The eyes of the sailing world are back on Weymouth and Portland with Olympic medallists returning to the venue of the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth/Portland with just fourteen months to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
On the road to Rio, Australian Sailing is looking strong with the Australian Sailing Team and Squad competing in full force at the ISAF Sailing World Cup after all but two development boats qualified to contest the ten Olympic classes at Weymouth.
The Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) will be represented in Weymouth with 22 boats in nine of the ten Olympic class events, which will see the top 40 sailors compete in each class. In addition, the Australian Sailing Team will also be represented with one boat in the Paralympic Sonar class.
2012 Olympic gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen as well as Mat Belcher have returned to Weymouth and Portland to contest the fourth of six ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas in 2015. It is their first time back to the place that holds many “golden memories” for them and for Australian Sailing with Australia’s sailors winning three gold and one silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Australia was the most successful sailing nation at London 2012 and Australian Sailing the most successful Australian Olympic sport. “It’s a special feeling being here”, Olympic gold medallist Mat Belcher said. “I have great memories from Weymouth, particularly after the Medal Race, celebrating looking back up at the spectators on the Nothe. It was a great time in my life and to share that with my wife [Friederike Belcher (GER)] was very special as she was also competing.”
Also Olympic gold medallist Nathan Outteridge is excited to be back in Weymouth for the first time since 2012. “It’s our first time here since the Olympics and it’s exciting for us to be competing on such memorable waters. Whether it’s in the boat park or out on the water, there are a lot of awesome memories for Goobs (Iain Jensen) and I,” Nathan Outteridge said. “Some of our most fond memories are on land, the celebrations after winning the Olympic gold medal and we are really enjoying what this place was for us in 2012.
“For us to be able to come here and to be able to compete again is a huge privilege and we are just excited to be back out here and racing and seeing all the familiar sites. We spent a lot of time here living and breathing Weymouth and to come back for two weeks and do the World Cup event is awesome.”
Weymouth is the second time the Australian Sailing Team will race in the new ISAF Sailing World Cup format. The ISAF Sailing World Cup changes were introduced at the last World Cup regatta in Hyères, France where Australia came away with three medals, one gold for Tom Burton in the Laser, silver for Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er as well as for Mat Belcher and Will Ryan in the Men’s 470.
This ISAF Sailing World Cup is the second major event for Australia’s sailors on the road to Rio 2016 selection and the third of five 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup series events that lead up to the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi later this year. Each World Cup class has a maximum of forty entries with the world’s top 30 ranked sailors having qualified for an invitation to compete at Weymouth and Portland through their ISAF ranking (as of 27 April 2015). The remaining entries were earned at last week’s qualification event, the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, the Netherlands.
Top results at the key international regattas are required to be named in the Australian Sailing Team and to be nominated for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic teams and Weymouth and Portland will be a good opportunity for final preparations before heading into the major class Championships coming up in 2015 as well as the Rio Test event (August 15-24). Also, ISAF Sailing World Cup glory and a share of the €78,000 prize fund are on offer with racing commencing on Wednesday, 10 June with a four-day series building up to the live Medal Races on Sunday 14 June.
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470M
Five-time World Champion Mathew Belcher won Olympic gold in 2012 together with Malcolm Page and has continued his golden form by taking a number of World Cup medals with World Champion crew Will Ryan (QLD), who he teamed up with towards the end of 2012. The pair has been on the podium at every major event they have competed at since they started sailing together. They come to Weymouth and Portland after winning the silver medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères and will be amongst the front-runners for gold at the World Cup regatta and Belcher is pleased to be back.
“It’s interesting to come back here to compete at the back of the Games with a new sailing partner,” Mat Belcher said. “We’ve been together now for more than two and a half years and I obviously have the experience of having sailed here before over many months, but it will be our first time of sailing here together. We’re looking forward to seeing how we are going and it’s going to be an interesting battle with the same people from the Games but with all of us having new sailing partners. It will be a different challenge and good racing.”
They are joined by Australian Sailing Squad’s Alexander and Patrick Conway who qualified for the ASS at the ISAF Sailing World Champs in September last year and secured their invite to Weymouth as the 17th ranked team.
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Four Australian 49er crews will be competing in the 40-boat fleet at Weymouth with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, David Gilmour (WA) and Rhys Mara (VIC) as well as Joel Turner (QLD) and Lewis Brake (QLD) qualifying after finishing second, fourth and 30th respectively at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères. New ASS combination of Will Phillips (VIC) and James Wierzbowski (VIC) also secured their qualifying spot at the Delta Lloyd Regatta last week.
