|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(15-1-2005) The Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta at Sail Melbourne ended today on a quiet note – uncharacteristically light to nil breezes struck Port Phillip Bay, some races completed, some abandoned.
In four classes the winners did not lose a race. Nicky Bethwaite/Helen Impey/Karen Gojnich (AUS) did not sail the final race in the Yngling three person keelboat, but won every other race of their 11 races series.
Second placed husband and wife Chris and Jan Harper with crew Simone Dean (AUS) won the final race and finished second overall, 13 points behind the winners, with Hamish Jarrett/Chris David/Jason Andersen (AUS) finished third.
Newcomer to the class, Jean-Claude Strong with crew Trent Goldsac and Ruth McCance, showed glimmers of what is to come, with some good results, beating some of the more experienced crews on occasions.
Bethwaite commented this afternoon, ‘the weather was uncharacteristically Sydney like, but I am particularly pleased with how we went in the stronger breeze – we are much lighter than the blokes.’
Josh Beaver won every Finn race, the former West Australian who now lives in Sydney, is strongly considering challenging for the spot to Beijing in 2008. He was never threatened by second placed William Wild or third placed John Shallvey in the all Australian cast.
A pleased crew are Matt Belcher/Nick Behrens (AUS) after winning every race of the Combined 470 double-handed dinghy. Belcher, from Queensland and Behrens, from Tasmania, said they were happy with their performance. ‘We have been practicing in lighter airs in my hometown,’ said Behrens.
Singapore coach Mark Robinson is happy with Roy Tay Junhao/Pei Ming Chung’s second overall in the 470 class. ‘Yes, they have sailed well, practice does pay,’ he said this afternoon. They still have some work to do though, finishing 26 points behind the winners.
Elise Rechichi/Tessa Parkinson (AUS) did their hometown Perth, and coach, Belinda Stowell, proud too. The pair finished third overall in the Combined 470, beating their closest female rivals by three places and 17 points.
Life was not so easy for the 470 Canadian girls, crew Liz Shaw explaining, ‘our first big event was a bit challenging. We had a charter boat and seemed to break everything. We could not get it tuned or make it go fast and we broke a mast on the first day. On top of that, we had to move our accommodation half way through and just a few little things like that got in the way a bit. We’ve just lost our Canadian training partners too, so we are hoping things will get better. Our results don’t really reflect our ability,’ she said.
Darren Bundock and Aaron Worrall (AUS) sailing in their first Grade 1 event together, expectedly won every race in the Tornado class and were exciting to watch. Their nearest rivals were Robbie Lovig/Glen Douglas (AUS), with Marcus Towell/Kenneth Hibbert (AUS) third.
Local girl and Laser Radial world champion, Krystal Weir, won her event by six points after a battle with her two Kiwi mates, Jo Aleh (NZL) and Jane Macky (NZL) who finished second and third respectively.
Weir did not have it all her own way, earlier on Aleh had the upper hand, winning the first three races and Macky challenged too with some great early results including a win and kept Weir well and truly on her toes. The Kiwis have always been good sailors, no matter the class.
In the Laser, it was Roope Suomalainen (FIN) all the way, although he only won by four points, consistency paid big dividends for the 31 year old. Suomalainen, an Athens Olympian in the class, commented today, ‘it hasn’t been easy you know. I was expecting the big winds I normally sail in at Sail Melbourne. You had to concentrate hard.’
At least six others had a go for the minor placings throughout the series, Brendan Casey (AUS) grabbed second place on countback from Tom Slingsby (AUS). Casey’s two first places helped him nab second. David Wright (CAN) was in pole position for second, but things went a bit awry from Race 6, with a win in the middle to keep him up in fourth.
Both the Mistral Mens and Womens results were exclusively owned by the Hong Kong entries, in fact, in the Mens event Hong Kong filled the top five places of the 15 strong field, whilst the two ladies, Chan Wai Man and Chan Wai Kei finished first and second respectively, with Gourand Solenn (FRA) third.
Cheng Kwok Fai won the Mens by one point from early series leader, Ho Chi Ho, with Chan King Yin third just a further point behind, such is the talent of Hong Kong in boardsailing events.
Able-bodied sailors finished top two in the all Australian 2.4mR event, Michael Leydon (AUS) the winner by 10 points, Peter Russell second, with the first disabled sailor, Michael McLean third and Aaron Hill winning the final race for fourth place.
It was a New Zealand top two showing in the 49er skiff class, brothers Scott and Mark Kennedy pipping Jake Bartrom/Craig Prentice for first place in some close racing, with Joseph Turner/Charles Dorron (AUS) just a point away in third place.
The brothers Kennedy said that although they normally sailed in fresh conditions at home, they were equally able for the light weather and ‘did not mind it one bit,’ Mark said.
The Laser 4.7 class was also an all Australian affair. Mark Lincoln led from day one, winning all but one race, with Mark Edmonds finishing second overall and a star of the future, recent Sabot champion, Matt Brown finished third.
Another great Sail Melbourne over for another year and we thank our sponsors and supporters for supporting this event – we could not do it without them.
Sport & Recreation Victoria, Parks Victoria, Collex, Schenker Australia, Ronstan International, The Holiday Inn, local Government support, Hobie Cat Australia, P&O Nedlloyd, Yachting Australia, Yachting Victoria and Meneres – I loved driving my BMW four wheel drive – it was a pleasure!
Also special thanks to Marlie Snow who feeds us, mends us and generally looks out for us and to Ian Wall – who goes above and beyond the call of duty as press boat driver and jack of all trades.
To all the volunteers who help make this event the success it is both on and off the water and to all those at Sandringham Yacht Club who always put on a professional event.