Breeze on at Sail Melbourne Regatta
Published on January 20th, 2020
Melbourne, Australia (January 20, 2020) – It was a challenging day for sailors and race management alike with multiple storm fronts passing through Melbourne on the penultimate day of the 2020 Sail Melbourne International making for another wild and fun day for the majority of the classes.
Despite the weather challenges several of the fleets managed to get all races in, while some were cancelled for the day due to high winds and sea state.
Amongst those abandoned were the para-sailing classes, 2.4mR and Liberty, and the Laser 4.7 fleet, which was cancelled for the day before going out. The International 505 class did venture out, but with winds increasing, racing had to be abandoned and subsequently cancelled for the day.
Tomorrow will be the final day of Sail Melbourne International with another two races scheduled in most classes.
Three races were scheduled across the Laser classes today, but only the Laser Radial Gold and Silver fleets managed to get two races in. The Laser Standard fleet completed one race, while the Laser 4.7 were cancelled for the day.
After concluding the qualifying round yesterday, the fleet split up into gold and silver fleets and with two races on the scoreboard at the end of the day, there was a bit of movement on the leader board.
Youth sailor Stefan Elliott-Shircore from Western Australia took over the overall lead of the fleet after winning both races of the day with his training partner, Australian Youth Team sailor and previous leader Michael Compton (WA) dropping into third (3, 5).
Dutch Olympic champion in the Laser Radial Marit Bouwmeester goes into the final day of Sail Melbourne as the leader of the women after posting a second and third and dropping Sunday’s black-flagged race.
Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy continued to move up the ranks and into second place of the women’s after posting a third and a fourth place. Italy’s Silvia Zennaro is ranked third.
“I had a pretty good day today with a third in the first race and a fourth in the second race. It was really windy, hard conditions and I was happy enough with my consistency but a bit annoyed as well because I lost a few places around the course in both races. I didn’t make any major mistakes so I was happy in the end,” Annalise Murphy said.
Dual Olympian Murphy only returned to the Radial last year, after a stint in the Volvo Ocean Race as well as in the skiff and has her eyes once again set on an Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020. “I’ve had an unconventional four-year cycle in this campaign, I did two full four year campaigns in the Laser Radial for London and Rio and I really needed a break and do something different after the Rio Olympics so I ended up doing the Volvo Ocean Race on ‘Turn the Tide of Plastic’.
“I decided I wanted to sail a 49erFX which I did for 14 months. But I stopped after the Olympic Test Event last year to get back into the Radial to see if I could have a shot at getting another medal,” Murphy said about her Olympic campaign. Murphy has been enjoying being back on Port Phillip Bay in preparation for the 2020 ILCA Laser Radial Women’s World Championships at Sandringham Yacht Club in February.
“I’ve been to Melbourne quite a few times but the last time I did Sail Melbourne was 2011 just before the Worlds in Perth so it’s great to be back. It’s been very windy this week and I think this is the windiest regatta I have done in a long time. But it’s definitely good for me to be thrown out of my comfort zone because I haven’t sailed a boat in a long time and it’s a great preparation for the worlds in a month’s time.”
Australian Sailing Squad’s Mara Stransky goes into the final day as the highest ranked Australian female in overall 13th and tenth female after posting a ninth place today. “It was pretty wild, pretty windy, big waves and I had a bit on keeping up with the bigger guys and girls but I’m fairly happy with my day overall,” Stransky said.
Two races are scheduled in the Laser Radial for the final day of Sail Melbourne tomorrow.
The Laser Standard once again only got one race in with three-time Olympian Jean-Baptist Bernaz continuing to lead the fleet ahead of the final day of racing.
Australian Sailing Team’s Matt Wearn held on to his second place after a fourth place, while Britain’s Elliot Hansen moved up into third after winning today’s race. “It was another keeper today which was good,” Matt Wearn said, who has already been selected to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the Laser.
“It was a pretty rainy kind of day so it was nice to take a fourth place out of the single race we got in. Bit of a shame we couldn’t stay out for another one, but that’s laser sailing,” Wearn added.
“My start wasn’t too bad, luckily we didn’t have as many general recalls as yesterday so we got away after the third start and I had a pretty clean one. It’s always nice here when the wind picks up and you get this south westerly with the nice, rolling waves so we had some enjoyable rides downwind and it was good fun,” Wearn said about the racing.
“I think I’m a couple of points behind first going in to tomorrow and the points are pretty close behind me as well so hopefully we get three races in and get some good racing.”
Australian Sailing Squad’s Luke Elliott is the second highest ranked Australian in sixth, with Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard in seventh.
“Today was quite hard with a lot of strong winds, really, a lot. It was fun but quite challenging and it was raining a lot in the second upwind so it was a bit difficult to see at times with the quite strong winds,” Tomasgaard described the challenging conditions.
Like many of the international Laser sailors Tomasgaard has been spending quite a long time in Australia already to escape the European winter as well as to prepare for the 2020 ILCA Standard Men’s World Championships to take place at Sandringham Yacht Club 9-16 February 2020. “We have been training here already in November and December, so yeah, I’ve been staying here for over two months already,” Tomasgaard said.
Rio Olympic champion Tom Burton finished the day ranked eleventh after posting a 25th. “It was another big day and it was a tough one for me. I’m just struggling with a bit of speed off the line but I’m in good positions off the line. I’m just lacking a bit of punch and definitely getting the fitness in with the racing here,” Tom Burton said
The Olympic Finn class had two races with Norway’s Anders Pedersen getting two bullets in.
