Who´s in the running for 49er Glory at the Miami World Cup of Sailing?
Both men´s skiff and women´s skiff, have nice fleets attending the second world cup regatta of the Rio quad. The fleets are not complete, meaning that not all the big names are attending, as is normal for a new cycle, but there are a number of teams looking to get out to a good start.
Lets review three teams to look out for from each fleet
This is a newly formed partnership, and already they are showing they will be a force to be reconned with. Helm, Andre Fonceca is a long time 49er helm who has also competed twice in the Volvo round the world race. His blend of experience big boat and small boat sailing translates to a solid performer, especially downwind. Class detail nut, Emmett Lazich, calculated that Andre spent the least amount of time sailing downwind in the Athens games. No doubt he´s even faster now, and dreaming of a home Olympic gold in 4 years.
Andre has a new crew in Francisco Andrade. The team are officially just testing the waters, as Francisco is a 2 time Olympian from Portugal but with the success these two have had to start, it seems like they will form a formidable partnership. They have already won the first to regattas they have entered and are now South American and North American champions… watch out for them not only this week, but in Aarhus, Denmark for the European Championships this summer as they look to lock a continental trifecta!
Another team in the running is another new partnership. Kalle Torlen is another Olympian, having crewed in Beijing 2008. He recently teamed up with new helm Sebastian Ostling a London Olympian who crewed the Swedish 470 effort. It´s no wonder with 2 crews coming together that this team has seemed to gel so quickly and are contenders already.
Jon Ladha and Dan Inkpen are as streaky and good as any teams in the game. Jon, famous for his big smile and big chat, is a constant inquisitor, and is always looking to improve. The duo have rapidly moved up the 49er rankings and are planted into the top 30 now after only 4 years in the boat. They are also deadly under pressure, and have really relished the theatre style racing tests. These two won the winner takes all Grand Final at the 2012 North Americans and came second in the First to 10 finals of the 2013 North Americans. Look for this team to battle using their instinct versus sticking to their plan. With the regatta being quite a long one at 5 days plus a finals, it will be a test of their patience as much as their skills
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are looking to take another big step. They won the North American Championships last week and are the odds on favorites to repeat again. These two sailors grew up as rivals but have now teamed up and are looking like a top pairing for the long run.
The Italians, Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich, are a great example of what we can expect many teams to have with regard to background. We have a 470 sailor teaming up with a radial sailor. Together they are hoping that their blend of sailing skills and physical prowess can master the 49er. We´ve already seen the two making dramatic improvements in the few weeks of training here in Miami. They finished 2nd in the North Americans and are looking to improve their consistency and take one step higher on the podium.
Perhaps the biggest name in the 49erFX fleet is Anna Tunnicliffe. She is the 2008 Gold medallist in the Radial and was favored for gold in match racing in 2012. Perhaps is too early to put large skiff expectations on her shoulders for this regatta, but with a CV like that, the spotlight always shines.
Sailing with Anna is her crew from match racing, Molly Vandemoer. Will they have the 49erFX under control at this early stage to the point they can look out at the podium? We´ll see soon.