The Hempel World Cup Series rolls into Miami, in the sunshine state of Florida, USA from 19 – 25 January 2020 for the second installment of the 2020 Series with 205 from 50 nations scheduled to race across seven fleets. The stakes are high for North American competitors because the event is the final opportunity for nations to qualify to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition across the 470 and RS:X fleets, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn. Racing commences on Monday 20 January and will conclude with seven Medal Races on Saturday 25 January, which will be broadcast live on World Sailing’s YouTube Channel.
The Laser will be the largest fleet in Miami with 49 registered sailors. A single North American spot remains available to sailors and competitors from Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands, US Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago will be on the start line.
Canada will have 12 Laser representatives all capable of qualifying the nation in Miami. Mexico will have four and Antigua two. The higher number of sailors, the better the chance but arguably the favorite to book his nations spot in Tokyo 2020 will be Trinidad and Tobago’s Andrew Lewis.
Lewis, a two-time Olympian after racing at London 2012 and Rio 2016, secured his first ever Hempel World Cup Series medal in Genoa, Italy, last season in a tough fleet. Robert Davis, of Canada, will also strongly fancy his chances of qualifying after beating Lewis by 2 points to sixth place at the 2019 Pan Games, but with a high number of nations on the starting line, the competition will be tense.
Peru’s Stefano Peschiera qualified his nation at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships and with a good run of results behind him, he will be a firm favorite for gold, but expect Davis, Lewis and Mexico’s Yanic Gentry to also fight for the podium.
The qualification battle will be on in the 23-boat Laser Radial fleet. Aruba’s Philipine van Aanholt, St. Lucia’s Stephanie Devaux-Lovell, Mexico’s Elena Oetling and Sofia Ximena Palacios, Puerto Rico’s Sylvette Perez Figueroa and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Arrindell are all targeting Tokyo 2020.
The sailors tested themselves against each other at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. Mexico’s Oetling finished ahead of her rivals, but the experience in these situations belongs to Aruba’s van Aanholt. A London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympian, the Aruban knows what it takes to get to the Olympic start line. A good number of leading Laser Radial sailors will be in the Miami fleet including 2019 bronze medallist and current world-ranked No. 4 Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE), 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Champion Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU) and Uruguay’s Dolores Moreira Fraschini.
The highest caliber of competition will be in the 470 fleets where 30 male and 18 female teams will race. Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS), Jordi Xammar and Nico Rodriguez (ESP) and Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) have fought for major titles over the last 12 months and regularly share the podium.
At the Enoshima triple-header in August and September, where the trio sailed at the 470 World Championships, Ready Steady Tokyo and Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima, the Australians took three golds. The Spaniards took two silver medals and a bronze and the Swedes secured a silver, bronze and a fourth place.
They will continue their fight in Miami as they aim to put a marker down ahead of Tokyo 2020. The race for Olympic qualification in North American will be between Canada and Mexico, which have three teams respectively. In the Women’s 470, Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz, of France, have emerged as Tokyo 2020 medal favorites after they secured the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series title, gold at Ready Steady Tokyo and the 2019 European Championship. They will spearhead the Women’s 470 fleet with further contenders including Afrodite Zegers and Lobke Berkhout (NED), defending Miami champions Frederike Loewe and Anna Markfort (GER) and Silvia Mas and Patricia Cantero (ESP).
The only nation in the running for the North American Tokyo 2020 spot in the Women’s 470 is the United States. The event also serves as an American-team qualifier with Nikole Barnes and Lara Dallman-Weiss, Carmen and Emma Cowles as well as Atlantic and Nora Brugman evenly-matched.
Bermuda’s Rockal Evans will face off against Mexican representatives Juan Perez Soltero and Alejandro Perez Ontiveros for the North American Tokyo 2020 Finn spot. The fleet of 15 will also see the American selection process continue. After one event, Luke Muller has an eight-point advantage over Rio 2016 bronze medalist Caleb Paine.
In the Men’s RS:X, two nations are aiming to qualify for Tokyo 2020—Dominican Republic and Mexico. The odds are stacked in Mexico’s favor, with five-time Olympian David Mier Y Teran and youthful Ignacio Berenguer leading the charge. The Dominican Republic’s Samuel Perez Hults is relatively inexperienced in comparison to the pair, with his best result a 24th at the 2019 Ready Steady Tokyo. In total, 12 sailors will race in the Men’s RS:X fleet and the event will also act as an American qualifier for Tokyo 2020.
Nikola Girke (CAN) will make her competitive RS:X return in the 10-boat Women’s fleet. The Canadian represented her nation in the 470 at Athens 2004, the RS:X at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and the Nacra 17 at Rio 2016. Canada is the only North American nation in the fleet who has not yet qualified so Girke will confirm the spot by completing the event.
Eds. Note: The 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami is partnering with the SORC Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race to host a doublehanded offshore event. The doublehanded class event is also new for the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. Doublehanded offshore teams will start south of Port Everglades on Thursday, January 23 and race to Key West.