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Olympic Champion Giles Scott & World #1 Nicholas Heiner spearhead Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne

by Michael Martin 29 Nov 2018 03:02 PST 4-7 & 13-16 December 2018
Nicholas Heiner - Sail Melbourne © Robert Deaves / Finn Class

The world's best Finn sailors have arrived in Australia to contest this year's Sail Sydney (4-7 December 2018) and Sail Melbourne International (13-16 December 2018) regattas and to make the most of what an Australian sailing summer has to offer.

The current world #1 Finn sailor Nicholas Heiner from the Netherlands will be spearheading a fleet that includes the who is who of Olympic Finn sailing, including 2016 Rio Olympic Champion Giles Scott from Great Britain as well as four of the current world top ten Finn sailors.

Less than two years out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the Australian summer sailing season has attracted the best of the best in the class with Australia providing some of the best training and competition conditions in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Sailors have also assembled in Australia to test Melbourne's Port Phillip waters, which will host the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, the World Championships of the Finn class. The 2019 Finn Gold Cup (13 – 21 December 2019) will be hosted by Royal Brighton Yacht Club, also the home of Sail Melbourne International.

"There are many Northern Hemisphere sailors training in Australia at the moment, including sailors from Japan, China, Bermuda, New Zealand, England and the Netherlands, to name but a few. In the last few years, the sailors that decided to train in the Southern Hemisphere during their winter have all had fantastic results the following European Summer and with the Olympics so close it is a great opportunity for these sailors," Australian Finn Class President Phil Chadwick explained.

"The quality of the racing at Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne will be absolutely first class and it is a very real opportunity for local sailors to have the chance to race against the likes of Giles Scott and Nicholas Heiner. Many of the top ten in the world will be contesting our regattas including three British boats, all of which could win."

"Many countries contesting the 2019 Finn Gold Cup held at Royal Brighton Yacht Club in December 2019 will have the regatta as part of their selection series for Tokyo 2020, so the sailors who are here now are trying to get an edge on their opposition well ahead of time," Chadwick added about the Gold Cup coming to Melbourne next year.

"At this year's events the heat is really on the young men vying for selection and the quality of the racing will be second to none. It is also a great chance for local sailors to get to know and compete against the best sailors in the world. The Black Rock Nationals (7-12 Jan 2019) is also the Australian qualifying regatta for the 2019 Gold Cup so the heat is on the local fleet also."

Current world #1 Nicholas Heiner is one of the sailors who is aiming to get an edge on his opposition by making the most of his time down under and the competition and training opportunities Australia offers.

"Ozzie has been great so far. We did an eleven-day block in Sydney in November training with the Australians and Kiwis. And after a week off in New Zealand, we are now getting into another training block leading into Sail Sydney with a few of the British here as well. So we have a really strong training group and especially with the conditions out on the Sydney heads being similar to Japan, it's been a great time so far in Australia," Heiner said.

The international and national Finn Sailors will first contest Sail Sydney, before heading to Melbourne for both Sail Melbourne International as well as the Australian nationals held at Black Rock.

"They will all be great events with a strong field, which will be a great test for next year's Finn Worlds. We have sailed in both locations before and all I can say is that I'm looking forward to some great racing in Sydney and on Port Phillip Bay, it has never let us down!"

Heiner most recently won the 2019 World Cup Series – round one as well as the Olympic Week event at the Tokyo 2020 Sailing venue at Enoshima in September. The former Laser World Champion started his Olympic Finn career at Sail Melbourne in 2016 and has his eyes firmly set on Tokyo 2020.

"Sail Melbourne was my first world cup in the Finn and I just missed out on bronze by a meter in the medal race that year. I definitely had the most consistent year of the fleet this year, but Giles was missing at a few events and we still have got plenty to work on as it wasn't a full winning streak this year besides in Japan. So I'm looking forward to another fun battle with Giles in Melbourne!"

The Finn fleet will be one of the strongest events at both regattas and the "fast Aussies" in the Finn fleet include Australian Sailing Team's Rio Olympian and current World #7 Jake Lilley (QLD), who came ninth at the recent World Cup event in Enoshima. Australian Sailing Squad members Jock Calvert (TAS), Lewis Brake (QLD) and Oliver Tweddell (VIC) are also amongst the ones to watch.

"The majority of the international sailors have come out to test the waters for the Gold Cup next year and to escape the colder northern weather. I know the event team are also using it as a test for next year's Gold Cup so that everything can be fine-tuned," Melbourne local Oliver Tweddell said about the opportunity to test the waters ahead of next year's World Championships on Port Phillip.

"Sail Melbourne International is going to be such a strong event with so many great sailors here, so it will be very interesting with really tight racing. It will be difficult to pick the winners, I expect the racing will be extremely close and tight on points coming into the final day of racing," Tweddell added about his expectations.

"It will be great to have this level of Finn sailors racing back in Port Phillip Bay and pushing hard for the win. It is also going to provide a great benchmark for next season with having all these guys over here training and racing with us. We obviously have the Australian Finn Squad of myself, Jake, Jock and Lewis competing. But we also have some younger guys like Lachy (Gilham) and Harmon (McAullay) coming through, and then of course there are hotly contested Masters sailors that love to get in the mix too, so all the upcoming events will be great for both international and domestic Finn sailors."

With Sail Sydney one week out and two weeks to go to Sail Melbourne, the high-calibre Finn fleet adds to the strong line-up at both events that includes multiple World Champions and Olympians from around the world with 12 countries contesting Sail Sydney and 14 countries at Sail Melbourne.

The Australian Sailing Team will be strongly represented with amongst others Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Tom Burton (NSW) at Sail Sydney, 2018 Laser World Championship silver medallist Matt Wearn (WA) contesting both Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne and Olympic silver medallists in the 470 Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) also sailing at both Sydney and Melbourne as the Team prepares for Tokyo 2020.

Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne International are World Sailing 100 points graded Olympic sailing events and as such are ranked as major international events on the World Sailing event calendar.

A late entry fee applies for Sail Sydney from tomorrow, Friday 30 November 2018 at 7:00, while Sail Melbourne entries are open until midnight, December 12 2018.

For more information see the event websites here:

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