DORSET-BASED sailing stars made a promising start to the second round of World Sailing’s 2018 World Cup Series despite tricky and frustrating conditions in Miami.

The likes of Hannah Mills, Stuart Bithell and Emma Wilson are all in contention in their respective disciplines following a competitive first day across the pond. 

A fickle breeze of around six knots greeted the British Sailing Team athletes as they hit the waters of Biscayne Bay on Tuesday for the opening clashes of the Miami World Cup.

The regatta is the first major test of 2018, a massive year for the British Sailing Team as it works towards the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, this summer, the first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

More than 540 of the world’s best Olympic Classes sailors descended on Miami for the World Cup, but they had to wait to get going after a lack of wind curtailed racing on the opening morning.

When a few extra puffs of wind finally filled in allowing seven of the ten Olympic classes to get underway, the British contingent looked set on hitting the ground running after a winter of hard training in Europe.

London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and crew Chris Grube ended the first day in the runners up spot in the men’s 470 fleet having finished second in the only race of the day, while rising Laser star Elliot Hansen and 49er FX duo Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth third overall in their respective fleets.

"It was a long day," said Patience, who first competed in this regatta in 2006. "We waited many hours for one race but it's often like that here in Miami. Some days are good and some days you wait a long time. It was a good race in the end – tight, nose-to-tail for the whole fleet. Everyone at the top of the fleet is here so it's going to be a tough week, but we’re looking forward to it."

Nacra 17 racers John Gimson and Anna Burnet bounced back from a mistake in the opening race that resulted in a DNF score to notch up two thirds, leaving them in fourth overall after day one just one point off the podium. Although the breeze was light it was enough to allow the Nacras to pop up onto their foils and ‘fly’ round the race track.

Recently-crowned Laser European champion Nick Thompson lies in fifth place after two races. Just one race in the women’s 470 sees Rio gold medallist Hannah Mills and her crew Eilidh McIntyre start day two in 10th.

In the 49er class, world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell opened their scorecards with a convincing win in the first race, but a 17th in race two sees them go into the second day of competition in eighth overall.

They are lying on equal points with ninth-placed teammates Jack Hawkins and Christopher Thomas, while James Peters and Fynn Sterritt sit in 15th, two places above Youth America’s Cup winners Chris Taylor and Sam Batten.

“The wind eventually played ball for two races – it was really tricky out there so we were happy with a one in the first, and the second wasn’t too bad,” Fletcher said. “We didn’t have the best start in the second race, and that made the difference.”

Emma Wilson is the top ranked Brit in the women's RS:X fleet, sitting in sixth. A lack of wind on the Finn, RS:X Men’s and Laser Radial course areas means they will have to wait until later today to start their campaigns.

Competition at the 2018 World Cup Series in Miami, USA, continues on Wednesday January 24 and culminates in medal racing on Saturday 27 January for the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, RS:X Men’s and RS:X Women’s events, and on Sunday 28 January for the Laser, Laser Radial, 470 Men, 470 Women and Finn.

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