Talented duo Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot admit they’re still adjusting to life in the 49erFX. But, with a long lead-in to the Miami leg of the 2018 World Cup series and the opportunity to compete against the best in the class, they hope to make big gains during the regatta.
Australia has sent a small but strong team to Florida. Rio Olympics gold medallist Tom Burton heads the Laser contingent, which also features Australia’s 2017 Laser World Championship bronze medallist Matt Wearn and former Laser Radial Youth World Champion Finn Alexander. Rio silver medallists in the Nacra 17, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, were first to arrive in Miami to prepare and will be joined in the class by Olympic hopefuls, Tayla Rietman and Lachlan White.
Bryant and Wilmot, the 2017 Australian Sailing female sailors of the year, arrived in Miami nearly a fortnight ago and spent two days rigging up their chartered boat before competing in local warm up regattas.
“It was really helpful for us to learn about the weather conditions and get back into the swing of racing,” they said via email.
“We’ve had mixed wind strengths from all different directions over the last 12 days. We’re feeling confident that we’ve used our time here well and are ready to take on whatever conditions Miami presents this coming week.
“There are many of the top teams from around the world here so, just like any regatta we do, we’re going to try our best, learn as much as we can and see how we go against some of the top teams.”
Bryant and Wilmot were the 2016 Youth World Champions in the 29er but elected to move into the 49er instead of defend their title. The transition has been challenging but they believe they are on the right trajectory.
“Since changing from the 29er the standard of the fleet is much higher,” they said.
“The top teams have set the bar high but we’re ready to put in the hard yards to reach their standard and beyond.
“We are still on a huge learning curve, but are feeling more and more at home in the boat every time we sail. We are really excited to get as much racing experience as we can in this year, starting with our first World Cup event in Miami.”
Waterhouse and Darmanin will have their hands full competing against the likes of Olympic gold medallists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli, from Argentina, as well as Austria’s bronze medallist Thomas Zajac and crew Barbara Matz.
Olympic medallists feature in the Laser fleet, with Croatia’s silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic and bronze medallist Sam Meech, from New Zealand, in the chase, along with current world No.1 and reigning World Champion, Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus.
More than 540 sailors from 50 nations will compete at the World Cup Series Miami, including 27 Olympic medallists and World and Continental Champions.
* Miami is 16 hours behind AEDT. Racing is scheduled to start at 11am local on January 23, which is 3am Australian Eastern January 24.
Medal Races will be streamed LIVE on World Sailing TV
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