A record 360+ boats and over 520 competitors are expected to cross their respective start lines when the ISAF Grade 1 Sydney International Regatta (SIRs) gets underway on beautiful Sydney Harbour from midday on Saturday.
Woollahra Sailing Club at Rose Bay will host the Yachting NSW Olympic and Youth classes event that will feature the world's most prestigious sailors.
Adrian STEER, Yachting NSW CEO said today: "With record entries at the Sydney International Regatta this year, it is imperative that we get boats on and off the water quickly.
"We are fortunate and grateful to have 20 volunteers from Sydney Boys High School helping us out as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. The boys will be responsible for the quick removal and replacement of boat trolleys as the various classes leave and return to the beach each day. The job requires agility, quick thinking and good organization. The boys will really be put to the test."
Most athletes have been arriving at the Rose Bay venue over the past month to prepare for one of the biggest regattas of their lives to be held from 15-18December.
Amongst the entries are a number of sailors aiming to qualify their nations and themselves for the Beijing Olympic Games to be sailed of Qingdao in August next year.
Highlights will include the Ben AINSLIE
versus Ed WRIGHT
for British Olympic selection and 2007 Laser World Champion and ISAF World Sailing Rankings
#1 sailor Tom SLINGSBY
(AUS) aiming to hold a large international deputation at bay as he looks forward to the 2008 Laser Worlds to be sailed on home turf at Terrigal in February.
Two of the four British girls shortlisted for Olympic selection in the Laser Radial, Andrea BREWSTER
and Penny CLARK
are entered and will take on other internationals, and Australia's Sarah BLANCK
, already inducted into the Australian team for Beijing.
Other Aussies trying their luck in the Radial include 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion Gabrielle KING
contesting her first major open competition, Vanessa DUDLEY
making a return to the class after some years away, and Sally GORDON
, a yachting identity having her first go in serious dinghy competition.
DUDLEY, a respected yachtswoman and editor of Australian Sailing magazine, is still counting bruises and capsizes she has encountered along the way as she gets fit for the Laser Masters Worlds in February.
Australian Olympic Laser Radial campaigner Krystal WEIR
will steer the Australian Yngling crew bound for Beijing in the absence of skipper Nicky BETHWAITE
who broke both arms in a biking accident in early October. WEIR, with crew Karyn GOJNICH
and Angela FARRELL
, will take on two Aussie counterparts and top ranked match racing stars Katie SPITHILL
and Nicky SOUTER
, skippering separate boats. She will also race off against a number of male and mixed crews.
Olympic classes racing at the ISAF Grade 1 SIRs regatta are: 470 Men's and Women's, RS:X sailboard Men's and Women's, 49er, Finn, Tornado, Yngling, Laser and the new Olympic women's Laser Radial class. Youth classes are the 420 dinghy, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 29er skiff.
Up to and including today, there are 350 boats entered for SIRs; Finn (24), Laser (86), Laser 4.7 (11), Laser Radial Men (32), Laser Radial Women (43), RS X (10), 29er (25), 420 (18), 470 Men (37), 470 Women (19), 49er (21), Tornado (12), Yngling (12), representing 506 competitors from 38 countries. The largest international entry numbers come from New Zealand 18, Great Britain 15, Korea 10. The Australian numbers are made up of: NSW 140, Victoria 19, Queensland 16, WA has 11, South Australia 5 and Tasmania 3.
The Sydney International Regatta will make for spectacular viewing on courses from the Opera House down to the Manly Circle on Sydney Harbour. With beautiful nor-east winds the trademark of summer, make sure you don't miss this event.
If you don't have access to a boat, there are many good vantage points around the Harbour including Lady Macquarie's Chair, Clifton Gardens, Bradley's Head, North Head, South Head and Nielsen Park amongst them.
Entries to-date can be viewed online at: www.nsw.yachting.org.au/sir2007
To follow SIRs results from Saturday go to: www.nsw.yachting.org.au/sir2007
For all information, including the NoR go to: http://www.nsw.yachting.org.au/