Sail Melbourne - Australians have strong opening day

Tom Slingsby racing at Sail Melbourne 2011
ISAF Sailing World Cup Series 2011-12 kicked off with Sail Melbourne at Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne, Australia. A number of Australian Sailing Team crews enjoyed a strong opening day on Port Phillip Bay.

Jessica Crisp currently leads the way in the RS:X women with the triple Olympian finishing the day with a first and a second to be four points clear of Bryony Shaw of Great Britain.

'I’ve come to this regatta straight after doing some training in New Zealand and it’s a real treat to head into racing after training,' said Crisp. 'You can really tell the difference when out racing after putting in the hard work recently.'

Tom Slingsby had a strong day in the Laser class with a first and a second in the largest fleet at the regatta.

'I felt good out there today,' said Slingsby. 'I had a good win in the first race and then in race two it was really tight between myself and Lee Parkhill from Canada.

'Coming down towards the finish we were neck and neck, one would get ahead on a wave and then the other would get one, right when he needed a wave he got one and won by about a boat length,' he said.

Fellow Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton had a first and a fifth while Squad members Ashley Brunning, James Burman and Jared West all having a good opening day.

The top three in the 49er fleet are separated by just one point with New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke just ahead of Australian crews Will and Sam Phillips and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen.

Outteridge and Jensen, who are back racing for the first time since their win at the London 2012 Olympic Games test event in Weymouth in August had two seconds and a third in light to moderate conditions.

'It’s been a couple of months since we’ve been racing and everyone is certainly getting better, it’s not easy out there,' said Outteridge. 'In the first race we thought we were over the line early so went back and started again and fought our way back to second which was a good result considering where we were.

'In the second race we got fouled by the Kiwis early on but again managed to get ourselves into second and then in the final race we were forced out to the right but there weren’t all that many wind shifts so we didn’t have too much of a chance to catch back up, it was pretty close between the top guys,' he said.

In the 470 men’s fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page ended the day third overall, two points behind Australian Sailing Squad members Sam Kivell and Will Ryan and a further two behind day one leaders Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl of the United States.

Belcher and Page started their regatta with a sixth before bouncing back with a strong race win.

'We didn’t have the best start to the regatta, getting caught out to the right after a left shift but race two was much better, we had a better start, got to where we wanted and sailed away,' said Belcher.

'This was our first race since August so it was good to blow the cobwebs out,' he said.

Krystal Weir is currently sixth in the Laser Radial fleet with a pair of seventh place finishes, five points off the podium. Fellow Australian Gabrielle King is 14th and Ashley Stoddart is 19th.

Australian Sailing Team members Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason and Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch are tied on points for second and third in the Skud 18 Paralympic class, three points behind the leaders, 2010 World Champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell who won both races.

Fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox are just behind their fellow Australians.

Tasmanian and Australian Sailing Squad member Matt Bugg had a great day on the water in the 2.4mR class, winning both of the day’s races, to lead the trailing pack by five points with fellow Squad member Greg Hyde in third.

Jessica Crisp on day one of Sail Melbourne 2011

Australian Sailing Team website