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Olympic Classes return to the track at Sail Melbourne

by John Curnow on 5 Dec 2012
James Turner & Carl Evans (NZ) 470 class Oceania Leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup 2012 Sandringham Yacht Club, Victoria Jeff Crow/ Sport the Library © http://www.sportlibrary.com.au

From the outset, ISAF Sailing World Cup and Sail Melbourne IRO, Ross Wilson was clear about his intention to get the Olympic classes sailing again today. He said, 'The Kiteboarding will get away at noon, as is already scheduled. We're keen to see the remainder of the classes sail today, possibly from 1400hrs on and definitely try to get three races in for them.'

At around 1300hrs, the Finns, Lasers and Laser Radials took to the water and then the men’s and women’s 470s joined them. Wilson said, 'The RSX (windsurfer), 49er and FX (skiffs) are staying ashore, whilst we assess the sea state.'

Invited classes like the 420s, Men’s Laser Radial and Vipers did go out with the RSX also joining, but all other Olympic and invited classes were either earlier abandoned for the day or, as is in the case of the skiffs, they waited until the absolute last moment before the decision was made. With very cold conditions and solid 20knot winds from the Southerly quadrant blowing in across the top of the 2m waves, this was a very prudent choice. The skiffs are a high speed style of craft and with the strong winds and occasional 2.5m wave, the safety of the crews becomes paramount.

After five races in the Men’s Laser, Australians hold the top three places. Matthew Wearn leads on six points, having had three wins today. Tom Burton is three points behind and Ashley Brunning a further five points to be in third place. The highest placed International is Finland’s Frederik Westman in seventh and then Belgium’s Wannes Van Laer in ninth.

Westman said after racing today, 'It’s really windy and choppy, but it’s fun', he said smiling. 'I haven’t been sailing a lot, as it is Winter at home. This is a good regatta and I am tired after three races today.'

Australia’s Krystal Weir leads the Women’s Laser Radial by three points after five races, also having had three wins on the day. Ashley Stoddart is in second place and then Singapore’s Elizabeth Yin is third, a further six points behind. The next International is Switzerland’s Manon Luther in fifth place.

In the Finn, Brendan Casey has five wins from five races to be in a commanding spot at the top. Oliver Tweddell has nine points in second, with Jake Lilley on ten points for third place. Brendan had a great day and finished that first race up amongst the 470s who were also on the same Course (A).

Also commanding attention are 470 sailors, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, who despite not rounding in first place after the first lap of Race One today, did go on to win and have three wins from three starts, as well. They are eight points clear of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson of RSA and Vladimir Chaus and Denis Gribanov, who are equal second on 12 points. Alexander and Patrick Conway are in third with 16 points.

In the high seas today, the crews not only worked hard, but were also exceptionally wet, which is saying something when you’re talking about dinghies. James Turner and Carl Evans from New Zealand commented, 'Big waves out there. We did not sail that well, as we wrapped the kite in the last, which is not ideal. Still, it is our first regatta and we are learning heaps.'

Also commenting on the waves, was South Africa’s Roger Hudson, 'You were coming along downwind and then pop up over the top of a wave to see one of the 420 crews upside down. It certainly kept us focused.'

Will Ryan’s sisters, Sasha and Jaime had a pair of wins today and a second in the women’s 470 to lead by four points from Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson. The next three crews are tied on points, but did not race today, so are now 12 points astern of Lucy and Aurora.

Sasha and Jaime were all smiles coming off the water, commenting, 'We were a bit unsure as to whether we should go out or not, but so glad we did in the end! Typical Melbourne weather and you see the waves breaking, but you can’t go anywhere.' When asked what their secret weapon is, they chimed in unison, 'It’s because we’re sisters.'

The Men’s Windsurfer (RSX) is a three-way tie after three races, with Patrick Vos, Luke Baillie and Sam Treharne all on six points. Sam is one of Hugh’s son. Hugh was the Tactician aboard Australia II in 1983 and his other son, Robbie, also sails the RSX.

Racing continues tomorrow. Ross Wilson was pretty pleased with the days work, commenting, 'The Race management team has done so well. They are great. We’ll have normal start times tomorrow for the fleets on Courses A, C and D. However, the 49ers, FX, Vipers and 29ers will get away on Course B at 1000hrs and then they’ll be followed by RSX, Skud 18 and Access Liberty at 1400hrs.'

The ISAF World Cup, which is part of Sail Melbourne from December 2 to 8, 2012, can be found at http://sailmelbourne.com.au/website/home.html

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