by Craig Heydon
Sail Auckland Regatta 2013 witnessed the successful return of Australian Sailing Team’s Ashley Brunning from a career-threatening injury after he outclassed his rivals to win the gold in the Laser Class.
Ashley Brunning racing at Sail Auckland
Brunning’s 2012 was plagued by back injury, forcing him to miss a number of events and only contest selected races in others, but the Sydney based sailor believes that is now behind him.
Brunning edged out New Zealand’s Andy Maloney for the gold in Auckland, winning by just two points, with the title being decided at the end of the final race.
'It was definitely tight racing at the front, a classic Anzac rivalry,' said Brunning. 'It came down to a closely fought final race in 30-35 knots of breeze. Whoever kept it upright going into the final mark was going to win. It was close and I had a big spin out and almost tipped in it could have gone either way and I was lucky to save it.'
Brunning won six of the 11 races in Auckland, with a worst finish of a fifth in the heavy conditions.
'It feels great to show a return to strong hiking form and to win races,' said Brunning. 'The summer racing in Australia showed a steady improvement from Sail Melbourne through to the Australian Laser Championships and this feels like the logical next step forward.'
The 27-year-old is looking forward to a busier racing schedule in 2013 as he competes to represent Australia in the Laser class at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
'I feel like the back injury is in the rear view mirror so to speak,' he said. 'For some time now I've followed a good course of injury prevention exercises and have changed some training and in boat techniques with the help of my coach Michael Blackburn, the Australian Institute of Sport and our team support staff.
'A combination of these and of course time have made the difference and now I feel excited to take on more regattas in 2013,' said Brunning.
2013 will see Brunning and his Australian Laser team mates return to Europe for a number of World Cup regattas before their World Championships in Oman at the end of the year.
Racing alongside Brunning in the Laser class in Auckland was fellow Australian Jeremy O’Connell who was the top under-21 sailor in ninth overall.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit Australian Sailing Team and follow the team on Twitter at Australian Sailing Team Twitter