The famous Sydney sea breeze was somewhat subdued for the second day in a row at Sail Sydney, producing a delicate 10-13 knot breeze on a delectable Sydney summer day.
This year’s Sail Sydney has the added spice of being the Oceania Qualifier for the Paris Olympic Games, with twelve nation quotas available across the ten classes.
Australia achieved the nation quota in five of the classes at the 2023 Sailing World Championships in The Hague, leaving five quotas to be achieved in the 49er, Men’s Kitefoil, Mixed 470, Nacra 17 and the Women’s iQFOiL.
The Australian Sailing Squad Mixed 470 team of Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas find themselves in second place overall after a 1, 2, 3 day across the three races, but crucially they lead the closest Oceanic nation (New Zealand) by 12 points.
“We’re definitely keeping an eye on them so we can be sure to secure the spot for Australia” said Nicholas of their Trans-Tasman rivals.
“The conditions were pretty tricky. We started the day in about five to six knots and finished the day in about twelve to thirteen which was really nice. The top mark was right next to the land, so you had to get your timing right and hope you got the shift at the right moment.”
Sail Sydney is being run over two venues this year, with the iQFOiL and Formula Kites racing on Botany Bay out of Georges River Sailing Club and the rest of the classes on Sydney Harbour out of Woollahra Sailing Club.
Breiana Whitehead (Women’s Formula Kite), Grae Morris (Men’s iQFOiL) and Samantha Costin (Women’s iQFOiL) all have commanding leads in their respective classes, but they are having to deal with smacks of troublesome jellyfish.
“No one’s a big fan of the jellyfish,” explained New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete Amelia Quinlan.
“They are just hitting our foils and sticking to them, so we have to clean our foils daily. Other than that, it is a beautiful spot where we can just foil fast.”
There are tight battles among other fleets, with Sam King (ILCA 7) and Brin Liddell and Rhiannon Brown (Nacra 17) among those holding slender leads in their respective classes.
Australia has already achieved a Paris 2024 nation quota in the ILCA 6, leaving the highly competitive Australian squad to now battle it out for Olympic selection.
Squad member Mara Stransky has elected to miss Sail Sydney to make an early journey to Argentina for their January Worlds, so that leaves the other squad members, Elyse Ainsworth, Casey Imeneo and Zoe Thomson to battle it out at Sail Sydney. They currently occupy the top three spots with just two points between them.
“They’re having a great tussle between themselves again, just like they did at Sail Melbourne,” said Australian Sailing’s Technical Director Michael Blackburn.
“This is a great regatta for them to fine-tune their racing skills before heading to Argentina for their World Championships starting early in the new year. Their racing is improving and their physical training is coming to a stage where they can wind that down as well, start to feel a little fresher each day and start to peak ahead of what we expect to be a very physical World Championships.”
Racing is scheduled to commence at midday tomorrow at both venues.
Head of Marketing and Communications, Australian Sailing