Skandia Team GBR in Perth
Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie returns to Finn class action at the Perth International Regatta, which gets underway off the shores of Fremantle on Tuesday.
Ainslie - who made his first foray back into the Finn at this summer’s Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta after a two year break from Olympic classes racing – joins 29 of Skandia Team GBR’s elite sailors on the trip Down Under, which has seen the team preparing in predominantly breezy conditions for the regatta – the official test event for the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships which will be held in just over 12 months’ time.
“The 2011 Worlds will be the single biggest event in the Olympic classes calendar in this Olympic cycle,” explained RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “By coming to Fremantle the year before the World Championships we’re able to give people a little taste of Fremantle itself, a taste of the conditions and also to let people know what to expect when they come back here for the World Championships.
“In addition to that from a team and sailor perspective we’re hoping to build up more knowledge about the conditions that we can experience here in Fremantle, and really try to learn this venue so that we’re best placed to be able to perform to our optimum next December.”
Ainslie, who has recently renewed his focus on Finn sailing following TeamOrigin’s decision not to challenge for the 2013 America’s Cup, is relishing the prospect of racing his heavyweight dinghy again even though Fremantle’s expected conditions are not likely to suit his current form.
“Physically it’s going to be a really big challenge, but that’s fantastic. That’s what we all enjoy,” he explained. “For me personally at the moment I don’t really like [the conditions] that much because I’m just coming back into the class, I’m a little bit light and not really as fit as the other guys at the moment, so this week’s going to be a bit of a struggle for me.
“But even so it’s a really good challenge physically and personally to get yourself through it. It’s hard work!”
“We’ve had a full mix of conditions from some light winds at the beginning of our trip to some really quite strong winds over the last few days in the 18-24 knot area in the afternoons which has made things fairly entertaining – particularly as the water in a lot of the racing area is very shallow,” explained Park of the team’s venue experience so far.
“It’s less than about five metres deep, so that’s meaning there’s quite a lot of chop and also means that when there is a capsize there’s also risk of bending or damaging the masts so there’s been quite a lot of equipment saving going on over the last few days as people try to save their good kit and try not to damage any of their equipment, while equally pushing themselves to test out the conditions throughout the last few days.”
The Perth International Regatta will see 230 boats from 38 nations competing across eight of the ten Olympic classes (Star and Women’s Match Racing will not be contested)
Racing gets underway for the Laser, Laser Radial and Finn classes on Tuesday 16 November, with their medal races scheduled for Saturday 20 November.
The 470 (Men and Women), 49er and RS:X (Men and Women) begin their regatta on Wednesday 17 November, with medal races scheduled for Sunday 21 November.
Skandia Team GBR at the Perth International Regatta 2010:
Luke Patience & Stuart Bithell
Nic Asher & Elliot Willis
Sarah Ayton & Saskia Clark
Penny Clark & Katrina Hughes
Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes
Chris Draper & Peter Greenhalgh
John Pink & Rick Peacock
Dylan Fletcher & Alain Sign
Dave Evans & Ed Powys