by Di Pearson
Macquarie Access World Championships 2012, hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club, has concluded today, Friday 13th April.
Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch lead the SKUD 18 - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
Three days before they are officially announced as the SKUD 18 crew to represent Australia at the London Paralympic Games, Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have put their prospective rivals on notice, winning 10 out of 10 races in the international fleet.
Although second placed Ame Barnbrook/Lindsay Mason (AUS) and third placed Tim Dempsey/Jan Apel (NZL) threw everything they could at Fitzgibbon/Tesch, it was to no avail.
Tesch, a high school teacher on the NSW Central Coast, said, 'Ame and Lindsay have helped make us better sailors and get us to where we’re going.'
On winning the SKUD International title today, Queenslander Fitzgibbon, the silver medallist skipper at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, said: 'This has been great training for us. We’re going to Hyere’s in France for the SKUD Worlds on Monday and this regatta and our result here means we go in ready.'
Barnbrook and Mason came into the final day of the regatta in third place overall, but got closer to their New Zealand competitors yesterday after scoring a pair of second places.
Today, Barnbrook, who is renowned for her starting skills, steered the pair to a further pair of second places to overtake the Kiwis, who are also likely to represent at the London Paralympics.
'We were so close to beating them (Dan and Liesl) at times. One day… If anyone has a hope of winning for Australia at the Paralympics it’s them,' Barnbrook graciously said.
Of the variable conditions this week, Barnbrook, from Narooma on the NSW south coast, said: 'We thrive in 5-15 knots, so it was perfect conditions for us yesterday and today.
'The event has been run really well and the volunteers have been amazing,' she added.
Dempsey and Apel finished third overall. 'We know Dan and Liesl are good; we tried to beat them here, believe me,' Apel stated ahead of being announced into the New Zealand team for London.
The Malaysian crew of Al Mustakim Martine and Nurul Amliln Balwi (MAL), also looking to represent at the London Paralympics finished fourth. The skipper said it was important for them to be here and experience the variable conditions. In their own country, they are used to very light breeze.
In the Access 303 two-person class, able-bodied sailors Patricia Ennis and Michael Leydon, a former Paralympic Games coach, were in the enviable position of being unbeatable yesterday and a further second and a win consolidated their new status as world champions.
Defending champions, Zoltan Pegan and his wife Eva Mircsev (HUN) finished second overall. The harsh conditions of Tuesday were too much for them and many others, and they failed to finish Race four, which pretty much sealed their fate.
Pegan was also nursing a nasty virus, but with physio from local volunteer, Kate Hogan, Pegan was feeling a little better yesterday and back capitalising on the lighter breezes he and Mircsev excel in.
Today was the same, Pegan and Mircsev revelled in light and shifty breezes, but did not have enough in the tank to overcome the winners.
'I’ve always liked the light conditions, - it’s when I’m at my best,' the former military pilot and expatriate Aussie acknowledged.
The Hungarians, who started the Championship with two victories, also notched up another three, in Races 7, 8 and 9, and finished off the regatta with a second, to leap-frog from third overall to second.
'This was a typical Easter weather regatta and today was such a beautiful day,' he said wistfully.
Mark Thorpe and Bruce James (AUS), who were sitting in second place until today, were pushed back to third overall.
Fujio Unuki and Naoki Maruyama (JPN) were the best placed internationals in fifth overall in this hot fleet.
Tonight's prize giving will be held during the Closing Ceremony at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, followed by an official dinner.
Macquarie Access World Championships website