by Craig Heydon
ISAF Sailing World Cup opening round continued in difficult conditions as strong, gusty, winds ended day three of Sail Melbourne early, with only a handful of classes able to get in racing.
Jessica Crisp (AUS) - Class: RS:X - Sail Melbourne 2011
After two days of light conditions Melbourne upped the ante on Wednesday with winds gusting above 30 knots forcing the race committee to cancel racing mid-afternoon.
Only the RS:X, 470 and Paralympic class fleets were able to complete any racing, with a number of solid performances for Australian crews.
In the RS:X women’s fleet Australian Sailing Team member Jessica Crisp ended the day second overall after a pair of fourth positions.
Finn Andrew-Gavenlock Sail Melbourne 2011 Day 1
Crisp, who is aiming to compete at her fourth straight Olympic Games at London 2012 is now two points behind new leader, Bryony Shaw of Great Britain, who won both of the day’s races.
In the 470 men’s Australian Sailing Squad members Sam Kivell and Will Ryan continued their strong run and continue to lead the class, ending the day three points ahead of American’s Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl, with Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page a point further back in third.
Kivell and Ryan had a fifth place finish in the only race of the day, with race two abandoned due to the heavy winds when the crews were on the first lap.
'We don’t mind the windy stuff, we just take it as it comes and don’t really have a favoured condition,' said Ryan. 'The last two days the breeze has been coming from the other direction which probably suited us a bit better but it was still a good day out there.'
Belcher and Page were adjudged to have crossed the line early and were disqualified from the race, which dropped them from their overnight second to be third overall.
Belcher said that the pair raced well and had good speed but unfortunately it didn’t count on the score sheet as they learnt about the disqualification after the race.
In the 470 women’s Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell continue to lead the fleet in their first ever regatta together, with a sixth on Wednesday leaving them one point ahead of the second placed Japanese crew.
49er Burling-Tuke Sail Melbourne 2011 Day 1
The Skud 18 class completed one race with Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason the best placed Australian Sailing Team crew.
Barnbrook and Mason crossed the line second to move up to second overall, five points behind Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell who have won all three races so far this regatta.
'We seemed to be in the right boat today,' said Barnbrook. 'We sailed quite low risk and it paid off as we had good speed the whole way through the race.
'Though unfortunately we weren’t fast enough to catch the Brits but there’s always tomorrow,' she said.
Fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox are third overall while Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch are one place further back in fourth.
The 2.4mR class also completed one race with Matt Bugg continuing to lead the class following a second place finish on Wednesday morning.
Bugg is currently sitting on four points, four ahead of fellow Australian Sailing Squad member Greg Hyde.
Due to the heavy winds the 49er, Laser and Laser Radial classes were unable to go racing, with Australian Sailing Team crew Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen leading the 49ers and Tom Slingsby out in front in the Lasers.
Racing continues in Melbourne on Wednesday and continues until Saturday 12 November.
Full results are available on the event website.
Australian Sailing Team website