by Di Pearson
Macquarie Access World Championships 2012 are being hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour. Conditions tested all this afternoon when all the single-person classes hit the water for the 2.00pm session and only the fittest survived strong winds to finish two races.
Close quarters sailing in a big breeze - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
Rodney Viney from Tasmania, who won Race four in the 303 single-person, commented after racing: 'It was extreme conditions, so the attrition rate was high. A lot of boats filled with water, so there was a lot of bailing going on.'
Viney, an able-bodied sailor and member of Sailability Tasmania, admitted though, 'Being from Tasmania we’re probably a bit more used to this sort of wind, which gave us an advantage.'
Only Stephen Churm (NSW), who is on the verge of being chosen to represent Australia at the London Paralympics in the Sonar three-person keelboat, is ahead of Viney on the podium, after he too clocked up a win in Race three, with a second place in Race four.
In the Access 2.3 class, young Angus MacGregor has moved to the top of the standings. The 2010 Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability and reigning champion in the class, did not let a boat full of water stop him from performing.
The 16 year-old from Tinaroo in Queensland, came ashore all smiles, despite being drenched through. 'Yep, I did a lot of bailing today,' he confirmed. 'It was very tricky sailing, but a lot of fun,' he said.
According to officials on the course, winds reached the mid 20 knot range and oscillated between south and south-east this afternoon, making it a difficult day’s racing for all. The chill factor was severe and competitors welcomed a hot shower and a barbecue back at Middle Harbour Yacht Club after racing.
Angus’ older brother Duncan broke rope attached to a fitting on his boom in Race four, but, he said: 'funnily enough, it turned out to be my best race – I finished second.' That result puts him in third place overall, two places behind his brother.
Koji Harada from Japan also had a brilliant day in the Access 2.3, with a Race three win. Although he finished sixth in Race four, it was good enough for fourth place overall. 'Fortunately we did not have any troubles in the big wind – some people broke things and others had their boats full off water. I am happy to win,' said Harada, who comes from Enoshima.
Meanwhile, Brendan Tourelle from New Zealand is leading the Access Liberty single-person class, even though he did not figure in the top two places today. Race three went to Christopher Cook (AUS) who led the series coming into today, while Race four went to Akko Van der Veen from The Netherlands.
With a number of protests in the pipeline, requests for redress and some discrepancies in finishing places, some results may change by late tonight and early tomorrow morning.
Racing continues from 11.00am off Middle Harbour Yacht Club tomorrow.
Macquarie Access World Championships website