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LandCorp Mirror Worlds 2011 count down

by Anthony Galante on 23 Dec 2010
Mirrors on Princess Royal Harbour - 2011 LandCorp Mirror Worlds Anthony Galante
The countdown has begun in earnest for the 14th LandCorp International Mirror Class World Championships to be hosted by the Princess Royal Sailing Club in Albany, Western Australia.

Albany is a regional center 400km from Perth and the site of Western Australia’s first European settlement. It has boasted many great sailors including three times Americas Cup sailor Jack Baxter.

A fleet of 66 boats from Ireland, Britain, the Philippines, South Africa and Australia will compete on the beautiful waters of Princess Royal Harbour.

Many of the top contenders will come from Ireland and Great Britain where the Mirror is used as part of the highly successful pathway program. The 2010 European Championships attracted 73 boats to Sligo in northwest Ireland. The regatta was won convincingly by Irishman Ross Kearney. The Pinnell and Bax sailmaker and 2005 World Champion won 6 of the 10 races. Kearney and crew Max Odell will be making the trip to Albany where they will come up against key British hopes Emma and Rachel Grayson and Ed Grayson and Matthew Foster.

The Championship is wide open, in the absence of defending World Champion, Andy Smith who has made the switch back to the Fireball Class where he has also won a World Championship.

The key British junior team is Matt and Ben Lulham-Robinson who have been training as part of the National Mirror Squad under head National Coach, Catherine Putt.

A strong South African contingent will be led by national champions Brennan and Michaela Robinson with brothers Ryan and Ricky close behind. Both Robinson teams have dominated the lengthy selection trials that have been conducted across South Africa.

The Australian fleet will have some strong contenders with the top challenger defending Australian Champions Jessica Atherton and Katherine Maher. Commonly known as 'The Girls', the Tasmanians won their title in the light winds of Noosa’s Lake Cootharrabara. They are seasoned sailors in the fresher breeze and will mount a strong challenge in Albany’s lively conditions.

Victorian Anita Scott-Murphy and son Ben, runners-up at the 2010 Nationals, will be looking to mount a strong campaign. Scott-Murphy, an outstanding junior in 420s, will enjoy the return to her native WA.

The east coast contingent will include three times World Fireball Champion John Dransfield and former Windsurfing Grand Prix and Tornado hot-shot and 2009 Australian Mirror Champion, Lachlan Gilbert.

The Western Australia fleet will be looking to make use of home waters with Liam Wilson and Jessica Stout the front runners with local Mirror legend, John Collova electing to stay in retirement as his helm Nick Davis elects to pursue for Sydney to Hobart ambitions.

The local fleet will be headed up by Club Commodore Paul Terry and Sara Batten, Paul Taylor with son Austin who came 14th at the previous World Championships in Pwllheli, Wales and veteran helm Henk Plug and Joshua Peetoom looking to make an impact.

There will be a strong junior contingent all graduates from the successful junior development squad with four boats Nathaniel and Ethan Brough, Kieran Murnane and Mani Guintoli, Sienna and Hugo Galante, Nick Westerberg and Lachlan Butler all teaming up. Rounding off the Albany competitors are Harry Suttcliffe-Woelders and Finn Edgar who will be crews for Irish and Perth based skippers.

The Mirror Class has produced many Olympic and World Champions in other classes, so it will be interesting to track this fleet to see who will come out as future Olympians joining the recent inductees to the Mirror Hall of Fame, Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson (470 Gold), Paul Goodison (GBR -Laser Gold) from the Beijing Olympics joining other class legends including Tom King (470 Sydney 2000) and Torvar Mirsky on fire on the World Match Racing Circuit and GBR’s dual Olympic Silver medalist Ian Walker of Green Dragon Volvo Ocean fame.

Taking on the Mirror Worlds has been a huge challenge for the PRSC but the Club, its members and supporters including the City of Albany, Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Western Australian Government through the Great Southern Development Commission and Department of Sport and Recreation have given the event strong support. Chamber CEO, Graham Harvey said, 'Albany is one of the most beautiful sailing venues in the world with a safe, protected harbor and excellent sailing breezes all year round; why wouldn’t we encourage sailors to come here and enjoy this great piece of water and everything that Albany has to offer visitors. Albany has enormous potential of becoming a world class sailing mecca once other classes get wind of what is on offer.'

Harvey said, 'From a Chamber point of view, sailing events like this attract significant numbers of people for two to three weeks and provide a major boost for local tourism which has suffered of late from the after effects of the GFC and many Australians choosing to holiday in Bali due to the strong Australian dollar rather than holiday at home. There is a natural fit between sailing and Albany’s extensive maritime history. Sailing is definitely a key component of our tourism future.'

Yachting WA President and Worlds PRO, John McQueen said, 'I am so happy to see an event like this hosted by a regional club. In recent memory, Esperance is the only location outside of Perth to host a World Championship. I was the PRO for the 2002 Laser Nationals here which was a great success and I am so pleased to come back for this regatta. I couldn’t think of a better place to sail and it is so impressive to see what this Club has done in readiness for this event.'

The club has used the Mirror Worlds as an opportunity to leverage funding to upgrade its facilities. Event Director, Anthony Galante said, 'We have been able to attract funding from the Government of Western Australia’s Royalties for Regions which has enabled us to put together a funding package of in excess of $200,000. This will provide a major legacy for members and broader community.'

The Championships will include the 46th Australian Championships and will boast an exciting social program with the highlight being the combined Opening Ceremony which has been scheduled to coincide with the New Years Eve Fireworks display over the magnificent Princess Royal Harbour.

There are still a small number of charter boats available and there is still time to order a new Mark III Mirror. For more information go the event website click here

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