World Top Women Skiffies Stretch Out Over Miami
Day 3 of the Sailing World Cup Miami was a testing day for the 34 49erFX teams racing in the warm up regatta to the 2016 World Championship next week in Clearwater. With the fleet a bit behind schedule the race officers put the teams through their paces with four races on the day, and plenty of points to be scored.
Red Bull sponsored 2013 World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech revelled in the conditions pulling into the lead as they day grew longer and tougher with a pair of seconds to close out proceedings. The duo are some of the fittest sailors in the fleet and after three straight days of being pushed until sunset that fitness may have helped them concentrate through to the end. They have not won a regatta in a while and will be looking to hold fast for the final two days and retake the top spot on the podium.
On a tremendous roll, not only in this regatta but since the mid way point of 2015 were Argentina’s Vicky Travasio and Sol Branz, who had a 5 race run of 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, before a disappointing final race of the day in 26th saw them knocked back from the lead all the way to 5th, still well in contention. The duo won Pan Am bronze suprising the pundits by beating 2014 World Sailors of the Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil. They followed that up with a 3rd place finish at the 2015 South American’s and a 11th place at the 2015 Worlds, claiming the first available Olympic qualifying berth.
The two teams from New Zealand and Argentina represent the answers to some of the major questions the world had about how the female skiff fleet would shape up as a new Olympic class. Back in 2013 when Maloney/Meech from New Zealand and Nilsen/Olsen of Denmark seemed so far out in front of the new class we wondered whether they would remain dominent forces of the rest of the world would catch up. The answer, as it turns out is both. There are few Olympic fleets outside of the laser that offer so many teams fighting for the podium and regatta wins. Top flight 49erFX teams have come from all over, match racing, 470, radials, 29ers, and other youth classes. There are top contending teams from all five continenets and the fight for medals in Rio will be fierce.
At the mid regatta point here in Miami, little is decided with the top seven teams all close enough on points that any slip up could make all the difference. Unsrusprising in this fleet, and as it seems like in every regatta, two of the top seven teams are new to the podium conversation. The Agerup sisters from Norway are coming off injury and having their best regatta to date. They were the over night leaders and have kept pace today only slipping a few places to sit in third. Back in seventh are British youngsters, Sophie Weguelin and Anna Burnet, who are displaceing the usual top brits Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Answorth. A few more days of racing in Florida like that could have the British selectors wondering what’s going on.
There are two more days of racing upcoming in Miami before the live medal races on youtube Saturday January 30th.
Be sure to follow along with the worlds best.
The 2016 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida are February 9th to 14th. The final three days will be broadcast live on youtube so to sign up to receive reminder emails and follow at 49er.org