The successful hosting of the Sail Melbourne 2012, Australia’s premier sailing event, officially kick-started a long and grueling journey towards the 2016 Rio Olympics. The first leg of ISAF Sailing World Cup drew more than 400 sailors from 27 countries as they engaged in a weeklong battle for a spot on the podium from December 2 to 8 at Sandringham Yacht Club.
More than 400 sailors and Olympic athletes from across 27 nations took to the waters along Melbourne’s Port Phillip this month for the first leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, Sail Melbourne from December 2 – 8 at Sandringham Yacht Club, kicking off their 2016 Olympic campaigns for Rio de Janeiro.
The 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup features four regattas globally. Teams will now head overseas to compete in Miami, USA and Palma, Spain; finishing in Hyeres, France.
Bruce Griffiths, Chairman of Sail Melbourne said, 'Sail Melbourne had a special golden focus this year and our Australian Olympians successfully showcased why they are the world’s sailing best, winning gold in seven out of eight Olympic Classes.
'I’d like to thank everyone involved in this world class event, including the Victorian Government, staff, volunteers and partners, as well as all the supporters and spectators who came down to Sandringham during the week to enjoy the Sail Melbourne Cup Carnival and watch the sailing action.'
Olympic gold medallist Mathew Belcher and new crewmate Will Ryan dominated the 470 Men’s class, winning every race throughout the week then taking out the medal race to make it 10 out of 10 wins. Sail Melbourne is also Mat’s ninth straight regatta win, including an Olympic Games, five World Cup events and two World Championships.
Australia’s new golden team were followed on the podium by South African crew Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson, with Australian team Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah in third place.
Two-time Olympic sailor Krystal Weir finished off a perfect regatta winning the medal race and the gold in the Laser Radial, the same class she raced in the Olympics. Manon Luther from Switzerland came in second while Singapore’s Elizabeth Yin won the bronze.
Australian Laser sailor Tom Burton went into the medal race with an 18 point lead and besides finishing fourth on the day, won the class overall, with fellow countrymen Matthew Wearn and Ryan Palk taking the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Further gold medals for Australia included Olympic sailor Brendan Casey in the Finn class ahead of Oliver Tweddell and Jake Lilley, Sasha and Jamie Ryan, sisters of 470 sailor Will, in the Women’s 470 and Steven Thomas and Rhys Mara in the 49er class.
New Zealand’s Alex Maloney and Molly Meech won the new 49er FX class, while Olympic match racing silver medallist Olivia Price and crewmate James Sly came in at third but were unable to qualify for the medal race due to entering with a mixed gender team.
Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Malcolm Page, London gold medallist Iain Jensen and silver medallists Lucinda Whitty and Nina Curtis also attended Sail Melbourne as ambassadors, supporting their fellow team members in the regatta.
Sail Melbourne’s Invited Class Program returned to the bay this year, providing an opportunity for young sailors to compete in a world class event alongside their Olympic sailing heroes. The inclusion of Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding also saw more than 50 competitors from around the world lining up to compete for gold.
From a grassroots perspective, Sail Melbourne’s Golden Moments Program, including an Olympic Roadshow and Optimists and Cadets evening event saw our young aspiring athletes and local communities given the chance to rub shoulders with Olympic medallists.
Throughout the week, hundreds of schoolchildren participated in Yachting Victoria’s Discover Sailing program, run in conjunction with event partner Play it Safe by the Water to educate young people about sailing in a fun, safe environment. The final day of racing also saw local communities come together on Hampton Beach for the annual Family Day and enjoy a range of on and off water activities including wind surfing, stand up paddle, kayaking, face painting, kiteboarding demonstrations and of course, sailing.
As some of the world’s best Olympic athletes competed for gold, Australia’s premier lifestyle sailing event returned to Port Phillip Bay with the Sail Melbourne Cup Carnival, featuring live music, fashion, great food and family entertainment.
by Lauren Garnet
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1:25 AM Tue 18 Dec 2012GMT
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