Despite a huge storm front battering Port Phillip in the early afternoon, most classes were able to complete a full slate of racing on day three of Sail Melbourne International on Sunday.
The thick squall carried a sheet of small hail stones, and hit the bay just as most of the racing was wrapping up with the Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7s the only fleets restricted to one race.
Two days remain in most of the fleets with only the Tasar deciding their winners on Sunday.
The Tasar was the only class that wrapped up on Sunday after a five-race series, with South Australians Gary and Robyn Ratcliffe winning the two final races and taking home the overall win in a tight fleet.
“The first race was a bit soft, but I loved the pressure of the second race, just being able to drive the boat really hard,” Gary Ratcliffe said about the racing on the last day.
“Sail Melbourne has been fantastic, we had a great time, an absolute blast so we have really, really enjoyed it. The regatta went really well, no issues, no protests, everybody was happy – it was really well run! We have been to Sail Melbourne plenty of times and we have been to Melbourne to sail often and it’s one of our favourite spots,” Robyn Ratcliffe added.
Sandringham’s Heather Macfarlane and Chris Payne finished second with Peter Davies and Pia Lehtonen-Davies in third.
In the Olympic classes, the Laser fleets only got one race in with the thunderstorm approaching and racing abandoned as a consequence.
It was challenging day for the Laser Standard fleet with six recalls delaying the start of racing. After one race on Sunday, three-time Olympian Jean Baptist Bernaz continues to lead with Australian Sailing Team’s Matt Wearn (WA) jumping from fifth to second after finishing today’s race in fifth.
“I think we had about six general recalls so there was a lot of people getting black flagged. So it took us a while to get going, but we finally had a nice race in what felt like a sea breeze,” Wearn said about the events of the day.
“I’m not sure why it happened (so many recalls), people are just too eager I think. But there has still been good racing, I rounded in the top five and just held that position the whole way around. I picked up a place here and there and lost a place here and there so finished fifth and I’ll take that,” Wearn added.
Rio Olympic champion Tom Burton was one of the sailors affected by the series of black flags and dropped from second into seventh place.
“It was a long day and I think we had six or seven general recalls. I think I might have gotten black flagged in the very last one but I did the race anyway so it was good fitness. It was 20 knots and it just built and built and built. I’m knackered to be honest,” Tom Burton said.
Going into the last two days of racing, New Zealand’s Thomas Saunders is ranked third overall after finishing tenth in the race on Sunday.
“Today was a longer day than it should have been. The standard boats weren’t very good on the start line, we had maybe six general recalls. So we got quite behind in the time there and we only got one in before the storm started to set in which was a bit frustrating,” Saunders said.
“I didn’t have a great first race but I managed to come back to a half decent result so pretty happy. Yesterday for me was pretty good, day one started off with a black flag, so not the way you want to start a regatta but I managed to bounced back yesterday and continued on today. So hopefully a few more days and see where we end up,” Saunders said about his regatta so far.
Over 300 competitors from 25 countries are competing at Sail Melbourne International and sitting in fourth place overall in the Laser is Guatemala’s Juan Maegli.
“Today was a great day, we only did one race with this storm coming through but the race that we did was pretty good. I had a good race, finished third, so yeah happy with the day.
It has been windy the whole three days so we are a bit tired, but it has been great sailing,” Maegli said after the race on Sunday.
Maegli is already selected for Tokyo 2020 after securing his country a quota spot at the 2019 Pan American Games and is enjoying is time in Australia.
“This my third time in Australia, I enjoy it a lot over here. I was in Melbourne in 2010, so a long time ago.”
In the women’s Laser Radial, Ireland’s Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy won the one and only race of Sunday and moved up into fifth place overall and third ranked female.
Rio Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester continues to lead the female rankings after an eighth place on Sunday with Italy’s Rio Olympian Silvia Zennaro following in second after posting a second.
“It was a nice day, but it took a bit long to get started. I think it took them an hour and 15 minutes to get the guys on the way, and then even the 4.7s had a general recall so it was a long day on the water for only one race and that was a shame. But it was good and it’s nice to be here and get some racing in,” Bouwmeester said.
Western Australian youth sailor Michael Compton is still leading the Radial fleet overall and posted a third on Sunday.
“We have had quite a few windy days which suits me because I am from WA and we always get the windy sea breeze. I thought Nationals and Youth Nationals were my two biggest events so coming to this one there isn’t really any pressure. It is really about getting the training in before our men’s worlds, whereas for these guys (the women) it’s world ranking points so there’s quite a lot of pressure for them so I’ve got a bit of an advantage there,” Compton said about racing the world’s best female laser radial sailors.
Two races were completed in the Olympic Finn class with Australian Sailing Squad’s Jake Lilley (QLD) continuing to build his lead after two race wins. Switzerland’s Nils Theuninck is sitting in second with Tom Ramshaw from Canada following in third.
