19 January 2015 – Issued on behalf of ISAF – From 26-31 January 2015, Miami, USA will welcome world class fields in ten Olympic and three Paralympic events for the second regatta of the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.
Biscayne Bay will come alive with the sails of 651 boats, featuring 848 sailors from 63 nations. The stakes are high at the 2015 edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, with Abu Dhabi Final qualification spots and valuable ranking points available at the 200-point regatta.
The 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella, marks the second anniversary of competition for the Nacra 17. The mixed multihull made its debut at the 2013 edition with a small seven boat fleet that was dominated by North Americans. Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA) took the first Nacra 17 gold medal and now two years on, Miami welcomes a truly international field with 21 nations represented within the 51-boat fleet.
Seasoned campaigners and young hopefuls will be on the start line come 26 January, gunning for an Abu Dhabi ISAF Sailing World Cup Final qualification spot.
Beijing 2008 Tornado Olympic gold medallist Fernando Echavarri (ESP) will take to Nacra 17 racing for the first time in Miami. Echavarri has paired up with 2011 470 World Champion Tara Pacheco who formerly sailed with Iker Martinez. Pacheco and Martinez, who were coached by Echavarri, split up towards the end of 2014 with Martinez teaming up with Marina Lopez.
The transition from coach boat to the Nacra 17 has gone well for the experienced Echavarri, a two time Tornado World Champion, who is taking things in his stride, “We have been sailing for about two months. We are just starting and there are many things that are going on and we want to think about a one year campaign. If everything works well and we qualify [for Rio 2016], we will then think about the next step.
“Miami will be the first race so we are just thinking about learning and getting into the game again. At the moment we are taking it day by day. We have many things to organise before we even think about our goals. For today I can tell you that our goal is to balance the rudders, which will make everything easier.
“We’ve had some normal starting issues that make us lose some time but we are happy about our progression. There are many things to learn and they are special to remember. Here in Miami we came two days ago [Thursday 15 January] with a charter boat so there is plenty of work to do to prepare.
“It’s a nice competition, as always, in Miami. I am really happy to be back in the game.”
Echavarri joins a list of highly experienced competitors in the Miami Nacra 17 fleet. Two time Nacra 17 World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA), Sofia Bekatorou and Konstantinos Trigonis (GRE), Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) and Puerto Rico’s Enrique Figueroa, sailing with Franchesca Valdes Ortega, all have vast experience that they’ll put into practice in Miami.
At the other end of the spectrum are Aruba’s Nicole van der Velden and Thijs Visser. At 20-years-old Van der Velden is one of the youngest competitors in the fleet but with two years of campaigning behind her, she hasn’t been intimated by her older rivals, reaching World #17 and finishing in the top ten at the European Championship.
“It’s amazing how much you can learn in two years just by committing to something, ” commented van der Velden. “The learning curve has been huge for me. The Nacra is so much fun to sail and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring for us.”
It would be easy for van der Velden to look in awe at the star spangled fleet that features numerous Olympic medallists, Volvo Ocean Race winners and multiple World Champions but she has used the competition to her advantage as she explained, “It’s awesome to be able to sail against such experienced sailors. It really pushes you even harder to get better and better, especially being so young there’s so much to learn.
“For us at the moment it’s quite important to keep working on our racing skills. So every race we do we try to learn as much as possible from it.”
Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse (AUS) were the first Nacra 17 pair to qualify for the Abu Dhabi ISAF Sailing World Cup Final when they took the Melbourne title. Teams will be vying to join them on the start line with six days of high intensity racing in Miami.
Great Britain’s Giles Scott will spearhead the Finn fleet, aiming to defend his title and continue his unbeaten run of six ranked regattas and the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 (Olympic Test Event).
Scott has dominated at every regatta and has his eyes on another victory, “It [the unbeaten run] is absolutely something I’d like to continue. Every regatta I do is incredibly important, but that being said I do really try and focus on each event as it comes so we’ll have to see what Miami brings, I’m sure it will be great racing.
“I think the fleet will be very strong this year with only a handful of the top guys missing. Last year we were plagued by lack of wind so hopefully this year we get good Miami conditions.”
World #1 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), World #2 Caleb Paine (USA), ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne victor Ed Wright (GBR) and Abu Dhabi ISAF Sailing World Cup Final champion Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) will all be in the fleet.
Forty five teams are registered to compete in the Men’s 470 and quality is prevalent throughout the pack. Mat Belcher and Will (AUS) will be the ones to beat whilst 2013 champions Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) will want to hold on to their title. 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao gold medallists Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp (ESP) will be looking to impress whilst Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis will certainly be in the running for top honours.
In the Women’s 470, 2014 World Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT), Olympic champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) and Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) will renew their rivalry. The trio shared the podium at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds as well as the 2014 Olympic Test Event with minimal separation between them.
Miami will be the first opportunity for the trio to test themselves against each other in 2015 which will make for some intriguing and insightful racing.
In the 2.4mR, one of three Paralympic events taking place in Miami, Megan Pascoe (GBR) will be aiming to defend her title. In testing winds at the 2014 edition Pascoe kept her focus to take the victory ahead of Allan Leibel (CAN) and Helena Lucas (GBR). Both Leibel and Lucas will return in 2015 with Melbourne victor Matt Bugg (AUS) and the ever consistent Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) also within the fleet.
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) return to defend their crown in the SKUD18 but will face stiff competition from long term rivals Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS). Ten boats will go in the competitive Sonar fleet with 2014 silver medallists John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas (GBR) set to lead the charge.
Competitors in the Paralympic events will have five days of fleet racing from Monday 26 January to Friday 30 January. Medal Races across the ten OIympic events will bring the regatta to a close on Saturday 31 January where medals will be awarded to the top three boats.