The last four medal races at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships were conducted on the Bathers Beach course, in Fremantle Harbour, Western Australia.
With bright blue sky and 16-20 knots of breeze, it was standing room only in the Grandstand, and the crowd was right amongst the action.
Sunday afternoon in Freo’ was world championship racing – the 470 Women’s, 49ers, RS:X Men’s and Laser Standard Medal medal races- the courses were uncompromised and it was racing of the highest quality.
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The only difference was that the crowd was very close to the action. As the races reeled off the crowd became more and more involved. With winners sailing over the crowd in joyful celebrations.
Then when Tom Slingsby sailed away from the Laser fleet, on his way to winning his fourth Laser World Championship , he had time to wave to the crowd, even signalling for them to cheer louder, as happens in to other stadium sports and the crowd went wild.
The crowd interaction surprised everyone including the event organisers.
Some comments from Bathers Beach. John Longley, Perth 2011 Event Director.
‘The grandstand was just what we dreamed about. It really was.
‘In the final race, three times Tom Slingsby ran past us show boating, but why not.
‘He was so far out in front, particularly after the second run, and he was just feeding off the crowd.
‘The thing that is so extraordinary is, if you are out there in a boat watching a race you can never really get close enough or high enough to look down and see the sailor’s technique.
‘I am an old Laser sailor from years and years back. What they do in Lasers, I never even knew you could do; the way they run them deep, the body motion, the waves all over the hull, you can actually start to see that action from a height. You can see the waves developing and say ‘I know what he is going to do’ and it is just so much fun to watch. I am amazed by the athleticism and skill.
‘I was just listening to Tom’s interview after winning a few minutes ago and he said one thing, which I thought was extraordinary. He said ‘I came off the line and I had some guy below me going high and someone above me going low, so I was squeezed. As soon as I got clear, I felt the shift pattern and I was fine.’
‘I have never felt a shift pattern in my life and I have tried to figure one out. I have tried to write numbers down on a thing and see what is happening. You suddenly get an insight into his mind.
‘Honestly, we always talked about that and how we were going to deliver 'grandstand sailing'.
‘I knew it was going to be hard but we have actually delivered in spades and I think we’ve actually changed sailing. Now people are going to say ‘Perth 2011 is the benchmark and let’s trying aiming to get there again’. Phil Jones CEO Yachting Australia.
‘As John says, it is what we need sailing to be and it’s a venue that delivers well. I gather the television has been sensational.
‘People who have never seen sailing before are watching this and thinking ‘wow, we didn’t know it was like that’. I think we are on the verge of something really big and that is a credit to the Perth 2011organisers.
‘We have been fairly brave in bringing the course in and doing all those sorts of things and not everybody necessarily likes that, but we have to make changes.
‘What we saw today was racing completely unaffected by being close to the shore and the athletes loved it. You could see they were loving it - it was fantastic.’ Peter Gilmour, Perth 2011 Board Member.
‘Fantastic, that last race. I mean wow, what a way to finish off this Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships. It’s really remarkable, a wonderful climax.
'I think there will be an impact for Australian sailing at every level and this is going to have an enormous knock on effect.’ John Longley.
‘After being in the Grandstand earlier in the regatta, yesterday I went out in my own boat, the director’s boat, and I was just so sad. I wanted to be back in the grandstand where I could just see the higher water view.
‘On the water I had to keep a long way back so I did not impact any competitors and I thought what a waste. I just need to be in that grandstand.’
Over the next few days Sail-World.com will bring interviews and images from one of the finest days in world sailing.
Perth 2011 website
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