GREECE MOVES INTO LEAD IN 470 MEN LEADERBOARD ON DAY 2 IN MIAMI28 Jan 2015
If the Chamber of Commerce had stayed up all night working at it, they could not have served up a better day for racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, presented by Sunbrella, on Tuesday 27 January.
The second day offered a steady diet of breeze in the teens, the allure of a sun-drenched Biscayne Bay, and the kinetic beauty of boats in ten Olympic and three Paralympic sailing classes being put to their best and highest purpose.
We're still early in a regatta scheduled for six days of racing, including a Medal Race on Saturday for top-ten qualifiers. At stake are qualifying points and slots for the finale of the six-event international series that has become the proving ground of the would-be Olympic sailor.
The finale will take place in Abu Dhabi U.A.E. late in 2015, and after that - After that, an athlete is either ready for Rio and the 2016 Olympic Games, or not.
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie came to Miami as favorites, and so far, they're living the role. You have to love a pair who meld into Team Jolly. 420 class world champions and gold medalists for New Zealand in the 470 at the London Games in 2012, they are "on track for Rio" as either of them will tell you.
After two days in a fleet of 29, Team Jolly is sitting on scores of 2-2-1-(7) and a three-point lead over Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark. Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntire, also GBR, are another seven points back in a tight grouping with boats from Russia, Japan and Slovenia.
Mills and Clark are a case in point of what it takes to compete at this level, beyond the relentless physical training and hours and days and weeks in the boat. Mills has it that, "I would guess almost a fourth of our time is spent making up ropes, preparing and polishing the boat before any big regatta. And it's not just our boat that needs the love. We make sure we have a spares bag made up with almost anything we can think of that we would be able to change or fix on the water, just in case. If we didn't have spares on the water in the coach boat, we would have to go ashore to sort out problems. And miss races."
At ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, that wouldn't do.
Panagiotis Mantis and crew Pavlos Kaglias of Greece lead the Men's 470 standings, but the banana peel under their heel takes the form of a throw-out used in the opening race. They look good on scores of (25)-4-1-1 but cannot afford another bad result.
Two hungry teams are only one and two points back, respectively, and they could better afford a bad race in the coming days. Britain's Luke Patience and Elliot Willis wrapped Tuesday with scores of 1-2-(5)-4 followed by Australian's Mat Belcher and Will Ryan at 5-1-2-(12). Behind them, it's an eight-point jump to fourth.
And why don't they ever get the crew's perspective?
They do. Roger Hudson would probably rather have had his talking moment on Monday, when he and his skipper, Jim "Squirrel" Asenathi, placed 4th and 6th - and it was Asenathi's birthday. Two 13ths on Tuesday pulled the South African sailors down to 10th overall, but the experience jelled in Hudson's analysis of the racecourse.
"The defining thing," he said, "is that even though it's breezy, it's really on and off, with a lot of pressure differences. It's quite light in patches, and the wind comes through in big blocks. There are huge gains to be made, and lots of position shifting. It's like sailing in Greece, with the wind coming off the land, broken up by land features, and that's maybe why the Greek guy won two races today."
Racing continues for the 470 Men and Women fleets, before the top ten teams advance to the Medal Race showdown on Saturday 31 January 2015.
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