Sail Melbourne underway
Summer arrived in Melbourne for the first day of racing in the ISAF Sailing World Cup 2013.
A hot northerly wind from Australia’s outback blasted across the city and onto Port Phillip. In the early morning the breeze driven by temperatures in the mid to high 30's, gusted to 25 knots but had eased to a more pleasant 15 knots by the start of racing.
Being an offshore breeze, the water was flat and conditions on the water were perfect for sailing.
The quest for an 18th consecutive regatta win started well for Rolex World Male Sailor of the Year, Mathew Belcher (AUS). The 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist and four times World 470 Champion, with new crew Will Ryan, won the first race but stumbled in the second.
Overall leader of the Men’s 470 after the first two races is the 2009 World Champion Croatian crew of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, who had a first and second place in the two races sailed. They are tied on the same points as second placed crew of Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS). On the overall points table, the Croatians, who are the current European Champions in the 470, lead by virtue of a count-back, having beaten the Australians in the last race of the day.
“It’s been a great opening day for us," said Fantela. "We placed second in the first and the other one we won. In the first race it was gusty to around 15 knots and then it dropped to around 8-10 knots. In the second race we had a really good start, and played the shifts well upwind, the upwind leg was long and it paid to go for the shore. We extended our lead on the second reach after the Australians (Belcher and Ryan) became stuck in the pack.
“This is our second time in Melbourne, we were here five years ago. It is still the same – we love to be here, the weather is always nice, and it is much better than in Croatia, now."
The Australian crew of Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah are third overall but are in a group of three who are locked on 9 points. Australia’s Crawford brothers are in fifth overall, with the Chinese crew of Hao Lan and Chao Wang positioned in fourth overall.
Winner of the ISAF Youth Girls World Championship, Carrie Smith (AUS) has teamed up one of the top ten 470 crews, Sarah Cook to compete in the Women’s 470 event at the ISAF Sailing World Cup, Melbourne. Smith and Cook placed first and second in the two races sailed today, and are three points ahead of a second Australian crew Jacqui Gurr and Amelia Catt.
In third and fourth place overall is the Chinese crews, Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao, who placed sixth in the first race of the day and then came through to win in the second, sailed in lighter, probably more challenging conditions.
They are only one point out of second overall, and one point behind is a second Chinese crew, Nan Zhang and Yixiao Lv.
Tall timber populates the Finn class at the top level, and young Australian 20 year old Jake Lilley is two metres tall, but is still a growing boy, having elevated his height by six centimetres in course of the last sailing season. Lilley, who is also the world number ranked Junior, is obviously a rising talent. Today he secured two race wins over Swede Bjorn Alansson and defending ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne champion, Brendan Casey who has ranked as high as third and first on the ISAF ranking scale.
"I'm very pleased with today," Lilley reflected. "But the conditions suited me today, down wind is my strength."
ISAF World Ranked number one Laser sailor Tom Burton (AUS) was impressive today with two wins ahead of Ryan Palk (AUS) and Tom Saunders from New Zealand. Just back from the Laser Worlds in Oman, Burton said: "The emphasis for me is more speed. So it was good sailing today."
In the Laser Radial class, the World Sailing Cup battle of the 2013-2014 season continued with Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) scoring two wins over Dongshuang Zhang (CHN), and the Belarusian enjoys a handy five point margin at the end of the first day's racing. Last year’s Regatta winner London Olympian Krystal Weir (AUS) also sits on 7 points tied with the Chinese sailor, but drops back to third on a countback.