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18 December 2007, 10:16 am
AINSLIE Rules Supreme At SIRs
Image of Ben AINSLIE
Ben AINSLIE was a star performer in Sydney

Sydney International Regatta 2007
Sydney, Australia

Ben AINSLIE cleaned up in the Finn class as the ISAF Grade 1 Sydney International Regatta finished on Sydney Harbour this afternoon.
It was a bright and sunny final day in Sydney, with racing getting underway from 10:00 in shifty southerly 10-12 knot winds. Before racing started in Sydney all eyes were on the performance of Ben AINSLIE (GBR), and the double Olympic Champion lived up to expectations. He won two of today's three races, finishing ninth in the middle race 7, which was used as his race drop for the series.

As well as boosting his chances of Olympic selection, AINSLIE's victory should also see him make a rapid rise up the ISAF World Sailing Rankings when they are released for this final time in 2007 tomorrow, Wednesday 19 December.

The triple Olympic medallist across two classes won six of the nine race series hosted by Woollahra Sailing Club, beating nearest rival Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) by a whopping 17 points. The bronze medal went Finn World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) - just. The Spaniard finished the regatta on equal 30 points with another Brit and Olympian in waiting, Giles SCOTT, who missed out on countback.

However, the 20 year old was, in his own words, "Very pleased indeed," particularly with his second place in race 6 this afternoon.

"It was very tight on the last leg. I managed to pull out on Raff [TRUJILLO]. I've done better than I thought I would, so that's always pleasing," said SCOTT who has hopes of representing at the 2012 Olympic Games to be held on his home waters in Weymouth in Great Britain.

"It was very shifty today - 10 and 12 knots and a big swell coming in through Sydney Heads. I enjoyed it immensely - I enjoy any conditions when I'm hiking best," said SCOTT, who has the privilege of training with the master and other top ranked British Finn sailors when they are all at home.

Meanwhile, AINSLIE's coach, Dave HOWLETT, a former Finn star himself, says he is pleased with AINSLIE's results at the Yachting NSW organised event. "Ben wanted to win here, so all is going according to plan."

Ed WRIGHT (GBR), AINSLIE's rival for the British Olympic place, had a mixed day, his best result a second in the final race 8 for a fifth place overall, 22 points behind AINSLIE. It does not bode well for his Olympic chances.

Australia's best result came from Brendan CASEY who commented, "I had a good day today; I got a fifth, a fourth and a third, which is better than yesterday when I broke gear." The Queenslander finished a good sixth overall, one place and two points in front of fellow Aussie Anthony NOSSITER who has been selected for the Australian Sailing Team for Beijing.

CASEY also paid tribute to the volunteers from Sydney Boys High School who helped organize the 390 plus boat trolleys up and down the ramp each day. "They did a great job and they were very well behaved and pleasant and had fun while they were working," he said.

Australian Tornado Sailors Win First Gold Medal

Before the Finn competition was decided, the first of the gold medals went to Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS), when they crossed the finish line in the final Tornado race 9 just after midday. The British team of Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN took silver and brothers Tino MITTELMEIER and Niko MITTELMEIER (GER) carted off the bronze medal.

BUNDOCK, the Sydney 2000 silver medallist and multiple World Champion in the cat class and ASHBY, a world champion in various catamaran classes, including the 2006 Tornado Worlds with Bundock, won both today's races. The two won six of the nine races sailed and remarkably only once finished outside of a top three result during the series.

"We had a couple of good ones," said an understated ASHBY of their two bullets today. The Victorian sailor told: "We led the first race from the top mark pretty much the whole way through.

"The winds were so shifty on the Sound it was difficult to cover everyone, so we sacrificed a bit of our lead to stay safe. We were so fast downwind and our angles were great. That's what did it for us,"
ASHBY said.

BUNDOCK chipped in: "The second race, we went round the top mark mid-field, but we recovered." The two are in the Australian team for Beijing and are ranked #1 in the Tornado ISAF World Sailing Rankings, a status they will be looking to hold on to when the Rankings are released tomorrow, 19 December.

HOWDEN described his and MCMILLAN's day. "We did not do very well at all in the first race. We started well, but got caught on the wrong side of a shift. In the second race we lead around the top mark and finished second. That was a lot better," he said.

The German MITTLEMEIER brothers were thrilled with their bronze medal result. "We are very happy," the two said in unison as they hit the beach at Woollahra Sailing Club. "We got fourth and third today. We were in front of the English guys, but they caught us on the last downwind leg. That was a shame," said Niko.

