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USA Wins 10 Medals at US SAILING's 2010 Rolex Miami OCR

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USA Wins 10 Medals at US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR

Miami, Fla. (February 2, 2010) – USA won 10 medals – four gold, two silver and four bronze in eight classes – at US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR, the biggest Olympic and Paralympic class regatta in North America and the second of seven stops of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2009-2010. USA racked up the most medals of any country, followed by Great Britain with six, France with five and Spain with four.  One of the world’s most competitive international regattas, Rolex Miami OCR is especially important for Americans sailors vying for a spot on the 2010 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG).

The following American athletes won gold medals: Amanda Clark (Shelter Harbor Heights, N.Y.) and Sarah Chin (Hoboken, N.J.) in the Women’s 470; Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) in the Laser Radial; Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), Molly Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.) in the Elliott 6m; and Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Boca Raton, West Chester, Pa.) in the  SKUD-18.

Silver medals were awarded to Jennifer French (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Jean-Paul Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) in the SKUD-18 and Andy Horton (S. Burlington, Vt.) and James Lyne (Granville, Vt.) in the Star. Rounding out the podium were the bronze medalists: Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and John Von Schwarz (Annapolis, Md.) in the Star; John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) in the 2.4mR; Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendall (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (S. Freeport, Me.) in the Sonar; and Kyle Rogachenko (Collegeville, Pa.) in the Laser. 

“The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics came home from the Olympic Games in China with a clear plan to improve our performance for 2012, and one year into that plan, we feel like this regatta is proof positive that the investments were making in coaching and funding our sailors are paying off,” said Dean Brenner, Chairman of the US Olympic Sailing Program. “Our sailors are training harder than ever before, and the results show it.”

In the Women’s Match Racing finals, Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi defeated GBR’s Lucy MacGregor and crew in a highly charged, best-of-five series.  Team MacGregor hadn’t lost a race since the first round until race three versus Tunnicliffe in the finals. Tunnicliffe went on to win the third and fourth races, tying up the score 2-2, so the tie-breaker was a do-or-die match for the gold. 

“We had a great day on the water,” said Tunnicliffe. “My team did a great job of staying in the game despite the two losses in the beginning.  We fought back and kept it calm and pulled off the moves we needed to and are so happy we came out on top.”

Thanks to a substantial 35-point lead in the Laser Radial, Paige Railey wrapped up the gold medal a day early in the 57-boat fleet. Railey’s strengths were her boatspeed and being able to see the pressures and realizing the phase of the shift a few seconds ahead of her competition. By the end of the regatta, she had found her groove and won several races comfortably. Coach Luther Carpenter (LaPorte, Texas) said she managed risk very well in very difficult conditions.

“I’m so pleased about winning the gold,” said Railey. “I wasn’t thinking about the results. I was out there taking one race at a time and pushing myself to use new techniques I’ve incorporated into my sailing. I’ve been learning when to take risks and when to stay conservative.”

Railey also won US SAILING’s Golden Torch trophy, which was awarded to the U.S. sailor with the best overall performance at Rolex Miami OCR. Tunnicliffe, who last received the award in 2006, presented the Golden Torch to Railey at the medal ceremony Saturday.

Up-and-comer Kyle Rogachenko, a member of the 2010 US Sailing Development Team, had the break-out performance of the regatta by winning a bronze medal in the deep, 104-boat Laser fleet. An engineering student at Old Dominion University, Rogachenko said it was important to sail Rolex Miami OCR because it is the only major Olympic class event of its kind in the United States and a qualifying event for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics.

“It was a great opportunity to keep in touch with the fleet and evaluate any changes made during training,” he said. “It feels very rewarding to finish among the top of the fleet at a world cup event. A lot of hard work and careful planning goes into an event like the Miami OCR and I look forward to continuing to improve my performance.”

2008 Olympians Amanda Clark (Shelter Harbor Heights, N.Y.) and Sarah Chin (Hoboken, N.J.) won an impressive gold medal in the Women’s 470, after taking the last year off since the 2008 Games in Qingdao, China.   Leading into today’s medal races, they were two points away from the top (the top three were only separated by one point each) and finished fifth in today’s race, which secured their overall win. 

“It was a very tactical regatta; we couldn’t necessarily rely on being fast in a variety of conditions to pull us through,” said Clark. “It was the best racing we could ever ask for.”

“It’s great to win our first major regatta back,” she added. “This was a huge positive for us. We wanted to enter this quad with a strong start, proving we still have what it takes. This time around, we’re ready to be on the podium.”

The last event they finished on the podium was in 2007 when they won a bronze medal at Rolex Miami OCR. The year prior, they also won a bronze medal, and in 2005, they won gold.  This year’s OCR was also a make-or-break event for them to qualify for the 2010 USSTAG, which was their main goal and focus this week.

“We needed to finish in the top 10 percent of the fleet, which meant medaling,” said Chin. “Given the talent of the fleet, we knew it would be hard.” 

The 26-boat Star fleet was stacked with top American teams, and two boats took home medals from Rolex Miami OCR: Andy Horton and James Lyne led the 24-boat fleet all week and finished with a silver, followed by Mark Mendelblatt and John von Schwarz with a bronze.  Coach Mark Ivey (San Francisco, Calif.) said USSTAG’s Star teams continued their momentum of working together, from debriefs to tuning up as a team before racing. The results proved their collaboration was a success: Four USSTAG teams made it to the Medal Race, after two of them had flown straight to Miami from the Star World Championship in Rio.

Earlier in the week, Horton said he felt lucky with their performance, considering this is only the third regatta they’ve sailed together. “We’re still trying to figure things out working as a team. There’s so much communication in a Star boat – there’s two of you, big sails and lots of kinetics in a big boat.”

SKUD 18 sailors Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett continued their winning streak by clinching the gold medal with a race to spare today. USA’s SKUD newcomers, Jen French and JP Creignou, won silver, which was impressive considering this is only the second event they’ve sailed together.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with our performance here,” said Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), the coach of USSTAG’s Paralympic classes. “We have a very strong SKUD program. Taking the gold and silver in that fleet is fantastic, especially with Jen and JP just jumping into that boat in the last month, so were really pleased.”

USSTAG’s Rick Doerr, Brad Kendell and Hugh Freund won a bronze medal in the Sonar, the second year in a row for Skipper Doerr and Freund (Kendell joined the team this year). Doerr was pleased with his new team’s performance this week, after getting off to a slower start on the first day of racing.  “We tried to wait for our opportunities to attack,” said Doerr. “Coming from behind is very challenging -- especially when the guys you need to beat are in front of you.”

In the 2.4mR, 2008 Paralympic Bronze Medalist and 2009 World Champion John Ruf wrapped up a bronze medal Friday, after consistently finishing in the top of the 28-boat fleet all week. The final points showed it was tight at the top: Ruf finished only two points behind 2009 IFDS Disabled Sailing World Champion Thierry Schmitter (NED) and five points behind 2008 Paralympic Gold Medalist Paul Tingley (CAN). “Rolex Miami OCR is a good regatta to see how you’re doing versus the rest of the world,” said Ruf earlier in the week. 

“He’s definitely playing at the top of the field,” said Alison. “A third is fantastic, and it gives us a spring board to move forward from as the year progresses.”

Based on top performances in a series of qualifying events, the 2010 US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics will be announced later this month.  For more information on the 2010 selection procedures, as well as the latest news, photos and bio pages, please visit the team web site, sailingteams.ussailing.org.

For final results, video and photos, please visit the Rolex Miami OCR web site, rmocr.ussailing.orgFacebook fan page and Twitter page.