Olympic 470 duo Luke Patience and Chris Grube were among the British Sailing Team athletes who took control of their respective fleets on a wet and wild day third day of the World Cup Series Miami. 

The pair moved to the top of the 470 rankings with a masterclass of heavy weather sailing as a fresh breeze of more than 20 knots blew through Biscayne Bay on Thursday, a stark contrast to the light winds of the first two days.

Patience and Grube dominated day three’s two races, winning the opener and finishing runners up in the second.

The impressive performance moved them into pole position with a healthy six-point buffer over closest rivals Kevin Pepponet and Jeremie Mion of France with three fleet races left before the concluding medal race.

“We won the day with a first and a second – we’re pretty happy,” said Patience, a silver medallist from London 2012. “It was booming windy out there and the boats were flying. It was fun but tiring. The key was to get to maximum boat speed as quickly as possible. That one thing can get you ahead of the fleet and you can just do simple things from there. We didn’t do anything heroic, we just stayed calm.” 

The World Cup Series Miami is only the second major outing for Patience and Grube since returning from a year-long break following Rio 2016.   As well as providing a benchmark for winter training, the regatta is a good test of where the pair sit ahead of 2018’s biggest test – the Hempel Sailing World Championships taking place in Aarhus, Denmark, this summer.   

“It’s still early in the Olympic cycle and this is the first event of the year, so for us this is about establishing where we sit in the world fleet and giving us an indication of what we need to work on ahead of the world championships,” Patience added.   

Finn class Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott and 49er world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell have also taken the lead, each bagging a race win among a string of top results.   Fletcher and Bithell bounced back from a capsize in the opening race of the day to finish 12th, then followed it up with a 1, 3, 8 as downwind speeds topped 20 knots in the high performance skiffs.   

Team mates James Peters and Fynn Sterritt, the world number two-ranked 49er pair, notched up a race win along with a 6, 7 but had to settle for 23rd in the third race when a trapeze wire snapped.   

Windsurfer Tom Squires showed his potential in the men’s RS:X class, finishing inside the top ten in all three races despite picking up a penalty in race four, and rounding off the day with a win. 

“It was the first proper breezy day racing since the European Championships in May – we’ve had a real bout of light winds of late and it was refreshing to stretch the legs and push some power down,” said Squires, who goes into day four in sixth overall. “

Winning the last race was a relief more than anything. Making mistakes like in race one isn't acceptable at this level. You really get punished for those mistakes, every point counts.”   

In the women’s RS:X Saskia Sills clocked three top ten finishes, while Emma Wilson finished fifth in the opening race. Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won their first race of the regatta with a lead of over a minute to move up to eighth overall in the women’s 470. 

The battle for glory in the foiling Nacra 17 class got even more intense with all four British crews now inside the top ten overall. John Gimson and Anna Burnet remain in third while Chris Rashley and Laura Marimon move into sixth thanks to four top ten finishes including a race win.   

“We stopped trying to sail as if we were in Miami and just approached racing like it were any other event,” Rashley explained. “We treated it as a fresh day and came with fresh ideas, and it worked. There are three more fleet races left, so we plan to capitalise on where we are.”    

In the Laser fleet Nick Thompson lies in third overall, while in the Laser Radial Alison Young got two race wins under her belt to move up to fifth. 

The top ten in each fleet will qualify for the medal races, held on Saturday 27 January for the 49er, 49er FX, RS:X and Nacra 17 classes, and on Sunday 28 January for the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn and 470 classes.   

Follow @britishsailing on Twitter for updates throughout the regatta.