Local sailing hero Matt Bugg today clinched a brilliant victory in the International 2.4mR Australian open championship by winning the final race in grand style on Hobart’s River Derwent.
The Worlds are in now firmly in his sight, starting on the river on Thursday, although Bugg is forecasting a tougher contest with the Finnish and British sailors getting to know the Derwent and its vagaries.
Bugg, who is expected to be named as Australia’s representative in the sailing at the Rio Paralympics within a few weeks, finished fourth in race six “covering my nearest opponents from Finland”. This was his discard race, in any case.
In the final race the Tasmanian won the start and sailed away to his fourth win in the seven race championship. His other placings were two seconds and fourth (his discard).
Finnish sailors filled the next two placings in the 35 boat fleet, Janne Laine taking second place by one point from Jan Forsbom, with British woman sailor Megan Pascoe taking fourth overall.
This is the sixth consecutive national open championship win by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member, but a world championship title or Paralympic medal so far eludes Bugg.
“In race six I set out to cover my nearest opposition from Finland, but in race seven I just sailed my own race, picking a big wind shift to ensure a last race win,” Bugg said.
“I am very happy with my boat, it’s going perfectly; I am well prepared, but the Worlds later this week will be tougher as the top visiting sailors have now had a good test of sailing on the Derwent,” he added.
Winner of race six yesterday was 64-year-old Peter Thompson from Canberra who represented Australia in the Paralympic sailing at Athens and Sydney.
Thompson picked some major windshifts after two general recalls and a black flag which saw five boats ‘black flagged’: RIkard Bjurstrom (FIN), Stephen McCullum (AUS), Peter Russell (AUS), Per Stromman (FIN) and Neil Patterson (AUS).
“They apparently misjudged the strength of the current,” a race officer commented later.
Megan Pascoe (GBR) was top placed woman sailor, finishing fourth overall while Tasmanian Lisa Blackwood (AUS) was second woman but more significantly second Australian in the 25 boat fleet, finishing eighth overall ahead of Peter Thompson, Michael Leydon and New Zealander Paul Francis.