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9 December 2009, 10:03 am
Home Sailors Sweep The Board As Winners Are Decided At Sail Sydney
Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page on their way to gold in the 470
Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page on their way to gold in the 470

Sail Sydney 2009
Sydney, Australia

Australia won gold medals in every event as the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Sydney came to close with a perfect final day for the home sailors.
Expected light south-south-westerly winds did not eventuate on Sydney Harbour for the final day of racing on Tuesday, instead a lovely northeaster, mirroring Monday's conditions, eventually filled in, allowing Sail Sydney Principal Race Officer, Tony Denham, to officially get racing started just before 13:00, instead of the planned 10:00.

Racing was cut short in the Yachting NSW organised event, because racing started later than anticipated and breezes lightened off and swung during the afternoon. Eventually it was all over and winners of this annual ISAF Grade 1 event were announced at Woollahra Sailing Club, which hosted the event with assistance from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club.

Hannah Nattrass (AUS), who had gold taken from her in a protest situation on the last day of the regatta last year, was the easy winner this time round in the 29er event, her boyfriend, 470 Olympian Graham Biehl (USA), crewing for her before leaving to resume 470 racing at Sail Melbourne, the first event of the 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup, due to start in a week.

The Woollahra SC skipper last raced seriously at the Worlds and commented: "We just enjoyed ourselves here - it was fun." Her next competition will be a change of pace; the Etchells Nationals when she will sail with Julian Plante.

Former double World Champion and Beijing Olympian Tom Slingsby's (AUS) third in the shortened Laser series was enough for the overall win by three points over New Zealand's Sam Meech, winner of this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship Laser Radial event.

"I couldn't even see where I finished today; heaps of us hit the finish line together, so I'll have to wait and see the results," commented Slingsby after coming ashore. The Central Coast 25 year-old said he was rusty in some areas and good in others, "I've still got a bit of work to do, but I'm getting better all the time."

Andy Maloney (NZL) did not have the last race results he wished for and dropped from second overall to third, behind his team mate. "I finished well back - it wasn't a good day for me," he said.

In finishing fourth overall, last year's third placegetter, Daniel Miheli? from Croatia, broke up the Kiwi push, Josh Junior (NZL) ending the regatta in fifth place overall. The New Zealanders performed strongly at Sail Sydney this year.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) stayed focussed in spite of their huge lead in the 49er class - the mark of true professionals. A bullet and a second place just increased their finish points over second placed Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) and Euan McNicol and Tim Austin (AUS).

"The first race was much better than the second - the breeze really died out after the first one," said Outteridge adding, "It'll be good to go to Sail Melbourne now and get some different conditions in preparation for the Worlds [in the Bahamas in January] - Melbourne will be a speed test."

Coach, Emmett Lazich, said he hoped they would also get some very light conditions. "We tend to cancel races in Australia in the really light 0-5 knot stuff and we need practice in that, because they hold races overseas in that light stuff."

Triple Olympian Jessica Crisp (AUS) maintained her performance of yesterday to win the RS:X windsurfer event from fellow Olympian Yasuko Kosuge (JPN) who had led the regatta until Monday. Crisp won both races on Tuesday, sailing in her preferred lighter conditions. Crisp's sailing partner and Olympian Jannicke Stålstrøm (NOR) completed the podium.

Brendan Casey's (AUS) third place was enough for him to win the Finn class from triple Olympian Anthony Nossiter (AUS). "We're just trying to get numbers up in the class in Australia and get into enjoying some sailing," the Queenslander said.

Casey was on the receiving end of a pumping flag and did an incredible job to get back into the race and finish second in a dying north-easterly wind that oscillated between 5-12 knots.

Third overall was talented South Australian sailor James Paterson. "A fifth in our only race today was enough to keep me in third place," said a happy Paterson.

Considering an Olympic campaign, but finding funding is a major issue, along with training partners in his neck of the woods, Paterson said "I didn't win a race here this time, but you don't have to win races to win a regatta."

He and another talent, Warwick Hill (AUS), who finished fifth overall behind experienced Kiwi Olympian Nik Burfoot, felt they were making inroads in the class. "Last year Nocka and Brendan were pulling out on us, but not this year," Hill said.

"I was able to beat Brendan and Nocka a couple of times this regatta - I'd just like to do it more often," he said.

Beijing Olympic gold medallist in the 470 dinghy class, Malcolm Page (AUS), sailing with his new skipper Mat Belcher (AUS), won the 470 class cleanly. Two of their training partners, Sam Kivell and Will Ryan (AUS) and Stacey Omay and Chelsea Hall (AUS) finished second and third overall respectively in a mixed men's and women's fleet.

Coached by Victor Kovalenko, who has now helped win gold medals for four Australian 470 teams (two apiece at Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008), the three teams are on track for their Olympic and World Championship goals.

The best international place in the 470 was the women's pairing of Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL). The two, who previously campaigned in the Laser Radial, led the women's for a time, but eventually finished fourth overall and second women's team.

Tasmanian talent Chris 'George' Jones (AUS) scored a huge 30 point win in the Laser Radial and the next two places were filled by women; Australian Development Squad member Laura Baldwin and Ireland's Annalise Murphy who led the women's Olympic class Radial until the final day. Baldwin just quietly moved up the leaderboard over the four days, doing just enough to edge out Murphy on the final day. Singapore's Victoria Chan finished fifth overall and third woman.

Results - click here

Di Pearson
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