USA Takes Gold in Miami

The US Sailing Team opened the first big event of the year with a strong performance by the Olympic 470 duo.

sailing world cup miami
Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) won their fourth Miami medal in the last five years.Jen Edney/US Sailing Team

The final five medal races were held at World Cup Series Miami 2017, Presented by Sunbrella (January 22-29, 2017) on Sunday, capping off a successful 28th year of North America’s premier Olympic classes regatta. U.S. Olympians Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) won their fourth Miami medal in the last five years, with three of those medals being gold. The veteran campaigners, who have reached the podium at top-level events more times than any other American team since 2012 once again led the US Sailing Team in the standings this week. Eight American boats competed in seven different medal races in Miami, and those sailors also became the first athletes to qualify for the 2017 US Sailing Team roster.

“We had a solid team performance this week in Miami, with eight teams making medal races, and I’m happy with what I saw out of our athletes,” said Malcolm Page (Newport, R.I.) the two-time Olympic champion who recently assumed the role of Chief of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “We have much work ahead of us as a team, but we clearly have a great foundation not only of talented sailors, but of collective hunger for improvement.”

McNay and Hughes entered Sunday’s Men’s 470 medal race with a narrow eight point lead over Rio 2016 bronze medalists Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis of Greece in the Men’s 470, and were 12 points over Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi of Japan. The Americans scored 5th in the medal race, which secured a four point overall victory, while the Japanese took silver and the Greeks bronze following a light and tricky contest on Biscayne Bay. McNay and Hughes were also the recipient of the Sunbrella Golden Torch Award, given to the top-performing American team in Miami each year.

“There are no relaxing moments out there on the racecourse,” said McNay, a three-time Olympian who is coming off a career-best 4th place performance in Rio 2016. “There are times when you calm the tempo and tune into the sensations more, but it’s far from relaxed. We had to work hard out there today after a tough start, but we were happy to fight back and end up with the gold.”

Hughes noted that the key to the race was transitioning their tactical and physical mindset as the conditions evolved and become lighter. “It’s taxing in the light air, and its hard to find the correct tempo [on the trapeze] at times,” said Hughes, who lives in Miami full time.

Both World Cup Series Miami champions also tipped their caps to young U.S. teammates and 2016 I420 Youth Sailing World Champions Wiley Rogers (Houston, Texas) and Jack Parkin (Riverside, Conn.), who finished an impressive 6th overall in just their second career Miami appearance. “It’s great to have some young guys around to push the old men,” said Hughes. “We’re fortunate that sailing is a sport that you can do for a long time, and as you get older its nice to know that there’s a younger generation on the way,” added McNay. Both American boats were coached this week by Olympic gold medalist Nathan Wilmot (Sydney, Australia).

us sailing team
Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), Finn class.Sailing Energy

Finishing 4th overall in the Men’s heavyweight Finn class was Luke Muller (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), who moved up one spot in the standings with a solid 4th place finish in the double-points medal race. “This is certainly my best regatta in the Finn so far,” said Muller, a 2014 U.S. Youth Worlds Team member and current Stanford University student. Muller was one of Rio 2016 bronze medalist Caleb Paine’s (San Diego, Calif.) primary training partners in the lead up to the Olympic Games, which he said was an important step in his development. “I think being asked to join Caleb in Rio was a pretty big catapult for me,” said Muller. “Caleb and [US Sailing Team Senior Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter (Cypress, Texas)] got me to where I am now. I feel like thanks to them, I can contend in this fleet. Having good speed allows you to focus on racing, tactical moves and making plays. The confidence really helps, as well as not being constantly worried about getting rolled, which you have to deal with in the beginning [of your Olympic-class career].”

Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) finished 9th in the Laser Radial medal race, and remained in 7th overall. “I had two confident and successful upwind legs today, and some other good highlights this week,” said Reineke, who in 2016 had a career-best 6th place result at the Laser Radial World Championship. “Finishing in the top ten here, with many of the best girls in the world, is a good starting point for the new “quad” (Olympic quadrennium). However, going forward I’ll be looking for podium finishes.”

In the Men’s Laser, U.S. Olympian Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) finished 4th in the medal race, and also remained in 7th overall. “Considering how tactically hard it was this week, with many top guys carrying deep scores, I am pretty happy with how I sailed,” said the two-time College Sailor of the Year. “I had some bad races hanging over me from the first day onward, and it was hard to climb back. Going forward, I have a very full 2017 racing schedule planned. After [the Olympic Games in] Rio, I wanted to start the Tokyo quad fast by sailing as much as I can. I’m fully focused on the Laser.”

Women’s 470 sailors Atlantic Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Nora Brugman (Palo Alto, Calif.) were among the newest teams to compete in Miami this year, but nevertheless came away with a career-first medal race appearance and a solid 8th place final result. “We’re definitely happy with how this first regatta went, and now we have a much better idea of what we need to work on,” said Atlantic Brugman, who was a two-time All-American for Connecticut College, and now works as the Assistant Sailing Coach for Stanford University. “We learned so much this week, and Nora and I owe a huge debt to [US Sailing Team 470 coach] Dave Ullman (Newport Beach, Calif.). “I can’t say enough about how great Dave was throughout this event, and the recent U.S. training camp in Miami. He kept us positive, while also wanting us to be feisty enough to push ourselves and the other teams.”