Shock, horror as Outteridge and Jensen are beaten
Upset results and last-gasp victories were the order of the day on Sydney Harbour as competitors at the Yachting NSW organised Sail Sydney battled with each other and fading winds.
Going into the final day, Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen were facing a very rare defeat. They had won 10 out of 11 regattas since they teamed up, but had a five point deficit to their Kiwi training partners, Peter Burling/Blair Tuke going into today.
Effectively, the Australians needed to win every race and put at least one boat between them and the New Zealanders.
It wasn't to be. As Nathan commented afterwards, “It was one of those days where nothing was going right all day long.”
Choosing to start the first race on port tack, they ducked the field at the boat end and screamed away upwind, often reaching speeds in excess of 10 knots. Reaching the layline in total control of the fleet, they tacked on the starboard layline – and the jib sheet broke.
“Goobs (Jensen) was dragging out the back of the boat and we just stopped,” Outteridge said.
Jensen scrambled back on board and re-attached the sheet, but the damage had been done. They rounded the top mark in fifth place, fought back to fourth on the next windward beat – and the jib sheet broke again. As Outteridge said, “it was one of those days...”
Burling/Tuke finished third in that race, which all but cemented the series. Hitting the start line perfectly in the second race, they put a loose cover on Outteridge/Jensen and went on to win by seven seconds from brothers Will and Sam Phillips (AUS), with Outteridge/Jensen a further four seconds back in third.
With a previous worst place of fifth in a one-drop series, this meant that the Kiwis didn't have to sail the last race to win the event. Always keen for competition, Burling/Tuke raced anyway and the result was exactly the same – Kiwis first, Phillips brothers second and Outteridge/Jensen third.
“We're only the second ever to beat them (Outteridge/Jensen) so it's pretty cool,” Blair Tuke said in the de-rigging area. The friendly rivalry will re-commence on Monday at Sail Melbourne, the first leg of the ISAF World Cup.
Unlike the 49er crews, Tom Slingsby (AUS) decided not to sail the last race of his series. The three-time world Laser champion had done enough to win, with a fifth and third in the first two races, and headed for the beach.
A big part of the decision was based on the NSW Central Coast sailor’s Farr 40 campaign starting tomorrow. He is sailing on Estate Master in the World Championship off Sydney in February and tomorrow starts the lead-up Rolex One-Design Series this weekend.
Also in the Estate Master crew are fellow Olympians Nathan Outteridge and Beijing gold medallist, Malcolm Page.
“I've got Farr 40 training and weigh-in this afternoon,” he said. “I haven't eaten and I'm really tired.”
Slingsby finished the series on 34 points, ahead of Korean Jeemin Ha (43 points) who came fresh from winning gold at the Asian Games. Josh Junior of New Zealand and Ashley Brunning of Australia were tied on 53, with Junior taking the podium position on a countback.
Australian Development Squad member Tom Burton led the series after two days, but was swamped by Slingsby's four consecutive bullets on Tuesday and Wednesday and slipped to fifth in the stronger winds of yesterday and today.
The other Laser Olympic event, the Women's Radial, was one of the most keenly contested at the regatta, with 22 boats from nine countries.
While Australia's best Olympic hopes, Alex South and Krystal Weir sailed strongly to finish second and third, they were no match for the genius Marit Bouwmeester, who is the top ranked sailor in the world. The Dutchwoman recorded wins in all wind conditions to finish on 13 points, 25 clear of 17 year-old Alex South who is showing great promise.
Both South and Weir, a former Radial world champion, recorded a race win, but both were the victims of inconsistency. Weir was trying new techniques, and took a while to settle down, while South said she was very pleased with her overall result.
The Men's Radial featured a massive fleet of 33 boats. Unfortunately, only one race was sailed before the wind died away, leaving Tristan Brown (AUS) in first place, ahead of Luke Elliott and Mark Spearman, also from Australia.
The Laser 4.7 was a close contest between Dylan Gore, Madison Kennedy and Kailas Johnson, all from Australia. Gore won only two of the 10 races, but with a worst placing of sixth in an 18 boat fleet, his consistency was rewarded with a two point win over Kennedy.
The Moth sailors had one eye on the Moth Worlds which will be held on Lake Macquarie in January. When the light, shifting breezes turned to 25 knots plus yesterday, all but the hard-core chose to stay ashore and preserve their equipment.
