By Gary Anderson

January 24 - Megan Pascoe will be looking to retain her title in Miami next week ©Getty Images The third leg of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Cup series is due to get underway in Miami next week and will feature a number of top Paralympic sailors competing across three classes in the event.

British duo Helena Lucas and Megan Pascoe will battle it out in the 2.4mR one-person keelboat race, along with 25 other competitors, with Pascoe looking to retain the title she won in Miami last year.

Pascoe missed out on the sole British spot for the race at London 2012 to Lucas, who went on to take the title in Weymouth and become the first British sailor to take a Paralympic gold medal since the sport joined the Games programme full-time at Sydney 2000.

"In the 2.4mR class we have a good turnout of 27 boats," said Lucas, who currently sits at number three in the world, below world number one Pascoe.

"It's great that it's an open regatta as we get some of the good able bodied sailors competing, too."

British medal hopes are also high in the SKUD 18 class in the form of five-time world champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, who will be one of four boats entered in the race.

The duo, who won bronze at London 2012 and are currently ranked number one on the International Federation for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) rankings, will be up against Canadians John McRoberts and Jackie Gay while American pair Gerald Tiernan and Sarah Everhart-Skeels will be looking to impress on home waters.

"Smaller fleets can be tougher," said Tiernan.

"A smaller fleet means much tighter point spreads, it means that bad races are much easier to recover from and it can be anyone's game right through the regatta."

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell will be among the favourites to medal in the SKUD 18 class race in Miami ©Getty Images Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell will be among the favourites to medal in the SKUD 18 class race in Miami ©Getty Images

For the first time this season, a Sonar three-person keelboat race will take place in Miami with eight crews competing.

The race will feature the number one and two ranked boats in the world led by Norwegian Aleksander Wang-Hansen and Frenchman Bruno Joudren, respectively.

Wang-Hansen was part of the Norwegian boat that took bronze at London 2012, but the make-up of the boat has changed since then and he hopes the changes will bed in quickly once the action gets underway in Miami.

"We have taken a step back hoping to make two steps forward, and now is our first chance to measure how long that first step back really was," Wang-Hansen said.

"It's been a long time since we raced any of the other teams now, it will be very interesting to see how we will measure up now."

The Miami Sailing World Cup is scheduled to run from next Monday (January 27) until the following Saturday (February 1).

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