After winning the silver medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères at the end of April and following a stint with their Artemis America’s Cup team in Bermuda, London gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are back in the 49er for Weymouth and Portland and have made the most of their time in the lead up to racing starting on Wednesday. “We haven’t done a whole lot of sailing in the last months since Hyères finished so we’ve been making the most of our time here on the water. We’ve got a brand new boat and it’s been a busy few days here in the lead up to the regatta. The weather is looking quite good for the week and we can’t wait to get back out there and race again,” Nathan Outteridge said.
It will be the second time that the 49er fleet will race in the new 40-boat invitational fleets, a format the sailors are still getting used as Outteridge explains: “This will be the second round of the new ISAF Sailing World Cup format with 40 boats competing throughout the whole week. It’s a much bigger fleet than the 25 boats we are used to. It’s a very different event to what we are used to compete in but it’s also exciting to have the top 40 travel the world together and having to ensure that you qualify for these events.”
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
Only two of the three Australian Sailing Squad’s 49erFX crews will compete at Weymouth and Portland after Eliza Solly (VIC), who is sailing with Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price (NSW), had to pull out of the competition due to injury.
Price and Solly kicked-off their 2015 European season well after finishing third at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma and ninth at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères.
Fellow Australian Sailing Squad 49erFX teammates Tess Lloyd (VIC) and Caitlin Elks (WA) come to Weymouth and Portland after a 21st place in Hyères and a sixth place at last week’s Delta Lloyd Regatta.
Haylee Outteridge (NSW) and Sarah Cook (NSW), who secured their World Cup qualifying spot by finishing the Delta Lloyd Regatta in seventh, will join them. Delta Lloyd was the second international event and first international medal race for the still new combination.
Men's One Person Dinghy – Laser
World #1 Tom Burton heads into Weymouth in good form having won World Cup Hyères. He will be closely chased by teammate Matt Wearn (WA) who most recently won the Delta Lloyd Regatta and is eager to continue his good form. “The win in Medemblik has prepared me well for Weymouth. It gives me a great deal of confidence that I have the ability to be on the top of the podium.
“The Laser fleet as always is extremely competitive. It feels that you can go to any event around the world and you can expect to be racing the world's best. The depth in the fleet is incredible so that anyone from the top 20 in the world has the ability to win regattas.
“I feel Weymouth will be no exception to this and that it's going to be another incredibly tight regatta between the top few guys in the world. It is definitely now becoming the time where everyone wants to assert their position going in to the last year before the [Olympic] Games.”
Both Burton and Wearn form part of an exceptional fleet of 40 strong Laser sailors in Weymouth and Portland. The Laser is one of the most hotly contested Olympic fleets with a number of competitors consistently fighting for top honours. With six boats qualified, Australia has the largest contingent in the 40-boat Laser fleet, underlying the current strength of the Australian Laser program coached by Olympic bronze medallist Michael Blackburn and former Australian Sailing Team athlete Ashley Brunning.
London 2012 Olympic silver medallists in the Women’s Match Racing Nina Curtis (NSW) and Lucinda Whitty (NSW) return to Weymouth in competing crews in the Nacra 17 after the Elliott-6 was abandoned from the Olympic program.
And even though it is in a different class, Nina Curtis is excited to be back at the Olympic venue: “I’m back here in Weymouth in a different class as I’m now sailing the Nacra with Darren Bundock. “It’s good to be here and while it’s my second time here, it’s Darren’s first, so I get to show him all the great things Weymouth has to offer. The water especially is unreal here, there’s always great wind and it’s really good to be sailing back here.”
The mixed multihull catamaran Nacra 17, which will premier on the Olympic program in 2016, will be another boat class to watch with regards to internal Australian battles as two AST and one ASS crew are in contention for the Olympic spot.
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères, Olympic silver medallists Darren Bundock (NSW) and Nina Curtis (NSW) finished fourth, while Australian Sailing Team’s second crew of World Championship bronze medallists Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) finished overall seventh. The third crew in the mix are Australian Sailing Squad’s Olympic medallist Lucinda Whitty (NSW) and Euan McNicol (NSW) who finished 18th at Hyères.
Men's One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) – Finn
Australian Sailing Squad’s Jake Lilley (QLD) and Oliver Tweddell (VIC) will be representing Australia in the Finn Class with both sailors vying for the Olympic berth.
