Caleb Paine (USA) has taken the lead at the Sailing World Cup Miami after the most consistent performance from any of the sailors all day. He leads by one point from Lei Gong (CHN) and two points from Jake Lilley (AUS) after three races were sailed in lighter winds than were forecast.
With Jorge Zarif (BRA) in fourth and Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) in fifth, for those who like their statistics, that is not only five countries in the top five, but five continents. That doesn’t happen very often. And it is incredibly close at the top – there is only one point between each of the top six sailors. With four races down, the battle has only just begun.
After a long day on Tuesday with no racing for the Finns due to the light winds, the fleet were rather too keen to get going on Wednesday with general recalls and a black flag pulling out nine boats in the first race. Lei Gong (CHN) again led the fleet around the top mark, this time from the Olympic silver medalists from 2008 and 2012, Zach Railey (USA) and Høgh-Christensen. Railey took the lead downwind and led for the remainder of the race, while the Dane closed right up on the final downwind to take second with Gong sailing another great race to cross third.
Paine rounded the crowded top mark first in race two, with Lilley and Antonio Poncell (CHI) close behind. Lilley, coming back from a black flag penalty in the first race of the day, took the lead downwind, but it was still tight at the gate from Paine, and on the second upwind the 2013 World Champion, Jorge Zarif (BRA) was getting closer, to round the top mark in third place. Down the final run he closed up and, while Lilley won by just seven seconds, Zarif drew level with Paine and just pipped him for second place. The top three from the first race didn’t fare so well and rounded deep at the first mark. The best recovery from from Høgh-Christensen who went from 27th at the top mark to 11th at the finish.
The final race of the day went to Railey. Winning the pin end of the start line, he tacked back and crossed the fleet, and rounded just ahead of Anders Pedersen (NOR) and Lilley, and who both had carried on further to the left. Railey maintained his lead thoughout and extended on each leg for his second bullet of the day. Lilley moved up to second on the downwind, while Paine, who rounded the top mark 13th, made gains on every leg to cross third and take the overall lead.
Lilley said of his day, "There were a lot of guys BFD in the first race of the day and I guess that everyone was pretty eager. After that I went about resetting and getting on with the day. I made some good decisions and had really good speed. I just tried to sail pretty clean as it was light and we had a lot of chop. It was nice to comeback with a 1, 2. I just want to keep sailing well and be in the fight at the end of the week."
Paine said, “The event so far has been very challenging with the wind very up and down. Clean lanes are the key to success and being able to tack when you want.” He puts his good boatspeed down to the pre event training. “Training with Jake Lilley before the event has been directly related to our current speed.”
While Paine now also leads the US Olympic trials, Railey is close behind, and with the confidence that comes from two race wins. “The conditions today were not what we expected. We were thinking big wind, but only had max of 8 maybe 9 knots. In the second race a lot of us were out right and it came in from the left. I was around 30 at the first mark caught up as much as I could.”
“The two wins were great. I had nice races and feel good about how I am sailing overall. I have just been focusing on time in the boat and spending time on the water. I have been sailing a lot and feel good about what we have done in the last five months since I came back sailing again.”
Racing in Miami contiunes for Finn fleet on Thursday with three races scheduled from 10.20. Event website is at: miami.ussailing.org
Results after four races
1 USA 6 Caleb Paine 10
2 CHN 1226 Lei Gong 11
3 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 12
4 BRA 109 Jorge Zarif 13
5 DEN 2 Jonas Høgh-Christensen 14
6 USA 4 Zach Railey 15
7 RUS 6 Arkadiy Kistanov 17
8 RUS 2 Aleksey Borisov 18
9 ARG 7 Juan Ignacio Biava 28
10 USA 91 Luke Muller 28