Oliver Tweddell (AUS) sits at the top of the 39 boat Finn fleet after the first day of racing at the 2014 Sailing World Cup Miami as the regatta got under way on Monday in light winds. Alexey Selivanov (RUS) won the opening race to end up in joint first place, while a second place for Giles Scott (GBR) in race 2 was enough to leave him in third, despite an OCS in race 1.
This year's fleet is the largest Finn fleet in Miami for seven years and contains a significant amount of depth in talent and experience. The current world champion Jorge Zarif (BRA) is back for his first major event since winning the Finn Gold Cup in Tallinn, Estonia last September. The 2011 World Champion Giles Scott (GBR) is sailing his second major event since his America's Cup sabbatical in 2013. Even Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), former double European Champion has made it to Miami for the first time.
After a short delay to wait for the wind, the Finn fleet got in two races in a light breeze. It was a typical Miami day with brilliant sunshine and 82 degrees but just 5-6 knots of breeze out of the south-east.
In the first race Oliver Tweddell (AUS) led round the top mark from Alexey Selivanov (RUS) and Lauri Väinsalu (EST). These three stayed out in front for the duration of the race, with Selivanov rounding the opposite downwind gate just ahead of Tweddell. He very slightly extended his lead on the second upwind and maintained it down the run to win the race by 20 seconds, with Tweddell and Väinsalu very close together in second and third. Greg Douglas (CAN) placed fourth while Luke Lawrence (USA) took fifth, after Giles Scott (GBR), who crossed the line in fifth, was OCS. Scott was one of five boats scored OCS.
Lawrence made the best of the first upwind in race 2 to hold a small lead at the top mark from Tweddell and Bruno Prada (BRA) and the very tight pack close behind. Lawrence and Tweddell split gybes on the run, with Tweddell taking the left side, having lost on the right in the first race. Väinsalu was having another good race, rounding in fourth, while Scott rounded fifth.
The left side paid for Tweddell who had the best of the downwind to take the lead from Scott and Lawrence and despite a tricky second upwind, the top four were still tight at the final upwind mark. Tweddell squeezed round just ahead of Väinsalu and Lawrence. Scott was down to fourth. Tweddell again went left downwind, followed by Väinsalu and Scott, while Lawrence tried to find clear air and more pressure on the right. He made a lot of space for himself, but he didn't make the necessary gain and when he came back in at the finish gate he had was still in third, though Scott had moved up to second with Väinsalu dropping to fourth.
With the discard coming into effect after the second race, Tweddell and Selivaov are joint first while Scott discards his OCS to end the day in third.
Regatta leader Tweddell said, "The breeze was very light today. We were pretty lucky to have got any racing off today with what was forecast, so fingers crossed we can race again tomorrow. The breeze was also extremely shifty, which made the racing quite close, and throw in big variances in pressure and it made for very tough conditions."
On his light air performance he said, "I've been going well in the light conditions for a while now, but still have a lot of areas to improve on and I'm looking forward to spending more time on the water in the light winds with the Australian Finn Squad throughout the year."
"That last race was so close it wasn't over until I crossed the line. I had Giles Scott breathing down my neck the whole downwind and I just tried to match him all the way to the line. It was nice to get the race win after losing the lead in the first race, so I was pleased to finish it off in the second race."
Väinsalu commented, "Getting a great start was the key of the day. With that light stuff it's good to get the clear wind and pressure first. In first race there was 4-5 OCS mostly from port end where the most of the group was."
"I did well. I had two great starts and that gave me a good position on the course to find the pressure and sail my own race. We have strong group here so I'm happy with my sailing today and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week."
Kljakovic Gaspic recovered from an OCS in the first race to cross in fifth in the second. "It was my first racing day in Miami. It was a bit tough after first race OCS, so I had to take care on the second start. This put me bit back and then it went wrong on the first beat. After that I kept pushing hard and came to reasonably good position at the finish. It is great to be back after last year that put me little down. Now I am aiming again for top sailing and supported by Team Fantastica it is a bit easier than before."
Tweddell and Selivanov also clearly liked the conditions today while Scott made his week harder with an OCS. Perhaps the surprise of the day was the performance of Lawrence, who returns to the class after a long absence. He won the Junior World title in 2010.
Racing in Miami continues until Saturday when the medal race for the top 10 will be sailed. Racing can be followed online with 2D and 3D tracking options available through the event website.
Results after two races
1 AUS 241 Oliver Tweddell (2) 1 3 1
2 RUS 1 Alexey Selivanov 1 (6) 7 1
3 GBR 41 Giles Scott OCS 2 42 2
4 USA 40 Luke Lawrence (5) 3 8 3
5 EST 11 Lauri Väinsalu 3 (4) 7 3
6 CAN 5 Gregory Douglas 4 (10) 14 4
7 CRO 524 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic OCS 5 45 5
8 ITA 66 Enrico Voltolini 6 (8) 14 6
9 BRA 1 Bruno Prada OCS 7 47 7
10 BRA 109 Jorge João Zarif 7 (17) 24 7
Live tracking: http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/multimedia/tracking.php
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ussailing/sets/72157640189186216/