Racing was cut short on the final day of Sail Sydney after a late start and with breezes lightening off and swinging during the afternoon. Eventually it was all over and winners of this annual Grade 1 event were announced at Woollahra Sailing Club, which hosted the event with assistance from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club.
Hannah Nattrass, who had gold taken from her in a protest situation on the last day of the regatta last year, was the easy winner of the 29er class this time round, her boyfriend, 470 Olympian Graham Biehl, crewing for her before leaving to resume 470 racing at Sail Melbourne, the first round of the ISAF World Sailing Cup, due to start in a week.
The Woollahra SC skipper last raced seriously at the Worlds and commented: “We just enjoyed ourselves here – it was fun.” Her next competition will be a change of pace; the Etchells Nationals when she will sail with Julian Plante.
Former double world champion and Beijing Olympian Tom Slingsby's third in the shortened Laser series was enough for the overall win by three points over New Zealand's Sam Meech.
“I couldn't even see where I finished today; heaps of us hit the finish line together, so I'll have to wait and see the results.” The Central Coast 25 year-old said he was rusty in some areas and good in others, “I've still got a bit of work to do, but I'm getting better all the time.”
Andy Maloney (NZL) did not have the last race results he wished for and dropped from second overall to third, behind his team mate. “I finished well back – it wasn't a good day for me,” he said.
In finishing fourth overall, last year's third placegetter, Daniel Mihelic from Croatia, broke up the Kiwi push, with Josh Junior (NZL) ending the regatta in fifth place overall. The New Zealanders performed strongly at Sail Sydney this year.
Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS) stayed focussed in spite of their huge lead in the 49er class – the mark of true professionals. A bullet and a second place just increased their final margin over second placed Peter Burling/Blair Tuke (NZL) and Euan McNicol/Tim Austin (AUS).
“The first race was much better than the second – the breeze really died out after the first one,” said Outteridge adding, “It'll be good to go to Sail Melbourne now and get some different conditions in preparation for the Worlds (in the Bahamas in January) – Melbourne will be a speed test.”
Coach, Emmett Lazich, said he hoped they would also get some very light conditions. “We tend to cancel races in Australia in the really light 0-5 knot stuff and we need practice in that, because they hold races overseas in that light stuff.”
Triple Olympian Jessica Crisp (AUS) maintained her performance of yesterday to win the RS:X Open Sailboard event from fellow Olympian Yasuko Kosuge (JPN) who had led the regatta until yesterday. Crisp won both races today, sailing in her preferred lighter conditions.
Brendan Casey's third place was enough for him to win the Finn class from triple Olympian Anthony ‘Nossiter. “We're just trying to get numbers up in the class in Australia and get into enjoying some sailing,” the Queenslander said.
Casey was on the receiving end of a pumping flag and did an incredible job to get back into the race and finish second in a dying north-easterly wind that oscillated between 5-12 knots.
Third overall was talented South Australian sailor James Paterson. “A fifth in our only race today was enough to keep me in third place,” a happy Paterson said.
Considering an Olympic campaign, but finding funding is a major issue, along with training partners in his neck of the woods, Paterson said “I didn't win a race here this time, but you don't have to win races to win a regatta.”
He and another talent, Warwick Hill (Vic), who finished fifth overall behind experienced Kiwi Olympian Nik Burfoot, felt they were making inroads in the class. “Last year Nocka and Brendan were pulling out on us, but not this year,” Hill said.
“I was able to beat Brendan and Nocka a couple of times this regatta – I'd just like to do it more often,” he said.
Beijing Olympic gold medallist in the 470 dinghy class, Malcolm Page, sailing with his new skipper Mat Belcher, won the 470 class cleanly. Two of their training partners, Sam Kivell/Will Ryan (Vic) and Stacey Omay/Chelsea Hall (WA) finished second and third overall respectively in a mixed Men's and Women's fleet.
Coached by Victor Kovalenko, who has now helped win gold medals for four Australian 470 teams (Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008), the three teams are on track for their Olympic and world championship goals.
The best international place in the 470 was the Women's pairing of Jo Aleh/Olivia Powrie (NZL). The two, who previously campaigned in the Laser Radial, led the Women's for a time, but finished fourth
overall and second Women's.
Tasmanian talent Chris ‘George' Jones scored a huge 30 point win in the Laser Radial and the next two places were filled by Women; Australian Development Squad member Laura Baldwin and Ireland's Annalise Murphy who led the Women's Olympic class Radial until today. Baldwin just quietly moved up the leaderboard over the four days.