Macquarie Access World Championships - Australians lead New Zealanders

Acccess 303 two-person action - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
Macquarie Access World Championships 2012, being held on Sydney Harbour, are currently underway.

Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) are getting closer to realising a dream to win gold at the Paralympic Games in London later this year, today adding two further wins to their already perfect tally in the SKUD class.

The Queenslander and his NSW Central Coast crew are yet to be beaten at the Middle Harbour Yacht Club hosted event, even though they are being pushed by another Australian crew and Paralympic hopefuls from New Zealand and Malaysia.

However, Fitzgibbon said the New Zealand crew of Tim Dempsey and Jan Arpel are providing good competition this week. 'They pulled ahead of us today, but we caught them before the finish line,' he said. 'They love the breeze.'

Today’s conditions, which although were not as severe as yesterday’s, were still tough, with a 15 knot southerly providing testing sailing. Fitzgibbon said: 'They were challenging; the breeze was very variable.

'This is good training for us. We’re going to the World Championship in France; we fly out Monday, to these Worlds came at a really good time for us.'

The Australians lead the New Zealanders by eight points with two days of racing remaining.

In third place are another Australian crew; Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason. 'I don’t enjoy the big winds so much,' Barnbrook said before heading to the race course.

Racing is taking place in the vicinity of Middle Harbour between Grotto Point and Balmoral. Patron of the event, Sir James Hardy, has kindly taken spectators out every day to watch racing on his beautiful wooden yacht, Nerida.

The Malaysian crew of Al Mustakim Martine and Nurul Amlilin Balawi are in fourth place and are getting in good training in the lead up to the London Paralympics.

In the Access 303 two-person class, illness and heavy conditions look likely to rob Zoltan Pegan and Eva Mircsev from Hungary from retaining their world title.

The two, who are married, were leading until yesterday’s winds of up to 26 knots took their toll. On top of that, Pegan arrived at the Sydney Harbour event with a virus, which is still plaguing him.

'The conditions yesterday were too much and it was time to call it quits. We’re not going to win now. Second is a possibility,' he said from third place overall this afternoon, after scoring eighth and 10th places, the wind too heavy again.

'Our main goal now is to defend third. The weather today was testing, but do-able. At least the water and air are warm,' he said. 'There’s nothing worse than a boat full of 14C water!'

Currently, Patricia Ennis and Michael Leydon (AUS) are in the box seat, with a seven point lead over Mark Thorpe and Bruce James (AUS) with Pegan/Mircsev a further 11 points adrift. Gerard Eychenne and Andrew Jager (FRA) are in fourth on countback, on equal points with the Hungarians.

Racing continues from 11.00am off Middle Harbour Yacht Club tomorrow.

Sarah and Craig Millsom (Vic) plough through the waves in the Access 303 two-person - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Garth and Wayne McNeil (AUS) clearly enjoying themselves in the Access 303 two-person - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason are quick off the start - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Macquarie Access World Championships website