Competitors in the 420 World Championship that starts from Mornington Yacht Club today, were feted at the official Sail Melbourne Opening Ceremony last night at the host club, Mornington Yacht Club.
According to Sail Melbourne Chairman, Kevin WOOD, the night was a spectacular success, with a good fun atmosphere, "all in attendance had a fabulous time, the competitors getting right into the spirit of international competition and having fun with friends from around the world,"
He went on to say, "Sail Melbourne's sponsors are integral to the success of an event of this magnitude and we thank them all, with particular thanks to P&O Nedlloyd, who shipped 15 containers free of charge from Europe and Asia, and Schenker Australia, who co-ordinated the onshore logistics both in Australia and the ports of origin."
Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Australian 420 Class President, Trevor NEATE who introduced Mornington Yacht Club Commodore Bob ARMSTRONG, who in turn welcomed the teams to the Club and thanked the many volunteers for their monumental efforts.
International Class President, Nino SCHMUELI, all came all the way from Israel for the event, thanked all the teams for their commitment to the class and for making the trip to Australia. He also noted the great work of Chief Measurer Barry JOHNSON from Western Australia and his team, and congratulated the Mornington Yacht Club and Sail Melbourne on the organisation of the event.
Following the welcome and speaches, the National flag of each team was paraded past the officials gathered on the pontoon in front of the club, to the cheers of the crowd. With all the flags catching the late afternoon light, Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, Cr David RENOUF, officially declared the 2004 International 420 World Championships open.
Photographers' bulbs clicked away, capturing the moment with all the teams standing proudly in their uniforms, before enjoying a relaxed BBQ (for about 400 people!) at the club.
In all, there are 110 entries comprising 420 Open and 420 Womens. Australia has fielded 29 entries, with Italy (14), Japan (8), New Zealand (7), Greece (1), Germany (12), Singapore (3), Croatia (1), Switzerland (4), U.S.A. (3), Brazil (2), Great Britain (14) and France (5).
Racing gets underway today on Port Phillip Bay off Mornington. Organisers plan to get racing underway at 1200 hours local time, with no more than three races to be sailed on a single day.