US Sailing Team athletes have joined over 400 competitors from 43 other nations for the 28th running of Sailing World Cup Miami, Presented by Sunbrella (January 22-29, 2017), North America’s premier Olympic-level sailing competition. Members of the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team will return to action this week in Miami, which is the first major international racing event for the team since last year’s Games in Brazil. Also making a notable return this week to the Laser Radial class will be Beijing 2008 Olympic Champion Anna Tunnicliffe (Pittsburgh, Penn.).
“Sailing World Cup Miami is always an exciting event, and is one of the first to unfold at the start of a new four-year Olympic cycle,” said Malcolm Page (Newport, R.I.), a double Olympic Champion and US Sailing’s newly-installed Chief of Olympic Sailing. “This regatta brings top international competition to American shores each year, which greatly benefits athletes at all levels of our Olympic program. This is an opportunity to get the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycle started right, with our veteran athletes racing at the highest level, and our younger prospects getting useful exposure to the best of the best.”
Rio 2016 Laser class Olympian Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) noted that he was eager to turn his focus towards Tokyo 2020, and that Miami represents a launching point for many sailors. “I consider this event to be the first major regatta of the “quad” (Olympic quadrennium), since most of the top guys in the Laser fleet are in attendance,” said Buckingham, a Laser North American Champion and two-time U.S. College Sailor of the Year. “This will make it a good test of everyone’s level, and help guide the plan for the 2017 season.”
Tunnicliffe has had a diverse and successful Olympic sailing career, and after her Laser Radial victory in Beijing 2008, she waged a high-powered Women’s Match Racing campaign for London 2012 in the Elliott 6m class. While Tunnicliffe and her team of Molly Vandemoer (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Blue Point, N.Y.) captured a world championship title in 2011, their medal quest fell just short in London. Tunnicliffe then competed in the new 49erFX class with Vandemoer before decided to retire from Olympic competition in 2014 and focus on new challenges. In terms of her future plans, Tunnicliffe said that much has yet to be decided. “I’m just here to see how I feel, and to figure out if a new campaign is something I want to do,” said Tunnicliffe, who has also served as a coach and advisor for US Sailing Team athletes at multiple events over the past three years. “I’m coming in with no expectations, and no goals in terms of results.”
As the US Sailing Team has evolved over the years in its quest for performance gains, so too has US Sailing’s premier regatta. A notable change for Sailing World Cup Miami 2017 has been the consolidation of most classes into the city of Miami’s new Regatta Park waterfront recreation area. Regatta Park boasts many improved features over previous editions of the event for both sailors and spectators, including expanded boat staging areas, hospitality venues, food vendors and a new Fan Zone. “It’s great having all of the athletes and boats close together in Regatta Park,” said Buckingham. “The consolidated setup gives the event a similar feel to the Olympics.”
Six days of racing for the ten Olympic classes are scheduled to take place from January 24-29, with medal races scheduled for Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29. Additionally, Sailing World Cup Miami 2017 will feature the debut of the Regatta Park Fan Zone, a new effort to bring as much sailing action as possible to fans watching from shore. Spectators will get to watch live TV coverage on a large video display, with an experienced commentary team led by U.S. Olympian and 2005 Sailing World Cup Miami champion Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis). The medal race video feed will also be available online on Saturday and Sunday on World Sailing’s Facebook and YouTube Channels.