The ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne opened on Port Phillip for the 21st time today. A dry day with cool southerly winds 8-14 knots and reasonably calm water created the perfect entrée before the main dish, which starts tomorrow, Tuesday December 9, 2014.
The working week began as it usually does for Melbourne’s greater population, with trains, trams and slow moving traffic shifting workers and school kids about the city. On the bay, Sailing World Cup organisers Yachting Victoria calmly completed the run sheet for a reduced first day program. Tomorrow the jam-packed Olympic and Paralympic class program commences in earnest, divided into two sessions – midday and 3pm.
The Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC), host venue for the ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne, is a bit like a mini-city this week. There are 800 competitors onsite and many of those have coaches and family with them. Nine partner clubs and SYC rallied 200 plus volunteers to coordinate everything from guest airport pickups to on-water race management. ISAF International race officials from around the world are on the ground and a growing communications team is taking Cup news to the world via social and traditional media channels.
Now to the day one racing and results….
Nathan Outteridge and his crew Iain Jensen (AUS) won a major victory just getting to the start line for their series opening three races. The 49er gold medallists from London missed a connecting flight and left San Francisco on Saturday night, which put them into Melbourne at 9.30am this morning. Sister Haylee drove their boat from Sydney and prepared theirs as well as her own 49erFX. The Australian Sailing Team (AST) sailors finished second to David Gilmour and Rhys Mara by one point.
“We tried to keep it simple today and the course wasn’t complex, a pretty simple left hand track,” said Outteridge. “We are pretty tired. For the amount of preparation we did we are happy.”
Outteridge is recovering from a foot injury sustained during a training camp at his home Lake Macquarie two weeks ago and says it’s still causing him some discomfort.
The 49er class centres around fit and agile Gen Y aged sailors. Bucking the trend is the senior of the group, Ian Cunningham, the President of Yachting Victoria who is sailing at the World Cup with his son David as crew.
“I’m pretty knackered about now, but we beat some people” said the grinning skipper back at SYC this evening.
Before August Ian had never sailed a boat with a trapeze, admitting “it was my idea to buy a 49er. If I don’t do it now I’ll never do it and David is silly enough to join me.” Father and son have been sailing together for 12 years and have a massive summer ahead starting with the World Cup then onto the B14 world championship and the International 14ft skiff world championship in January where he plans to be the “oldest newbie” on the starter’s list.
In among world champions and Olympic gold medallists Ian embodies the sport, “We are probably the only guys still smiling when we come last.”
Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) members Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks scored the opening top points in the 49erFX women’s skiff, beating Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen by one point.
Back at the boat park a shivering Lloyd said, “Today was about getting a good start and speed through the waves. Though it’s not an Olympic qualifier, every regatta is important and this one is one of my favourites because I’m at home.”
It was a powerful performance of three firsts in three races from the young AST team of Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS). They successfully achieved good separation from the other four catamarans in the shifty S-SW breeze.
Playing the right hand of the course in the first session’s 8- 12 knot breeze, Waterhouse and Darmanin kept fellow ASS athletes Euan McNicol and Lucinda Whitty in check, that combination finishing second overall ahead of Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS/AST) in third.
“We have a pretty small fleet, but really good quality with Darren Bundock, a dual medallist, and Euan McNicol who was twelfth in the worlds,” said Waterhouse. “We had plenty on our plate with that fleet. I suppose our approach was almost to forget about them and sail our own race.
“We haven’t raced since the Santander Worlds in September so this is a bit of training regatta as well as a tune-up to make sure we are in line with our goals as we head towards Europe next year,” he added.
Waterhouse has come to Melbourne carrying a back injury that has laid him low for the last two weeks. He’s also carrying the determination not to make the same mistakes as last year. “I got a Bronze medal last year and I was the favourite. I got smashed by those shifts. Today it was good to tack on the shifts when you had something to tack into. The breeze was quite patchy. Working the shifts and the pressure was quite challenging,” he added.
The Men’s RS:X Men’s fleet saw some tight racing across the eight-board fleet. Russia’s Evgeny Ayvazyan achieved strong starts against fellow Russian windsurfer Alexander Askerov in races one and two to lead the fleet around the course and across the line.
In the final race of the day Juozas Bernotas (LTU) found form to beat the 18-year-old Ayvazyan, but not before they shared the race lead. “In the first two races there was not a lot of wind, about 10 knots, which was good for me. But then the third race it was a little bit more so I couldn’t finish first,” Ayvazyan said.
Ayvazyan holds first place ahead of Bernotas in second and Askerov in third overall.
Russian sailors also dominated the women’s fleet with 17-year-old Stefania Elfutina winning all three races ahead of Anhela Poludarova. In third overall was Norway’s Maria Mollestad. “The wind was shifty and going to right sometimes and to left sometimes. It was hard conditions, but interesting,” the happy sailor commented.
Elfutina has been in the Women’s RS:X class for two years. This year she has raced in the World Cups in Hyeres, Palma and at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander in September.
Results are available here – www.sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php
Live Tracking – The racing will be available to watch in 2D and 3D via the live tracking. Click here to view live tracking.
– Lisa Ratcliff ISAF Sailing World Cup – Event Media