“Today was good wind and some massive waves and doing the downwind was really great fun and it’s tight racing at the top. I’ve been struggling a bit with my gear early in the regatta, but got some of the pieces together today. Good job by the race committee to get two nice races in,” Pedersen said.
Australian Sailing Squad’s Jake Lilley (QLD) still leads the fleet after posting a second and third (drop) and has a comfortable lead ahead of Nils Theuninck (SUI), with Pedersen following in third and Canadian Tom Ramshaw in fourth.
Racing in the fleet are also Japan’s Yuki Nishio and Alex Kokumai who are making the most of Australian summer and Port Phillip’s conditions to get race practice in with both sailors vying for Japanese selection to represent their country at their home Olympic Games.
“It’s winter in Japan and this regatta has strong winds which is good practice for us because we have to improve in the strong wind stuff. There are eight Finns in this regatta and everyone is very good, so it is a good event for us to try and improve for the Finn Gold Cup in Palma, which will be our final selection event,” Yuki Nishio said.
“It’s a small fleet but a really high-level fleet. Every day is very windy and we really need that training, that’s why we came back to Melbourne,” Alex Kokumai added after the pair already trained and raced in Melbourne in December for the 2019 Finn Gold Cup.
All three scheduled races were completed in the mixed-fleet of the RS:X with Britain’s Tom Squires continuing to build his lead after winning the first and last race of the day and adding a fourth in race two of the day which was won by Korea’s Wonwoo Cho.
Israel’s Yoav Omer holds on to his second place after a seven, two, five series with his fellow country-man following Tom Reuveny in third (3, 5, 2).
Their team mate in the women’s fleet, Noy Drihan, goes into the final day of racing as the leader of the women’s fleet after two bullets in the first and last race of the day and adding a second place to build her lead over Rio Olympic champion Charline Picon. Ahead of the final three races Picon is ranked second in the women’s after a seven, five, ten (drop) in today’s racing.
Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska is following in third after winning race two in addition to a second and third place in the other two races of the day. “It was strong wind and the sea was very choppy and I liked it. I’m going into the last day with 16 points ahead of the Charline Picon from France and I’m excited about that. It’s good for me to see that I can be in front of an Olympic Champion,” Drihan said.
The RS:X has attracted a world-class field with everyone utilizing the event to prepare for the RS:X World Championships at Sorrento at the end of February.
“We came here to prepare before the worlds and to do another competition and to practice, to practice our starts and up-winds and we are also trying different things. It is good competition and great that we have many sailors from the top fleet who came here.”
With kite-foiling added to the Olympic program for Paris 2024, the 2020 Australian Kite-foiling Championships as part of Sail Melbourne have attracted a lot of interest with the kite-foilers enjoying the windy and wavy conditions today and getting six races in.
17-year old Scott Whitehead from Townsville leads the fleet going into the final day after a total of 15 races so far. Whitehead took out four bullets in the first four races and finished second in the last two. The other two race wins went to Western Australians Andrew Cooksey (2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3) and Philip Rowlands (3, 3, (7), 6, 4, 1).
Defending national champion Breiana Whitehead continues to lead the women’s category and is ranked sixth overall in the mixed fleet after three fifth places. “Today was a pretty full on day on the kite course and we had some pretty full on waves and rain and cloud driven wind. Scotty Whitehead was up there again and we also saw a good push from the WA guys with Andrew Cooksey having really good day.
“We also saw some broken gear amongst the fleet with people having some big crashes and dives. From what I can tell everyone still had a really good time and it was really good to see everyone pushing their limits in what was survival conditions,” kite-foiling coach and former laser national-team sailor Ryan Palk (WA) said.
“Everyone was enjoying the roller coaster even though there were some moments where I could hear a few screams across the race course. But also the rain, flying upwind, it’s like bullets in your face. You’re going 20 knots upwind so there were some pretty sore faces just from the smattering of the water onto the face,” Palk added about the day’s conditions.
“I think after Tokyo (Olympic Games) it’s going to be interesting to see what other sailors will jump into the kite foil. There’s some really good crossover with sailors wanting to give kite foiling a go. Right now we’ve got some really good young talent coming through but in a year’s time we might have even more and I’m really hoping we do get a good group of solid riders together because the best thing about kite foiling is getting out together and having fun and learning together and we’re already doing that when we’re out,” Palk added with the Paris 2024 athlete development in mind.
After only three races were completed yesterday, another nine races are scheduled for the final day of the regatta which will wrap up tomorrow.
While the para-sailing classes were cancelled before getting on the water, racing was abandoned for the International 505 Class when the winds increased.
“We probably got about a minute out of starting, we were all lining up and then they had to abandon it for the day. It was good fun though while it lasted with good waves, plenty of gusts. So it’s a bit of a sad day for us. We lost two races out of our series but tomorrow it’s going to be lighter so we are going to have to make up for it then. It’s been a windy series but it’s been good fun,” local 505 sailor James Ryssenbeek said, who is currently placed in the middle of the fleet together with Andrew McCole.
American world champions Mike Holt and Rob Woelfel are the leaders going into the final day of the Australian International 505 class Championships with South Australians Robin Deussen and David Snoad in second and top-ranked Australians.
Over 300 competitors from 25 countries are competing at Sail Melbourne International with racing to continue tomorrow for the fifth and final day of the day of the event and with racing scheduled to commence from 12:00 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