by Craig Heydon
On the final day of Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships Australian sailors have won two Gold medals.
Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen celebrating their 49er world championship win. Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen wrapped up the 49er title while Tom Slingsby won his fourth Laser World Championship in five years in emphatic style.
Outteridge and Jensen entered the final race with a 17 point lead over the Danish crew of Emil and Simon Toft Nielsen, knowing that they would walk away from Perth 2011 with at least a Silver medal.
But the pair didn’t rest on their laurels, pushing their competition the whole way through the final race, eventually finishing third overall to take the Gold medal, their second World Championship together and Outteridge’s third, by 21 points.
'This win is the perfect preparation for London,' said Outteridge. 'We’ve performed really well on the Olympic waters in London as well and from here on it’s about maintaining the level we’re at and making sure we’re the team to beat, we’re doing the best we can at that and have got another eight months to get ready for the Games.
'Every event we do and get a podium is always a boost, and winning is always that little bit better,' he said. 'We’ve got a few more events between now and the Games, including another World Championships in Croatia in May so there’s still a very long way to go yet.'
Jensen said that the pair was thrilled to regain the title they first won together in 2009. 'It’s an amazing feeling, we haven’t had a World Championship since January 2010 and we were second that time, so it’s good not to be the bridesmaids anymore,' said Jensen. 'We like a bit of breeze and today it was great, really wavy, and a nice medium breeze which was perfect for sailing 49ers.'
Australia’s second Gold medal of the day came at the hands of Tom Slingsby who won the title in style, with a first place in the medal race giving him a 19 point victory over Great Britain’s Nick Thompson with New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch third.
Slingsby’s win was his fourth world title in five years, cementing himself at the top of the Laser class as he continues his preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Slingsby said that to win in front of a packed grandstand in Fremantle made it extra special.
'This is definitely one of the best,' he said. 'In sailing you’re often off in the ocean and no one can see but to have it here and a grandstand all cheering your name chanting ‘Tom’, I haven’t had that happen before so it’s a pretty amazing feeling, you feel like a real sports star.'
'I was going down that last run thinking ‘this is pretty cool stuff,’ I’ve won world titles but they’re often off in the ocean and no one can see you,' he said. 'I’m really happy with the way I’m going. To me, I feel like I’m improving all the time, I’m a lot better sailor than I was four years ago and I think it’s going to show this time round.'
Fellow Australians Ashley Brunning and Tom Burton finished sixth and 10th respectively in the final medal race, capping off a successful week. Brunning’s result left him seventh overall while Burton finished the regatta in ninth, the highest either had finished in a Laser World Championship.
In the 470 women’s class Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell finished ninth overall, in just their third regatta, and first World Championship, together since teaming up only a handful of months ago. The pair stormed into the medal race off the back of a stunning final two races, where they crossed the line third and fifth, moving them from 13th to ninth overall heading into Sunday’s final race.
Rechichi and Stowell clearly enjoyed sailing in front of their friends and family in Fremantle, with the pair fighting hard throughout the entire medal race to cross the line in second, their best finish of the week.
Capping off the week for Australia the nation was awarded the IOC President’s Trophy for the most successful team at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships with three Gold medals.
Full results at website
Australian Sailing Team website