Sunshine and fresh breezes made for an exciting practice day for the 460 boats and 581 competitors, sailing in the Olympic and Invited classes at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne, ahead of the official launch at Sandringham Yacht Club this afternoon.
This after ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne Event Chairman Bruce Griffiths welcomed sailors from 24 countries to the second event in the 2013-2014 World cup series, which will be sailed on Port Phillip from December 2nd to 8th 2013.
The full suite of Olympic classes will be sailed in Melbourne, an attraction for aspiring Rio 2016 competitors. The fact that the biggest squad after Australia is a strong Chinese team, providing a signal strong support can be expected for Melbourne in the years ahead from Asia as they build towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
It’s a quality fleet. 2013 World Sailor of the Year Mat Belcher, London 470 Gold Medallist with his crew Will Ryan are seeking their 18th regatta win in a row, while London 49er Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, more recently America's Cup Artemis campaigners, are proving already they will be back on the pace after taking fifth place at the recent World Championships.
Outteridge comments, 'A successful Olympic campaign requires you to take every opportunity to race hard. Leading up to the London Olympics we were doing 300 days a year. Not just on a 49er, but on lots of boats, that’s what makes us good sailors. We are pleased we have a strong fleet racing here in Melbourne. This is a good start to the season. '
Part of that 49er fleet is a new pairing is Briton Stevie Morrison the 2007 World Champion is embarking on his third Olympic campaign, after finishing fifth in London. His new crew is former 470 campaigner Chris 'Twiggy' Grube
Morrison commented today, ‘for us to succeed we have to sail against the best. Obviously the Australian Nathan and Goobs are the benchmark in 49er sailing at the moment really. Some might think it’s a little bit unfair on the Kiwi’s to say that, but the Australians have had a year off doing America’s Cup and they are still very competitive so yes.
'So the ISAF World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for us to come and race some great guys and some of the young Aussie guys are really, really fast. It is just a case of good competition at the moment and obviously at this time of the year Australia offers a bloody good job of that basically. Bit warmer than the northern hemisphere and a lot more sunshine.
Another promising new pairings; Australian double silver medallist Darren Bundock has teamed up with London Silver medallist Nina Curtis to race the Nacra 17. Today was just their ninth in the new boat and they are showing promise. They are already matching the upwind speed of Australian Nacra 17 from sailors Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, who were sixth at the recent World championships, with New Zealand's Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders. But downwind the debut duo have more work to do.
As Bundock explains ‘We are 12 months behind everyone, this is our first regatta if its soft we will be in there with a shot, if it blows then their boat handing experience will shine through. For instance today in 20 knots plus we hit a gust, reared up on the foils and I went water-skiing out the back. '
Racing in the Men's and Women's 470, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial and Paralympic events commences on Monday 2 December through to Saturday 7 December.
The 49er, 49erFX, Men's and Women's RS:X and Nacra 17 fleets start racing on Tuesday 3 December through to their Medal Races on Sunday 8 December.
The Invited Classes are Laser Radial Men, Laser 4.7, Men and Women’s Kiteboard, Viper, 420, 29er, Optimist, OK dinghy, 2.4R, SKUB18, Liberty Access and Cadet Dinghy.
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5:40 AM Sun 1 Dec 2013GMT
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2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne
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