ISAF Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne off to a great start

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page competing at the 2010 Sail Melbourne regatta
ISAF Sailing World Cup 2011/2012 opening round is being held from 6th to 12th November at Sandringham Yacht Club. The series is off to a great start with close racing throughout the fleets on day one of Sail Melbourne.

A steady 10-12 knot breeze from the south-west, meant that generally the boat that crossed in the dominant position held on to win the heat.

In the 49er class each of the leading three crews had a poor start in one of the three races. At the end of the day Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand hold a one point lead over two Australian crews, Sam and Will Phillips and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.

In the first race, the Kiwis nailed the start, while Outteridge and Jensen thought they were over the start line early and re-crossed in sixth position. The Kiwis extended their lead at every mark and finished more than 200m in front of the Australians, who used clear air in the middle of the course to fight their way back.

In the second race it was the Phillips brothers who hit the start line perfectly, pinning Outteridge and Jensen below them for most of the first beat. Meanwhile the Kiwis had been trapped by another Australian crew to cross last, and could manage only a fourth, their worst position of the day.

In the third heat, Outteridge and Jensen had a poor start and played catch-up all race. When asked why he had gone to the right of the course when the inshore left-hand side looked favoured, Outteridge said, 'Everyone else had gone left, so we had to go right. You can't pass them by following them.'

In the 470 class world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page sit in third position after a sixth in the first race and a win in the second. 'We got caught up at the start in the first race and there was no way back, ' said Mat Belcher. 'In the second race we got a nice start and then sailed a bit conservative.'

Americans Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl lead the regatta with a first and second place. Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are in second place on five points.

In the 470 women’s Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell are currently first overall after two race wins. The two Olympic Gold medalists are sailing in their first ever regatta together having only recently teamed up to campaign for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Japanese pair of Ai Kondo and Wakoko Tabata are in second place on six points, one point ahead of two American crews, Amanda Clark/Sarah Lihan and Erin Maxwell/Isabelle Farrar.

The Laser fleet has been into two groups, with Tom Slingsby leading the yellow fleet, and overall, after a first and second placing. In the second race, he was involved in a dogfight with Canadian Lee Parkhill on the last run.

'I'd surge then he'd surge but when I needed a wave at the end it didn't come,' Slingsby said philosophically.

British sailor, Nick Thompson was the leader of the blue fleet and sits just one point behind Slingsby, after a first and a third place. 'I didn't feel particularly fired up when I went out there, but I'm happy,' said Thompson, for whom these were his first races since the European championships.

In the women's Laser Radial, Lijia Xu of China finished with a win and a second placing, to lead Tuula Tenkanen of Finland by two points. Former world number one Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands is four points further back.

In the men's RS:X Dutchman Dorien van Rijsselberg is tied with Kiwi JP Tobin on four points, with Zach Plavsic of Canada a point further back. Tobin scored two second placings, while van Rijsselberg and Plavsic won one race each.

In the women's event, Flavia Tartaglini of Italy won the first race but she was OCS in the second, handing the overall lead to Jessica Crisp of Australia, who leads by four points from Bryony Shaw of Great Britain and Justina Sellers of New Zealand.

In the Finn fleet Oleksiy Borysov of Ukraine leads on three points. Australians Oliver Tweddle (4) and Rob McMillan (5) are second and third.

Today's winds were more than five knots stronger than forecast, and it is to be hoped that the same prevails tomorrow, when another light day is currently predicted.

For full results click here

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