by Cora Zillich
The international sailing world made a return to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing venue in Qingdao, China last week for the first ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta (14-19 October 2013) of the 2013-14 series.
149 sailors from 23 nations raced in the Men's and Women's 470, Men's and Women's RS:X, Laser and Laser Radial, with Queenslander Ashley Stoddart representing the Australian Sailing Squad and finishing an overall ninth in the 20 sailor strong Radial race. Australian Caitlin Davies finished sixteenth.
After a 35th place at the Laser Radial – Women’s World Championships 2013 in Rhizao, China earlier this month (1-7 October 2013), the Qingdao regatta offered 20-year old Ashley Stoddart another welcome opportunity to race against the leading sailors in the Olympic Radial class.
Across the week a range of conditions were thrown at the sailors, which offered plenty of learning experience for the competitors.
'I did enjoy the competiveness and challenging conditions that we were presented at this event,' Ashley said at the conclusion of the event. 'We had light, shifty wind and strong tides for much of the regatta, and I have come a long way in those conditions from a year ago. My progress as well as the weaknesses which are still there, only make me want to keep improving and training harder.'
In the World Cup racing schedule, including a two day Qualification Series, three day Final Series with a concluding final day Medal Race, Stoddart ranked third for the first race days, but had to settle with ninth place overall after the final series and medal race.
'Obviously it's a little disappointing dropping from third for most of the regatta to finish ninth, but it was another opportunity to race in a medal race and to add to my experience bank. It is actually great to have all this racing behind me and as something to build on moving forward.'
Ashley, who has her eyes set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, will join the Australian Sailing Team and Squad at a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport next week, before the whole team will compete at the home world cup event in Melbourne in December.
About her next steps she said: 'I will be at the AIS camp next, then it’s Uni exams for me, before I will be heading down to Sail Melbourne and Nationals, where I hope to have the opportunity to continue working on racing in similar conditions we had here in China.'
Qingdao was the first World Cup of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series of five regattas, with Melbourne (1-8 December 2013), Miami, USA (25 January – 1 February 2014), Mallorca, Spain (29 March – 5 April 2014) and Hyères, France (19-26 April 2014) to follow.
The second ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne (2-8 December 2013) will see most of the Australian Sailing Team and Squad competing on home waters.
Australian Sailing is the performance arm of Yachting Australia in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and with support from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).
The Australian Sailing Team is the national representative team for Olympic and Paralympic class sailing. The Australian Sailing Squad is the development program of the Australian Sailing Team and provides the pathway from elite youth to Olympic level competition.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit Ausralian Sailing Team website; Follow the Team on Twitter and Facebook.