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Ashby primed for A Class Nationals win

by Di Pearson on 8 Jan 2006
With only one day of racing remaining and nine races under the belt, Glenn Ashby looks set to claim the Australian A Class Catamaran Championship being sailed at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron this week as part of Sail Melbourne.

The current title holder has not been worried throughout, notching up four wins from nine races this week, with four second places and a third. With a race drop coming into play after seven races, the 28 year-old looks unassailable.

Ashby, from Bendigo in Victoria, won his first Australian title as a 19 year old and since that time, has recorded outstanding results in various multihull classes, owning the 2003, 2004 and 2005 A Cat World titles and two F18 Australian titles, along with five European A Cat wins. As crew for Olympian, Darren Bundock, he also holds two F18 Worlds titles.

A sailmaker by trade, Ashby is thrilled with his current position. ‘It was light and shifty this morning, 4-8 knots and shifty with a lot of tide,’ he said this afternoon. ‘It was better in the afternoon after the sea breeze built to 12-14 knots – nicer – more solid.’

With the title all but in the bag, Ashby plans to try a few new techniques tomorrow to hone his skill. He is particularly pleased, as along with Brad Collett, who lifted up into second place today, they are sailing a new German design catamaran for which the two are producing locally.

‘It’s working very well for us and I have a new light sail which is also going really well, so obviously I’m pleased.’

There will be no rest for the Victorian, as he recently joined five-time Tornado world champion and Olympic medallist Darren Bundock, in his Tornado campaign.

Their first Grade 1 regatta is the Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta, due to start at Sandringham Yacht Club on Monday – one day after his A Cat campaign ends. ‘No rest for the wicked,’ Ashby quipped this afternoon.
They will be a deadly combination – both are talented helmsmen and have sailed a number of catamaran events together over the past few years.

However, they will have stiff competition at this event, with current number four World Ranked pair of Leigh McMillan/Will Howden (GBR) and the new combination of Carolijn Brouwer/Sebastien Godefroid (BEL) amongst the fleet.
Godefroid has three Olympic Games and a silver medal under his belt, whilst girlfriend and helm, Brouwer has two Olympics in two separate classes (Europe and 470) behind her and world titles (Europe and Laser Radial) in two classes. The pair has been notching up some great results in the new Extreme 40 multihull.

Aaron McIntosh and Bruce Kendall (NZL) have left behind Olympic medal glory in the Mistral class and united for a Tornado campaign and Steve McConaghy, a former Soling Olympian, has joined with Andrew McPherson (AUS), setting their sights on Beijing.

Bundock and Ashby, in the lead-up to Sail Melbourne, sailed against this same competition at the SIR in Sydney recently, winning that round from the British pair. ‘We’ve been doing a bit of practice over the past two weeks and we’re feeling pretty confident right now,’ said Bundock, who today, along with the Brits and the Belgian pair, sailed their Tornado’s a good 50 kilometres from Blairgowrie to Sandringham this afternoon.

‘It was perfect all the way, it was the best bit of sailing I have done for some time – the conditions were perfect – the wind was behind us and I only had to gybe once and I got here in just under two hours,’ said Bundock, who sailed his Tornado single-handed.

Sail Melbourne is made possible by the support of event sponsors: Sport & Recreation Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria; associate sponsors Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton and support sponsors Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston and the City of Port Philip.
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