Sail Sydney’s first half competition block has finished and the top results at the ISAF graded series mirror pre-regatta expectations.
Competitors enjoyed a quiet mid-week Sydney Harbour. The regular Manly Ferry service slipped quietly past and sea planes flew out of Rose Bay, otherwise sailors had a clear and quiet space to go to work. Conditions were diverse for the three-day series, and humid. Strong nor’easters up to 20 knots on day one eased, but there was still plenty of breeze throughout to complete the series in every division. Afternoon storms either tracked wide of the harbour or let loose once everyone was safely ashore.
Yachting NSW‘s Sail Sydney regatta director Lachlan Gilbert said, “Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors for a seamless first half of the series. It was great to see lots of close racing and so many countries represented.”
Sail Sydney is the opening event of the Sydney Festival of Sails timetable of maritime events scheduled for December involving little boats, big boats and the visiting Extreme 40s that will light up the harbour next week.
The timing of Sail Sydney and schedule of Olympic classes first up is planned as it gives athletes the chance to be part of YNSW’s annual event before packing up containers and crossing the border for the Yachting Victoria run ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne starting out of Sandringham Yacht Club next Monday, December 8, 2014.
Identical twins Alex and Patrick Conway successfully defended then consolidated their day two lead with three bullets on Sydney Harbour this afternoon. Their main takeaway from Sail Sydney is “learning to control the fleet and making sure we are in the right spot compared to those behind us,” says Alex.
The pair is coached by two-time 470 Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page, a relationship that began two years again when Page retired from Olympic competition. Their results at the ISAF Sailing World Championship in Santander qualified the brothers for the Australian Sailing Squad where they are under the tutelage of Australia’s most successful ever Olympic coach, Victor Kovalenko.
Olivia Price (AST) and Nina Solly (ASS) stayed out of their challengers’ reach to finish clear 49erFX overall winners and gold medallists over George Stent and Ben Robinson. Sail Sydney is their first regatta after Santander and Price says the pair is happy with their series result and now feel prepared for Melbourne. “We learnt a lot more about each other in the last three days,” the skipper and London women’s match racing silver medallist added.
Joel Turner and Lewis Brake out-sailed the Italian 49er crew over the nine-race series, Brake commenting, “It’s good to confirm our boat handling is up to scratch after a five week break.” Brake’s recent knee operation forced an extended training break on the Queensland pair who have been in the class for two years.
The International Moth class was invited to join the first-half of competition, though it isn’t an Olympic class, and drew a high profile fleet to the harbour. Scott Babbage, one of the Moth originals from way back in 2001, pipped all the high profile sailors who are training up for next January’s world championship at Sorrento, destined to be the biggest world championship ever.
“It’s not often you get the chance to sail against guys like Tom Slingsby and Glenn Ashby,” Babbage acknowledged, adding “But you don’t have to be an AC sailor to sail a Moth. Here younger and older guys are sailing with the rock stars.” Babbage is working towards a top 7-10 finish at the international title.
Previous world champion Josh McKnight took home the silver and Glenn Ashby picked up the bronze and the ‘longest road trip’ award. This afternoon the Emirates Team New Zealand sailor is chewing through the 755 kilometre haul from Sydney’s eastern suburbs back to his hometown of McCrae on Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
London gold medallist turned AC sailor Tom Slingsby stacked up well against the fleet. He was second on the pointscore this morning but not able to complete the series after ripping a control arm off his Moth yesterday. He’s preparing for next week’s SOLAS Big Boat Race on maxi Loyal and the Extreme Sailing Series followed by the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Boxing Day.
Taswegian Matt Bugg racing Moshi for the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania finished divisional winner of the International 2.4mR class. The London Paralympian is vying for Olympic selection and has a huge summer of competition ahead that will take him to Melbourne, Perth, Miami, Hyeres, Lake Garda and to the test event in Rio before returning to Melbourne for next year’s IFDS World Championship. Then the cycle begins again.
Victorian Laser sailor Jeremy O’Connell launched his summer campaign with a gold medal result in the Laser Standard class, his first series win at Sail Sydney. “The racing was closer than the pointscore shows,” said O’Connell at this afternoon’s medal presentation at Woollahra Sailing Club. “It’s given me confidence going into Melbourne, the nationals and then Miami.”
Australian Sailing Team’s Tom Burton (NSW), who added ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold to his 2014 medal haul in Abu Dhabi last week, raced with the Sail Sydney Laser fleet yesterday.
Great Britain’s Alison Young was Sail Sydney’s sole international class winner. From the 20 Laser Radial competitors Young stretched out over the three days to be 11 points clear of the runner-up and silver medallist Stuart Plenderleith. “It’s been a great venue and good sailing in Sydney,” said the Olympic hopeful.
Jake Lilley (AST) ruled supreme in the hotly contest Finn class. Seven firsts and one dropped third place tallied up to the perfect series score of seven points, six ahead of Ashley Brunning in second.
Ian McCrossin and James Cook from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron were the winning Flying Dutchman (invited class) combination thanks to their consistent top results of five wins and two seconds from nine races. Second on the ladder was Matthew Whitnall and James Bevis.
All Sail Sydney results are available here
Tomorrow through to Sail Sydney’s closing day on Sunday, December 7 the noise and excitement level along the Rose Bay foreshore and in the WSC boat park is set to rise significantly, in contrast to the calm atmosphere of the past three days. Youth and invited class sailors began arriving at the host club this afternoon to prepare for the series’ second half.
The NSW Government is a key Sail Sydney supporter along with Nautilus Marine, Gill Marine clothing, Steve Jarvin Motors, Lejen Marine, Tohatsu Outboards and Sydney Harbour Boat Storage.