|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(12-1-2005) Frustrating weather again on Day 3 at Sail Melbourne for the sailors in the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta, the breeze lightning, then vanishing, and no racing for the Mistral boardsailors, now four races behind schedule due to lack of breeze.
All other classes raced, but after one race this morning, sat on the water as the wind died completely, came back at around 3-5 knots, oscillated, vanished then came back at 15 knots around 4.30pm giving some classes at least one decent race. Sandringham Yacht Club officials did not have an easy day.
The best news of the day came in the form of Michael McLean (AUS) and his wife Kathy celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with a win each on Day 3.
McLean, a Sydney Paralympic gold medallist who is sailing against both able-bodied and disabled athletes in the 2.4mR class, said he ‘fell in a hole’ to finish sixth in the first race. However, Kathy took advantage of the light conditions to post her first win of the regatta.
The tables were turned in the second race with McLean picking up a win to put him third after five races.
Michael discovered sailing as part of his rehabilitation after a workplace accident in 1981 left him a paraplegic. Formerly a surveyor with Vic Roads, he was working on the Eastern Freeway when the wall of an excavation sheared away and fell on him, shattering his back. He made the Australian Paralympic sailing team in 1998 and was a reserve for the gold-medal winning Sonar crew at the 2000 Paralympics.
Both Michael Leydon (AUS) and Peter Russell (AUS) have been consistent across all races and sit first and second with six races remaining.
In the Tornado class, it was, as expected, Darren Bundock/Aaron Worrall in straight wins across the board. Young Victorian hopefuls, Robbie Lovig/Glen Douglas (AUS) are second overall after five races with Marcus Towell/Kenneth Hibbert (AUS) third.
On the Laser and Laser Radial course, some competitors complained that the course was too short, Radial world champion, Krsytal Weir (AUS) amongst them. ‘I had a shocker, I got smooshed. You can’t recover on these courses, they’re too short - if you make one little mistake, you’re gone - and I was,’ she said after two bad starts.
Hard work to keep your concentration levels up when you are in postponement and sitting around on your boat in the sun.
Weir had a fifth and a third, not her usual standard. She has dropped to second place overall, one of the ‘Kiwi rivals’ she spoke of yesterday taking over the top spot. Jo Aleh (NZL) is sitting in first place overall with a win and second place to add to her tally, just one point in front of Weir.
Jane Macky (NZL) is in third place breathing down Weir’s neck, with Richard Bott (AUS) in fourth place, the first male placer in the fleet.
Athens Olympian Roope Suomalainen (FIN) continues his lead in the Laser by just two points after a sixth place in the first race today, which he subsequently dropped and followed it up with a win in the next race. Beijing hopeful Tom Slingsby (AUS) is just two points behind, he too scored a sixth – in the last race of the day, but had already scored an eighth earlier in the series which he used for a drop.
Former and current Olympic contender, Brendan Casey (AUS) also had a mixed day, second and ninth his placings, to be equal third overall along with local hope, Ricky Irongmonger, who had a spectacular capsize on leaving the beach to head to the racecourse. To maker matters worse, the 19 year old was OCS’d in the first race. It appears it was not the best of days for most in the Laser class.
The standout leader in the all Australian Laser 4.7 three-boat fleet is Mark Lincoln with a further win today, with Mark Edmonds in second place and Sabot champion, Matt Brown, son of former Olympic coach Ian, third placed in his early foray into the class.
Olympic hopefuls Matt Belcher/Nick Behrens (AUS) continue their lead of the 470 with a further two wins today, with Roy Tay Junhao/Pei Ming Chung (SIN) remaining in second place, just ahead of Shane Smith/Rayshele Martin (AUS). Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson (AUS) are the best placed of the girls in fourth overall in the Combined standings.
However, recent winners of the 420 National titles at which they beat 51 other competitors, Alex Chapman/Michael Chidgey (AUS) put their competitors on notice finishing their day with two second places as they catch the field up. The pair is hoping to produce good results again tomorrow.
‘We are aiming to sail as well as Matt and Nick and learn as much as we can from them,’ Chapman said this afternoon. ‘We’ve had a couple of good results lately and our aim is maybe the Olympics in 2012,’ said 19 year old Chidgey.
‘We just have to get used to a 470 after sailing the 420, which is why we went a bit better today, added 18 year-old Chapman.
Josh Beaver (AUS) scored a further two wins in the Finn today, having to use a win as a race drop. Not bad for the West Australian with Olympic aspirations, as he only sporadically sails since finishing his law degree and starting his work career. William Wild (AUS) is second overall and Jake Gunther third.
Expectedly, Nicky Bethwaite/Helen Impey/Karen Gojnich (AUS) finished their day with a further two wins to consolidate their lead in the Yngling keelboat. Husband and wife team, Chris and Jan Harper and Simon Dean (AUS) are second overall after two more second places. Two crews are tied for third; Peter Lowndes/Emma Quartly/James Harrison (AUS) and Hamish Jarrett/Chris David/Jason Anderson.
Newcomer to the class, Jean-Claude Strong (helm) learnt the perils of Olympic class racing; forgetting to sign on this morning cost her crew second place in the first race – her best result by far.
Brothers Scott and Mark Kennedy (NZL) are having a home team battle with Jake Bartrom/Craig Prentice (NZL) – the two are placed equal first after the latter’s win of the last race of the day. Joseph Turner/Charles Dorron (AUS) are third overall, just two points behind the leaders in this close series.
Racing continues off Sandringham tomorrow and Friday and concludes on Saturday.