Both sailors are coached by U.S. Olympic medallist coach John Bertrand and both had a disappointing ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères, France at the end of April, where Oliver Tweddell finished 19th and Jake Lilley 26th and will be looking to move up the results ladder at this World Cup round. Most recently they both qualified for the final Medal Race at Delta Lloyd Regatta with Jake Lilley taking home the bronze medal and Oliver Tweddell finishing the event in fifth. 21-year old Lilley, who is currently ranked fourth in the World, also finished second at the Finn Junior European Championships and eighth at the Open Europeans a couple of weeks ago.
Women’s 470 / Laser Radial / RS:X Women
In the Women’s 470 Sasha Ryan (QLD) and Amelia Catt (TAS) will be the only boat representing Australia after Carrie Smith (WA) and crew Jaime Ryan (QLD) had to pull out due to recurring medical issues.
In the Laser Radial Ashley Stoddart (QLD) will represent Australia. Stoddart steadily climbed up the results ladder at the Delta Lloyd Regatta last week and just scraped into her first Medal Race of 2015 by one point to finish the event in overall ninth.
Australian Sailing Squad’s windsurfer Joanna Sterling (QLD) also made the Delta Lloyd Regatta Medal Race finishing the event in tenth and will be looking to build on her performance for the RS:X event at Weymouth.
In the Paralympic boat classes, Australia’s Sonar Team of Paralympians Colin Harrison (WA), Jonathan Harris (NSW) and Russell Boaden (WA) will be competing in the six-boat Sonar fleet.
The team took home the silver medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères and come to Weymouth after winning Gold at the Delta Lloyd Regatta last week.
It is a return to the London 2012 Paralympic venue for Colin Harrison and Jonathan Harris who are excited to be back: “It’s great to be back in Weymouth and it’s our first time back since the London 2012 Paralympics. It’s a spectacular venue especially when the sun is shining,” Colin Harrison said. “Since 2012 we’ve reformed the team and have Rusty (Russell Boaden) back on the team, and he has brought a lot of experience to the front of the boat. We’ve been doing very well with our results and have been on the podium at every regatta since the 2012 Paralympics. So we’re really gelling well as a team and getting the results.”
And looking back to 2012 Jonathan Harris added: “We didn’t make the podium in 2012 so I think we have some unfinished business here. It’s good to be back and hopefully we can finish off what we started back then.”
Results will be available here – www.sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php
Australian Sailing Preview video: https://youtu.be/gTzxiWZUwY8
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.org
For an overview and preview of the Australian Sailing Team’s 2015-16 season see here: http://www.australiansailing.org/aussailing-embarks-on-road-to-rio-2016-preview/
2015 Australian Sailing Team & Australian Sailing Squad at Weymouth
Men’s Two Person Dingy – 470M
– Mathew Belcher (QLD/QAS) & Will Ryan (QLD/QAS) – AST
– Alexander Conway (NSW) & Patrick Conway (NSW) – ASS
Mixed Multihull – Nacra17
– Jason Waterhouse (NSW) & Lisa Darmanin (NSW) – AST
– Darren Bundock (NSW) & Nina Curtis (NSW) – AST
– Euan McNicol (NSW) & Lucinda Whitty (NSW) – ASS
Men’s Skiff – 49er
– Nathan Outteridge (NSW) & Iain Jensen (NSW) – AST
– David Gilmour (WA/WAIS) & Rhys Mara (VIC/VIS) – AST
– Joel Turner (AST – QLD/QAS) & Lewis Brake (ASS – QLD/QAS) – ASS
– Will Phillips (VIC/VIS) & James Wierzbowski (VIC/VIS) – ASS
Women's Skiff – 49erFX
– Tess Lloyd (VIC/VIS) & Caitlin Elks (WA/WAIS) – ASS
– Haylee Outteridge (NSW) & Sarah Cook (NSW – ASS
Men's One Person Dinghy – Laser
– Tom Burton (NSW) – AST
– Matthew Wearn (WA/WAIS) – AST
– Luke Elliott (WA/WAIS) – ASS
– Mitchell Kennedy (QLD/QAS) – ASS
– Ryan Palk (QLD/QAS) – ASS
Other non-AST/ASS Australian crews: Jeremy O’Connell (VIC):
Women's One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
– Ashley Stoddart (QLD/QAS) – ASS
Men's One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) – Finn
– Jake Lilley (QLD/QAS) – ASS
– Oliver Tweddell (VIC/VIS) – ASS
Women's Two Person Dinghy – 470W
– Sasha Ryan (QLD/QAS) & Amelia Catt (TAS/TIS) – ASS
Women's Windsurfer – RS:X
– Joanna Sterling (QLD/QAS) – ASS
Three-Person keelboat – Sonar
– Colin Harrison (WA/WAIS) & Jonathan Harris (NSW) & Russell Boaden (WA/WAIS)