HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES IN MIAMI30 Jan 2017
Pitch perfect wins for Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) in the 470 Women and Stuart McNay and David Hughes (USA) in the 470 Men on Medal Race day at the 2017 World Series Cup Miami presented by Sunbrella, Sunday 29 January 2017..
A classically trained concert pianist, Afrodite Zegers (NED) is no stranger to the big stage. So when the pressure was at fever pitch in the final race of the 2017 World Series Cup Miami presented by Sunbrella, and the proverbial lights of a live worldwide broadcast at its brightest, Zegers and teammate Anneloes van Veen displayed incredible poise to grab the Women's 470 title.
The Dutch team entered the final race essentially tied with Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) for first in the overall standings. While there were other teams mathematically alive for each spot on the podium, when Zegers and van Veen rounded the first mark in the lead, with Weguelin and McIntyre close behind, the race for gold was distilled to a two-boat battle.
"It was a stressful race,” said van Veen. "On the first upwind we caught up quite some metres and then the downwind was OK. But on the second upwind we didn't cover too well.”
The British pair made the pass halfway up the second upwind leg and first place in the regatta came down to the final run. Zegers and van Veen patiently waited for the opportunity to strike. Three quarters of the way through the leg, they final got close enough steal the wind of their British team, roll over the top, get around the final mark in first place and cruise down the final leg to the win.
"There were only a few options,” said Zegers of that final downwind leg. "I think we just did what we had to do, jibe when we had the opportunity and sail the boat in a way would give bad air to the British. I don't think there was another opportunity.”
After the ultimate heartbreak of finishing fourth by a single point in Rio 2016, Zegers and van Veen were quite excited that their campaign for a medal in Tokyo 2020 is off to a great start.
"We made a lot of mistakes as it was our first regatta after the Games,” said Zegers. "But it was a very good week.”
Stu McNay and David Hughes (USA) had an opportunity to do the same in the Men's 470. They also entered the race as the lone U.S. hope for a regatta win.
Around the top mark it didn't look good for the American team as the two teams with a shot at gold, Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) and Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi (JPN) rounded third and first, respectively, while McNay and Hughes were seventh.
The first run was pivotal. McNay and Hughes moved to fourth, while Mantis and Kagialis fell all the way to ninth. The American team would lose a boat before the finish, but by staying in fifth and ahead of the Greek duo they assured themselves of first overall. Isozaki and Takayanagi led all the way around for the win, which was enough to move them into second overall.
Patience, said Hughes, was the key to success this week. "It was a type of regatta where you had to be mentally fit and keep ready to strike back when the opportunity presented itself,” he said. "If you tried to force an opportunity you'd be punished.”
A promising note for the future of the US Sailing Team was the performance of 2016 Youth Sailing World Champions Wiley Rogers and Jack Parkin, who finished third in the Medal Race and sixth overall in their second international regatta in the 470.
"I really look forward to [competing against] future generations of sailors,” said McNay, a three-time Olympian in the 470. "It's a wonderful sport because you can compete for a long time. It's great as Dave and I get older that there are some younger guys on the way.”
RESULTS / ENTRIES
A full list of sailors registered to sail in Miami is available to view here - http://manage2sail.com/en-US/eventonly/f61c409e-4fad-49a6-baa6-f9287b804645/style/worldcup#!/entries?classId=e2d355cc-1d5b-4dfb-b6b9-58c9d28c0cfa. Results are available via the Manage2Sail results centre here - http://manage2sail.com/en-US/eventonly/f61c409e-4fad-49a6-baa6-f9287b804645/style/worldcup#!/results?classId=e2d355cc-1d5b-4dfb-b6b9-58c9d28c0cfa
Live tracking and competitor's analytics is available via SAP Sailing Analytics throughout the event here - https://swc2017-miami.sapsailing.com/gwt/Home.html#/event/:eventId=b82f9012-47d8-4e9e-b3b2-a690c1db0fe3
High resolution imagery free for editorial usage will be provided throughout the World Cup Series Miami by Sailing Energy. Imagery will be available to download via - http://worldsailing.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/SWC-Miami-2017/C0000qs4UzX984qA. The password to download is WSimages
World Sailing will be releasing international press releases after racing throughout the duration of World Cup Miami. All the latest news and reports will be available to read here - http://www.sailing.org/news/sailing-world-cup.php#.WEP085L3DsE