Usual suspects show good form on opening day of Sail Sydney

The opening day of Sail Sydney 2014 exploded with a bevy of sailing’s A-Listers rolling into Rose Bay to tackle gusty 20 knot summer nor’easters and a choppy Sydney Harbour.

Finn champion Jake Lilley slept on the plane from Abu Dhabi and the ISAF World Cup Final to arrive in Sydney early this morning. As he rigged up at Woollahra Sailing Club he admitted, “Normally I have performance objectives before going racing, today my objective is to stay awake.”

Jetlag didn’t dent Lilley’s form whatsoever. The towering Australian Sailing Squad member finished with a clean sweep of three wins from the 11-strong Finn division.

At the Moth park a quiet collection of aficionados rigged up in the morning for their maiden four races. America’s Cup sailors Glenn Ashby, Kyle Langford and Tom Slingsby joined recognised Moth names Scott Babbage and former world champion Josh McKnight.

Like Lilley, Ashby spent the night travelling to make this morning’s 11.30am first start off Double Bay. The Emirates Team New Zealand crewmember drove from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula “listening to Led Zeppelin and other old school rock given there were no kids in the car”, stopping at Albury in the early hours for a sleep. “I thought I’d come and see the boys and it will be nice to get a few starts in before the worlds,” Ashby said. “Moth sailing is awesome fun, though I spend half my time upside down.”

For someone who turtles as often as he thinks, and considering he drove most of the night, Ashby managed a very respectable fifth overall on the pointscore on day one of the Moth’s three-day series.

Other than race one when he sailed the wrong course in the building nor’easter, Slingsby whitewashed the next three to be second overall to Babbage, the best score he’s pulled off in the Moths. “My main goal is the next America’s Cup and it doesn’t matter whether you are on an AC72 or a Moth, it’s all learning about apparent winds, sailing on foils and where you lose time around the course,” Slingsby said.

The low-key Gosford based Laser gold medallist from the London Games made some young sailors very happy this morning autographing their shirts.

The only woman racing a Moth in the opening block of competition, Annalise Gilbert, admits she struggled downwind in the bump and fresh breezes, but given she was going training anyway this afternoon she thought she “may as well sail around with people who know what they’re doing”. Too true.

Josh McKnight’s opening bout finished prematurely when his Moth’s bow mechanism sheered in race two while leading the fleet. Tom Spithill suffered a similar fate though his early retirement came from a broken tiller, also when he was ahead of the pack.

For the 49erFX combination of Olivia Price and Eliza Solly, Sail Sydney is their warm-up for next week’s ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne and Miami OCR at the end of January. The pair hasn’t competed since the ISAF World Championship in Santander, Spain in September and were excited to return strongly and score three wins from three starts.

The 49erFXs and 49ers raced in a mixed fleet, Price commenting, “Having the boys race with us applied pressure and made us think ahead about our execution. And we were able to keep up with them, particularly in race three.”

Queenslander 49er pair of Joel Turner and Lewis Brake made a clean sweep of results, relegating the Italians Ruggero Tita and Giacomo Cavilli on Trentino to second and the two Harrys, Harry Price and his crew Harry Morton, the current 29er world champion, to third.

The afternoon session and the strongest winds of the day greeted the 470s, Flying Dutchmans, 2.4mR and Laser Radials. Dual 470 Olympic gold medallist Malcolm Page is coaching and mentoring a number of 470 crews at Sail Sydney. Results for the 470s and all divisions will be available shortly by clicking here.

Entries for the ISAF graded regatta keep climbing and now stand at 343. Competition is split across two sessions, Tuesday December 2 to Thursday 4 for Olympic and Moth classes and Friday through to Sunday December 7 for invited and youth classes.

The NSW Government is a key Sail Sydney supporter along with Nautilus Marine, Gill Marine clothing, Steve Jarvin Motors, Lejen Marine, Tohatsu Outboards and Sydney Harbour Boat Storage.

List of entries

– Lisa Ratcliff/Sail Sydney

Jeanneau JY60
NAV at Home
Race Yachts
West Systems