Olympians to compete at Sail Sydney

Five Olympic sailors, including a Beijing gold medallist, are early entries for Yachting NSW's 2009 Sail Sydney (previously known as the Sydney International Regatta), which will again be held on Sydney Harbour from December 5-8 off the host venue, Woollahra Sailing Club.

The only ISAF Grade 1 event in NSW, Sail Sydney will feature 470, 49er, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, and RS:X all classes that will compete at the Olympics in London 2012.

Sail Sydney entry is also open to the junior 420, 29er, Laser 4.7 and Bic Techno 293 classes, feeder boats into the Olympic classes, along with the Hobie 16 and Moth classes, which will undoubtedly add colour and spectacular viewing to this year's event.

Early entries for Sail Sydney include Australian Sailing Team members who represented at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games; Tom Slingsby (Laser), triple Olympian Anthony Nossiter (Finn), Nathan Outteridge with his new crew Iain Jensen (49er skiff) and 470 gold medallist Malcolm Page, with his new skipper Mathew Belcher.

Page, from Sydney, won the gold medal with his former skipper Nathan Wilmot and the two went their separate ways after the Games to pursue different sailing dreams. Ironically, it was Page's now skipper Belcher, from Queensland, who pushed the former pairing in the four years leading up to the Olympics, defeating Wilmot/Page at several major regattas.

“There's no better place to sail than Sydney Harbour,” Page stated today, before starting training at the Institute of Sport in Canberra.

“Mat and I are keen to go sailing again and we're both looking forward to SIRs, our first Olympic class regatta of the summer,” commented Page who says sailing with Belcher has “given me a fresh perspective.”

Slingsby won two Laser world titles in succession in 2007 and 2008 and regained that form to win Gold at the Sail for Gold Regatta sailed at the new Olympic venue in Weymouth, England this past September.

Outteridge, too, can claim two successive world titles, winning the 2008 and 2009 49er Worlds. The 23 year-old changed crews after the Beijing Games to win his 2009 crown with Iain Jensen, whom he reconnected with after they scored world, national and state championship wins in junior classes during their youths.

The NSW pair has won each of the three Grade 1 Olympic events they have contested this year, and because of his outstanding results in the 49er and finishing runner-up at the 29er and Moth worlds in the last 12 months, Outteridge is the only Australian finalist in the 2009 World Sailor of the Year awards, to be announced on November 10.

Some of the country's best Youth sailors will also take part. James Sly and Andrew Gillies will head-up the 29er skiff class. The current 29er Australian champions, they scored a major coup last week taking out the Junior Team of the Year at the Victorian Sport Awards.

Ashley Stoddart, the 2009 Australian Laser Radial champion, will head up the Female entries in the Radial. In August, the Queensland schoolgirl finished runner-up at the Laser Radial Youth World Championship in Japan, where she was crowned the Under 17 world champion.

Prior to that, the 16 year-old finished sixth at the Volvo ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, as a representative of the Australian Youth team.

Internationally, entries have already been received from Canadian Michael Leigh, a Beijing Olympian who continues his quest for an Olympic medal in the Laser class, and Ryan Seaton/Matt McGovern, who will represent Ireland in the 49er skiff.

“It's gratifying to see so many Olympians return for this great annual event,” said Peter Hemery from Yachting NSW.

“Not only is it a good opportunity to earn valuable points for an Olympic campaign, it is also a great chance for up-and-coming young sailors to compete against some of the best sailors in the world. I can't think of another sport where no matter what standard you are, you can come and compete against Olympians”.

Entries for the 18th edition of Sail Sydney, hosted by Woollahra Sailing Club, close on November 20.

Online entry, Notice of Race and further information at: http://www.sailsydney.org.au/

Di Pearson, Sail Sydney media

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