The two had a lot to smile about, as they are in contention for a place in the German team for Beijing, but have to beat two other crews over the next few months. "This result only helps us to maybe get our dream," said Niko.

Balance Of Medals Decided

The Australian entries continued to put on a great show in the afternoon, winning another three gold medals, two silver and a bronze as the remaining classes completed racing.

One of the early gold medals went to Michael LEIGH (CAN) in the Laser class after sailing consistently throughout the series, his worst results a sixth and an 11th, which he used as race drops.

Making a terrific comeback, World Champion Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), surged to a win in the final race 9 to take silver. SLINGSBY, from the NSW Central Coast, scored fifth in race 7, increasing his chances somewhat, but the win cemented his second place, piping a second Canadian, Bernard LUTTMER, on countback.

Two New Zealand entries, Andrew MURDOCH and Mike BULLOT filled out the next two places, also a countback situation after finishing the series on equal points.

Although pleased with his result, LEIGH says he is now looking to the Worlds in February at Terrigal. "I have to face-off against nine other Canadian's for the Olympic place at the Worlds. Anyone could have won SIRs - it always come down to the final two races. Tom SLINGSBY and Andrew MURDOCH sometimes get away from everyone else, but mostly there are so many good sailors, it comes down to who has that little bit extra," LEIGH, from Vancouver, said this afternoon.

SLINGSBY says coming from behind, the pressure was off him. "It's easier in a lot of respects. Everyone is concentrating on those in the lead. I'm happy with my result here, despite the hiccups. I'm definitely going fast. My preparations for the Worlds is going very well. I've come away from SIRs with a bit to learn - I know that."

Of the ferry incident, the 22 year old explains: "There was so much traffic out there that first day. I had a ferry close in front of me I was keeping an eye on; next thing I knew, I heard a toot, and there was one right behind me - I was hemmed in," he says.

Yesterday's report of him port tacking the fleet was incorrect. "I was coming to the top mark and was on the layline about three metres away and sailed into a knock. I couldn't lay - I had a couple of goes and ended up rounding the mark in about 35th place."

Aussie 49er Gold

Third, second and a win in the final three 49er races ensured gold for Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (AUS). The pair was ecstatic with their series win.

Early series leaders Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH (GBR) took silver and the Portuguese pair of Jorge LIMA and Francisco ANDRADE took bronze, their seventh place in race 11 killing any chance of hanging onto silver.

"We like it gusty and shifty," said winning crew AUSTIN on coming ashore, "It gives us a chance to work our way back into the fleet when we need to. We got really bad starts in the first two races, so it did work to our advantage. We pretty much led the last race all the way to win it," he said.

Skipper OUTTERIDGE says: "It feels good to win here. The field is a strong one - the Europeans here are top standard, so we got a good workout. We'll take a few days off now then focus on the World's at Sail Melbourne in January."

ASQUITH, silver medallist crew, commented: "It was so shifty and gusty, very hard to read. Second is not first, but it's better than third, I guess. It has definitely paid us to come to SIRs and to the Australian 49er Nationals at Woollahra, they have been very professionally run and both will be of big benefit to me and Paul at the Worlds. We've both really enjoyed the hospitality of Woollahra Sailing Club," he said.

In the small fleet RS:X sailboards, Jannicke STALSTROM (NOR) stormed home to take the women's gold medal, while Australia's Jessica CRISP has finished with the silver and another Australian and future Olympic prospect, Alisha KAWALLA has won bronze.

The Norwegian sailor was too good for her counterparts, winning today's final two races, just piping CRISP on the finish line in the final race. "It was exciting, but she got it," said CRISP, who bound for her third Olympic Games when she represents Australia in Beijing, came up with two second places, while KAWALLA finished third in both races 8 and 9.

Patrik POLLAK (SVK) took gold in the Men's RS:X, Karel LAVICKY (CZE) won silver and Jonathan BONNITCHA (AUS) won bronze.

BLANCK Stars In Laser Radial Women's

Sarah BLANCK (AUS) had it all her own way in the Laser Radial women's event this year. Now being coached by Olympic bronze medallist Michael BLACKBURN (AUS), BLANCK seems much more at ease with the boat and herself. Her winning margin to second placed Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX), who won the final race, was 19 points, with Jo ALEH (NZL) third placed, a further two points behind.

