Windsurfer Bryony Shaw admits that the 2016 Rio Olympics are at the forefront of her mind after she extended her lead at the halfway stage of the Miami leg of the sailing World Cup.
Shaw won the 2014 edition of the season-opening regatta across the pond and is in good shape to defend her crown as she added two race wins and a second-place finish to her scorecard.
This means that with three days remaining Shaw, who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games before finishing seventh at London 2012, has a 17-point lead atop the standings.
But despite her commanding position at this stage of the regatta, 31-year-old Shaw believes there is still room for improvement as she looks to lay down a marker ahead of Rio.
“It’s strange, it didn’t feel like a perfect day out there. I made a lot of mistakes actually,” said Shaw, who won a gold medal at the Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi.
“It was really shifty and puffy and I think it was my awareness, especially on the downwinds, that really pulled me through.
“I made a couple of silly calls by going a bit too extreme at the start so I had to make some pretty big comebacks.
“I feel like this is a momentum from winning in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year and the event we had in Rio. It’s nice to come out here and put on a good show.
“I really feel like 2015 is my year and it’s important for performance. I want to try and be selected for the Games and win a medal in Rio, so I need to be performing at that level now.”
Shaw is one of four British boats to top the standings heading into the second half of the regatta, with Giles Scott leading the way in the Finn class, European champions Luke Patience and Elliot Willis doing the same in the 470 class and 49er pairing John Pink and Stuart Bithell advancing into pole position too.
Scott posted finishes of sixth and ninth from his two races to keep Australian Jake Lilley at arm’s length, while Bithell was delighted with his and Pink’s progress in Miami.
“Racing here was the first day of gold fleet so slightly tough competition,” said Bithell, London 2012 silver medallist in the 470 class alongside Patience.
“We were on a race course which as slightly closer to the land, just underneath the city of Miami so it was pretty wacky out there, with some big shifts and big differences in the pressure. It was quite hard work. We were on it and we had a good day with three solid counting results.
“Myself and John have been sailing for a year now and it feels like we’re coming together a bit.
“We’ve got a new coach on board, Ben Rhodes, who’s been really good for us to help build our consistency with a bit of experience and it’s all going well.
“I feel like I’m really getting to grips with the 49er now. It’s been quite a lot of hard work and I’ve caught up with the boat physically – I was a little bit behind the curve – but it’s really good fun. It’s a great class with some great, great sailors. It’s good to be out there racing the top guys.
Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign are poised in fourth in the 49er event with fellow British pairing Dave Evans and Ed Powys in sixth.
A fifth and a first from their two races helped Patience and Willis reclaim the lead in the 470 Men’s fleet heading into the fourth day of competition.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark and Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre continue their push at the front of the 470 Women’s fleet, maintaining their overall second and third positions at the halfway stage, while Nick Dempsey enjoyed a better day than his key rivals on the RS:X men’s course to progress to second also.
A win rounded off Nick Thompson’s day on the Laser course to see him into second, just a point behind Australian Matt Wearn, while Nacra 17 pairing Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves are in second place on countback.
Alison Young pulled back to ninth overall in the Laser Radial class while Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth are currently tenth in the 49erFX.
© Sportsbeat 2015