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Sail Sydney Day Three: “Classic Sydney” nor'easter hits

by Michael Martin 13 Dec 2023 09:34 GMT 11-15 December 2023
Sail Sydney Day 3: Jim Colley & Shaun Connor (AUS) sailing the Men's 49er © Beau Outteridge

It was a "Classic Sydney" summer's day across Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay today, with the nor'easter kicking in on a stunning 29-degree day.

It was a welcome return after two days of lighter breezes, ensuring Sail Sydney (which is doubling as the Oceania Qualifier for the Paris Olympic Games) got a solid day of racing in before more questionable weather moves in tomorrow.

Australia is yet to achieve a nation quota in five of the available classes, including the Nacra 17. Australian Sailing Futures athlete Rhiannan Brown celebrated her 21st birthday today by stretching her lead in the class with Skipper Brin Liddell to five points after a 1, 1, 3 day.

"We had a strong nor'easter topping out towards 20 knots and the harbour getting progressively busier as well," said Skipper Liddell.

"We had big boats and Commanche out there racing alongside us, we smoked them to the top mark in one race which was a highlight."

"Today was a bit better than the last few days because it wasn't as luck-based in terms of who has pressure and who doesn't," added Brown. "It was a lot closer racing and there was some nice boat-on-boat action."

Chef de Mission of the 2024 Australian Olympic Team, Anna Meares OAM, was on hand at Woollahra Sailing Club today and spent time out on the water watching the athletes going through their paces.

"I am in town working with the AOC, and as I am here, I thought I might as well come along to Sail Sydney," said Meares.

"There are some important nation quotas available here at the event. I know they had a great World Championships with five quotas achieved, but there's more on offer here so it is great to be able to come down and support the Australian athletes."

Australia is yet to achieve a Paris 2024 nation quota in the 49er, with Australian Sailing Team duo Jim Colley and Shaun Connor stretching their lead, and their legs, with three race wins in the class today.

"It was a good day for us with three bullets (race wins) in a fair bit more breeze than the last few days which was nice as we could stretch our legs a little bit," said Colley.

"Classic summer, Sydney day," added Connor. "Plenty of boats on the harbour, a few dodgem cars, a few big waves off the power boats, very typical."

Sail Sydney is doubling as the iQFOiL and Formula Kite National Championships, with Georges River Sailing Club playing host to racing on Botany Bay.

Grae Morris and Samantha Costin (iQFOiL) and Breiana Whitehead and Hector Patarau (Formula Kite) have all built strong leads in their respective national championships, although Patarau trails Cypriot Denis Taradin and importantly Lukas Walton-Keim by six points for the all-important Paris nation quota.

"Today was a bit different," explained Costin. "We had a bit more (wind) and they put us up in a corner to avoid the jellyfish, but the breeze combined with the tide made for a pretty choppy racecourse."

Tomorrow's forecast is causing havoc for event organisers, with 37 degrees predicted along with the chance of a "possibly severe" thunderstorm in the afternoon.

"Tomorrow is a bit of an iffy day," said Principal Race Officer Ross Wilson.

"Thunderstorms might come late, and with the thunderstorms we could get lightening and as soon as we get lightening around the racetracks we don't go sailing.

"But all going to schedule most of the classes will get three races in to make up their 12 or two races to make up their 10 before the thunderstorm hits. Following on from that we will have Medal Races for the ILCAs, 49er, 470 and Men's Kites and slalom racing for the iQFOiL classes on Friday. With a bit of luck, the 49erFX, Women's Formula Kite and Nacra 17s will all finish tomorrow."

Celebrations for Brown's 21st wont impact tomorrow with a "quiet dinner with my family" on tonight's menu.

"But Brin did bring me a chocolate cake this morning, so he scored himself some brownie points there."

Visit the Sail Sydney website for more information on the regatta, and view a full list of results here.

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