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2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series turns South to Miami

by US Sailing 21 Jan 06:57 UTC January 21-24, 2021
2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series – Fort Lauderdale © Ellinor Walters

The 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing Series launched with excitement and a sense of pride last week in Fort Lauderdale and now the series heads south to Miami for four days of racing on Biscayne Bay at 2021 West Marine US Open Sailing - Miami. The Miami Yacht Club Youth Sailing Foundation is serving as the Organizing Authority for this event. Racing begins on Thursday, January 21 and the regatta concludes on Sunday, January 24.

Five Olympic-classes featuring both men and women sailors will be racing in Miami, including the Mixed 470, Nacra 17, 49er, 49erFX, and iQFoil. The Open Windsurf Foil, not an Olympic-class event but exciting to sail and watch, will also be racing this week.

Miami is the longest standing Olympic-class regatta in the country. For 32 years, Biscayne Bay and Miami have been an important stop on the Olympic-class circuit. Over the years, event organizers have collaborated with US Sailing to host these international sailing regattas, such as Miami Olympic Class Regatta (OCR) and World Cup Series Miami.

The race organizers acknowledged the importance of maintaining the tradition of hosting an Olympic-class regatta this year despite the many challenges. Olympic-class events hosted here have helped develop aspiring local sailors to further their goals of reaching the Olympics as they compete against top athletes from around the globe.

Last January, sailors from around the globe convened in Miami with North American Olympic qualification at stake and the Tokyo 2020 Games only six months away at the time. Hempel World Cup Series Miami was the final opportunity for North American nations to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Regatta across several events. Soon after World Cup Miami, the global pandemic forced Games organizers to alter the Tokyo Games timeline, and now the 2020 Games will be contested in the summer of 2021, still only six months away.

Nine countries will be represented across the six events this week, including the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuala, and Great Britain.

The US Sailing Team will be represented by 11 total athletes across three classes: the Nacra 17, 49er, and Mixed 470. Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) of the Nacra 17 class have been training most recently in Fort Lauderdale with their coach, Sally Barkow. Ravi Parent (Bradenton, Fla.) and David Liebenberg (Richmond, Calif.) are sailing together this week and have enjoyed putting their engineering knowledge to use in the Nacra 17. Caroline Atwood (Clinton, Conn.) is racing with former US Sailing Team windsurfer, Carson Crain (Houston, Texas), this week.

Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) of the 49er class have been sailing out of the US Sailing Center in Miami for the past few months participating in three of the 2NINER Skiff Generation Grand Prix events. They have been training with the 49er squad, comprising of fellow teammates Ian Barrows (St. Thomas, USVI) and Hans Henken (Coronado, Calif.), and Harry Melges IV (Fontana, Wis.) and Finn Rowe (Fontana, Wis.). All three boats have been training with their coach, Mark Asquith, and enjoy pushing each other to improve each day. Barrows and Henken will be joining Snow and Wilson on the course this weekend. Five other USA-based 49ers and one Mexico-based 49er will round out the fleet for an exciting weekend of racing.

Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Ithaca, N.Y.), selected Tokyo Men's 470 athletes, are back in action this week. "Racing is always good preparation for the next race, so we're using this as part of our world championship preparation," said McNay. "Our Worlds are in Portugal at the beginning of March and we need to get more racing situations under our belt between now and then. It was great to get a whole bunch of starts in at the Oakcliff Triple Crown regatta and then at the North American Championships a couple of weekends ago, and we'll do the same again at the West Marine US Open Sailing Series in Miami. It's been fun to train with the younger teams from the United States this last month. [Coach] Yevgeniy has a nice group from the Oyster Bay Area, and the Cowles twins [Carmen and Emma] have been fantastic to sail with as well. We look forward to getting out on the starting line with some official scored races."

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