Waterhouse and Darmanin claim Gold at Miami World Cup

Medal Races in a trio of classed decided the top three at the World Cup in Miami, as crews stare down the barrel of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games selection.

Nacra 17 Gold to Waterhouse/Darmanin (AUS)
The Nacra 17 Medal Race started with full intensity. An off-camera match race between Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin (AUS) and Samuel Albrecht/Gabriela Nicolino (BRA) started with the Aussies starting in a commanding position when they hit the start line at full speed with the Brazilians directly behind them.

The Brazilians, who have been the fastest boat all week in light air, tacked right away to clear their air, but the Australians clearly had a game plan – they did what any smart crew would, they covered. In two more tacks up the beat, Waterhouse/Darmanin matched the Brazilians very closely, and extended their lead.

Both teams chose the right side of the course and led the race by a fair margin over the bulk of the fleet, which went left off the start line.

Waterhouse/Darmanin were first to get foiling downwind and extended their lead to a quarter of a leg. And that is how it stayed, with the Aussies in front to take Gold.

The focus then shifted to the battle for the bronze medal, with the 2016 gold medallists Santiago Lange/Cecilia Carranza (ARG) aiming to fend off three chasing teams. Immediately behind them were the other Australians, Paul Darmanin/Lucy Copeland, as well as Britain’s Gimson/Burnett and Austria’s Zajac/Matz.

On the second beat, the Argentineans went way to the right while the Australians when far left, as the wind got a bit patchier. The Argentine champs came through on the right side, sailing in fourth place to claim Bronze.

Full results: http://nacra17.org/events/2019-miami-world-series/

49erFX – Gold to Grael/Kunze (BRA)
The stage was set for an action packed first race of the day. Alex Maloney/Molly Meech (NZL) had a commanding, but catchable lead ahead of two chasers, Martine Grael/Kahena Kunze (BRA) and Charlotte Dobson/Saskia Tidey (GBR).

A sunny Miami day at minimum wind strength meant it was guaranteed to be a challenging race.

From race start, the Kiwis were under pressure, as they were rolled and had to tack. Meanwhile, both Dobson/Tidey and Grael/Kunze had good starts, especially the Brazilians, who won the boat on a last moment double tack.

The Kiwis recovered nicely though, with a slight gain on the bottom right of the course, in a trend that would play out for the rest of the race.

Dobson/Tidey was the next crew to take advantage of the right. They moved into the lead two thirds of the way up the first beat. The Brazilians went right last, and caught up to the top bunch, rounding a close fourth behind Sweden, Denmark, and Britain

Most of the fleet rounded the mark and set a kite, except for Grael/Kunze who gybe set, heading back to the side that kept paying on the beat. They passed two boats on the downwind, only trailing the Swedes by the leeward marks now.

Interestingly, the leading two boats rounded the go left mark, while Denmark’s Schutt and Christiansen rounded took the go right gate. A third of the way up the beat, the Danes were up into second, while most of the fleet, and critically the Kiwis, were going left.

Grael/Kunze then made the critical move, tacking back to the right and getting the farthest right of the leaders. By the top of the second beat, they were back into second place, with the Kiwis falling all the way to ninth place.

By the final downwind, everyone had figured out the right side was paying, and they all gybe set, shutting down passing options. Grael and Kunze carried through to finish in second, while the Kiwis went from sixth to eighth, but couldn’t pass and lost their regatta lead.

Once again, Grael/Kunze used their smarts and skills to create the conditions for an up until this race, unlikely win. Maloney/Meech lost just one place in their disastrous Medal Race, and they held on to take the silver medal. Dobson/Tidey's fourth place delivered them the bronze medal.

Full results: http://49er.org/event/2019-sailing-world-series-miami/

49er Gold to Heil/Ploessel (GER)
The 49er Medal Race followed next, and a filling of the breeze would prove critical.
During the starting sequence, the wind picked up to 7-8 knots, and 10 degrees farther left of the first race. That put the pin end in a heavily favored position. By the time the starting gun sounded, five boats were over early – half the fleet – and critically only one went back to restart.

Leaders, Eric Heil/Thomas Ploessel had a safe, mid-line start. Their closest challengers, Britain’s Fletcher and Bithell, was the crew that restarted, and last up the first beat as a result, meaning the gold medal was all but decided.

With four out of the 10 boats being disqualified for OCS, including the third-placed team of Peters and Sterritt, the silver medal went into the hands of Fletcher and Bithell.

All that remained was a fight for the Bronze. Germany’s surprise bronze medallists from the 2018 World Championship, Graf and Fischer, executed a safe port tack option start, and heading to the right corner, got the layline correct and were first to the windward mark. They held on for the remaining laps to win, but it was not enough to secure them a medal.

The team taking Bronze was the Fantela brothers, Simi and Mihovil from Croatia. They also kept themselves safe at the start, winning the boat end and sailing well throughout for second place for their medal.

It was a very competitive fleet in Miami, with 42 boats, all of the top contenders saving New Zealand’s Olympic gold and silver medallists, Peter Burling/Blair Tuke.

For Germany to have four crews in the Finals is quite an accomplishment and all will push each other for the one place to the Tokyo Olympics.

Full results: http://49er.org/event/2019-sailing-world-series-miami/

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