Scott Babbage (AUS) dominated the event, winning seven of the 12 races for a final score of just 13. In second place was 18ft skiff legend, John Harris (AUS), who put together a solid regatta. He didn't win a race, but was never lower than sixth for a final score of 37, three points clear of Robert Gough (AUS). Internationals missed out on podium places.
Perennial Finn Olympian, Anthony “Nocka” Nossiter (AUS), had to settle for second place in the series, despite two good wins today. Nocka missed a race yesterday, but it made no difference, as promising talent James Patterson (AUS) sailed Wombat to a seven point victory, including three individual race wins. Shaun Wells (AUS) was third.
The 29er class is one where mixed crews are a regular feature. However, the first two crews in an all-Australian cast were all male, with Byron White/Ashlen Rooklyn triumphing over Lewis Brake/Josh Franklin.
The first mixed crew, Sophie Lahy/Josh Turner were third. In the new 29XX class, which many are hoping will be the Olympic Women's skiff in 2016, Alex and Sam Moloney beat the American skipper Kristen Lane and Aussie crew David O'Connor.
When Sam Kivell decided to take a week off sailing the 470, Sasha Ryan stepped up from the 420 to helm for her brother Will. Sam may regret his decision, as Sasha helmed an excellent regatta to produce four wins and never finished below fourth. They won the class from fellow Aussies and brothers Alexander and Patrick Conway.
There were only three entries in the women's 470, where Hannah Nattrass and Chelsea Hall won every race.
The board sailors experienced the full range of conditions, meaning that the winner would be the best all-round sailor. In the Men's RS:X, Italian Marco Baglioni won three races and placed second in all the others.
Consistency gave the Italian a five point win over promising Australian Luke Baillie, who won four races but included a fourth and fifth in his total. James Levy (AUS) had the disappointment of an OCS in the last race, but still managed 3rd overall.
The Women's event could not have been closer, with Italian Flavia Tartaglini beating Australia's Jessica Crisp on a countback, five wins to four. It all came down to the final race. Crisp started badly, over the line early, forcing her to re-start.
“It looked better on the right, so I went right, but something happened on the left and that's where Flavia was,” Crisp said. “The winds died and we had to pump up and down the course. At one stage there were three in between Flavia and me and I fought back to get second, but it wasn't enough.”
Tartaglini and multiple Olympians, Crisp and Jannicke Stalstrom of Sweden, who was third, all share a coach and are travelling to Melbourne together for the World Cup, where this strong on-water rivalry will resume.
The Bic Techno was much more one-sided, with Eamon Robertshaw winning the final six races to claim the crown from Sam Treharne and Luke Baillie's younger brother, Reece Baillie, all representing Australia.
The Paralympic classes were sailed at Rushcutters Bay and attracted a total of 10 boats across two classes.
The 2.4 Metre was won by former windsurfing world champion Olympian Greg Hyde, from Ian Thorpe and Stephen Churm, all of Australia.
In the Skud 18, 2008 Paralympic silver medallists and the winners of the ISAF World Cup Weymouth event, Daniel Fitzgibbon/Rachael Cox (AUS), were surprisingly relegated to fourth place on a count back – by their Paralympic selection rivals Ame Barnbrook/Lindsay Mason.
Reigning world champions, Alexandra Rickham/Niki Birrell won all but one of the races to be clear winners from Tim Dempsey/Jan Apel of New Zealand with Barnbrook/Mason third.
This was a Sail Sydney that had everything. The wind ranged from nothing to 26 knots, causing results in most divisions to vary markedly from day to day.
Competitors ranged from Olympians and world champions to beginners, with a guest appearance from the third-ranked Open match racer in the world, Torvar Mirksy and one of his crew Kinley Fowler, who flew in from Malaysia to sail on separate 49ers.
There were Black Flags, collisions, breakages and even a DSQ under rule 69 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Spectators were treated to 49ers and Moths racing at more than 20 knots, while at other times boats drifted aimlessly and had to be towed ashore when racing finished.
Every state and territory of Australia was represented, while a big number of internationals from Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Norway, India, Denmark, Canada, Korea and Croatia. It was wonderful to see sailors here from Poland, Cook Islands, Moldova and Slovenia.