BLANCK, from Victoria, agrees. "I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and know where I'm heading. To win at SIRs confirms to me I am heading in the right direction."

Penny CLARK was the best placed of the British girls, overcoming Laura BALDWIN, who looked good until the final day. Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) finished well down after contracting a stomach virus which left her unable to race the last two days.

Australia took gold in the Men's 470, but it was not a simple job for the World Champions Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE, the result only being decided on the race course this afternoon and in the final of the three races, even though they won the opening race of the day.

Eventually, the pair defeated two sets of brothers who had been biting at the Aussie's heels all week. Benjamin BONNAUD and Romain BONNAUD (FRA), who at one stage led the series, finished second overall just one point behind the Aussies. PAGE had said before the event the Frenchman would be strong contenders, and he was right.

Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) were third, a further four points behind. The brothers were up there all week and did not go away.

Veteran campaigners Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) worked their way to the top of the scoreboard and made their final move in today's races, winning the opening race and doing enough to jump from yesterday's second place and into the gold medal position this afternoon late - but they did it by the seat of their pants, finishing on equal points with yesterday's leaders.

Nike KORNECKI and Vered BUSKILA (ISR) would have been disappointed to slip to silver, especially on countback, but at least they remained on the podium. The Swiss pair of Emmanuelle ROL and Anne-Sophie THILO held their game together to claim the bronze medal, just four points behind.

The Australian crew of Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON did not race as a pair at this event, RECHICHI taking time out to heal a back problem, not wanting to take a chance at SIRs with the 470 Worlds coming up at Sail Melbourne in January. However, PARKINSON did get a couple of races in, with Sydney 2000 470 Men's gold medallist Tom KING helming for PARKINSON, the pair being scored in the men's class. KING thrilled all, pulling out a third place after three years away from the class.

The three-crew Olympic keelboat only undertook two day's of racing and Krystal WEIR, steering in the absence of Nicky BETHWAITE, took Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARRELL to a win against to match racing stars, Katie SPITHILL and crew and Nicky SOUTER and crew. All three entries are from NSW. On finishing those commitments, WEIR slipped back into her natural habitat of the Laser Radial Women's class and was happy with her results there too.

The lone Tasmanian winner at the Sydney International Regatta this year came in the form of Benjamin PRICE who won the Men's Laser Radial from Queenslander Klade HAUSCHILDT. It came down to the wire and only a point separated the pair after eight races.

Youth Classes

In the Youth classes, and in an all-Australian fleet, Jordan REECE won gold by five points from Stephen COLLINGS. Nicholas HOWE took home the bronze and Sarah RYAN was first girl.

A West Australian pair made the podium too, when Mark WHITTINGTON and Scott SHARPE won gold in the 420 class. The West Australian Youth Development programme is coming along well, with many great 420 and 470 sailors making a name for themselves.

KIVELL is another name we're used to seeing on trophies, and it was no different at SIRs today when Amy KIVELL and Kate AULICH overcame 16 other female and male crews to grab silver in the 420 double-handed class.

It was an all NSW show in the 29er skiff class as Andrew and William CHAPMAN took out the 29er skiff class. From a strong sailing background (their father a former skiff sailor of note), the boys overcame a challenge from and finished nine points clear of second placed Joel ROSE and Jamie WOODS.

Commenting on the regatta, Chairman of the Yachting NSW Organising Committee, Brian TYQUIN said: "It's been a great success. We've had a good variety of weather, including a light day that was a good test for those aiming for the Beijing Games and a good preview of the Games."

"The Australian results underlined the strength of the Team going to Beijing, which is very pleasing, especially considering this is an ISAF Grade 1 event and the biggest dinghy class event ever held in NSW and along with Sail Melbourne, one of two of the biggest dinghy regattas in Australia. What a great medal haul," TYQUIN said.

TYQUIN went on acknowledge the support of the NSW Department of Sport & Recreation, Steve Jarvin Motors and Alphaboat for their support. He also paid tribute to host venue, Woollahra Sailing Club and the race management team provided by member clubs; Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, RANSA and Double Bay Sailing Club. He also thanked the efforts of the boys from Sydney Boys High who volunteered to help at the regatta, and did an excellent job whilst enjoying themselves.

"We couldn't run a regatta of this size without the full support of these people," TYQUIN said.

In all, there were 410 entries and 550 competitors from 38 nations.

Sydney International Regatta -
Results - click here
Di Pearson (As Amended By ISAF)
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