The Olympic windsurfing class RS:X got all of their three races in with Britain’s Tom Squires building his lead ahead of Israel’s Yoav Omer and Tom Reuveny. Reuveny won the first race of the day, with Squires winning the last two races.
“It was another great day of breeze, it picked up this afternoon and we had three races in challenging weather conditions in terms of the shifts and the gusts but I had a really great time,” Squires said about the conditions.
“It has been a challenging event. The course area is quite close to the beach so we have been tucking up the inside of the shore sometimes, and the next race will be out to sea and I seem to be pulling it together slowly,” Squires added.
While Squires is already selected for Tokyo, Israel and other countries will still decide their selection following the RS:X World Championships in Sorrento at the end of February with racing heating up at Sail Melbourne, which is a welcome lead-in event for the world champs.
“It’s a warm-up regatta for our World Championships in Sorrento and Sail Melbourne is actually really relevant – it’s offshore here and it’s offshore in Sorrento so I am looking forward to getting prepared for the Worlds, the last one – ever,” Squires said. The RS:X will be replaced by the iQFoil as the windsurfer equipment for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
But until then, all eyes are set on Tokyo with under 200 days to go until the start of the Olympic Games.
“I have already qualified for Tokyo. It has been a long process and I had a bit of a break after the Worlds last year so I am building up now for the 2020 World Championships. It’s going to be full power until Tokyo and I am really excited to get training for the Olympic Games which is a bit surreal right now,” Squires added.
Men and women are racing together in one fleet at Sail Melbourne and Israel’s Noy Drihan, who is also still vying for Olympic selection, continues to lead after a 9 (drop) – 1 – 3 series on Sunday. Olympic champion Charline Picon continues in second place after a fourth, first and second place with Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska moving up into third after winning the last race of the day.
With kite-foiling added to the Olympic program for Paris 2024, the 2020 Australian Kite-foiling championships have attracted a lot of interest with17-year old Scott Whitehead from Townsville holding his lead after another three races and despite an OCS in the first one.
His sister and defending national champion Breiana Whitehead continues to lead the women’s category and is ranked fifth overall in the mixed fleet after posting a 2, 3, 6 series.
Kite-foiling is continuing to grow around the country and it is the first kite-foiling championship for Western Australian Alexander Landwehr who is ranked eighth overall after two days of racing.
“Yesterday was a really good day, and the first race today went as well as it could have. I did everything I wanted to do on the course, hit the right side both times which was good and I finished sixth. The next couple of days will be a very interesting regatta – that’s for sure,” Landwehr said.
Another six races are scheduled for the last two days of the regatta which will wrap up on Tuesday.
2.4mR and Liberty
Sail Melbourne International also includes the 2020 Australian Para-sailing championships with tight racing in the 2.4mR as well as the Liberty classes.
Michael Leydon (ACT) continues to lead the 2.4mR after six races, but with only one point separating the top three sailors Leydon, Peter Russell (ACT) and Neil Patterson (VIC) there is still a lot to play for with two days of sailing to go.
Patterson, who is the only sailor qualifying for the para-championships category, won the last race of the day and is enjoying the tight sailing between the able-body and para-sailors at Sail Melbourne.
“Today was a little bit different to the other two days. Michael (Leydon) had a pretty big lead with three wins coming into today, but I took a win and Peter took a win and there is now one point between the top three,” Patterson said.
“So yes, game on for the next two days. Michael has a one-point lead but really there is four races to go so any one of us three can win it. We’ve had some super close racing, the second race we were all within a couple hundred millimeters of each other. It was also the same thing in the first race – second and third place were super, super close.” Patterson added
South Australian Bob Schahinger continues to lead the Liberty but para-sailor Robert Crofts won the first race of the day and sits in second going into the final two days of racing.
“We are a strong fleet and are fortunate enough to have the reigning world champion Bob Schahinger. We are very privileged to have him here and I was able to steal a win from him today and honoured to come second to Bob in every other race that we have sailed.”
“We have some very experienced sailors here, including the state champion from Western Australia Tracy Odiam. She is the only female to represent this year, so a big credit to her for making the effort to come across. It is a small but quality fleet and a fantastic opportunity to get out and experience something big.” Bob Schahinger said.
In other results, American world champions Mike Holt and Rob Woelfel continue to lead in the International 505 class, with South Australians Robin Deussen and David Snoad moving into second.
Racing continues on Monday for day four of the event and with racing scheduled to commence from 2:00 p.m. at both Sail Melbourne International race venues Royal Brighton Yacht Club and Sandringham Yacht Club (Laser fleets).
See all results here: http://bit.ly/SailMelbourne2020Results
See updated race schedule here:
See video highlights clip here:https://youtu.be/QZ645nKRBLg
For more information about Sail Melbourne International head to www.sailmelbourne.com.au