by Craig Heydon
At the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic Test event, Australian windsurfer Jessica Crisp has secured herself a position in the RS:X women’s medal race following a strong final two fleet races.
Jessica Crisp racing on the Olympic course in Weymouth - Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011
Crisp started the day 12th, needing two good races to get herself into the final ten boat medal race and the three time Olympian excelled, finishing fourth and fifth to leapfrog her closest opponents and move up to eighth overall.
'Today panned out pretty well and I had my best day of the regatta so far,' said Crisp. 'Anything could have happened today as there were a lot of people vying for those final spots in the medal race, I can’t believe that I jumped up four positions in a day. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the medal race, the top three are pretty secure and they’ve been on fire here so I’ve got a lot of work to do and a year to do it.
'The wind was lighter than expected and we were racing on the Nothe course which is shifty like Sydney harbour, so you can see what’s happening and I enjoyed that,' she said. 'We had a long day out there and ended up moving back into the harbour for our second race with the sun setting directly down on the water and I managed to pick it right and did well.'
The RS:X fleet now has a lay day on Thursday before the final double-points medal race on Friday.
Australia’s 470 men’s crew of Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have had another solid day’s racing in Weymouth, ending the day second overall, behind the leading French crew of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos.
Belcher and Page had an eighth and a third on Tuesday, though the French had a better day with a fifth and a win to extend their lead to seventeen points with two fleet races and the final medal race remaining.
'We were back outside again but this time on a course we hadn’t raced on before this week,' said Belcher. 'The breeze was sort of coming off the cliffs and it was similar to sailing in Sydney in a westerly, very shifty, very sporadic and you just had to keep your head out of the boat.'
Page said that the French pair had showed the way all week but they would continue to chase them hard until the final race.
'The French haven’t had a bad race yet and with only two more fleet races remaining they only need one more good race and the way they’re sailing at the moment they look like doing it,' said Page. 'I’m sure with us second they’ll put a bit of attention on us in one of the races tomorrow.
'They sail very well here and have done it again this week, they’re showing the fleet the level they need to get to,' he said. 'Every day and every minute that we spend here is helpful for next year, you’ve got to make it natural in the environment and instinctive when sailing. We’ve just got to keep working on ourselves over the next year, we can be as good as anybody and I like to think that they’ll be chasing us in a year’s time.'
Tom Slingsby had a tough day by his high standards in the Laser class and is currently second overall behind New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch.
The three-time World Champion had a seventeen and a nineteen to end the day just three points behind Murdoch with another two fleet races and the ten boat medal race left to contest.
Slingsby will also have to keep an eye over his shoulder with the third placed Cypriot sailor just one point behind him, with the fourth and fifth placed Dutch and British crews a further four points behind.
In the Laser Radial class Krystal Weir crossed the line tenth in race one and 32nd in race two to be fourth overall, just one point behind the third placed American sailor.
Tessa Parkinson and Belinda Stowell are 24th in the 470 women’s class after crossing the line early in race one and then finishing 23rd in race two.
West Australian RS:X men’s competitor Tim Gourlay finished his regatta 26th, after a 22nd and a 25th in races nine and ten.
The majority of the fleets are in action on Wednesday with the 49er, Finn and Star classes back on the water following their lay day. They will be joined on the water by the 470 men and women, Women’s Match Racing, Laser and Laser Radial sailors.
Australian Sailing Team website
Weymouth and Portland International Regatta website