by Craig Heydon
Skandia Sail for Gold 2011 has seen Australian sailors push their way up the leader board on day two with Laser sailor Tom Slingsby and the Women’s Match Racing crew skippered by Nicky Souter serving as standout performers.
Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Witty from Australia racing in the Womens Match Racing class on day 1 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth and Portland, the 2012 Olympic venue.
Slingsby, the three-time World Champion, had a strong day in the Laser fleet with a third, seventh and a race win leaving him in a three-way tie for the overall lead.
The reigning ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year excelled in the strong winds in Weymouth, but the conditions tested even one of the world’s best big breeze sailors.
'At the end of race three today the legs had completely given up, it was really tough out on the water and you saw who the fitter guys were come the end of the day,' said Slingsby.
Slingsby is enjoying the opportunity to get a good look at the venue that will host the sailing competition at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
'We’re still getting conditions we’ve never seen here before, just a year out from the Games,' he said. 'Generally we’re getting a lot of wind, but I know we can also get a lot of light stuff, so as we head towards the Games the more varied conditions that we get to race in the better.'
In the Women’s Match Racing competition Australians Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty continued their solid start to the regatta with three wins and a loss on day two qualifying them for the Gold fleet stage.
The trio’s performance is all the more impressive considering they only started sailing together the day before the regatta started.
'To come out of four races against the four top ranked crews in our group with three wins and a loss is a really positive day,' said Souter. 'We had some really close racing, there were penalties going off in pretty much every race and the majority of the time they worked in our favour which was good.
'The three of us are looking forward to racing against the top crews in the world in the Gold fleet from tomorrow as it’s been almost six months since we were last up there, the racing’s going to be tight,' she said.
Australia’s Skud 18 Paralympic sailors continued their great start to the regatta with Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch holding onto their day one lead following a second in the only race of the day.
The pair has a two point lead of the reigning World Champions from Great Britain with fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox two points further back in third.
Dunross and Cox continued their great start to their first ever international regatta together with a third placed finish on Weymouth harbour.
Australia’s third placed Skud 18 crew, Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason, ended the day ninth.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page had a solid day in the 470 fleet, working their way up to sixth overall after the first four races to be just 10 points off the lead with plenty of racing left in the regatta.
'Today was certainly better than day one and we came away with a seventh and a second in conditions that were much windier, we weren’t the top boat today but it was an ok day out there,' said Belcher. 'We always thought that this was going to be one of the toughest World Cup rounds as it’s an Olympic qualifier for a number of teams, it’s living up to that so far as we’ve had some fantastic races, we’re loving being out there and loving the conditions.'
In the 49er fleet Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are ninth but have a race in hand over a number of those ahead of them after their fleet was only able to complete two races as the heavy breeze and big seas combined to make it too difficult for the 49ers to race.
Outteridge and Jensen finished with a sixth and a second and have a busy Wednesday ahead of them with four races planned to put them back onto schedule.
'It was pretty fresh, somewhere between 18 and 22 knots for most part of the day with a mean chop making it almost impossible to go downwind at some points,' said Outteridge. 'We managed to avoid most of the waves and only had one bad capsized but recovered to fifth, a fifth and a second is a pretty good result from a day like today.'
New Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton is 10th in the Laser fleet following a 13th and two sixths while Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Rayshele Martin bounced back from a tough opening day in the Women’s Match Racing competition to win all three races on Tuesday and only narrowly miss out on a position in the repechage round robin.
In the Finn class Brendan Casey is 32nd while Tessa Parkinson and Belinda Stowell are 40th in their first 470 regatta together.
Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin are the best placed Australian Sailing Squad crew, ending the day sixth in the Sonar fleet.
Matt Bugg is currently 11th in the 2.4mR class, finishing 12th and 13th in the day’s two races, fighting back well in the opening race after having to re-start as he crossed the line too early.
In the 49er fleet Will and Sam Phillips are 20th, ahead of Tom Johnson and Rhys Mara in 30th and Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie just one place further behind.
Jessica Crisp is currently 23rd in the RS:X women’s class, with Allison Shreeve 33rd and Joanna Sterling 53rd.
In the Laser Radial class Krystal Weir is currently 21st with Gabrielle King 33rd, Ashley Stoddart 38th and young West Australian sailor Caitlin Elks 76th.
James Burman and Ryan Palk are the top two Squad members in the Laser fleet, sitting in 30th and 31st respectively, with Ki-Raphael Sulkowski 56th, Jared West 62nd and Mark Whittington 118th.
Finn sailor Oliver Tweddell ended day two 27th, ahead of Rob McMillan in 39th, Tim Castles in 41st and Shaun Wells in 57th.
In the RS:X men’s class Tim Gourlay is 47th, Jimmy Levy 58th, Luke Baillie 69th and Patrick Vos 73rd.