by Lindsey Bell
British sailors were quick out of the blocks on a testing first day at the Miami leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series on Monday (24 January), with rising Finn star Giles Scott picking up two race wins to see the perfect start to his regatta.
Nic Asher-Elliot Willis, 470 Men - ISAF Sailing World Series Miami
Scott, who claimed bronze at the 2010 edition of this Rolex Miami OCR, won both races by a sizeable margin to take an early lead for Skandia Team GBR in the men’s heavyweight event, with Ben Ainslie poised in third place with 5,2 from his opening races, and Andrew Mills in eighth.
'I’m really pleased with that – you can’t do any better than a 1,1 so it was a great start,' said the 23-year-old Scott.
'The races went well – Ben managed to pick out a pretty special port flyer in the first race which was good to see, if a bit annoying! I think I rounded both races in third at the top mark and managed to pull through downwind.
'It wasn’t really typical Miami conditions I didn’t think,' Scott continued. 'We came here thinking it was going to be nice and light and the forecast I’ve seen shows that it looks like it’ll be quite windy over the next few days.'
'I’d love to get a win here, really. I’ve set myself a target of trying to prove this year that I’m capable of winning Olympic gold and to do that I feel I have to try and win everything I do, so I suppose that’s the aim for this week.'
As well as Scott, Skandia Team GBR has taken an early lead in the 49er, 470 Men’s, RS:X men’s windsurfing events, and is equal first in the Laser, with Lucy Macgregor’s women’s match racing team also coming through their three opening round robin matches unbeaten with substitute crew Mary Rook.
Macgregor, Rook and Kate Macgregor picked up penalties in two of their three races, but held their nerve to beat Canadian Katie Abbott, American Rebecca Dellenbaugh and New Zealand’s Stephanie Hazard.
'We made it pretty hard for ourselves today, picking up two penalties through some silly mistakes so that made for some pretty tight, pressured racing,' explained Macgregor.
'The good thing was that we got rid of those penalties and came out the right side so are unbeaten heading in to the better end of the group tomorrow.'
Rook was called up to join the Macgregor sisters after Annie Lush was injured falling 10ft from the Elliot 6m boat earlier in the week.
'It was a pretty big shock, but Annie was taken to hospital and checked out pretty quickly. She flew home yesterday and was looking and feeling so much better already,' said Macgregor.
'It’s good to know that she’s back home now, safe and well, so that helps us all focus on what we need to do – Annie on resting and recovering and the rest of us on our regatta. She’s being checked over again this week, and nothing is broken so hopefully after a couple of weeks rest and recuperation she’ll be feeling well enough to start training again, but we’re not going to rush it.'
'We’re lucky to have got Mary out here, and in some ways I think it will be good for myself and Kate to do an event without Annie, although obviously we’d rather she was here with us! You can always pick up points from sailing with different people.
'It takes a bit of getting used to having someone new in the boat, having spent so much time in the Elliot with the three of us so we have to think a little bit differently about things and work on our communication but our boat handling is pretty strong.'
Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith made the most of the first day at their first event back after being sidelined through injury – they top the standings in the 49er class thanks to 1,3,2 from their three races today, while teammates Dave Evans-Ed Powys and John Pink-Rick Peacock occupy the second and third spots on the leaderboard.
Skandia Team GBR’s 470 men’s teams also saw their regatta off to a good start, with two-time World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis in first overall, and Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell just behind in second.
A consistent day of two second places in the RS:X Men’s windsurfing event sees Nick Dempsey take an early lead, while Paul Goodison is in equal first in the Laser class.
In the 470 women’s event, Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes are poised in third overall, with Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark sixth, while Skandia Team GBR sailors are in fourth after day one in the RS:X Women’s and Laser Radial events through Bryony Shaw and Alison Young.
In the Paralympic classes, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas are second with 3,2 in the Sonar event, SKUD duo Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are currently third overall, with Megan Pascoe eighth and Helena Lucas 11th in the 2.4mR event after day one.
The Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta – the second leg of the 2010-11 ISAF Sailing World Cup series – runs until Saturday 29 January. Follow all the action at www.skandiateamgbr.com