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Cloudy skies overwhelm first day of Sail Melbourne

by John Curnow / Sail Melbourne Media on 3 Dec 2012
Sail Melbourne © John Curnow
The opening salvo of ISAF Sailing World Cup proves to be challenging for the competitors as organizers expect shifting wind patterns and scattered rain showers throughout the day. Participants in the Men’s and Women’s RSX Windsurfers plunged into the water Monday morning before the much awaited 49er and Women’s 49FX races on Course B. Sail Melbourne 2012 will also begin the competition in its invited class, including the Men’s Laser Radial set to start on Course C in the afternoon.

The competitors have arrived from all over the world. They’ve registered for their various classes. The officials and volunteers are ready. The official welcome has been made and the competitor’s briefing has taken place. Yes. It is time for racing at the 2012 ISAF World Cup in Melbourne.

The first day of racing in the 2012 Sail Melbourne was greeted by overcast skies, with some light rain having fallen overnight. The breeze has been everywhere from the East to the West, but mainly in the Sou’west as it built to 15 knots by mid morning. The Bureau of Meteorology has Melbourne down for 22 degrees today, with cloudy periods and isolated showers. Indeed, Melbourne is very much living up to its name and depending on where you look right now, it is either burning sun or grey, fluffy and somewhat imposing clouds.

The wind is expected to make 25 knots today from the West with 1 to 1.5 metre seas arriving as the day goes on. All of that sounds pretty good for some of the classes out there on Port Phillip today, namely the skiffs, windsurfers and kiteboards.

Getting away first today in the ISAF Sailing World Cup component of Sail Melbourne are the Men’s and Women’s RSX Windsurfers on Course B at noon. This course is to seaward of the host venue, Sandringham Yacht Club. Laser and Laser Radial (Women) are away at 1330 at 1400hrs, respectively on Course C, just off Green Point at Brighton Beach. Men’s and Women’s 470 and the Finn classes are away at 1400hrs too, but on Course A, adjacent to Half Moon Bay, South of the host facility.

Possibly one of the most eagerly awaited sessions will be at 1500hrs, when the 49er and Women’s 49FX have three races on Course B. The wind and waves should be well and truly present by then, so it may be a bit like the medal race at Qingdao in 2008. The Women have not had much time in the FX to date, and it has mainly been in somewhat benign conditions, so with the class attracting a lot of the best sailors from classes like the defunct Women’s Match Racing, this is a great opportunity to see what 2016 could be like.

In the invited classes, noon sees the Access Liberty and Skud Paralympic vessels out on Course B, with Laser 4.7 on C at 1330hrs, Men’s Laser Radial on C too, but at 1400. The 420s are on A, also at 1400hrs. The Vipers (catamaran) and 29er are on Course B from 1500 and like their Olympic brethren, they have three races today.

I understand and am keen to confirm that one of Tommy Hafey’s grandson is out in the 29er fleet. Apart from being an absolute Australian Rules Football legend, Tommy is an inspiration to all souls about motivation, fitness and determination. This Octogenarian still runs, swims, lifts weights and could put many a person half his age to shame.
Also out amongst that specific fleet is Tess Lloyd and given what she went through earlier in the year after the accident at the Youth Nationals, it is terrific to see her sailing and keeping a future focus.

Event IRO Ross Wilson was his usual very personable self this morning and commented, 'It’s really good to get going, with the weather looking interesting and somewhat challenging for not only today, but indeed the whole week. I’m looking forward to it all, as we have had a solid of this event 12 months in the making, including going to Weymouth for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

'The next four years will be a treat, in terms of seeing how it all pans out and Sail Melbourne really is the absolute start of that journey, right here and now in Melbourne. We have had to do a range of new templates for everything, including the Sailing Instructions, as Sail Melbourne leads the charge for the other three and soon to be four ISAF Sailing World Cups, on the way to Rio 2016.'

'We will have the Kiteboarders doing two days of qualifying and then three days of the finals. This will ensure the absolute best of this large class are in the hunt for the all-important podium places', Ross finished Sail Melbourne website
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