Hempel World Cup Series

Hempel World Cup Series

January 27 - February 3, 2019

By Harvey Fialkov | Jan. 9, 2019

Miami sailing enthusiasts who might not be able to make it to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics can get a more affordable look at past and possibly future gold-medal champions at the running of the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series from January 29 through February 3, 2019 - the 30th year of Olympic-class racing off the shores of Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove. Registration and Measurement will be taking place on Sunday, January 27 and Monday, January 28. The Opening Ceremony kicks off the event on January 28, beginning at 6 p.m. at Coral Reef Yacht Club.

Caleb Paine, who captured a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in the heavyweight Finn division, will lead a large contingent of U.S. men and women sailors of all ages to Miami where they will compete in ten Olympic-style events against world-class sailors from around the world. “This is one of the major events on the sailing circuit and the only one of four legs staged in the U.S.,’’ said Malcolm Page, U.S. Sailing’s Chief of Olympic Sailing. “Between 50 and 60 countries and nearly 700 athletes will be competing. There will be [reigning] Olympic gold medalists and the next Olympic medalists.’’

This is the second stop of the four-regatta Olympic-qualifying series, with the next coming to Italy in April and followed by the final stage in France in June. The first round was held in September in Enoshima, Japan, the host site of the 2020 Games.

If Miami racing fans need a local favorite to cheer for, then keep an eye on Fort Lauderdale’s Erika Reineke, 25, a blossoming Laser Radial helmsman, who has her sights set on winning gold in Tokyo. “The Miami World Cup event not only gives us an opportunity to compete on home waters, but it also gives fans the chance to cheer us on live from the sidelines,’’ said Reineke, the U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year in 2017. “We want our competitors to enjoy sailing in Miami with the hope they will come back to the States to train with us throughout the season. I used to compete in the Orange Bowl Regatta [also on Biscayne Bay] with the dream of winning the event. Now as a 2020 Olympic hopeful, I’m competing in the World Cup Series Miami with the same goal in mind.’’ She will be joined by fellow American Olympic hopeful, Ravi Parent of Bradenton, who will skipper a foiling multihull catamaran in the fast-paced, dangerous mixed Nacra 17 event.

“Having a World Cup Regatta based out of Miami is a huge advantage from a training standpoint as we can truly settle into and utilize our domestic resources at the U.S. Sailing Center,’’ Parent, 22, said of the Miami-based training site. “Everything we need is within a bike ride's distance; the weather is almost always beautiful; the water is warm and the wind is reliable. This event is the first in our upcoming racing season and will be our first time putting all our newfound skills from this fall's training to the test against international competition.’’

The ten events are the 470 men and women; Finn heavyweight men, 49er men, 49erFX women, Laser men, Laser Radial women, RSX men and women and the Nacra 17 mixed men and women.

Page, a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner for Australia in the double-handed 470 class in the 2008 and 2012 Games, is pumped up for the five-day fan fest at Regatta Park where spectators can watch every deciding race on a giant Jumbotron screen while mingling with the globe’s elite sailors and munching on Miami delicacies from an assembly line of food trucks. There is no admission fee to the festival.

“Miami is a perfect host city,’’ said Page, an eight-time World Champion. “It’s a multi-cultural city, obviously an international destination and it has good weather. When I say good weather, it doesn’t necessarily mean temperature. We value conditions over temperature because that’s what we race in. The winds are always challenging. The festival has been a great evolution to the event, bringing the community to the athletes. That’s one of the beautiful things I can say about sailors. There is no border. They welcome the public to come up and take a look at the boats and meet the athletes. They encourage it; they want to share what they do and why they love it. They’re very approachable, so that’s been a huge win for the locals of Miami.’’

Regatta Park is located 12 miles from Miami International Airport and in the heart of Coconut Grove, home to some of Miami’s finest restaurants and hotels.

The event’s organizers suggest using public transportation such as Metro Bus #249 as well as Citi Bikes, electric scooters, Uber or Lyft as other convenient means for spectators to attend the races. Parking is permitted at the SBS lot for $20 per day or pay by phone on lot #62.

On the final two days (February 2-3, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) of the festival, children of all ages will be able to run around the U.S. Sailing Education Zone while participating in a scavenger hunt for six “simple machines’’ that are needed for any sailor to master. There will be hands-on, interactive games geared toward teaching young sailors respect for the waterways and seas, sailing terms from jibe to jib, while demonstrating how math and science (STEM) can be fun if it translates into winning sailing regattas and Olympic gold.

“We all know we have to look after our environment better and sailing is a sport that’s all about appreciating the environment,’’ Page said. “I love the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Math] part of it. This teaches them how math and science works for sailing and the environment. It’s a beautiful way to connect with the school kids. It’s much better than textbooks!’’

So, if Miami sailing fans have a yen for watching the world’s best sailors as they navigate the rough waters to Tokyo, then this action-packed regatta is for them.

“I like winning,’’ said Page of his attempt to steer U.S. Sailing back to the sports pinnacle among Great Britain, New Zealand, Netherlands and his beloved Australia. “One of the beautiful aspects to our sport is it’s war on the water but when you come ashore there’s great camaraderie.’’

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