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Sail Melbourne Day 1 - 400 sailors from 27 countries set to compete

by John Curnow / Sail Melbourne Media on 2 Dec 2012
2012 Sail Melbourne - SYC pond John Curnow ©
The world’s best sailors have already arrived in Melbourne for the first leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. Roughly 400 sailors from 27 nations are set to compete in a number of categories, including 12 invited classes for Paralympic vessels. Sail Melbourne will also feature the return of windsurfing while the Vipers will be the only catamarans to be sailed in the weeklong event, Dec. 3-8, at Port Philip.

Nearly 400 competitors from 27 countries have descended upon the world-class facilities at the Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) in Melbourne. They’re here for the first round of the ISAF World Cup in sailing, which is for the Olympic classes that now includes things like the first time women are going to be sailing the fast and exciting skiffs and also the return of windsurfing to the official programme.

The overarching regatta, Sail Melbourne, also includes 12 invited classes encompassing Paralympic vessels and also the only catamarans, Vipers, to be sailing at the event, whilst the new Nacra 17s for mixed crew use at Rio 2016 get delivered to their eager sailors.

The State Government of Victoria has assisted in securing the World Cup for Melbourne for the next four years, but there is one thing no soul could ever tie down, and that is the weather. Port Phillip has hosted many a World Championship in recent times and also had the 1956 Olympics, but her fair winds and consistent seaway can get quite serious when Hughie, the God of Wind, decides to get busy.

Indeed, there is a good, solid 15 knots gusting to over 20 knots blowing from the Sou’west currently and the forecast is for some hefty winds to stay around for the early part of the week. As the regatta is for small vessels, should the winds not exceed the allowed maximums, the sailors will have more than their work cut out for them and they will be surely tested on their way to the medal races on Saturday, December 8, 2012.

Race Management will also be very busy, as there are four courses to look after. Certain classes of vessel race in the morning, then it all changes for another complete set to get some water time in the afternoon, traditionally a time when Port Phillip gets the chance to really let the wind blow.

The ISAF International Race Officer, Athanasios ‘Sulis’ Papantoniou is also employed by SYC as their Boating Manager. Normally he’s busy with the club’s racing programme for One Design, Off The Beach and keelboat classes. This variation and multiple class operation is a good reminder of the many activities he’ll be overseeing during the course of this week for the ISAF Sailing World Cup. 'Yes. We’re excited about this ongoing commitment to the ISAF World Cup and personally, I’m glad I have been involved with ISAF and these sorts of events before, as there really is a lot of activity to administer the 291 boats and all the competitors, as well as their families and friends.'

'From a spectator aspect, there is a lot to see from the beach here at Sandringham as the competitors prepare and then depart. All of the racing action can also be seen from the breakwater, which is at the end of Jetty Road. If you are nearby, you may want to see what it is all about', said Sulis.

Now talking of knowing thing or two about the Sailing World Cup, Olympic Gold Medallist, Mat Belcher said, 'It’s exciting to be a Sail Melbourne Ambassador and also racing this week, beginning the new campaign with Will (Ryan). We’ve sailed a bit a past as an unofficial crew, so now it’s all confirmed and we’re really keen to do all the right preparations in readiness for Rio 2016. To be able to campaign again with Victor Kovalenko as coach is a real privilege and I am eager to see what we can achieve in the time.'

'Studying full time with exams the week after Sail Melbourne certainly makes it tough, but to be back on the water with a clear goal, seems to make it worthwhile', said Mat.

Germany’s Markus Schwendtner is the Secretary of the International Kiteboarding Association and he is here for Sail Melbourne to ensure that kiteboarding not only continues to expand in popularity, but also to transfer knowledge to ISAF on Kiteboard race management. 'Looks like we’ll certainly be suited to the forecast conditions and the location means the public will really be able to see us go about our exciting business. We’re really delighted to be here for Sail Melbourne and thank them very much for their gracious invitation. As we have the most foreign competitors in our class, as I know they’d love to see the locals come out and support them.'

'You know, we’d love it if other World Cups would follow Sail Melbourne’s example and as you can see by the strong Kiteboarding contingent that have flown in for this event, there will be strong competitor support. We are certainly excited about our future.'

Sail Melbourne website

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