Sailors Look Forward to First Event of New Year

With only a few hours left to register for US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR, more than 525 sailors from 45 countries have registered to date, proving its prominence as a must-sail event for Olympic and Paralympic class sailors. The entry list, which has already surpassed last year’s numbers, has quickly become a who’s who of Olympic and Paralympic medalists and world champions. Competitors must register and submit entry fees online at the event web site, RMOCR.ussailing.org, prior to Friday, January 8. There will be no on-site registration for this event.

As the second stop on the 2009-2010 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup circuit, this popular event promises elite, international competition on the waters of Biscayne Bay from January 25 to January 30, in the classes selected for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sailors’ results at US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR will count towards their 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup standings. Gold medals score 20 points, silver is 19 points, and so on. At the conclusion of the season, sailors with the highest cumulative points will be awarded in their disciplines.

At this year’s Rolex Miami OCR, Great Britain’s Lucy MacGregor and her Women’s Match Racing team will set out to defend their 2008-2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup first place standing, as will fellow Brit Nick Thompson, who won the last year’s standing in the Laser class.

« OCR is the first event of 2010 for the majority of people, so it’s the first chance to see how the winter training has gone, and it’s a good gauge for the year ahead, » said Thompson. « The competition is always tough.

« In Miami, you get a good mix of racing conditions; it can throw anything at you, like we saw last year, » he added. « It’s a really tough event, which makes it stand out from some of the others. »

The Rolex Miami OCR is also important to US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) members such as Stu McNay (Boston, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.), who recently finished second in the Men’s 470 at Sail Melbourne for the second year in a row. « We want to perform well at the Rolex Miami OCR because it’s the only [ISAF] Sailing World Cup on our home turf and we want to back up our silver medal at Sail Melbourne, » said Biehl. Sail Melbourne was the first event of the 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup, and McNay and Biehl scored 19 points towards their overall ISAF Sailing World Cup standings. The team finished second in the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings in 2008-2009.

« I think the Rolex Miami OCR is going to be a great opening event for me, » said USSTAG teammate Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), who won a silver medal in the Laser Radial at last year’s Rolex Miami OCR, as well as gold medals at two other ISAF Sailing World Cup events, Kiel Week in Kiel, Germany, and Princess Sofia in Palma, Spain. « I’m going to work on some new techniques, and I am interested to see how they will pan out. »

Aside from its importance on the world stage, US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR is crucial for American sailors in that it’s the last qualifying event for the 2010 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, which will select the top sailors in each Olympic and Paralympic class.

About US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR
Established in 1990 by US SAILING, the Rolex Miami OCR annually draws elite sailors, including Olympic and Paralympic medalists and hopefuls from around the world. In non-Olympic/Paralympic years, the regatta is especially important as a ranking regatta for sailors hoping to qualify for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, which annually distinguishes the top sailors in each Olympic and Paralympic class.

Rolex Miami OCR is open to boats competing in events chosen for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. The 10 Olympic classes are: Laser Radial (women), Laser (men), Finn (men), Men’s RS:X, Women’s RS:X, 49er (men), Men’s 470, Women’s 470, Star (men) and Elliott 6m (women). The three Paralympic classes are: 2.4mR (open, able and disabled), SKUD18 (mixed, disabled) and Sonar (open, disabled).

For fleet racing in the Olympic classes, the 2010 event will consist of a five-day opening series and a double-point medal race. The top ten finishers in the opening series of each event will advance to the medal race. Competitors in the Paralympic classes will have five days of fleet racing and no medal race. For match racing, which makes its debut in the 2012 Olympic Games, the regatta will consist of an opening series, a knockout series, and a sail-off for boats not advancing to the knockout series. Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic event on Saturday, January 30.

Regatta Headquarters will be located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training center, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Event organizers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-a-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

In addition to title sponsor Rolex Watch U.S.A., US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR is also sponsored by AlphaGraphics, Sperry Top-Sider, Harken, Team McLube, Atlantis WeatherGear and the University of Miami Hospital.

Event organizers will post the latest information, news, real-time results and photos on the newly-launched event web site, RMOCR.ussailing.org, Facebook fan page and Twitter page.