Stiff Competition Challenges U.S. Sailors at Rolex Miami OCR

The top U.S. Yngling team is in a three-way tie for first after one day at the Rolex Miami OCR. For other sailors, the day wasn't as successful, but there's plenty of racing still to come.

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Dan Nerney/rolex

With over 850 sailors from 49 countries participating in the 2007 Rolex Miami OCR, there is no doubt this event has become one of the premiere Olympic-class regattas in the world. Not even the Super Bowl, which has made getting hotel rooms in Miami through this coming weekend a prohibitive challenge, could keep top sailors away from the world-class competition and the great sailing conditions traditionally associated with Biscayne Bay in the latter half of January. This coming summer at the ISAF Combined World Championships Cascais, Portugal, many of these sailors competing this week will be battling there to qualify their country for the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao. For any sailors with Olympic dreams, the next six months are crucial. Here are some snippets from a few of the top American sailors ad teams competing in Miami this week. Team 7 SailingSally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi, and Carrie HoweYnglingIf you want proof that the competition is close in the Yngling Class here on Biscayne Bay, look no further than [Monday's] results. After two races, we are in first place. Actually we are tied for first with Sarah Ayton from Great Britain and Silja Lehtinen from Finland. Sarah's record is 1-3, ours is 3-1 and Silja is 2-2. Under the tiebreaker rules, we are first, Sarah is second, and Silja is third.The breeze was steady from the south at 12 to 14 knots but there were lots of cumulus clouds bringing with them oscillations in the wind direction that made today's sailing challenging.Although we noted a pin-end bias, we made a conservative start in the middle of the course. It proved to be a left-hand race track and for the rest of the race we were clawing back places. By the first mark we were in sixth place but we knew at least one of those was an OCS. We were able to make an inside rounding of the lead pack and had a great first run, gradually working up to third place by the finish, but never able to catch Sarah who had started at the pin end and Silja who started between us and the pin.For more from Sally, Debbie, and Carrie, check out www.team7sailing.com.Geoff EwensonFinnThe weather was awesome with temps in the low 80s and the breeze from the south around 12 knots. I sailed very well today and was able to score finishes of 14 and 11. I had great upwind speed and only average downwind pace. For those of you who have heard this before, I am getting as tired of writing it as you are of hearing it. The good news is that while I am not setting the world on fire with my downwind pace, in this regatta, I am comparing myself to the best in the world and not just the Americans. I am still making gains, and I know I will make the downwind a strength. [Monday] was my most difficult condition downwind, as it was not fully powered up and planing but rather intermitttent surfing. The good news is that I am on the pace upwind with the top sailors. I had great beats and I am very happy with my sailing. I had solid starts and made good tactical choices. After the first day I am in 10th place and I am jazzed for more racing. After sailing today I had an interview with Gary Jobson, which can be seen on www.jobsonsailing.com. He did interviews with both Zach Railey and me, and I imagine there will be other classes as well. Please check it out if you have a moment. You can check out the full regatta results at ussailing.org. I'll check in again later in the week.For more on Geoff's campaign, www.ewensonsailing.orgVince Brun and Brad NicholStar(ed.'s note: Brun is sailing as a last-minute replacement for regular skipper Andy Horton, who was unable to escape from his duties with the Luna Rossa America's Cup challenge.)The 2007 edition of the Rolex Miami OCR brings interesting changes for the Star class. The class is racing in split fleets, meaning that only half the boats race at one time rather then having all 70 boats on the same race course. With only 34 boats on the line the courses can be shorter, demanding more physical racing and putting a premium on top three finishes.[Monday] was another perfect day for sailing on Biscayne Bay with sun and 15 knots of breeze out of the south. We were in the Blue Fleet, which started at 11 a.m., the yellow fleet started at 1 p.m., and each day they will reconfigure the fleets. Vince and I sailed a good first race solidly in the top 10 but were disqualified for a false start along with 25 percent of the fleet.In the second race we had a tough start at the boat end of the line, but were able to sail a good first beat getting to the top of the course in the top five but as we approached the mark we fouled another boat. After we completed our penalty we were third from last. We continued to work hard and passed boats each of the next three legs to finish 11th (official results still pending).For more on Andy and Brad's campaign, see www.hortonnichol2008.com