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Sailors brave weather front at Sail Melbourne International

by Sail Melbourne International 2 Dec 2017 02:28 GMT 29 November - 3 December 2017
The storm front - Sail Melbourne International 2017 © Hartas Productions

After two days of braving the Melbourne heat, the third day of Sail Melbourne International (Friday, 1 December 2017) posed a whole new range of challenges to sailors with temperatures dropping and the first part of the much talked about Victorian weather front moving in. It was a busy day for sailors and race committee alike, managing over 360 sailors with race postponements and a couple of race cancellations after the Olympic classes were joined on their third and penultimate day of racing by the Invited Classes.

Olympic Classes

In the Finn class Rio 2016 Olympian Jake Lilley continues his lead after posting a second and first place in the two races of the day. London 2012 Olympic champion in the Laser Tom Slingsby remains in second, while Australian Sailing Team's local Victorian Oliver Tweddell moves into third after winning the first race of the day and overtaking 2017 Finn World Champion Max Salminen, who drops into fourth place. Three races were scheduled with racing being abandoned after two races.

"It was an interesting day. We had a northerly, with the wind all over the place, we also had a lot of rain plus we got some thunderstorms out there, so I think the race committee made the right decision to bring us in after two races," Oliver Tweddell said. "It kept us on our toes. I had a pretty good day on the water and it was great racing all the boys. I got a few less points than yesterday, but it still wasn't a great day by my standards so I'm still looking to improve a few points each day," Tweddell added about his racing so far.

The Melbourne Finn fleet is one of the most high-calibre international fleets of the event with tight racing and several of the top-ranked Finn sailors having made the trip to Australia for the occasion.

"Hopefully we'll have two races tomorrow so we get the full series in. We are all here to get as many races in as possible and it's great to have Max (Salminen, Sweden), Kyle (Martin, Canada), Rocky (Evans, Bermuda) and Ed (Wright, Great Britain) over here as well and we want them to get as much out of this as us," Tweddell said.

In the men's 470 Rio Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan keep the lead after winning the two races completed ahead of Japan's Daichi Takayam and Kimihiko Imamura. Rio 2016 Olympians Carrie Smith and Jaime Ryan remain in overall fifth place and first women's crew after two fourth paces in the mixed fleet.

Three races were scheduled in the 470 class, but with some strong rain coming in, racing was abandoned and fleets sent in after two.

"The racing was fun, but half way through the rain came down. It was completely pouring and we couldn't really see much. We struggled to see any of the other boats, it was intense but fun too and a nice challenge today," Anna Fisher from Hong Kong said. "I regret a bit not bringing my super warm wet suit because compared to the last two days it felt like it was winter," she lauged when asked about the temperature change.

Anna Fisher is sailing with Kit Fong Ton and is part of the four crews Hong Kong Sailing has brought to Melbourne, including one men's and one women's 470 crew as well as a 49er crew and one Laser sailor. "It's been a fun few days and we did better than expected so we are quite happy so far," Fisher added about the event.

The Laser fleet were postponed until they managed to complete three races in the late afternoon in challenging conditions. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tom Burton defended his lead despite a capsize in the first race and finished the day with a fifth, second and first place. Australian Sailing Team's Matt Wearn had two bullets and a fourth and moved up into overall second with Victorian Jeremy O'Connell in third.

Rankings remained the same in the RS:X with Jo Sterling continuing to lead and Australian Youth Team sailor Alex Hakan following in second.

Races were cancelled for the mixed multi-hull Nacra 17 fleet as well as the skiff sailors in the 49er and 49erFX.

Invited Classes

It was the first day of racing for the majority of the Invited classes with the early fleets getting a full set of races in. Laser Radial, 4.7 as well as the Opti Open fleets had to wait onshore until the afternoon to get some races in, while the Optimist Intermediate were postponed to Saturday.

Two races were completed in the Open Bic with Queenslander Travis Adley and Victorian Hamish Cowell sitting on equal points in first and second respectively after both posting a first and second place on the first day of racing.

"We had medium wind for the first couple of races and it was heavy for the last. And during the last minute of the last race it got up to 22 knots," Travis Adley said about the conditions on Port Phillip.

Local Victorian and parasailing athlete Neil Patterson, who is aiming for the Parasailing World Championships in the USA in September next year had two bullets and a third in the International 2.4m class. "It definitely helps to have a regatta on home waters and we have a pretty strong Australian fleet here, which makes for a good start to the season for me," Patterson said.

Youth sailing classes make up the majority of the Invited classes and include the Australian Sailing Youth Team, who are utilising Sail Melbourne International 2017 as a dress rehearsal ahead of the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championship to take place in Sanya, China from 9 to 16 December 2017.

In the International 420 Youth class Australian Sailing Youth Team sailors Rome Featherstone and Otto Henry lead the fleet after a fourth and second place.

"We had a very good day. The conditions were mixed but the overall results were good for us today. Our starts weren't fantastic, so we got caught out there. We've been focusing on downwind leading up to the Youth Worlds, that's our weak spot, but today it seemed like it was our strong spot," Rome Featherstone said.

"We are trying to stay consistent especially with those tricky conditions today and we are pretty happy with how it all went," Otto Henry added.

With Rome Featherstone from WA and Otto Henry from NSW the two sailors face some logistical challenges in training together and are making the most of the time together in Melbourne before heading to China for the Youth Worlds next week: "We find ourselves doing a lot of training blocks before or around regattas, which includes Sail Melbourne," Henry explained. Their cross-country partnership is reflected by their boat called the "Indian Pacific", which recognises the fact that both sailors live at two different Ocean sides of Australia and with the Indian Pacific train connecting the two states

Ranked second in the mixed 420 fleet after a second and fifth place are Victorians Laura Harding and Eleanor Grimshaw, who will be representing Australia in the girl's 420 at the Youth Sailing World Champs.

The last fleets off the water were the Laser Radial and 4.7 which got three races in.

Over 360 competitors from ten countries are competing in Melbourne with sailors coming from Australia, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Bermuda, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada.

Saturday, 2 December will be the last of racing for the Olympic classes and the second day for the Invited classes with racing scheduled from 12:00. Saturday will also see the inaugural Victorian Kite Foil State Championships kick-off with racing scheduled for 2 – 3 December 2017.

Sail Melbourne International is Australia's premier Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, held annually in the waters of Port Phillip and is a fixture on the international sailing calendar.

The world's best sailors are in Melbourne for this year's Sail Melbourne International Regatta (29 November to 3 December 2017) with racing taking place out of Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

The event is open to spectators and can be followed best from the pier at Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC). Alternatively, viewing is available from the clubhouse upstairs, which is open to all guests during the regatta.

See all results see here.

For more information see www.sailmelbourne.com.au.

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