by Craig Heydon
ISAF Sailing World Cup Series 2011-12 will kick off with Sail Melbourne at Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne, Australia on 6 November 2011. Australian sailors are busy preparing to begin their campaign at the series opening round next week.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page competing at the 2010 Sail Melbourne regatta
The Australian Sailing Team will be well represented at Sail Melbourne with crews competing in six classes with racing set to get underway on Monday 7 November.
The event will provide a great opportunity for the sailors to compete against high quality opposition before heading across to Western Australia for the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships which begin on December 3.
For the majority of the team Sail Melbourne will be their last competitive hit-out before they compete in Perth to try and qualify Australia for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Australian Sailing Team’s 470 men’s crew of Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are aiming for their fourth straight Sail Melbourne win together as they begin their campaign for a third ISAF Sailing World Cup crown.
'Sail Melbourne will be our first regatta since the Olympic test event back August so we’re treating it in the normal way, seeing where we are and touching base with the fleet,' said Belcher. 'We had a bit of a rushed preparation due to a few delays getting gear back from Europe but we did the things we needed to for Perth and are now looking forward to getting our first World Cup regatta of the year underway.'
Page said that the pair got in some good training in Sydney before heading south and were keen to go racing again.
'We feel like we achieved a fair bit back in Sydney, honing in and refining things before the Worlds,' said Page. 'Now we’re ready to get back into racing and competing again, we’ve been working on our speed and now it’s about remembering how to get off the line and race.'
The Laser class at Sail Melbourne will feature two Australian Sailing Team members with Tom Slingsby and Tom Burton lining up in the biggest fleet at the regatta, with 60 Lasers making the trip to Melbourne.
Slingsby heads into the event off the back of a fourth straight win at the Olympic venue in Weymouth in August and was recently crowned the 2010/2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup champion.
Both Slingsby and Burton were on the podium at Sail Melbourne last year with Burton’s Silver medal qualifying him for the 2011 Australian Sailing Team while Slingsby was just behind in third.
'Next week will be my first time on the start line for a few months so I’m keen to shake the dust off and get out there and work on my technique,' said Slingsby. 'While I won’t be focusing on results too much a good finish here would be a good psychological boost before heading across to the World Championships.'
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are set to compete in the 49er class, while Jessica Crisp will feature in the RS:X women’s.
Krystal Weir will race on home waters in the Laser Radial class which is the second biggest fleet at the event, with a number of the world’s top sailors making the trip to Melbourne.
Australian Sailing Team athletes will also compete in three Skud 18 Paralympic crews, with Daniel Ftizgibbon and Liesl Tesch, Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason and Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox all racing together.
The Australian Sailing Squad will also be well represented at Sail Melbourne including Sam Kivell and Will Ryan and Matthew and Robert Crawford in the 470 class, Chelsea Hall sailing with Sasha Ryan in the 470 women and Will and Sam Phillips and Steven Thomas sailing with Jasper Warren in the 49er.
The Laser class will see Squad members Ryan Palk, Ashley Brunning, Jared West and James Burman all race while in the Laser Radial class Ashley Stoddart and Alex South will compete.
Tasmanian sailor Matt Bugg and New South Welshman Greg Hyde will race in the 2.4mR Paralympic class.
Racing begins in Melbourne on Monday 7 November and continues until Saturday 13 November.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit here.
Sail Melbourne website