Olympic hopefuls take successful first step in ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami

Olympic hopefuls Sarah Newberry of Miami and crew John Casey of Orlando are on top of the world — for now.

Newberry, 24, and Casey, 38, won the gold medal in the Nacra 17 catamaran class in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami that concluded Saturday on Biscayne Bay. The pair dominated racing throughout the week and finished fifth in Saturday’s medal race — high enough to put them at the top spot in the fleet of seven.

The speedy cats equipped with twin curved foils and sailed by female skippers and male crews will make their Olympic debut in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro; this week’s regatta, which opened Monday, marked the first time the boats have sailed in North America.

“It’s good to have an Olympic boat that everyone starts from scratch,” Casey said.

“This puts us number one in the world.”

Added Newberry: “For a minute!”

The two plan to train locally for the most part, aiming for a good result in next summer’s world championships.

“We have a long way to go — not just to sail the boat, but to have a solid campaign,” Casey said.

Americans topped four other classes in the World Cup after Saturday’s medal round.

Olympian Paige Railey of Clearwater took gold in the 29-boat Laser Radial class. Fred Strammer of Nokomis and teammate Zach Brown of San Diego came in first in 49ers. In the 10-boat men’s 470, skipper Stuart McNay of Providence, R.I. and crew David Hughes of Miami topped the fleet. San Diego’s Caleb Paine won the 28-boat Finn class.

In the women’s 49er FX, Brazil’s Martine Soffiatti and Kahena Kunze won gold while Miami’s Anna Tunnicliffe, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and teammate Molly Vandemoer of California won silver. Brazilians Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachon took home the gold medal in the women’s 470 class. In the 70-boat Laser class, Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim dominated.

More than 300 sailors from 35 countries competed in the second of four stops on the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit. Many used the event to kick off Olympic campaigns.

It also served as a ranking regatta for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider in all but the Nacra 17 and Paralympic SKUD-18 classes. Those spots will be determined at later events.

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