by Craig Heydon
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011 is the sailing test event for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Tom Slingsby from Australia leading the fleet in the Laser class on the medal day of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2011
Yachting Australia has announced the Australian sailors who will contest the regatta.
The regatta takes place between 31 July and 13 August and is a key event in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic Games as it will provide sailors with the opportunity to compete in conditions that will be similar to those they will face during the Games.
Included in the Australian team for the event is three-time Laser World Champion and current ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.
Slingsby has been a man on a mission in Weymouth, winning the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold Regattas at the Olympic Sailing venue, the most recent earlier this month.
Nathan Otteridge and Iain Jensen from Australia racing in the 49er class on day 5 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta 2011
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen will represent Australia in the 49er class at the event and are another crew who has been untouchable to date at the 2012 London Olympic Games venue.
The Lake Macquarie pair has also had a hat-trick of wins in Weymouth and are looking forward to the challenge of competing against the world’s best in the condensed 25 boat fleet this August.
2010 470 World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page will compete in the 470 men’s fleet at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011, fresh off the back of winning their second straight ISAF Sailing World Cup title.
Belcher and Page brought home the Silver medal in Weymouth earlier this month following a close battle with the eventual winners from France.
The Australian entry in the 470 women’s class will feature two Olympic Gold medalists, with 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Gold medalist Tessa Parkinson and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Gold medalist Belinda Stowell to sail together.
Parkinson and Stowell only teamed up 2 months ago and are continuing to develop as a team as they work towards the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Queensland sailor Brendan Casey will contest the Finn class, Casey recently had success at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Holland where he brought home the Bronze medal.
Jessica Crisp is Australia’s RS:X women’s competitor in the event as she continues her campaign towards a fourth straight Olympic Games appearance.
RS X W Jesscia Crisp on her way to gold at Kieler Woche 2011
Crisp won Gold this week in Kiel, Germany, an important victory for her in terms of achieving a benchmark performance for the Australian team for next year’s Olympic Games.
Krystal Weir will compete in the Laser Radial class and heads into the event in good form having finished second at the final round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Germany.
In the Women’s Match Racing, Olivia Price, who has developed remarkably quickly as skipper, will team with Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty.
Olivia and Nina as a combination have shown and are showing rapid improvement well beyond what would normally be expected in their first month of international competition, culminating in the Bronze medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Kiel. 12 months out from the Olympic Games, there is a long way to go so the decision was made to give Olivia’s crew this opportunity to combine with Lucinda and to take their expertise to a higher level.
West Australian Tim Gourlay will compete in the RS:X men’s class, a class which Australia did not have a competitor in at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, while Paul McKenzie and Phillip Toth will race in the Star class.
'Australian sailors have achieved great results at the 2012 London Olympic Games venue to date and the whole team is looking forward to returning for the upcoming test event,' said Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director Peter Conde.
'Members of the team have spent time training and competing at the venue over the past three years and all feel very comfortable there just over a year out from the Games,' he said. 'The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011 is an important milestone on the road to London 2012 as it will give our sailors another opportunity to experience conditions, both on and off the water, that will most closely represent those they will face next year.'
Australian Sailing Team website