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Medal Race Doubles changes Sail Melbourne results

by Di Pearson on 14 Jan 2006
Tom Slingsby (AUS) chases a NZ competitor at Sail Melbourne Lindsay Wright
Sail Melbourne’s Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta came to a conclusion today and winners announced following the trialled ISAF Medal Race finish.

Nathan Outteridge’s (AUS) triumphant return to sailing was capped off today when he won the Sail Melbourne 49er skiff class at the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta.

It was just a year ago that Outteridge was lucky to survive a serious car accident in which he damaged his spine as he was driving to Melbourne for last year’s Sail Melbourne event.

After 12 months of hard work and defying odds to walk again, Outteridge, who turns 20 on January 28, now enjoys the turning fortunes of Sail Melbourne 2006.

Racing with crew Ben Austin on their aptly named 49er Spineless, Outteridge, who comes from NSW, finished second in the Medal Race, just ahead of yesterday’s leaders, Kenjiro Todoroki/Kenji Takahashi who placed third this afternoon.

With the Medal Race counting for double points, Outteridge/Austin pipped the Japanese crew on the finish line to win gold by less than one point. The Aussies finished on 38.10 points compared to the Japanese crew’s 39 points.

The 49ers were the first of the Olympic classes to trial the new format, so Outteridge became the first winner using the system.

Going into the final race in second place, the local crew of William Phillips/Jon Newman finished with bronze, but it was the New Zealand crew of Jake Bartrom/Craig Prentice who actually won the 49er race, but it was not enough to medal.

Sydney’s Nicky Bethwaite continued her charge towards Olympic representation after winning the gold medal in the Yngling class with crew Julie Grimshaw and Petronella De Jong.

Bethwaite represented Australia at the Seoul (470 class) and Athens (Yngling) Olympics. Following a lacklustre start, she finished second to a mixed crew skippered by Hamish Jarrett, but had enough in the bank to easily take the gold overall.

Rivalling Olympic hopefuls and new crew of Nicky Souter/Angela Farrell/Sarah Willmot (AUS) finished with the silver at only their second competition, while another new combination of Simone Deane/Lisa Sims/Nicole Follington (NSW) took bronze.

All was not well on the Yngling course when a change of course was sounded, causing confusion for all. Jean Claude Strong/Nev Wittey/Ruth McCance are protesting the race committee – the first problem the race committee will encounter with the Medal Race.

In the Tornado catamaran class, Darren Bundock and fill-in crew Josh Fugill, finished third in their class, but enough work had been done throughout the series to earn them the gold (19 points).

Bundock is campaigning with newly-crowned A-class catamaran national champion Glenn Ashby for an Olympic berth at Beijing. However, Ashby was forced to withdraw after sustaining three broken bones in his foot on his way back to shore after racing on day two.

Brits, Leigh McMillan/Will Howden took the silver, after a fourth place finish today. Consistently good results, bolstered by two bullets, held them in good stead.

Newly-formed crew Aaron McIntosh/Bruce Kendall (NZL) won the Medal Race to take the bronze medal. Multi Olympic medallists in their individual right in the Mistral class, they hope experience will help them get to the Beijing Games.

Carolijn Brouwer, the sole female skipper in the Tornado event and her crew, boyfriend Sebbe Godefroid (BEL), finished second in today’s race but fell short of a medal.

Krystal Weir continued the Aussie dominance today, victorious in the Laser Radial class. Despite a fifth in the Medal Race, Weir, who turns 21 tomorrow, won gold, while two Chinese representatives, Xu Lijia and Shen Xiaoying won silver and bronze. The Chinese team had only switched from the Europe to a Laser Radial two weeks before competing at Sail Melbourne, the light weather specialists proving they will be a threat come the 2008 Games.

Tom Slingsby (AUS) held on to win gold in the Laser class despite a seventh place in the Medal Race. Slingsby held off a series challenge from silver medallist Matias Del Solar (CHI) who finished one place ahead of Slingsby in the double points final today. Mark Howard (GBR) took bronze while David Wright (CAN) won the race and missed bronze by just one point.

Although the Athens bronze medallist crew Kazuto Seki/Syouichi Yanagawa (JPN) won the 470 Men’s Medal Race, it was the current world champion crew Nathan Wilmot/Malcolm Page (AUS) who took the gold medal following their second place this afternoon, while yesterday’s leaders Mathew Belcher/Nick Behrens had to settle for bronze after finishing fifth today.

In the Women’s event, Yuka Yoshisako/Noriko Ohkuma (JPN) pipped yesterday’s frontrunners Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson (AUS) for gold by one point. The winners scored a fourth place in the Medal Race, the Australians fifth.

By winning the Medal Race, a second Japanese crew, Ai Kondo/Naoko Kamata pipped the second placed and disappointed Lauren Jeffries/Rike Ziegelmayer (AUS) not only for bronze, but the race too.

The Netherlands and New Zealand board riders were prominent throughout the new RS:X Mens competition and Casper Bouman (NED, who led throughout, did not disappoint today, finishing the final race fourth to take gold by nine points from JP Tobin (NZL), always a tough competitor. Joeri Van Dijk (NED) was very pleased with his bronze medal after finishing third today – his main aim, he said, ‘is to just finish top three.’

Dominant from day two in the Women’s RS: X, Chen Qiubin (CHN) took the gold medal, even though she finished seventh today. Allison Shreeve (AUS) came back from her sixth place of yesterday to claim the silver medal by winning the Medal Race by a leg in 20-25 knot winds – not a bad start to her new Olympic campaign. Yasuko Kosuge (JPN) took the bronze following her third place today.

In the 2.4mR Paralympic class, Michael Leydon won gold, just one point clear of Peter Russell with Michael McLean taking bronze. The three finished the final race in that order.

Racing got underway on time in light breezes with huge shifts on the Port Phillip course off host venue, Sandringham Yacht Club. Pressure came and went, with 15-18 knots recorded at times as the day went on.

Many competitors commented on the new Medal Race format. ‘The double points is a bit brutal, it might not reward consistency. The judging on the course is a bit scary too – I guess it all just needs a bit more testing before we really know,’ said Radial winner Krystal Weir.

’Pretty savage,’ was how Yngling winner Nicky Bethwaite described the double-points system. ‘Why can’t we have no drops at all? We went in with an 11 point buffer and I was still worried – it’s the whole series, consistency that should be rewarded,’ she said, adding, ‘maybe we need to change our approach and try to work better under pressure?’

Tom Slingsby wasn’t sure he could sum it up after one event. ‘It makes it more interesting for spectators, but fairness could be compromised – the true winner won’t always win with the double points situation. I prefer the old two-drop system.’

RS: X sailor Allison Shreeve made some interesting observations. ‘I think you’re a lot more careful in your approach in the Medal Race – a lot more conservative – safer. It’s also a more pressured situation and you know you can’t screw up. I don’t really like the one-drop situation – I think after 10 races you should be allowed two – even if you can’t have either in the Medal Race. The double points worked for me today though – but that won’t always be the case!

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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