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Winds gust at Sail Melbourne, Medal Race tomorrow

by Di Pearson on 13 Jan 2006
Close racing in the Laser Radial fleet Nico Martinez ©
Athens Olympian Anthony 'Nocka' Nossiter (AUS) is provisionally guaranteed a spot in tomorrow’s Medal round of the ISAF Grade 1 Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta at Sail Melbourne following two wins in the Finn class this afternoon.

Nossiter came a cropper on what he described 'a very physical day' on Port Phillip, when going up wind, hiking. He fell overboard, his feet in the hiking strap unable to hold the wait of his body. 'Ricky Ironmonger was only ten metres behind me and we were neck and neck down the run – it was hard close racing. But I got him upwind.'

Nossiter, from Sydney, said the day started in around ten knots with the sea breeze fighting to take over the gradient breeze. 'By the second race, it was beautiful. A great sea breeze of around 20 knots. Very lumpy and choppy, big shifts, great sailing,' he enthused. 'Ricky kept me honest in both races, it was the best day of the week,' he said.

Ironmonger, at 20, and a relative newcomer to the Finn, having switched from the Laser mid 2005, finished the day provisionally second. He confirmed Nossiter’s opinion: 'Yes, we had a great couple of races, it was very close.'

Not everyone was happy campers today though, with the leading 49er crew, Kenjiro Todoroki/Kenji Takahashi (JPN) protesting second placed locals, William Phillips/Jon Newman (AUS). The protest, though, will not affect the Victorian youngsters from making it through to the Medal Race. The pair has currently dropped a sixth place result and even if they lose the protest and some places, their score is enough to keep them in the top three.

In an exciting finish to the day, Mathew Belcher/Nick Behrens (AUS) scored a win in the final race to draw level on points with current 470 world champions, Nathan Wilmot/Malcolm Page (AUS) to lead the series on countback.

The latter pair scored two second places, while Belcher/Behrens scored 3-1 to take the lead. 'It was all a bit average today,' said Page, continuing, 'we just couldn’t piece it together again. It all felt like it did at the beginning of the regatta – we couldn’t get it together.'

Out on the 470 course, Page said it topped to 15 knots this afternoon on a lumpy Port Phillip. 'It was especially shifty in the first race though. It was much better in the second race when the breeze settled,' he said.

Page said they came into the week with no great expectation, as they had not raced for some time. 'We just wanted to get back into form and avoid any injuries because we aren’t at our fittest right now.'

He said that Belcher/Behrens got off the start line well in Race 10 and did not look back. 'We were not going to catch them,' he said. So both pairs will make the Medal Race, as will Athens bronze medallists, Kazuto Seki/Syouichi Yanaga (JPN).

In the Women’s 470, Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson (AUS) had their far best day winning both races to take the lead going into the Medal Race tomorrow – but it was by the skin of their teeth, as the Japanese pair of Yuka Yoshisako/Noriko Ohkuma finishing the day just one point in arrears. The next two places were also filled by Japanese.

Nicky Bethwaite, Seoul and Athens Olympian in the 470 and Yngling classes has, with her crew Julie Grimshaw and Petronella De Jong finished strongly with a further two wins to lead the Yngling crews into the final, from new crew and Olympic hopefuls, Nicky Souter/Angela Farrell/Sarah Willmot (AUS).

Victorian sailor Krystal Weir was very happy with her win and a second place to lead the Laser Radial fleet into the final tomorrow from the Czech Republic’s Veronika Fenclova with two Chinese entries trailing them.

Darren Bundock and replacement crew Josh Fugill finished the series with two second places but lead going into the medal round. The Brits, Leigh McMillan/Will Howden, won both races today to reclaim second overall from the Kiwis, Aaron McIntosh/Bruce Kendall.

Central Coast sailor Tom Slingsby shot further ahead in the Laser class today with a further two wins to add to his score to lead the series from Matias Del Solar (CHI) by ten points, with Mark Howard (GBR) third placed going into the Medal Race tomorrow.

Chinese women provisionally lead the RS:X Women’s with Chen Qiubin in the lead by a good margin from Duan Mingli and Wai Kei Chan (HKG) on countback. The scores are so close from second down that tomorrow’s final race will be an interesting one. New Formula Windsurfing world champion, Allison Shreeve (AUS) is amongst those, currently sixth placed.

In the RS:X Men’s, the Dutch sailors have excelled throughout the competition. The top three have cleared out from the rest, with Casper Bouman (NED) well in front in the series he has led from day one. Countryman Joeri Van Dijk, currently second placed is much happier with this result than his finish at the recent Formula Worlds at Sail Melbourne in December.

Prior to racing today, when he was sitting in third place, Van Dijk commented, 'I have to keep my fingers crossed that I can keep in the top three. I will have to sail well today.' Not only did he stay in the top three, he moved up a place to the number two spot. Two New Zealand sailors, JP Tobin and David Robertson fill the next two places.

The top ten competitors in each class are excited and looking forward to trialling the new ISAF Olympic format, starting from 11.40am at 20 minute intervals. A prize giving will follow in the evening at Sandringham Yacht Club.

In the Invited Classes, Thomas Burton continues his lead of the OK Dinghy, but his father, Peter, has fallen from second overall down into fifth place following three further races today, whilst Hugh and Bronwyn Ridgway have fallen from first down to sixth place in the Tasar; with Paul Ridgway/Andrea Chong moving into the lead and crew Martyn Sly second on countback.

Sail Melbourne supporter, Alistair Murray from Ronstan is also contesting the Tasar class and is currently fifth overall, following a bullet in Race 4, the last race of the day.

The Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta is being hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club and racing will finish up tomorrow with the final Medal Round being sailed off the club.

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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