Girl power on display as three invited classes enjoy their first day at Sail Sydney

Conditions were perfect on Sydney Harbour when three Youth classes went out at 11am for their first day of racing at Sail Sydney. A gradient breeze of 8 to 10 knots filled in to become a steady 15 knots from the north-east on relatively calm seas.

After the first of three races, it looked as though there would be red faces among the males as girl power asserted itself in the 29er, 470 and Laser 4.7.

29er

The 29ers were first away and the fleet quickly split into two, with the Royal Prince Alfred pair of Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot (daughter of multiple world champion Bobbie and cousin of Olympic Champion Nathan Wilmot) quickly establishing a stranglehold. Particularly strong downwind, the pair scooted away to lead by 200 metres at the halfway mark before coasting to victory. It was a different story in the second race when they wrapped some seaweed round their daggerboard and slipped back to 12th in the fleet before a 5th in the third race.

It was another female helm who would show the boys the way as the day progressed. Annabelle Davies, sailing with Hayden Hunt, put together a card of 2,1,4 over the three races. At the end of the day the Western Australian pair from Royal Freshwater Bay held a two point lead over Harry Lawson and Simon Hoffman from the Belmont 16ft Skiff Club.

Annabelle said the Manly ferries made life interesting but she was was very happy with the conditions today. “Freshie”, as her club is known in the West, has a number of well-credentialled coaches and Annabelle paid tribute to 2008 Olympic champion Tessa Parkinson who has been helping with their preparation.

420

A small but quality fleet of nine 420s followed the 29er start and again it was the girls with the early advantage. Sophie McIntosh and Emily Summerell made the early running in the first race and looked to have it sewn up before Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston-Smith managed to sneak past at the final gate and hold on to the finish.

Winston said that it was a front-runner's course today. “There weren't many passing lanes out there. Once you were in front it was pretty easy but if you got behind it was pretty hard. We mucked up the gate in the third race and finished up fourth.”

This looks to be a well-matched fleet. After three races Brodie and Winston-Smith are tied at the top with Finn Gilbert and Louie Collins on seven points, each with a win, a second place and a fourth. McIntosh and Summerell are tied for third with Dana Tavener and Catherine Pagget on nine points.

Laser 2.7

The girls were again fast out of the blocks in the small-sail Laser class, with Charley Wells from Royal Prince Alfred taking the gun in the first race. Sadly, the second race was started under black flag and Charley, eager to repeat her success, paid the penalty. She bounced back to take a hard-fought third place in race three

Consistency and staying out of trouble were the keys for Antony Hawke from Royal Prince Alfred, who put together an excellent starting day's scores of 2,1,4 to be four points in front of Max Quan (SYC) with Jarrah Shepherd (RPAYC) another point behind.

All three classes promise to deliver exciting racing at the top while further down the fleet valuable experience is being gained. Some crews will go to the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne next week while others have booked space in containers for their Nationals and Youth Championships in Perth between Christmas and New Year.

Tomorrow these three classes will be joined by Flying 11; non-Olympic Laser Standard and Radial; Sabot (one-up); Mirror; and 120 Optimists, which will be split into three fleets. The forecast is for moderate southerlies in the morning, easing later in the day.

– Sail Sydney Media

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