The first day’s racing at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta took place yesterday in 10-14 knots of wind and sun and over 400 from nine Olympic and two Paralympic classes headed for the start line to enjoy some close racing.

The near-perfect conditions allowed the event organisers to work in four races each for Ynglings, 49ers, Sonars and Tornados and three races each for 470 (Men and Women), Mistral (Men and Women), Star, Finn, Europe, Laser and 2.4 Metre – a total of 282 boats representing 26 countries, sailing on six race courses.

“It was ideal for the 49ers,” said class lead skipper for the day David Fagan (Chesapeake, Va.). “Bora (Gullari) and I were planing pretty much all the way around the course and were both out on the trapeze.”

The duo, which posted race finishes of 2-1-4-3, is gunning for a spot on the US Sailing Team and must finish in the top two (among 16 teams) at this regatta to earn a spot at the 2002 Athens Regatta, the first test event for the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

“A different team won every race, so everyone’s competition, but there are about five other teams, all from the US, that we’re really watching out for.”

One of those other teams – Andy Mack/Adam Lowry (Seattle, Wash./San Francisco, California) – is sharing the same number of cumulative points as Fagan/Gullari but shows second on the scoreboard due to tie-breaking rules. Dalton Bergan/Zack Maxam (Seattle/Coronado, California) are in third place, only three points behind. In the Yngling, a class newly added to the Olympics for the women’s keelboat racing discipline, USA’s Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.), sailing with Liz Filter (Stevensville, Md.) and Kate Fears (Key West, Fla.), turned in a well-tuned performance to edge out Jody Swanson (Buffalo, NY) and crew Cory Sertl (Rochester, NY) and Pease Glaser (Long Beach, California). Both skippers posted two first-place finishes and a second, but Cronin’s worst finish – a fourth – was less damaging than Swanson’s worst – a sixth.

“We have good speed,” said Cronin, “but in our last race we had to grind back up through the fleet from a really bad start. To finish fourth in that race is pretty satisfactory to me.” Cronin says that being prepared was her secret to a sweet first day at this regatta. “We had sailed for a week here and then for another four days with a coach helping us. It made a huge difference in how calm we all were when we got out on the race course.”

Not everyone in the class had it so smooth. A Louisiana team skippered by Susan Danielson suffered severe enough damage from a collision to withdraw from the event. Shirley Robertson, Great Britain’s 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist in the Europe class, managed a fifth-place overall while struggling to get the most out of her 32-year-old boat. “It’s not just my boat, but getting used to the Yngling itself. Your looking for inches, and there are no kinetics involved like on a Europe. You see a wave and you can’t make it happen. My goal is to get better each day. The learning curve is so steep.” Racing continues through to Saturday on Biscayne Bay.

Day one results

Europe (25 boats)

1. Nik Meylandeg, DEN, 3-1-1; 5

2. Meg Gaillard, USA, 2-2-2; 6

3. Maria Coleman, IRL, 1-3-3; 7

Finn (29 boats)

1. Andrew Simpson, GBR, 1-3-2; 6

2. Dave Mellor, GBR, 7-1-1; 9

3. Mike Milner, CAN, 2-2-5; 9

49er (16 boats)

1. David Fagan/Bora Gullari, USA, 2-1-4-3; 10

2. Andy Mack/Adam Lowry, USA, 4-2-2-2; 10

3. Dalton Bergan/Zack Maxim, USA, 6-3-3-1; 13

470 Men (14 boats)

1. Steve Hunt/Michael Miller, USA, 1-1-1; 3

2. Lucas Brun/Louis Duarte, USA, 9-4-4; 17

3. Stuart McNay/Ross Anderson, USA, 2-3-16; 21

470 Women (7 boats)

1. Courtenay Dey/Linda Wennerstrom, USA, 4-5-6; 15

2. Alina Grobe/Saskia Schroeder (GER), 3-9-5; 17

3. Amanda Clark/Karen Renzulli, USA, 7-8-3; 18

Laser (64 bo