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Buddy Melges Challenge - Australian women win

by Craig Heydon on 13 Sep 2010
Souter and crew after winning the 2010 Buddy Melges Challenge Dayne Sharp
Buddy Melges Challenge - The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price has won the 2010 Buddy Melges Challenge in Wisconsin, USA, their final event before the 2010 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship begins in Newport, Rhode Island, next week.

The win for Souter, Curtis and Price makes it back to back ISAF Grade 1 event victories for the crew following their Gold medal at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth last month.

Fellow Australians Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Angela Farrell finished the regatta in sixth position after topping their group early in the regatta with the crew gaining more valuable time in the Elliott 6 metre boat that will be used at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

'As a team we’re really happy with how we’re progressing,' said skipper Souter. 'To win consecutive Grade 1 regattas is a good lead up to our World Championship.'

'The competition here in Wisconsin was really tough, there were a lot of good teams competing including all the crews that took part in the ISAF Sailing World Cup,' she said. 'We had a mixed start to the week and just scraped into the quarter finals in eighth position, then did the same to head into the semi finals in fourth so we had our backs to the wall a lot of the time.'

Souter and crew took on American sailor Sally Barkow in the semi final with the Australians coming out on top three wins to nil to book a place in the final.

The final was a trans-Tasman battle with Souter, Curtis and Price taking on the New Zealand crew of Samantha Osborne, Raynor Smeal and Susannah Pyatt with the Australians taking the regatta victory with a three to one win.

The conditions on Lake Michigan tested the crews throughout the week explains Olivia Price.

'It was a real light wind regatta but with incredibly choppy seas,' said Price. 'At times it was worse than the chop we sail in off the Sydney heads and tested everybody’s skills, it was like sailing in a washing machine.'

'On one day a fog set in and it was surreal to be racing with fog lights to show where the course was,' she said. 'At one stage we headed around the top mark and pointed the boat in the direction we thought was right and hoped for the best.'

'Luckily for the last day it was a complete reversal and we got the finals raced in 10 knots of wind and flat water which made for some great racing,' said Price.

The two Australian crews will now remain in Wisconsin for a week of training aboard the Sonar boat which will be used for the upcoming World Championship before heading to Rhode Island next weekend.

'We’re looking forward to spending some time aboard the Sonar in the coming days as most of us have never sailed one before,' said Souter. 'I saw one for the first time recently in Weymouth which the Australian Sailing Team’s Paralympic crew was competing in and we’re all keen to get out on the water and sail them.'

www.australiansailingteam.com.au
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