World number one windsurfer Bryony Shaw sealed a hat-trick of Sailing World Cup Miami titles on Saturday (30 January), with Paralympic champion Helena Lucas also claiming victory at the season-opening regatta.
Double Olympic medallist Nick Dempsey made it a third podium finish for the British Sailing Team with silver in the men’s RS:X windsurfing event, while there were near misses across a number of classes as the regatta drew to a close on Biscayne Bay after six days of testing and varied conditions.
Lucas, the first and so far only athlete officially selected for ParalympicsGB for Rio 2016, opened up the British medal tally on Friday following a dominant display in the 2.4mR class.
Counting seven race wins from the ten race series, the Southampton sailor claimed her first Miami World Cup victory, with silver in 2014 her previous best at the Florida venue.
“It's been a really good regatta,” Lucas commented.
“We have had some great winds and some good conditions in different directions. It's made it a good regatta.
“Miami is always a really nice one to win so it's great way to start off 2016.”
While this was Lucas’s first Miami victory, the Beijing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw came in to the event having been unbeaten at the last two editions.
She sailed a steady regatta series to take the yellow jersey into Saturday’s final ten-boat medal race, with an 11 point buffer over her nearest rival, the Netherlands’ Lilian De Geus.
The 32-year-old’s medal race got off to a shaky start, with De Geus looking like she’d wrested gold from the Briton after the first lap.
But Shaw sailed an impressive second upwind leg to pull back from eighth in the race to her final medal race position of third, and with the Dutch sailor behind her in fourth, she sealed her third consecutive Miami crown and her third event victory in as many months.
“I’m really pleased with the week,” Shaw explained. “We focused on this week as a process event in the build up to the World Championships.”
“I felt consistent through the week. I was always in contention and coming into today I had a nice points gap. I’m pleased to stay solid no matter what the wind blows, and am still able to race even with the girls that are specialists in either the light or the windy stuff.”
Nick Dempsey made it a doubly successful weekend for Britain’s windsurfers, winning the final race to elevate himself from his overnight position of third into the silver medal position behind Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberge.
Aside from his podium finish, Dempsey was feeling positive about his week of racing.
“It’s been a good week. We had a load of light winds at the beginning of the week and I sailed really well, which was good as they’re generally my weaker conditions,” said the 35-year-old.
“In the second half of the week it got windy and pretty shifty. I sailed well but missed a few opportunities and let Dorian get away a little bit too much. But overall I’m really happy.”
“Dorian’s sailing was a bit tighter than mine,” Dempsey continued. “Mine was a little bit loose at times I’d say so I just need to tighten all that up before the World Championships in a few weeks and hopefully it will be all good.
“It’s nice to be racing consistently at the front again and starting to think about Rio a bit more. It will be nice to get the World Championships out the way and really just concentrate 100% on Rio and that final run in.”
Tom Squires also featured in the RS:X Men’s medal race, finishing eighth in the race and ninth overall.
John Pink and Stuart Bithell didn’t quite have the World Championship warm up they were hoping for in the 49er class. Heading into the final day in bronze medal position, they slipped to fourth overall in a hugely shifty medal race in which they were forced to take penalty turns after infringing the Portuguese boat.
James Peters and Fynn Sterritt also came close to the podium spots, finishing just behind Pink and Bithell in fifth place.
Alison Young, returning to action following a short injury lay-off, improved to fourth overall following the Laser Radial medal race, with Sonar World Champions John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas also concluding their regatta in fourth.
Lucy Macgregor and Dave Evans were fourth in the Nacra 17 event, with Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves winning the multihull medal race to finish behind their compatriots in sixth.
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth were ninth in the 49erFX, while Lorenzo Chiavarini just missed out on the Laser medal race spots, finishing 11th overall.
Full regatta results are available at www.sailing.org/worldcup
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