Aussie Olympic stars go Farr40ying

Malcolm Page, Nathan Outteridge and Michael Blackburn to compete in the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta

Friday February 27th 2009, Author: Di Pearson, Location: United Kingdom
Olympic sailors from Australia’s successful Australian Sailing Team at the Beijing Games will be out in force at Middle Harbour Yacht Club’s (MHYC) Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta 2009 to be held over 7-8 March.

The Olympians know the value of an Audi, as the German luxury car manufacturer is sponsor to the team, and as such, all have driven Audi cars, the gold medal winners receiving Audi cars to keep, due to their winning performances.

Gold medallist in the 470 Men’s dinghy at the Beijing Games, Malcolm Page, heads the line-up. Along with fellow Olympians, 49er representative Nathan Outteridge and 2000 Laser bronze medallist Michael Blackburn, Page will sail aboard MHYC Commodore Martin Hill’s Farr 40 Estate Master in the PHS class.

Page will trim headsail, Outteridge will call tactics and Blackburn is strategist/mainsheet trimmer. Page is reunited with his Olympic coach too, as Victor Kovalenko, dubbed the ‘Medal Maker’ is the Estate Master coach.

“Not only that,” says owner/skipper, Hill, “it is a bit of a family show. My wife Lisa - Michael’s new wife Sarah - who also happens to be our daughter, and Malcolm’s girlfriend Fiona Elliott, are also sailing the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta with us.

Malcolm Page is happy about sailing the upcoming Regatta. “As a bonus to winning my gold medal, Audi gave me the new design Audi A4 2.7 turbo diesel sedan. It’s a beautiful machine and great for towing boats; I feel quite spoilt.

“I’m really looking forward to the regatta, especially as it’s going to be a bit of fun with us with our girlfriends and wives coming along and my Club, which has always supported us,” says Page, a member of host, Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

Page is also happy that Victor Kovalenko is their crew coach. “I trust him 100 percent; he’s the best coach in the world and he’s the guy I want on the water with me.”

Hill is thrilled to know that so many high-profile sailors will sail at the Regatta. “I’d like to see the Regatta grow even more, I’d one day like to see 1,000 boats on the Harbour for our Regatta and Sydney Harbour Week; and with Audi as sponsor, it can become a reality,” says Hill who owns that he would love to “add an Audi wagon to the family.”

Having won the Yngling class at the inaugural Regatta, Nicky Bethwaite is a big fan. Despite not winning the car challenge and missing out on a new Audi, Bethwaite is back and will call tactics on Dances With Waves, a Beneteau 40.7 owned by Jim and Debbie Thomas and will race against the likes of Estate Master.

“I'm happy to support Audi at this regatta; Audi supported us (the Australian Olympic team) big time, so I’m very pleased to be able to give something back. We've got a hot crew from Manly and Middle Harbour and we’re looking forward to mixing it up with half a dozen or so other 40.7s. We'll have our own little one-design fleet within the division,” she said.

Bethwaite represented Australia at two Olympics, but a disastrous bicycle accident in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Games put the kibosh on her third representation.

Karyn Gojnich crewed for Bethwaite at two Olympic Games. It would have been three, but for the latter’s bike accident. Come March, Beijing Olympian in the Yngling, Gojnich will take the helm of the Yngling three-crew keelboat in the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta.

“I’m sailing it with my husband John and my 14 year-old daughter Zoe on the Saturday of the Regatta and my 16 year old daughter Amy will sail in Zoe’s place on the Sunday. I’m really looking forward to doing it again,” said Gojnich who sailed the Yngling with her Beijing Olympic crew at the 2008 Regatta and won.

Gojnich’s Olympic coach will also be on the start line. Since returning from China, Adrian Finglas, who also coached Dan Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox to 2008 Paralympic Silver, has been sailing with fellow Queenslander Rod Jones, the inaugural winner of the Audi IRC Australian Championship in 2007.

With a new Alegria, Jones and his crew, including Finglas, notched up a victory in the Audi IRC Series at Skandia Geelong Week in January and both are looking forward to the competition in the IRC Racing class.

Finglas’ boats skills should be at an optimum; he has just come off skippering his boat to second overall at the 505 National Championship held on Sydney Harbour last week, despite not having sailed the 505 for a while.

Middle Harbour YC’s annual regatta has also attracted other high profile sailors, including the likes of match racing champion Michael Dunstan aboard Graeme Wood’s TP52 Wot Now and Cameron Miles, a winning helmsman with trophies in various classes, including an Etchells Worlds win, will drive the new Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki

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