Cream rises to the top at Sail Melbourne

As the temperature rose in Melbourne the Australian Sailing Team's athletes lifted a notch, with race wins aplenty on day three of Sail Melbourne.

In the 49er class current World Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen had a fight on their hands all day with New Zealand crew Peter Burling and Blair Tuke winning the opening two races. The Kiwis led the fleet from start to finish in race one before Outteridge and Jensen hit back in race two, only to be beaten over the finish line by the smallest of margins by Burling and Tuke.

Heading into the final race of the day the New Zealanders had a slender one point lead but the final honours went to Outteridge and Jensen with Burling and Tuke third behind brothers Will and Sam Phillips. So after nine races it's the World Champions one point ahead of the Kiwis with the Phillips brothers third.

“We had to fight all day to stay up there,” said Outteridge. “In race one the Kiwis didn't make a mistake and we had to follow them around the course, while in race two we led the whole way only to have them get past us at the last minute for the victory.”

“In the third race the Kiwis had a bad start which we were able to force on them and they got to the top mark in fourth with us in second. Will and Sam Phillips had the lead and on the final lap we went left and he went right and we managed to gain 40 seconds. We followed them down the last beat and when they gybed we gybed and we managed to roll them and cross the line about a boat length ahead,” said Outteridge.

The Australian Sailing Team's Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page kept their 100 per cent record intact, moving out to a seven point lead from American's Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl with local sailors Sam Kivell and Will Ryan moving into third position after a strong day.

“The racing was very win orientated today, instead of the fleet based racing we had in the opening two days,” said Belcher. “It was all about risk management on the course, you had to be very careful and weigh up all the consequences before making any decisions, and then after all of that sometimes you can't always get it right.”

“But in saying all of that we still had two wins and have a comfortable lead so we can't complain too much,” he said.

New Zealanders Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie continue to lead the 470 women's class but they suffered their first race loss today, to West Australian's Stacey Omay and Chelsea Hall. Aleh and Powrie now have a five point lead over the Australian crew with Singapore's Dawn Liu and Siobhan Tam third.

“We're pretty happy with our efforts today,” said Omay. “In the second race we got a great start and finally got that first win of the regatta.”

“We feel we're finally closing the gap to the Kiwis and with five races left there are still plenty of opportunities to close the gap and catch them. Now that we've turned it around we need to build on that momentum tomorrow,” she said.

The Australian Sailing Development Squad's James Paterson continues to lead the Finn class, having a first and a fifth today to move eight points clear of Henry Bagnall, Tim Castles and Warick Hill, all tied on 14 points.

“Overall I sailed pretty well today, it was just the start of that first race where I lost concentration a bit and found myself last at the top mark,” said Paterson. “I managed to fight back pretty well and ended up in fifth.”

“The second race was a different story, it was pretty tricky when the wind drop but it shifted left a bit and luckily I was on the left side and managed to win by well over a minute,” he said.

Australian Jessica Crisp overcame a tough opening race in the RS:X women's class to hit back with a win to open up a five point buffer over Norway's Jannicke Stalstrom with Angeliki Skarlatou third.


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