Recently appointed Australian Sailing Performance Director Iain Murray has challenged the nation’s top Olympic class sailors to show their full array of skills at Sail Melbourne, which starts today, describing the regatta as the first important marker on the journey to next year’s World Championships and beyond.
The full complement of national team members – consisting the Australian Sailing Team, Australian Sailing Squad and Australian Sailing Youth Team – is competing at the event off Royal Brighton Yacht Club, which has drawn 330 competitors from nine countries across Olympic and Invited classes.
Among the top Australians in action will be Laser Olympic champion and World Championship silver medallist, Tom Burton, Olympic silver medallists and multiple 470 World Champions, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, and Nacra 17 Olympic silver medallists, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin.
Laser World Championship bronze medallist Matt Wearn is raring to go, as is Finn class Olympian Jake Lilley, who will have to contend with reigning World Champion, Max Salminen, of Sweden, and 2012 Olympic gold medallist in the Laser, Tom Slingsby.
The regatta is the last hit-out for the youth sailors who will represent Australia at the Youth Sailing World Championships at Sanya, China, from December 9-16.
“There are some really strong players here,” Murray said. “The Laser and Finn fleets are world class. I think the 49ers have a got really strong young squad, Mat and Will are here…
“The Australian Sailing Team has been in camp for the past week and it’s been great to see that building integration and camaraderie between all the team members, the young and the more experienced ones, as well as the crusty old coaches and newer ones. I think a lot of goodwill comes out of it. But now we focus on the water, which is really where their office is, to see them in play and see them put under the rigours of racing. It’s exciting to see and I think they’re all eager to get out there and show what they can do.”
Sail Melbourne is the first of three domestic regattas which Murray expects will shed light on the path towards Aarhus next August and, eventually, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“These are all stepping stone regattas – it’s early in the season – with Sail Sydney next week and the national titles coming up over Christmas,” said Murray, who is affectionately known as the Big Fella. “We’re clearly trying to build for country selection and the World Championships in Denmark next August. This is the first part of that. It’s about the process and the positioning and making sure we’re on the right path. Having said that, we’d still like some good results!”
*Olympic class racing is set for November 29 to December 2nd.
– Australian Sailing