It had been blowing from the South at various angles and strengths all week, so it seemed only appropriate that for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne Medal Races, Melbourne should turn on the hot Northerlies. For the afternoon it would be between 18 to 26 knots with the occasional gust hitting about 30.
First of the Olympic classes to get away for their chance at glory was the Men's 470 fleet. Capitalising on a great week, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan sealed victory and their gold medal with an emphatic display to increase their lead at every mark rounding. Second on the day and overall as well are the South African crew of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson, 21 points behind the leaders. Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah (AUS) were fourth on the day and moved in to third place on the podium.
The Women's 470 was there for Sasha and Jaime Ryan to win and that they did, by winning the Medal Race to finish on ten points and stand atop the podium. They were 17 points clear of Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson in the silver medal. The latter only placed fourth on the day, but had enough in reserve to be in second place from Jacqui Gurr and Georgie Toner by a healthy eight points. This pair was second on the day and had they completed some of the racing earlier in the week then they well have been on top. Nicole Douglass and Lauren Sinclair were third on the day and finished fourth, but certainly could have been higher had they too competed earlier in the week.
The Finn followed form as well, with Brendan Casey cleaning up the course. Oliver Tweddell and Jake Lilley were second and third on the course and will stand that way on the podium for presentations, as well.
In the Laser, Matthew Wearn won on the day, with Ashley Brunning in second and Ryan Palk in third, but Tom Burton who finished fourth was still way ahead and collects the Gold. Wearn, 14 points behind, stands on the podium for second and Palk, two more points behind gets third.
Australia's Krystal Weir won the Medal Race and the Laser Radial event. She was 22 points ahead of Switzerland's Manon Luther, who in turn was six points clear of Elizabeth Yin from Singapore. Manon said of her second place, "Yes, it felt good and I've been trying to be really consistent and aim for a top three place each race. The light winds are more my thing, so today I just kept saying to myself that I had to hike hard. It has been a tough year, but I am really enjoying sailing for myself no and not just being a training partner. It's a lot more fun."
The 49er race lived up to the promise of excitement in a strong breeze. Steven Thomas and Rhys Mara had been the overnight leaders, but as the signals and gun went for a start, they were still some way up the course, coming down under spinnaker. Alas, they gybed and capsized the boat, so had to be around four minutes late for the start. Once through, they headed in towards shore and began the fight back, which they would do to a large degree.
Coming in to the bottom gate for the first time, both Will Phillips with Nick Brownie and Luke Parkinson with Jasper Warren capsized, leaving Tom Johnson and Harry Bethwaite to do the Steven Bradbury and take the lead, with Sam Kivell and Sam Phillips to go in to second place. Phillips and Brownie would regain the lead, with Thomas and Mara also making ground after their disastrous start. In the end, Parkinson and Warren would win and take Gold, with Phillips and Brownie holding on for second, leaving Thomas and Mara to get third.
The latter crew had more than enough points to take Silver, with Phillips and Brownie edging out Kivell and Phillips for the Bronze by just the one point.
Will said of the almost unbelievable topsy turvy nature of the race, which had memories of Qingdao popping in to one's mind, "You know we just made it in the end and I'm not surprised I fell off after the finish. There were things breaking and failing on board and we had a lot of tangles in the lines, too. Nick (Brownie) did a really good job today and he's been great to sail with."
The Women on the 49erFX skiff were very conservative at the pre-start and keen not to be On Course Side, which would really hurt their chances of getting on the podium. Tessa Parkinson and Kate Lathouras went for the port tack start and straight in to the beach, where there were gains to be made. They'd need them, for at the bottom of the last leg, they hit the gate and so had to do their penalty 360 turn. This allowed Alex Maloney and Molly Meech of New Zealand and Ella Giudice with Caitlin Elks (AUS) to go ahead of them and off out to sea. Olympic Silver Medallist, Olivia Price, would start behind the course and not compete, as she was ineligible for a medal, as she was sailing with James Sly.
Ultimately, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech would get Gold, with Tessa Parkinson and Kate Lathouras taking Silver. Bronze would go to Ella Giudice and Caitlin Elks, who had not been completely in contention earlier on in the week and even had a swim today during racing, so it proves that you do need to be out there and in it to get on the podium.
The Men's Windsurfer, RSX, would see just two starters race, as young Sam Treharne had gear failure on the way to the course. Luke Baillie collected Gold and then Patrick Vos took Silver.
ISAF IRO, Athanasios Papantoniou (Sulis), said whilst out on the water, "The conditions for this event were fantastic, as they allowed for the sailors to have a mix of light and heavy weather sailing, so something for everyone. Everyone got something that they would enjoy. The medal racing today could not be better - warm, windy and a fairly flat sea. A really good championship!"
Antonio de la Madrid, ISAF Sailing World Cup Manager said, "Today is perfect and really good for Medal Race. The race management are simply awesome and doing a great job, something they've done all week. Really happy with Melbourne and looking forward to next year and hope we get some more of these warm windy days."
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website