Macquarie Access World Championships day 1 - Tight competition

Tight competition in the single-person classes this morning - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
Macquarie Access World Championships, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club, are currently underway. Far Northern Queensland brothers, Duncan and Angus MacGregor started their respective Championships today the way they wanted; being in the top three after the first two races in the Access 2.3 single-person dinghy.

However, as the Tinaroo brothers pointed out, it’s early days, with only the opening day behind them.

While Gerard Meli (AUS) is the overall leader following a second place and a win, 22 year-old Duncan and 16 year-old Angus are right behind him on the scoreboard in second and third place overall respectively.

While Duncan scored a win and a third, Angus fought back with a fourth and a second, to be two points in arrears of his older brother.

Asked how strong the brotherly rivalry was, Duncan quipped, 'there is none – it’s very friendly – actually we don’t sail against each other very often, this is unusual.'

Angus, the reigning champion who won the 2010 Australian Sailor with a Disability award, agreed, proudly adding: 'Duncan won the first race by a mile – and I just beat him in the second race – it was pretty close.'

Duncan described conditions this morning as, 'shifty and bumpy and the wind was very up and down and inconsistent – anywhere from 5 knots to 15.'

As the defending champion in the class, Angus said: 'I’m not defending very well at the moment!'

Off to a great start - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Racing got off to a perfect start today. Over 100 sailors from nine nations took to Sydney Harbour in five classes and seven divisions, including the Paralympic SKUD 18.

First off at 11.00am this morning were the single-person classes; Access 2.3, Access 303 and Access Liberty, while the Access 303 and SKUD 18 started just after 2.00pm. All divisions sailed two races.

Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch lead the SKUD 18 - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

There were no surprises in the SKUD 18, where Beijing Paralympic silver medallist Dan Fitzgibbon (AUS), and his crew Liesl Tesch, won both races. Yet to be made official, the Australian pair is set to represent at the London Paralympics in September.

However, the two did not have it all their own way. Fellow Australians, Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason, who are second overall, got off the start best in both races and led Fitzgibbon/Tesch around the first mark, leaving the latter to chase them down the run.

Tim Dempsey & Jan Apel (NZL) get some pace on - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Fitzgibbon then had to deal with Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel from New Zealand, who threw in a dummy tack, forcing the Aussies to tack, but Fitzgibbon was able to come back with good tactics in the shifty winds.

Al Mustakim Martine & Nurul Amlilin Balawi from Malaysia in the SKUD 18 - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

The Kiwis, who are headed to the Paralympics, along the Malaysian team of Al Mustakim Martine and Nurul Amlilin Balawi, who are fourth overall, are getting in some good competition against each other and the Aussies in the lead up to the Paralympics.

Fitzgibbon said this afternoon, 'It was good to get the first day out of the way – and in first place.'

Tesch added: 'Yeah, we’re not famous for our first races at regattas.'

'The Kiwis were always up there; if we make a mistake, they’ll be there to capitalise,' Fitzgibbon acknowledged. 'We’ll have to keep our eye on the game the whole time,' he said.

Tight competition in the Access 303 single-person class made fascinating viewing. Michael Leydon (AUS) an able-bodied former world champion, took control early, with a third and a win, to be two points ahead of Zac Heuchmer (AUS), with a further point to Stephen Churm (AUS) who is likely to represent Australia in the three-person Sonar class at the London Paralympics.

Multiple world champion Zoltan Pegan (HUN) goes fast in the Access 303 - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Reigning world champion, Zoltan Pegan (HUN) is fourth after finishing seventh and second. The former Aussie said: 'The first race was very unpredictable and too long. I got so windy at one stage, I was on the verge of reefing, when the wind dropped off again.'

Pegan, who is also competing in the two-person 303 with his wife, Eva Mircsev, added: 'the tide was strong and we got a bit of everything breeze-wise in the afternoon – it was a lottery – it wasn’t very tactical.'

Winds flicked right around the compass throughout this afternoon, making it tough for race officials, but Principal Race Officer, Mark Pryke, waited patiently to give as fair racing as the weather allowed.

Despite Pegan’s comments, he and Eva won both races. 'Eva and I are perfectly balanced for lighter winds, and when it gets windier, if I get the reefing right, we’re OK.'

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

Macquarie Access World Championships website