by Craig Heydon
Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2011 has seen Australian crews lead in three classes as the ISAF Sailing World Cup reaches the business end of the competition in Weymouth, England.
49er class fleet on day 3 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
Now after four days of racing, Australian Sailing Team members Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are leading in the 49er class with Tom Slingsby in front in the Lasers and Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch are first in the Skud 18s.
Outteridge and Jensen headed into the first day of finals racing in sixth position but had a strong day to shoot up the leader board and open up a 10 point lead after finishing with a sixth, fourth and two firsts in the day’s four races.
The pair was impressive in the tricky conditions as they look to extend their unbeaten run at the 2012 London Olympic Games venue to three straight years but are well aware that there is still plenty of racing left in this regatta.
'The breeze will be a bit lighter tomorrow so we’re expecting the racing to be much closer,' said Outteridge. 'Our fleet spreads out quite a bit in the breeze so it’s important to get to the top mark in a good spot as after that the opportunity to make up positions is pretty small. Racing tomorrow in the lighter stuff is going to be more intense and hopefully we can keep all of our results in the top 10 and see where we end up.'
Tom Slingsby is another Australian sailor who has only finished on the top step of the podium in Weymouth and the triple World Champion has taken the lead in the Laser class with a third and a first in the day’s two races.
Slingsby’s results moved him from his overnight third to first overall, six points ahead of second with two fleet races and the final medal race left to contest.
'I feel like I’m sailing better, I’m sailing better shifts and not making the stupid mistakes that I did on the first couple of days,' said Slingsby. 'I feel good at this stage but tomorrow will be different again so we’ll see how it goes.
'The chasing guys are really close to me on the scoreboard and last year I had a 32 point lead at this stage and lost 25 of them in two races so I’m going to be right on my game to make sure that doesn’t happen again,' he said. Fellow Laser sailor Tom Burton ended the day 11th, just two points off the top 10 with an eighth and 17th.
Australia’s Skud 18 Paralympic crews continued their great run on Weymouth harbour with Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch extending their overall lead while fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox are in third. Both Australian crews are only new combinations with Fitzgibbon and Tesch competing in only their second World Cup regatta together while for Dunross and Cox it’s their first.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch had the perfect day’s racing with three wins from three starts late in the day to open up a four point lead over the second placed crew from Great Britain. In the six races sailed so far the pair has not finished outside the top two. 'We had a really good day’s racing today, one of the best since Liesl and I teamed up,' said Fitzgibbon. 'No wins are straightforward but today we had good speed, really good starts and went on from there.
'We’ve got another three races scheduled tomorrow to finish off the regatta so we’ll go out there and try to consolidate our lead and bring it home,' he said. Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason ended the day seventh overall in the same fleet following two sevenths and a sixth.
In the 470 class reigning World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are currently third overall, nine points off the lead after an eighth and a 15th on day four. The pair, who lead the ISAF Sailing World Cup 470 class standings after two wins and a silver from the opening five rounds are well in the hunt for the regatta win with two more races scheduled for Friday in the highly competitive Gold fleet before the final medal race on Saturday.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty spent day four racing in the Gold fleet to decide seedings for the quarter-finals. The trio had a good day on the water finishing second overall, meaning they will take on the seventh ranked crew in the first knock-out round.
Fellow Match Racers Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Rayshele Martin continued their positive results with wins in the Silver round robin. In the Finn class Brendan Casey is 22nd, picking up an 11th and a 21st today. Tessa Parkinson and Belinda Stowell continue to develop as a team in the 470 women and sit 42nd overall.
Australian Sailing Squad members Will and Sam Phillips have continued their strong regatta in the 49er class, ending the day fifth overall. The brothers had a second, fourth,, tenth and a third today to move within seven points of a medal with lots of racing remaining.
Fellow Squad members Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie are fifth in the Silver fleet with Tom Johnson and Rhys Mara 12th. Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are 27th in the 470 men’s Gold fleet while Alexander and Patrick Conway are 23rd in the Silver fleet.
Krystal Weir is the best placed Australian in the Laser Radial class with a second and a 12th leaving her 14th overall, ahead of Gabrielle King in 26th, Ashley Stoddart in 40th and Caitlin Elks is 34th in the Silver fleet.
In the RS:X women’s Jessica Crisp is 21st and Allison Shreeve is 26th, young Queensland sailor Joanna Sterling is 20th in the Silver fleet. Matt Bugg finished the day with a 14th, 10th and 12th in the 2.4mR class, leaving him 12th overall, while in the Sonar fleet Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin are in sixth position.
In the highly competitive Finn class Oliver Tweddell is 25th, ahead of Rob McMillan in 34th, Tim Castles in 41st and Shaun Wells in 56th. Tim Gourlay is the best placed Australian in the RS:X men’s Silver fleet, ending the day in ninth, while Jimmy Levy is 17th, Luke Baillie 22nd and Patrick Vos is 35th.
Australian Sailing Team website