The first stage of the 2017 World Cup Series sees over 400 sailors from 44 nations competing out of Regatta Park in Coconut Grove, Miami, USA from 24-29 January with some exciting developments to further the experiences of not only the athletes, but for visiting spectators.
Throughout the history of the World Cup Series Miami the athletes have been spread across venues in Coconut Grove, but at the 2017 edition, event organisers have worked with the local government to bring together the classes, as Meredith Brody, US Sailing’s Olympic Manager and Co-Chair for World Cup Series Miami, explains, “US Sailing has been working with the City of Miami for years to bring Olympic sailing to Regatta Park.
“There are a lot of steps that are still to be achieved, but this year is a big stride forward as it’s the first time that we have had eight out of the 10 classes gathered together in Regatta Park and launching from the Seminole Boat Ramp.”
At the forefront of the event are the athletes and bringing them together creates a greater sporting environment and experience for the visiting sailors, but US Sailing have also recognised the need to include the local and international spectators to the mix, “The most exciting part for me is bringing racing to the shores of Biscayne Bay and Miami,” said an enthusiastic Brody, “We have a big screen for Friday, Saturday and Sunday with live commentary so people can watch from the park. We will also have food trucks, ceremonies and interviews with the athletes. It’s a real family affair here where people can come and enjoy the park and the racing.”
Drawing onshore spectators into the excitement of an event that takes place in the middle of Biscayne Bay poses a challenge, but one that has been met head on as Brody explains, “The nature of our sport is to be on water and that makes it a challenge for spectators to see, and more importantly, experience sailing.
“Technology these days allows us get different camera angles and to see the action from inside the boats from the athletes’ perspective. We can now take this technology and bring it to the shores and give the people here in Regatta Park that experience with some commentary to better explain what’s happening and to involve people more.”
Following on from the release of World Sailing’s sustainability strategy in November 2016, US Sailing have partnered with Sailors for the Sea and UHealth (the University of Miami’s Health System) to provide reusable water bottles for the athletes, volunteers and officials. To go hand in hand there has been water refill stations installed around Regatta Park. These initiatives also have the added value of keeping the park clean throughout the event and preserving it as a city attraction.
The World Cup Series Miami has changed dramatically over its 28-year history. The current edition, one of the world’s foremost regattas for Olympic-class sailors, requires a tremendous effort from the regatta staff, an army of volunteers and a handful of essential local partners, “We have a great team on and off the water and the athletes seem excited to be here and all together,” says Brody. “We are so grateful for the help of everyone to make this event what it is. It simply couldn’t happen without the City of Miami, Miami Parks and the Miami Parking Authority behind us.”
Racing will begin on Tuesday 24 January at 11:00 local time from Regatta Park, Coconut Grove for all fleets.
By Richard Aspland – World Sailing