The 2016 SPLASH Festival, encompassing the 2016 Australian 420, Zhik Australian 9er, Australian I14 and the Australian Youth Championships will begin tomorrow on Sydney Harbour. Woollahra Sailing Club is a hive of activity as preparations reach their final stages. Competing boats are being measured, washed and tested before racing begins, with the practice races, tomorrow.
Australian I14 Championship
The I14s are the smallest and perhaps, most laid back of the classes set to compete this week – at least until they get on the water. Last year’s National ChampionsBrad Devine and Ian Furlong will be the team to beat. The pair will need to overcome the local knowledge of the NSW teams, including well known skiff sailors David Alexander, sailing with Daniel Wilsdon and Ed Cox, who will compete alongside Cameron McDonald.
Australian 420 Championship
With last year’s national Champions and the majority of the top ten progressing to new classes, the 420 Title is wide open. With 34 entries and a racecourse in the sound, there are a few teams to watch including NSW YST members, Sophie McIntosh and Emily Summerell, Charlotte Griffin and Chelsea Connor, who won the 2015 YNSW Youth Championships. However, based off the most reason form, it’s not all about the girls at the top of the ladder, with Nicholas Sharman and James Grogan competing. The Victorian’s earned their edge when they took out the 2015 Sail Sydney title, also held at WSC.
Without Youth World representatives, Kurt Hansen and Jim Colley currently in Malaysia, there will be a hole in the top of the fleet and plenty of sailors looking to fill it. There’s a few teams that could be in with a chance, with local John Cooley, who isn’t hiding the fact that he’s looking to go one better than his silver medal last year. Also looking to continue their recent form will be Tom Crockett and Tom Grimes. The first ‘all girls’ team will be a tough title to win,with WA’s Annabelle Davies and Hayley Clark claiming the crown over Youth Worlds Representatives, Amelia Stabback and Pia Doyle and NSW’s Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot keeping the results close.
The form guide is varied for this year’s Zhik 9er Championships is a relative unknown, thanks to new crew combinations and changes in teams. No doubt ones to watch will be Sydney local, Olivia Price and her crew, Eliza Solly. The two have returned from a recent trip to Rio De Janeiro in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics – the first time they had competed together in over 6 months. Price’s time on the harbour training for the 2012 Olympics, where she won a Silver Medal will be called upon as she, alongside Solly, look to edge out their competitors. Also on form are the ever-consistent combination of Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks. The pair joined in 2014 and will certainly be contenders for this year’s title, having spent the year training and competing at several venues around the world – chasing the competition and training in favourable conditions. The recent return of Haylee Outteridge and Nina Curtis will also make them ones to watch.
There is a large Australian Sailing Team presence amongst the men’s Olympic skiff class this year and a few teams who could take the title. Recently, Queenslanders Joel Turner and Tom Signato have held the edge over their NSW and WA rivals. The pair will be hoping for the same result they produced at the 2015 Sail Sydney, taking the win from the locals. Trying to stop the Queenslanders taking another win on the harbour will be Harry Price and his crew; Harry Morton. The pair has trained out of Woollahra Sailing Club throughout the year and their local knowledge will be hard to beat.
Not only is the general competition fierce, it’s also within the family as the three Gilmour brothers; David, Samuel and Lachlan steer competing boats. Lewis Brake will join David, in a relatively new combination, Cameron Seagreen will join Samuel and Lachlan will sail with Ryan Donaldson. The whole family is in town, including their mum and their renowned yachtsman dad, Peter. You can only imagine the dinner discussion after a big day on the water!
An Iconic Venue
Racing begins tomorrow, with the invitation race and will continue until the 4th of January. A potential rest-day on the 5th will see the return of racing on the 6th through to 8th, when the Awards Ceremony will be held. The 420s will be competing within the Manly Sound, whilst the 9ers and I14s will be racing across the main harbour.
Competitors have been asked to keep an eye out for passing yachts and motorboats. Sydney Harbour is not only a beautiful sailing venue, but also a working port and tourism hub.
Who will take the crowns this year? At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess and anyone’s game. Stay tuned to find out…
Alex South/Splash Media