Patchy opener on the harbour
Tricky, light and patchy conditions opened the first day of racing at Sail Sydney, with the fleet leaving the ramp at the Woollahra Sailing Club in a light easterly of 8 knots for what many described as “a tough day on the Harbour.”
Some surprise leaders after the first day of sailing. Alexandra South, a 2010 ISAF Youth World Championship representative from NSW tops the Laser Radial board with a win and a sixth place.
17 year-old South is one point ahead of the world ranked No1 Marit Bouwmeester (NED), who opened her regatta with 6-2 results. Beijing Olympian and former Radial world champion Krystal Weir (AUS) is in 10th place.
“I was shell-shocked winning the first race, I mean, look at the talent. It was like Christmas came early,” said South who went on to explain: “That’s probably why I didn’t do so well in the second race!
It was all a matter of picking the right side of the course in the shifty breeze. Bouwmeester has previously raced at Sail Sydney and described her day as: “Looking back, it wasn’t so difficult. It was nice and light, but I was surprised with the right hand shift in the first race – I went left – so it didn’t work out.” Breezes swung back and forwards between 070 and 090 degrees on the Harbour course.
Gabrielle King, a two-time Youth world champion in the Laser Radial, has just returned to competitive sailing after suffering from chronic fatigue for the past year. “I’m very happy with my comeback performance,” she said.
“I’m making silly mistakes, but they’re getting less and less, said the 20 year-old, who is on a quest to qualify for the London Olympic Games, less than two years away. She finished Race 1 well down the list, but bounced back for a top five in Race 2.
Out on the 49er course, Olympian and double world champion Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (who won the 2009 Worlds with Outteridge), did not clean up the rest of the fleet In the three races held. Peter Burling/Blair Tuke (NZL) stayed in sync with the Aussies and are on equal points with them.
“We weren’t always where we wanted to be,” Outteridge admitted. He went on to explain: “It was pretty shifty. Downwind, the breeze was faster than we were. Some of the time, you would come around a mark in pressure, while those behind you would get caught in a lull, and it would change the whole game.”
Outteridge added: “The Kiwis sailed really well; there was nothing in it at times.”
Blair Tuke responded: “The racing was close. The tricky conditions evened things out a bit; if you were out at one mark, by the next you tended to catch up again.
“The other New Zealand crew (Marcus Hansen/Aaron Hume-Merry) pushed us too; they won the second race. It’s great having more than one boat to push us, we don’t usually get that back home. It’s important for our Olympic campaign,” he said.
A surprise appearance in the 49er was West Australian match racing guru Torvar Mirsky. After finishing second to the great Ben Ainslie in the Monsoon Cup late yesterday, Mirsky jumped on a plane for Sydney late last night, ready to fill in for David Gilmour, son of match racing legend Peter.
David suffered torn ligaments in his foot when it was caught during the 49er Nationals last week. “I heard about David and put my hand up – I really wanted to do this. We had a fantastic day – we didn’t capsize once – which was the first goal,” Mirsky said laughing.
“Our second aim was to go out and be competitive. It was great racing and we are mid fleet, so that’s fine,” said Mirsky who admitted it was hard playing bridesmaid at the Monsoon Cup, but said “the racing was awesome though and we had our chances.”
Triple Olympian Jessica Crisp (AUS) leads the RS:X class by one point after what she described as “a really good fleet and some great racing. There wasn’t much in it and it’s been great having Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) training with the Australian team. She’s really pushing us and she’s only one point behind me,” she said of the Italian who finished fourth at Sail for Gold in Weymouth this year, where the sailing competition for the Olympics will be held in 2012.
A surprise return to the class by former formula world windsurfing champion Allison Shreeve (AUS), who came ashore a bit sore, but pleased with her efforts. “I haven’t sailed since the 2007 Worlds, so I can’t expect to be first,” she laughed. “My pumping muscles are hurting; I’d forgotten how it was to feel so sore!”
Triple Laser world champion Tom Slingsby (AUS) did not have the sort of day he was imagining; a seventh place in Race 1 and 10th in Race 2. “We sailed on the Sound (Manly). It was sloppy, no wind, choppy and there were power boats coming through our course which didn’t help. The breeze was on the right and I was on the left,” he said.
Fellow sailors agreed. Colin Cheng (SIN): “It was very tough and messy on the course area – I think I’m mid fleet.”
HA Jeemin (KOR) benefitted where others lost out. “It was really light and the breeze was all over the place, but I finished top five in both races, because I picked to go to the right of the course and that’s where the wind was both times,” he said.
Following on from their runaway victory at Sail Brisbane last week, Queenslanders Angus Galloway/Alexander Gough have kept up the momentum winning the opening two races in the 420 dinghy. Byron White/Ashlen Rooklyn (NSW) also had a top day, scoring two bullets in the 29er skiff.
Race officials had a hard time on Day 1. The 420, 470 and Laser Radial classes were all a little frisky and officials were forced to eventually start them under the Black Flag rule, which soon settled the fleets down, but they were also dealing with having to shift marks to accommodate the shifty winds on some course areas.
Due to changes to sail numbers, there are inconsistencies in results that will be resolved on Tuesday.
Sail Sydney is proudly supported by Nautilus Insurance, Steve Jarvin Motors, Sport and Recreation, Alphaboat, Tohatsu and NSW Maritime.