Challenges at Sail Melbourne Regatta
Published on January 18th, 2020
Melbourne, Australia (January 18, 2020) – Port Phillip delivered another cracking day for the second day of racing at the 2020 edition of Sail Melbourne International. Following a very windy day one, today started out with light conditions before the wind picked up again making for a fitness as well as skill focused day.
Yesterday, only one race had been possible in most fleets and today’s aim was to get the maximum number of races in. With three and more races on the schedule, leader boards started to take shape.
The Laser, sailing out of Sandringham Yacht Club, make up the biggest fleets of Sail Melbourne International with the world’s best sailors using the event as a warm-up for the Laser Standard and Laser Radial worlds in February.
Three races today, saw three race winners with New Zealand’s Thomas Saunders taking the win in the first race, while Australian Sailing Team’s Matt Wearn (WA) won the second. 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sam Meech from New Zealand won the third.
Matt Wearn, who has already been selected to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, did not have the best start to the day posting a 24th in race one, but followed up with the race win to conclude the day with an 11th place. After four races Wearn now sits in fifth place overall.
“It was an interesting day a bit effected by the weather systems going through at the moment but a pretty average day for myself to be honest. I did come back with a first in the second race but couldn’t replicate that in the third, so I think I made a pretty big come back to get somewhere near the top ten in the last one. So it was a pretty average day for me but let’s hope the next half of the regatta is a lot better,” Wearn said.
Leader of the fleet after four races is France’s three-time Olympian Jean-Baptist Bernaz with Australia’s Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tom Burton in second and Sam Meech in third.
“I did a good regatta since yesterday, it is pretty windy and sunny so it’s perfect with good conditions. Today the conditions increased all day and with the three races I am a bit tired now. I have previously been to Perth, but this is my first time sailing here in Melbourne and I like Australia,” Bernaz said about the venue. Bernaz posted a ninth, fourth and second to retain the lead.
Following his second place on day one, Tom Burton continued with two top five finishes and a 17th on today.
“It was an ok day, bit of a fitness day with three races. We left in light wind and it ended up pretty windy. I think I got two good ones and an average one but my expectations aren’t too high so we will see where we end up at the end of the week,” Tom Burton said.
In the women’s Laser Radial, Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester continues to lead after two third places and winning the last race of the day. Norway’s Line Flem won the second race of the day and is the second ranked female Radial sailor overall.
Third ranked female in the Radial is Rio Olympian Silvia Zennaro, who is ranked sixth overall after posting a 2, 8, 3 on day two and is excited about racing in Melbourne.
“It was another windy day, but I like windy so it was a really good day. I am here for one month, it is like home and I enjoy every day with the amazing conditions,” Zennaro said.
Western Australian Zoe Thomson is currently the top ranked Australian female in the Radial and posted an 8-12-5 series on the second day of the event.
“It has been pretty good, we’ve had fresh conditions so far with some good waves and I’m pretty keen to keep smashing them out of the next few days. Compared to home (WA) it is little more inconsistent here with the sunshine and the wind so not too sure what to expect tomorrow but that’s okay,” Thomson said about the conditions.
The overall Laser Radial fleet is led by Michael Compton (WA), who continues to impress after winning the Australian Youth Championships and being selected on to the 2020 Australian Sailing Youth Team. Compton so far has won two out of the four races (1, 7, 2, 1).
Fellow Western Australian Mia Lovelady leads the Laser 4.7 and finished day two with three bullets. “It felt pretty good to be out on the water after yesterday and we also had two days without sailing at the Youth Championships, so nice to be out on the water and in some wind again.
“I was lucky enough to get three bullets today which set me in first place which is pretty nice. The wind was consistent and the conditions were my type of conditions and like what I sail at home. So it was a good day on the water and I really enjoyed it,” Lovelady said.
The Olympic windsurfing class RS:X also has some of the world’s best windsurfers in Melbourne with the class championships to take place at Sorrento Sailing and Couta Boat Club at the end of February.
While Rio Olympic champion Charline Picon from France has already secured her Tokyo spot, Israel’s Noy Drihan is still fighting for national selection with the RS:X World Championships in four weeks the final competition and with four female windsurfers from Israel at Sail Melbourne to prepare for the World Champs.
Drihan kicked-off the event in style, posting a series of three race wins on day one and defending her lead ahead of Picon with a fourth, second and first on day two. Picon won the first two races on Saturday and finished the day with a fourth.
“We did three races today in not very stable conditions, it was very tricky and gusty, sometimes we had a storm gust and sometimes no wind at all and a lot of shifts. You needed to play a lot on the upwind and also on the downwind and always look where the gusts and the good angles were to sail, so overall it was tricky and hard work,” Drihan described the conditions.
“The world championships in Sorrento are the last selection event for the Israeli girls, so this is our final selection round,” Drihan added about the significance of the competition. It is the second time in Melbourne for Drihan and she loves it.
“I was already here three years ago in the final sailing world cup at St Kilda and I love the place. I arrived two weeks ago and I’m staying until the end of the world championships at the start of March and I’m really enjoying the place. All of Israel’s best windsurfers are in Melbourne and as for the women; the world championships will also be the Tokyo 2020 decider for the men.
