by Lulu Roseman
Melges 32 Australian Championships 2013 gets underway tomorrow, Friday 19th April. Easy Tiger Racing is ready to pounce on Middle Harbour Yacht Club for this weekend's Nationals. Skipper Chris Way and his crew are looking forward to some fast and furious racing action with their new boat, Easy Tiger III, particularly given that strong sou ‘westerly conditions are forecast.
Easy Tiger III - in action at the Sydney Harbour Regatta - Photo: Tracey Walters/© Melges Asia Pacific
Joining Skipper Chris Way is a smoking hot crew led by prominent tactician Steve McConaghy and featuring recently crowned NSW Moth Champion and 2012 Moth World Champion Josh McKnight, America’s Cup sailor Peter Winter and French 470 Olympian Alex Pallu de la Barriere, who also doubles as the team’s coach. Tiger stalwarts Kyrra Deane, Guy ‘Atho’ Kennard and Malcolm Clark complete the crew of eight.
'We are looking forward to competing against all the top guns in the Australian Melges 32 fleet who we sailed against at last year’s Nationals in a chartered boat. Our new boat is as well prepared as possible and we are as ready as we’ll ever be thanks to plenty of training sessions on our home waters at Pittwater,' Skipper Chris Way said.
'This team has always been about having fun and sailing fast among high performance one design fleets and this has never been more evident than in Melges 32 class,' Way added.
Since taking delivery of Easy Tiger III in February, Way and his crew have been training under the watchful eye of Alex Pallu de la Barriere.
'Alex, a former French Olympian, joined the team as coach at the start of the 2012/2103 summer season and has been an integral part of helping Team Tiger transition to the new boat. He has really helped us with the boat preparation and tightening up our crew work to smooth out any of the rough edges.'
The Melges 32 fleet is growing in Australia and teams from Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales are all keen to get their hands on this year’s ultimate prize. Internationally the fleet attracts some of the world’s best sailors and the Australian fleet is no different.
Easy Tiger III finished second to leading Tasmanian team 2Unlimited in March when she made her racing debut at the Sydney Harbour Regatta. Way said that event was pretty much a training regatta given the small size of the fleet and the limited time his team had to prepare the new boat.
'I am very proud of the effort the whole team has put in. The results we achieved in our debut regatta last month are very encouraging and we know that if we can keep up with the pointy end of the fleet and be consistent we’ll be in with a good shot of making the podium.
'We have been looking forward to this regatta and the chance to compete in a bigger fleet. We love the highly competitive nature of this class. It will be a challenge racing inside Sydney Harbour particularly with all the weekend traffic. Dodging ferries and all the other yacht club races is sure to keep everyone on their toes. We look forward to some races potentially being held offshore as it mixes things up.
'Being new to the class doesn’t mean we can make any concessions. We’ve spent the last month training, tuning the rig, experimenting with the best sail configurations and preparing the boat to be in the best shape possible for this regatta.
'We know how difficult it is win, so we have prepared ourselves properly and worked really hard on improving across all areas. No detail has been spared and we have been making changes here and there, as well as putting in extra effort on the water.
'Everyone onboard is very experienced at racing in one design classes and loves the fast paced intensity of back to back races over three days. We have made two crew changes since the last event but with the sail testing and crew training we’ve done in the last few weeks we feel ready and are looking forward to the tight competition.'
As of Thursday April 16 at 4:00am, the Friday weather forecast for Sydney Harbour is for southwesterly winds ranging between 20-30 knots increasing to 30-40 knots in the early afternoon. Racing in the 2013 Melges 32 Australian Championships is scheduled to commence on Friday, April 19 1300 local time and concludes on Sunday April 21. Nine races are scheduled in the series.
Live updates and images from the racecourse will posted on Easy Tiger Racing’s Facebook page and Twitter account.
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