The tension on the water at Sailing World Cup Miami was fully loaded as Medal Races across the 10 Olympic fleets drew the first big regatta of 2016, the Olympic year, to a close. Many podium finishers from six days of racing in Miami will feature on the Rio 2016 pedestal in 188 days’ time and Miami can be viewed as a marker of what is to come this year.
In a week plagued by grey skies and fickle breeze the sun shone brightly in Miami but the light winds remained.
Evi Van Acker wins in Miami and becomes solid candidate for Gold in Rio
When regatta leader Marit Bouwmeester NED was flagged by the officials shortly after the start, it appeared Evi van Acker BEL had the opening she needed to close the 6-point gap that stood between her and a gold medal. Indeed, Bouwmeester was 10th around the first mark. But van Acker was ninth. These positions held around the second mark. On the third leg, van Acker made her move.
“I went on the right side when the wind was dying, but I thought change was coming,” said van Acker, the bronze medalist in the 2012 Olympics in London. “The wind turned to the right and I was there when it turned.”
Van Acker went from ninth to third on the second beat and then picked up another place on the final run. Meanwhile, Bouwmeester, who had so little trouble moving through the fleet earlier in the regatta, was unable to make any significant gains during the second half of the race. Van Acker’s second, to Bouwmeester’s’s seventh, was enough to flip flop the overall positions the two sailors held coming into the Medal Race.
Sarah Gunni Toftedal DEN struggled during the medal race and finished last. But none of her rivals for the bronze medal were able to take advantage of the situation and Gunni Toftedal held on to the bronze. Alison Young GBR was fourth, with Emma Plasschaert BEL in fifth.
US sailors in their road to Rio 2016
Paige Railey USA won the medal race and while her move from 10th to eighth didn’t factor into the podium standings it did earn her two additional places in her battle for the U.S. Olympic berth in Rio. Her primary rival, Erika Reineke USA, finished 17th in the regatta and will have to make up 9 places on Railey in Part 2 of the U.S. Athlete Selection Series.