“Sail Melbourne is the last competition before the worlds and it’s really good preparation for us because we want to do more races. It’s a really good test for us to see if there are any problems in windy or light conditions or with the equipment, so this is really good for us,” Yoav Omer said, who is ranked second after a total of six races and posting a tenth and two second places today.
“We are five in the boys here and four in the girls as all the teams came here and the preparation for the worlds is really important for us. The world championships are super important so we do everything to succeed here and after that at the worlds, which will be the last competition for our selection and in the boys it is really close.
“After the worlds, our federation will decide who will go to the Olympic Games. I hope to be in Tokyo. I really believe in my sailing over here and I’m feeling really good and I will do my best” Omer added about selection relevance and his Tokyo 2020 goals.
And like his team mate, he also loves Melbourne, “I really like Melbourne. My first time here was in 2016 and after I got back to Israel to my home, I said that I have to come here again, because this place is amazing and I really love it. You have everything here, great beaches, and waves and I heard that the coffee in Melbourne is the best.
Leader of the RS:X fleet, Tom Squires (GBR) has already secured his Tokyo spot and took over the lead of the fleet after posting a 8-1-6 series.
The Finn class is the other Olympic class at Sail Melbourne in which sailors are still preparing for their Tokyo 2020 Olympic selection and Switzerland’s Nils Theuninck is making the most of his time in Australia to get there.
“I have been training here for a month and a half. We had the Finn Gold Cup and conditions are different everyday so it’s really nice to get some different waves and winning goals, learn and get your right numbers every day. I am trying to learn as much as possible and get ready for the European season coming soon,” Theuninck said.
“I am going to train a bit here in February and then go back to Palma for the Princess Sofia and after that we have the European Qualifier for the Olympics and that will be the biggest goal of the season.” Theuninck won the second race of the day and has been enjoying the competition at Sail Melbourne.
“We did three races in about 10 – 18 knots and it was pretty fun. We have good competition out there and I had one good race and then two average ones, so I’m medium-ly happy about today,” Theuninck said.
“It’s really close racing because there is only a few boats out there, if you make a mistake, losing one place is almost ten percent of the fleet so it is pretty tough.”
The Finn fleet also to managed to get three races in with Australian Sailing Squad’s Jake Lilley leading the fleet after two race wins and a second on day two.
While it was the second day of racing for most, in the Invited classes the Tasar had their first day of racing after winds were too strong for the class yesterday. Three races were completed with local Victorians Heather McFarlane and Chris Payne leading the fleet after posting a second and two race wins. Gary and Robyn Ratcliffe (NSW) are in second with Megan and Bronwyn Ridgway (VIC) in third.
“Today was a lot better we had a nice breeze and the waves were a lot less steep than they were yesterday and it was really hot competitive racing in the Taser fleet. The first race someone got pinged on the finish line by the jury and three of us were crossing the line together so it was super close and each of the following two races were neck and neck,” Sandringham Yacht Club’s Heather McFarlane said.
“There is a great vibe in the boat park with boards, the kites, the 505’s and tasers so that makes it a fantastic event and really good fun,’ McFarlane added about the multi-class event.
In the International 505 class, American world champions Mike Holt and Rob Woelfel continue to lead with South Australians Robin Deussen and David Snoad moving into second.
In other results, Michael Leydon (ACT) continues to lead the 2.4mR, while South Australian Bob Schahinger leads the Liberty. Western Australian Tracy Odiam is the top female sailor in the Liberty and sits in fifth overall after four races. In the 470s Paige and Adrian Hoesch.
Sail Melbourne also includes the 2020 Australian Kite-foiling Championships, which started on Saturday with six races in the mixed-fleet.
17-year old Scott Whitehead from Townsville kicked off the nationals with a bang winning four out of the six races and finishing second in the other two. His sister and defending national champion Breiana Whitehead is ranked overall fifth and first female after day one of the event.
Racing continues tomorrow, day three of the event, with racing scheduled from 2:00 p.m. at both Sail Melbourne International race venues Royal Brighton Yacht Club and Sandringham Yacht Club (Laser fleets).
The competition runs January 17-21 in Melbourne, Australia.
About the Sail Melbourne International Regatta
Sail Melbourne International continues the 2020 Melbourne Summer of Sailing event series and with just under 200 days until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The regatta has attracted an elite field from 25 countries and from all around Australia with close to 300 entries racing.
The event includes the Laser Oceania Championships, the inaugural 2020 Australian Kite Foiling Championships, as well as the 2020 Australian Para-Sailing Championships and Australian Championships in the International 505 Class.
The Laser Standard and Laser Radial events has attracted the largest number of entries to test the Port Phillip waters ahead of their Class World Championships for the Laser Standard (February 9-16) and Laser Radial (February 21-28).
Other events include the inaugural Australian Kite Foiling Championships – the class that will premiere at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the Finns, the International 505 class. Tasar, Liberty and Laser 4.7 classes complete the program as well as the para sailing classes of 2.4mR and Hansa 303.
Source: Australian Sailing Media