This past weekend saw the U.S. Sailing Team take gold in three of seven events at the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, the team’s final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.
Among the winning American sailors was 29-year old American Olympic bronze-medalist Caleb Paine in the Finn class; 24-year-old Erika Reineke in the Laser Radial class; and 18-year-old Pedro Pascual in the RS:X sailboard men’s division. Pascual also received the Golden Torch award as the top American sailor at the regatta.
A fourth U.S. sailor earning a podium finish was Luke Muller, who won bronze in the Finn class, despite taking a penalty turn in the final medal race.
“It’s awesome to win a World Cup,” said Pascual afterward. “It’s my first time winning an event in the senior class, and it was really hard to stay consistent this week. We had really different conditions. Today, I came into the medal race with a lead of 11 points, so I didn’t necessarily have to win the race to win. I just focused on controlling the fleet and staying close to everyone, but still sailing my own race.”
Paine also cited focus as the main part of his winning strategy “I just focused more on the sailing and not all of the stuff that surrounds it, the trials and all of the drama behind that and everything else that it brings to the table,” Paine said. “I was really thinking about what makes the boat go fast and what gets it around the racecourse as quickly as possible.”
As for the hyper-competitive Laser Radial class, Reinke said of her medal race: “Off the start, I felt really good. I tacked and I was at the front of the race, and then I messed up one shift and my competitors split from me. [Greek sailor Vaselia Karachaliou] played the first beat extremely well, and I tried to keep my head in the game and not give up. On the last downwind I covered her, and unfortunately, she got a flag, but that’s the sport. I had to beat her [Karachaliou] in the race, and the Italian [Matilda Talluri] was also very close, so I just went out there trying to win.”
Though they didn’t podium, twins Carmen and Emma Cowles also earned an Olympic berth for the U.S. Team in the Women’s 470 class with an eighth-place finish.
Since 2004, the American team has only won three Olympic medals in sailing. However, the strong finish in Miami bodes well for the upcoming Games in Japan, now just six months away. Europeans will have another chance to qualify for the Games at the Genoa stop of the Hempel World Cup series in April.