Gold & Silver day for Brits at SIRS
by Di Pearson / G New on 19 Dec 2007
The small British group of sailors taking part in the Sydney International Regatta made up for lack of numbers with some great perfomances. Ben Ainslie sweept back into the Finn class to take Gold, while Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith won Silver in the 49er as did Leigh McMillan and Will Howden in the Tornado.
49er - Sydney International Regatta Jack Atley© http://www.jackatley.com
Ainslie sweep of the Finn event put the challenge from Ed Wright for the 2008 Olympic berth on hold, Wright started the regatta with two poor races, and despite recovering to win a race was unable to get back into contention, he finished fifth overall.
'It’s always a lot harder than the results might suggest, as we had some pretty windy conditions at times,' Ainslie commented. 'It was great to be back in Sydney, obviously in a different boat and a different fleet than in 2000, but I pulled off a few of the old tricks I’ve learned from racing here before – it really is a great place to sail.'
'I’d hope that with this win and with the results from China this year and last year that it’ll make things quite clear, but that’s really up to the selectors now so I’ll just have to wait and see!'
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park was out in Sydney for the regatta: 'It’s been a fantastic sailing week, and all the British sailors did very well but at this regatta there’s no doubt that Ben Ainslie has been the class act.'
The RYA’s Olympic Selection Committee will continue their discussions over the Christmas period, with a decision as to whether to select, or to continue the trials in the Finn class, expected to be made early in the new year.
Leigh McMillan and Will Howden took the silver medal in the Tornado behind the in-form Aussie pair, Darren Bundockand Glenn Ashby, who were flying. Will Howden described his and McMillan’s final day. 'We did not do very well at all in the first race. We started well, but got caught on the wrong side of a shift. In the second race we lead around the top mark and finished second. That was a lot better,' he said.
It was also silver for Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith in the 49er. An event long battle with the Australian pair, Nathan Outteridge and Ben Austin, went to the Aussies on the final day. Asquith, silver medallist crew, commented: 'it was so shifty and gusty, very hard to read. Second is not first, but it's better than third, I guess. It has definitely paid us to come to SIRs and to the Australian 49er Nationals at Woollahra, they have been very professionally run and both will be of big benefit to me and Paul at the World's. We've both really enjoyed the hospitality of Woollahra Sailing Club,' he said.
In the hot Laser Radial event, with an Olympic place at stake, Penny Clark was the best placed of the British girls, finishing out of the medals in fourth. Clark overcoming rival Laura Baldwin, who looked good until the final day.
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Australian entries won four gold medals, two silver and a bronze on their home waters as the remaining classes completed racing at the Sydney International Regatta.
One of the early gold medals went to Michael Leigh (CAN) in the Laser class after sailing consistently throughout the series, his worst results a sixth and an 11th, which he used as race drops. Making a come back as big as big as Lazarus, world champion Tom Slingsby, surged to a win in the final Race 9 to take silver, pipping a second Canadian, Bernard Luttmar, on countback.
Although pleased with his result, Leigh says he is now looking to the World's in February at Terrigal. 'I have to face-off against nine other Canadian's for the Olympic place at the World's. Anyone could have won SIRs - it always come down to the final two races. Tom Slingsby and Andrew Murdoch sometimes get away from everyone else, but mostly there are so many good sailors, it comes down to who has that little bit extra,' Leigh, said this afternoon.
Third, second and a win in the final three 49er races ensured gold for Nathan Outteridge/Ben Austin (AUS). The pair was ecstatic with their series win. Early series leaders Paul Campbell-James/Mark Asquith (GBR) took silver and the Portuguese pair of Jorge Lima Francisco Andrade took bronze, their seventh place in Race 11 killing any chance of hanging onto silver.
'We like it gusty and shifty,' said winning crew Austin on coming ashore, 'it gives us a chance to work our way back into the fleet when we need to. We got really bad starts in the first two races, so it did work to our advantage. We pretty much led the last race all the way to win it,' he said.
Skipper Outteridge said: 'It feels good to win here. The field is a strong one - the Europeans here are top standard, so we got a good workout. We'll take a few days off now then focus on the World's at Sail Melbourne in January.'
In the small fleet RS:X sailboards, Jannicke Stalstrom (NOR) stormed home to take the Women's gold medal, while Australia's Jessica Crisp has finished with the silver and another Australian and future Olympic prospect, Alisha Kawalla has won bronze.
Patrik Pollak (SVK) took gold in the Men's RS:X, Karel Lavicky (CZE) won silver and Jonathan Bonnitcha (AUS) won bronze.
Laser Radial Women's
Sarah Blanck (AUS) had it all her own way in the Laser Radial Women's event this year. Now being coached by Olympic bronze medallist Michael Blackburn, Blanck seems much more at ease with the boat and herself. Her winning margin to second placed Tania Elias Calles (MEX), who won the final race, was 19 points, with Jo Aleh (NZL) third placed, a further two points behind.
Australia took gold in the 470 Men's, but it was not a simple job for the world champions Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page, the result only being decided on the race course this afternoon and in the final of the three races, even though they won the opening race of the day.
Eventually, the pair defeated two sets of brothers who had been biting at the Aussie's heels all week. Ben and Romain Bonnaud (FRA), who at one stage led the series, finished second overall just one point behind the Aussies. Sven and Kalle Coster (NED) were third, a further four points behind. The brothers were up there all week and did not go away.
Veteran campaigners Ingrid Petitjean/Nadage Douroux (FRA) worked their way to the top of the scoreboard and made their final move in today's races, winning the opening race and doing enough to jump from yesterday's second place and into the gold medal position this afternoon late - but they did it by the seat of their pants, finishing on equal points with yesterday's leaders.
Nike Kornecki/Vered Bouskila (ISR) would have been disappointed to slip to silver, especially on countback, but at least they remained on the podium. The Swiss pair of Emmanuelle Rol/Anne-Sophie Thilo held their game together to claim the bronze medal, just four points behind.
The three-crew Olympic keelboat only undertook two day's of racing and Krystal Weir, steering in the absence of Nicky Bethwaite, took Karyn Gojnich and Angela Farrell to a win against to match racing stars, Katie Spithill and crew and Nicky Souter and crew. All three entries are from NSW. On finishing those commitments, Weir slipped back into her natural habitat of the Laser Radial Women's class and was happy with her results there too.
Kivell is another name we're used to seeing on trophies, and it was no different at SIRs today when Amy Kivell/Kate Aulich (Vic) overcame 16 other female and male crews to grab silver in the 420 double-handed class. Brothers Matthew and Benjamin Taylor
It was an all NSW show in the 29er skiff class as Andrew and William Chapman took out the 29er skiff class. From a strong sailing background (their father a former skiff sailor of note), the boys overcame a challenge from and finished nine po
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