by Craig Heydon
After pulling off perhaps the most successful Olympic stint in years, Australian sailors are about to start another long and weary journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics in Monday’s opening regatta of the 2012-2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup at Port Philipp Bay. Sail Melbourne will feature a formidable Australian sailing contingent battling it out against the world’s finest sailors in different classes from December 3 to 8.
Krystal Weir (AUS) - Sail Melbourne 2013
For a number of Australian Sailing Team crews, Sail Melbourne presents the first opportunity for new combinations to race together, and some will race in new classes, while for others it’s business as usual as they continue towards their Olympic goals.
It’s will also be the first time that members of Australia’s successful London 2012 team will be back in action since the Games.
London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Mathew Belcher will contest his first event with new crew Will Ryan, with the pair announcing their Rio campaign last week.
Belcher and Ryan spent some time training in Sydney before setting up camp at Sandringham Yacht Club ahead of Sail Melbourne. Belcher is keen to be back on the top step of the podium in Melbourne after finishing second at the 2011 event, before beginning a run of eight straight wins, culminating with Olympic gold.
Mat Belcher, Will Ryan - image by Sail Melbourne (low-res)
Silver medallist Olivia Price is embarking on a new challenge for Rio 2016 and will take to the water in the 49erFX at the class’ debut ISAF Sailing World Cup event. At Rio 2016 the 49erFX will be a women’s event but as the sailors are starting out in the class Price is taking the opportunity to sail with Victorian skiff sailor James Sly.
London 2012 470 women’s representative Elise Rechichi will be in action at Sail Melbourne, racing alongside new crew Sarah Cook. Cook is new to the sport, competing as a part of Australia’s Women’s Eight Rowing team in London.
Rechichi and Cook plan to campaign in the 49erFX but as Cook continues to develop as a sailor the pair have decided to race in the 470 at Sail Melbourne.
Krystal Weir competed at her second Olympics at London 2012 and will race in the Laser Radial class this week on Port Phillip Bay as she begins her Rio campaign.
Brendan Casey made his Olympic debut at London 2012 and will again be racing in the Finn class this week.
While Tom Slingsby was away winning gold in the Laser in Weymouth, fellow Australian Sailing Team members Tom Burton and Ashley Brunning were busy training at home, preparing for the summer season.
Burton finished second at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Weymouth in June, after a fifth place finish at the 2012 Laser World Championship in Germany. Brunning is coming back from an injury that hampered much of his 2012 season, with both sailors looking forward to getting back into racing.
A number of Australian Sailing Squad members will be racing in Melbourne, including three in the Laser class, with Ryan Palk, Jared West and Matthew Wearn lining up alongside Burton and Brunning.
Matthew and Robert Crawford will race in the 470 men’s, with Oliver Tweddell contesting the Finn and Ashley Stoddart the Laser Radial.
Samuel & William Phillips (AUS) Sailing World Cup / 49er 2011 Sail Melbourne / ISAF World Cup Sandringham YC / 6 - 12 Nov 2011 © Sport the library / Jeff Crow
There will be two Australian Sailing Squad crews in the 49er class, with Will Phillips and Nick Brownie, and Sam Kivell and Sam Phillips to contest the opening ISAF Sailing World Cup round. Queenslander Luke Baillie will race in the RS:X men’s fleet, after the class was recently reinstated for Rio 2016.
Sail Melbourne Kiteboarding (credit to Cabrinha Kites)
Australian Sailing Team website
Sail Melbourne website