A fifth place in the medal race was just enough for Giles Scott (GBR) to end the 2011 Rolex Miami OCR in the same position that he started it in. Despite an OCS in race five, Scott has led the series from start to end, winning five races along the way.
Just one point behind, Ben Ainslie (GBR) almost did enough to snatch the title but even winning the medal race wasn't quite enough. Andrew Mills (GBR) placed third in the medal race to slip one place to Ainslie and take the bronze.
In this ISAF Sailing World Cup cycle, Ainslie had already won Sail Melbourne while Scott was third. The question was everyone was asking on Saturday was, were the British Finn squad going to take all the medals at two Sailing World Cup events in a row? In the end the answer was an emphatic yes, with the three Brits more than 20 points clear of the rest of the fleet.
The fleet were greeted by light winds, from 5 to 8 knots and flat water. Zach Railey (USA) was close to the pin end along with Rafal Szukiel (POL) and Mills, while Ainslie and the other boats were next to the committee boat. Ainslie, Vasilij Zbogar (SLO), Mills and Szukiel tacked away to the right to find more wind and this paid off. At the first mark it was Ainslie, Zbogar, Mills and Szukiel, with Scott not far behind.
On the first downwind, Railey, Brendan Casey (AUS) and Gasper Vincec (SLO) went to the right side while the boats on the left had more wind and the positions at the front remained unchanged. Scott moved ahead of Railey at the leeward mark and also passed Szukiel on the final downwind, but the Pole pulled the place back in the closing stages after finding more pressure to take fourth.
If Scott had not managed to pass Railey, the title would have gone to Ainslie. Ainslie and Mills had gone into the medal race on almost equal points, so whoever beat who was almost certain to take the silver. The only three boats that could threaten a British clean sweep languished mid-fleet and never looked likely to make the break they needed.
Scott said, "The medal race was quite a tricky one with both Mills and Ben effectively on the same points, I decided before on shore that the the best defence was to be attacking in the pre-start. I engaged Mills early then went after Ben. I managed to give Ben a penalty in the last minute, but he did well in still managing to get out to the favoured right. So I was left with the task of making sure I finished inside the top 5. It was all pretty tense, but I'm massively pleased with my week and it was great to come away with the win."
Mills added, "In the pre start Giles came and engaged me for a couple of minutes before going for Ben. Ben got a penalty and did turns before the start. Ben went furthest right early and got the lead from this, Giles stayed near him but a bit further back and I played the middle. Ben got the lead on first downwind and held from there, I rounded third and stayed there for the race. No real place changes after lap 1; the guys at the front controlled those behind rrelatively well. For me great to get another medal and I needed to get that this year to prove I am still in with the other boys, just need to look to getting a couple places better at Palma."
Though numbers were not exceptionally high in Miami, the fleet was still a tough one with a lot of experience and depth. However many sailors had skipped the event either through cost or logistical problems so soon after a protracted period in Australia.
Skandia Team GBR sailors have now taken the top three places at both Sailing World Cup events in the current cycle. As the series moves to Europe with the next event being the 42 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, it will be interesting to see how the British squad, with the addition of World Champion Ed Wright (GBR), perform against a much deeper fleet than was present in Melbourne or Miami. Palma starts on April 2.
Results after medal races (medal race in brackets)
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 29 (5)
2 GBR 3 Ben Ainslie 30 (1)
3 GBR 85 Andrew Mills 33 (3)
4 AUS 1 Brendan Casey 54 (8)
5 SLO 5 Gasper Vincec 56 (7)
6 USA 4 Zach Railey 58 (6)
7 SLO 573 Vasilij Zbogar 63 (2)
8 ITA 146 Michele Paoletti 94 (9)
9 POL 7 Rafal Szukiel 95 (4)
10 USA 619 Caleb Paine 109 (10)
Full results at:http://www.ussailing.org/Rolex/2011/finn/finn.html
Pics: Rolex/Daniel Forster