by Craig Heydon
Australian Sailing Team is preparing to take on the world’s top sailors at the first European round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup for 2011.
Brendan Casey, Finn, AUS 1
Racing is set to get underway in Palma, Spain on Monday at the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Mapfre 2011.
Flying the Australian flag the team will be represented with six crews, along with a number of Australian Sailing Squad members in Spain.
Reigning Laser World Champion, world number one and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby, returns to the Laser class for his first regatta since Sail Melbourne last December. Slingsby has spent the last week and a half training in Palma and is looking forward to getting back into racing.
'I’ve spent a lot of time out on the water here, training hard and I’m feeling alright,' said Slingsby. 'I feel like I could do with some more time but I’m looking forward to going racing.'
'All of the top guys in the world are here, most of the top 10 from last year’s World Championship so it should be a good regatta,' he said. 'The goal for this week is to get back into competition, aim to make the medal race and put in a good showing here.'
'I’ve got a busy few months coming up and I’m aiming to keeping things up over the next few events heading into the final round of the World Cup in Weymouth in June,' said Slingsby.
Slingsby will be joined in the Laser class by Tom Burton who is competing in his first World Cup event since being named in the Australian Sailing Team for 2011.
470 crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page will be keen to continue their strong start to the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup following Gold at round one in Melbourne and a Silver medal in January in Miami.
The reigning World Champions and world number one crew head into the regatta following a dominant display at the 2011 470 Australian Championship which were held in Queensland last month and are looking forward to lining up against the strong competition in Spain.
'We’ve had three days out on the water here in Palma which we used to acclimatise to conditions,' said Page. 'A lot of teams have been here training for the last month as many are using this regatta and the next as their Olympic team qualifiers so the competition is going to be fierce.'
'We’ve gone from racing in 20 boat fleets at home to 100 boats over here and the quality and intensity has ramped right up, it always comes as a bit of a shock for the first European regatta of the season but we’re keen to get out and go racing,' said Page.
Brendan Casey will contest the Finn class, with the Gold Coast based sailor in good form following his fourth place, and second nation behind three Great Britain sailors, finish, in Miami in January.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team will have two entries lining up in Palma with current world number two crew Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price set to race against 23 other crews, including fellow Australians Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty.
The Australian Sailing Squad will also be well represented in the regatta with 470 sailors Sam Kivell and Will Ryan, Laser competitor Ashley Brunning and Laser Radial sailor Krystal Weir all making the trip to Spain.