|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(13-1-2005) Variable but mainly light breezes on a beautiful sunny day on Port Phillip Bay for the Olympic & Invited Classes at the Sail Melbourne Regatta.
Racing got underway early for the Mistral Sailboards at 1200 hours as race officials from the host club, Sandringham Yacht Club attempted to catch up races for the 21 competitors.
The mistral fleet today sailed four races instead of the scheduled two as their races were postponed on days two and three of the regatta due to weather extremes – too heavy on Tuesday and too light on Wednesday.
Four races were put to bed today, and a team of windsurfers from Hong Kong continued to dominate on Day 4 of Sail Melbourne’s Olympic & Invited classes at Sandringham Yacht Club.
In the Womens, the Hong Kong girls continue to go neck and neck and jointly lead the series this afternoon.
Chan Wai Kei had the upper hand today, winning three from four races, her compatriot Chan Wai Man got a bullet in Race 3, but then had to be satisfied with two second places and a third, leaving the girls on eight points each. Gourand Solenn (FRA) in third, just two points behind the Hong Kong girls,
In the Men’s competition, again Hong Kong competitors are at the forefront with a stranglehold on the top three places. Like the Womens, there are joint leaders.
Ho Chi Ho scored 6-3-1 results and Chan King Yin scored two bullets and a third – an excellent result for him. They have nine points each with Cheng Kwok Fai just four points behind his fellow countrymen.
Such is their stranglehold on the podium places with six races sailed and five remaining, the only question remains which of their sailors will take first.
Windsurfing coach of the national team, Sam Wong, said the strength of their stocks was due to the ability of Hong Kong’s sailors to make a full-time commitment to their sport.
The Mistral team here at Sail Melbourne are aged from 17 to 23 and includes three gold medallists and three bronze medallists from either Youth Worlds or Asian Games.
The most accomplished of the team is Chi Ho Ho, 23, who finished 14th in Athens and fifth at last year’s Spa Regatta. He is currently ranked 19th on the ISAF world rankings.
Brothers Scott and Mark Kennedy went 2-2-2 in the 49er skiff class to hold on to a three point lead from Joseph Turner/Charles Dorron (AUS) with fellow Kiwis Jake Bartrom/Craig Prentice a further point away.
‘It was frustrating out there today, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more breeze,’ Mark Kennedy reported.
‘We weren’t quite powered up enough, but maybe we’ll get more breeze tomorrow,’ added second placed Joe Turner, who also remarked on Jake Bartrom’s (NZL) bad luck today.
Whilst Roope Suomalainen (FIN) is the leader in the Laser class, he has not had it all his own way and after one race drop after eight races today, he only has a three point lead to second placed David Wright (CAN) with a number of others breathing down their necks, so close is the score.
Tom Slingsby (AUS) has expectedly caught up the points difference to be third placed just two away from Wright, Michael Bullot (NZL) and Brendan Casey (AUS) just behind and keeping the rest on their toes.
After winning Race 8, the first race of the day, the talented Bartrom broke a spinnaker halyard, resulting in his not finishing Race 9 and not competing in Race 10. His win ensured he stayed in the running.
On the Laser Radial front, the Australian versus New Zealand battle continues. On the home front, Sandringham sailor Krystal Weir (AUS) has regained the lead of the class, with two second places and a win in their three races.
Weir, who turns 20 on Saturday, is just two points ahead of yesterday’s leader, Jo Aleh (NZL), with her compatriot Jane Macky (NZL) chasing the pair just five points behind Aleh.
Macky, whose sister Sarah sailed for New Zealand in the Athens Olympic in the Europe, said she was enjoying the varied conditions on Port Phillip, ‘one day light, one day windy – I like it.’
Radial sailor Richard Bott (NZL) has been disqualified from the event under Rule 42, propulsion, after being caught ‘pumping’ on three subsequent days. Before today, he had been warned on Day 1 (Monday) and then again on day three (Wednesday).
Nothing has changed on the Laser 4.7 course. Mark Lincoln continues his lead in the all-Australian field, having won all but one race. Mark Edmonds is second and Matt Brown third.
On the Yngling course, team Nicky Bethwaite (AUS) continue their winning ways, using a win as a race drop after three further first places. They have a nine point lead over the Chris Harper (AUS) skippered boat in second place, with a crew steered by Hamish Jarrett (AUS) in third.
Josh Beaver (AUS) is completely in control of the Finn dinghy, a further three wins to add to his perfect score, now eight points clear of his nearest rival after one race drop. William Wild (AUS) is second, with a further nine points to John Shallvey (AUS).
Michael Leydon is the prominent 2.4mR leader in another all-Australian field after eight races and one race drop. He took first place in each race today to consolidate his lead over Peter Russell and Michael McLean. Aaron Hill is giving chase in fourth place.
Darren Bundock/Aaron Worrall (AUS) continued their clean sweep in the Tornado class, so fast if you blink you miss them. They too, have dropped a first place in their first drop of the series. Robbie Lovig/Glen Douglas (AUS) are still second placed and Marcus Towell/Kenneth Hibbert (AUS) third.
Matt Belcher/Nick Behrens (AUS) are looking unbeatable in the Combined 470 class having won every race to-date. Roy Tay Junhao/Pei Ming Chung (SIN) continue to hang on to second place, but just two points away are Beijing hopefuls, Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson (AUS), two second places today helping their cause and making their West Australian coach and Gold medal winner from Sydney 2000, Belinda Stowell, very happy.
Sail Melbourne continues on Port Phillip Bay tomorrow and finishes on Saturday.