GBR Vs. AUS In Lasers
Great Britain versus Australia continues out on the Laser course on Port Phillip Bay at Sail Melbourne International Regatta - reminiscent of the Rugby Union grand final not so long ago.
In the two races completed today, Paul GOODISON (GBR) showed he is well and truly back in the form that had him Ranked No. 1 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings until late last year - the break obviously doing him good. He finished today with a 2-1 result for ten points overall to lead the series which has four races to go. He came ashore happy and relaxed.
Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) finished his day with a 6-8, dropping the latter, as one race drop has come into play after their six races. As soon as he unrigged he headed for home, '"yes, I've got a bit of a cold, I just need to go and get some rest, but I'm enjoying the tight racing,"
He is now on 16 points - equal to that of his Australian adversary, Brendan CASEY, who had a great day with a fourth and fifth placing. Like Goodison, the Queenslander came ashore with a big smile on his face.
Just behind them on points is another Aussie, this one improving all the time. Tom SLINGSBY went 2-1 today, his best result in some classy competition, lifting him up the ladder to 18 points, followed by to Englishmen - Mark HOWARD and Ed WRIGHT.
Howard had a bad one in Race 6, an 11 which he has used as a drop; Wright too, went off the boil a bit with two tenth places, to leave him on 24 points. It appears the winner will come from the top six players, but more likely the top three.
All competitors at this Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes regatta are collecting ISAF Grade 1 points towards their rankings.
Michael BLACKBURN is likely to be announced as the person to represent at Athens this year, having an unassailable points lead, while Great Britain have delayed their selection till later, having chosen representatives in most other classes.
Beautiful conditions met the Laser fleet as they left Sandringham Yacht Club today - 8-10 knots on flat seas and sunshine.
Despite an OCS in Race 10, Chris NICHOLSON/Gary BOYD (AUS) continue to lead the 49er class.
The boys from Belmont on Sydney's north coast, redeemed themselves however, finish a second place finish in Race 11, to still give them a buffer of seven points to their nearest rivals, Ilya ERMAKOV/Maxim LOGOUTENKO (RUS) who finished their day with a 4-8 result for 30 points.
Sailing in light 8-10 winds under blue skies, the 'locals', brothers Ben and Marcus TARDREW, had a win in Race 10, finishing fifth in Race 11 to be third overall, just one point away from second place.
Iker MARTINEZ/Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) put in their first appearance on the course today. Martinez has been suffering knee problems, "I feel my leg is alright to race today, we'll go and see how we go, I have to be a bit careful with it,"
he said earlier. With two third places straight up, the duo who are one of the top two Spanish crews, may give Nicholson and Boyd a run for their money today.
Nathan WILMOT/Malcolm PAGE (AUS) have settled in to first place nicely at the Sail Melbourne Regatta in the 470 class. With the 420 World title tucked away, the pair are in great shape showing no signs of weariness after such a long campaign both here in Australia and overseas.
Two second places yesterday on the windward/leeward courses on Port Phillip Bay in 8-10 knots of breeze, give the pair 16 points overall with three races left to sail over the next two days.
Nick ROGERS/Joe GLANDFIELD (GBR), recently selected to represent Great Britain the Athens Olympics, currently hold down second place, with a fourth in Race 7 and a win in Race 8, giving them 19 points - only three within striking distance of the leaders.
Gustavo MARTINEZ/Dimas VALDIVELSO (ESP) continue to hold onto third place overall, although their ninth and seventh places yesterday were not their best, the earlier result being used as their drop.
In the Women's, Ingrid PETITJEAN/Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) barnstormed today, a third and an eighth place in the Combined fleet for 64 points putting them one point in front of the girls who will represent in Athens, Christina BASSADONE/Katherine HOPSON (GBR).
Jenny ARMSTRONG/Belinda STOWELL are in third overall some ten points behind the lead girls. While they got off the blocks fasteryesterday, they did not sail as well, as reflected by their 19-16 finishes today in the Combined fleet.
Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) on a mission to represent Australia at the Athens Games continued to show his is the right man for the job, with two wins and a second place to consolidate his lead in the Finn class.
Nossiter, who comes from Sydney, represented Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games and for some time has had no Australian peer in the class.
That could all change, with a young up and coming star in West Australian, Josh BEAVER (AUS), claimed to second's and a win in yesterday's final race for 13 points overall with three races to be sailed over the next two days to complete the series.
Paul MCKENZIE (AUS) and old adversary of Nossiter for the Olympic spot in 2000, currently holds down third overall with 19 points with three third places today.
The Finn's got underway at 3.00pm local time today in 15-22 knot winds on Port Phillip Bay. Race Officials at Sandringham Yacht Club sent them off on windward/leeward courses.
Sarah BLANCK (AUS) the only Victorian looking set to represent Australia in Athens, showed her determination in the Europe single-handed dinghy class, winning two out of three races, to lead the series nine points over her nearest rival, fellow Victorian, Krystal WEIR (AUS).
Blanck finished third in the first race of the day, her worst result for the regatta so far, which she used as her first drop for the series. She now has a nine-point lead over Weir.
Weir, who turned 19 yesterday, gave herself a birthday present with a win in Race 6, the first of the day, then finished it of with a third and second place. This is her first major regatta in the class, her talent already having come to the notice of coaches in attendance at the regatta.
Verena WAGNER (AUT) fills out third spot with three races to complete the series over the next two days. She finished the day with 4-2-3 places for 18 points, sailing on out trapezoid courses in 13-20 knots winds in the afternoon.
Faustine MERRET (FRA) finished with a win and two third places to continue her lead of the Mistral Women's class. Merret is looking unbeatable at this stage, she has seven point lead over the second-placed Jessica CRISP (AUS), with a worst result of third place over eight races.
The real story here, though, is the tough battle going on for the Australian Olympic selection, Jessica CRISP and Allison SHREEVE going head to head on a daily basis.
The Mistrals had two races yesterday, Crisp winning Race 7 and placing second in Race 8, Shreeve finishing second in Race 7, but winning Race 8. this puts Crisp on 21 points, Shreeve on 25.
Now only three races remain today and tomorrow, Shreeve needing to beat Crisp by a clear five points to win. It won't be easy, it does not look likely, but then stranger things have happened.
Both girls came ashore this afternoon, neither showing the emotions both must be feeling right now. Both said they were enjoying the tight racing and commenting how lucky they were to have the other as a benchmark.
In the Mistral Mens fleet, Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) also excellent results to strongly lead the class, having won every race to-date, barring the last race of the day, Race 8, in which he finished second and used as his race drop for the series.
Max OBEREMKO (UKR) continues his hold on second place, the World No. 2 had a win, a second and his worst race, an eighth to lead the third placed Lars KLEPPICH (AUS) by eight points.
Kleppich, who is set to represent Australian in Athens, came to grief in the pre-start of the second race, falling from his board, the rig becoming detached. It left him a good two minutes behind the rest to start, but undaunted, he fought his way back to finish in fifth place. "I just did what I had to do to get back in there,"
the 36 year-old said.
Racing continues today, with the regatta finishing Saturday. Places are provisional.