallists in the Nacra 17 event, lead the catamaran series after three races.
“A light sea breeze came in so it was really stable racing with a bit of a gain feature left so essentially it came down to holding your lane off the start,” Saxton explained.
“We had great pace as well so we managed to pull off a third in the first race, which was a great start.
“We won the second race, which was awesome, we got the lead and then went away. In the last race we managed to come back to about a sixth or something – that was almost the race we were most happy with because that was a great recovery.
“We’ve been training with the whole Nacra squad out in Portugal with our coach Maurice and we’ve been working on a few things tactically as well as just getting quick.
“We seem to be doing quite well. It will be interesting for the second half of the week when it gets windier to see if we’re on the pace there too, but we’re confident.”
London 2012 Olympian Lucy Macgregor and her new crew Andrew Walsh are making their World Cup debut this week.
They had a promising start to their series, winning the opening race of the regatta, but a ninth and seventh place followed having led part of the third race.
Macgregor was left frustrated with what might have been.
“We had a bit of a frustrating day really, it could’ve been a glamour day,” she said. “We started the day off well with a first.
“A few things we were doing really, really well and then there were a couple of areas we really need to work on. “We’re both coming off the water a little bit frustrated, knowing it was a good day but with so many areas we can just make big gains in.”
Walsh, 31, has extensive catamaran sailing experience having campaigned in the previous Olympic multihull, the Tornado, and most recently in the Extreme 40 series. He’s enjoying his return to the Olympic classes.
“I think the Nacras are great boats,” the Poole sailor explained. “I think they’ve got a few teething problems that I think the builders are probably trying to get sorted at the moment, but for a spectacular boat to watch at the Olympics I think it’s going to be really exciting.
“When the breeze is up they’re jumping out of the water and are a real handful for the teams to sail which will be really entertaining I think.
“Even in the light winds we’re fast and colourful boats so it should be a really exciting Olympic class.”
Macgregor said of her new teammate: “Having Walshy on board is awesome. He brings a huge amount of experience of catamaran sailing but also with fleet racing.
“In particular, he’s been doing a lot of the Extreme 40 sailing recently and as we all know our racing is getting shorter, closer, so those skills are really, really valuable to this campaign.”
Giles Scott, racing in his first World Cup since returning from America’s Cup duty, had an inauspicious start to his event.
He was called early over the start line in the first race but later had the penalty overturned when the race committee were deemed to have made a procedural error.
Elsewhere, James Peters and Ed Fitzgerald are fourth after two races in the 49er fleet, with the new pairings of Stevie Morrison-Chris Grube and John Pink-Stuart Bithell in seventh and 10th respectively.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre are poised in second in the 470 women’s event, while Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth are the leading British crew after day one in the 49erFX event, in eighth overall after three races.
Nick Thompson posted a steady 2-6 in the Laser fleet to put him seventh at the end of day one, while Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield are fifth in the 470 men’s event with a 12-4 for their opening day’s efforts.
In the Paralympic 2.4mR event, Helena Lucas picked up an OCS penalty in the second race, while Megan Pascoe saw a steady 2-3 from her two races.
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas also jumped the gun in the first race of the Sonar fleet before posting a fifth in their second race. Hannah Snellgrove is 29th after two races in the Laser Radial event.
Medal races for the Olympic classes scheduled for Saturday.
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