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25 November 2005, 10:20 am
Event Launch by Minister of Tourism
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Sail Melbourne 2006
Melbourne, Australia

Once again, Sail Melbourne, is set to be the largest dinghy and keelboat regatta of its kind in the Southern hemisphere, featuring the ISAF Grade One Olympic & Invited Classes as its centerpiece; surrounded by World and Australian championships - all to be sailed on Port Phillip and hosted by a number of Victorian yacht clubs.
Since it's inception in 1994, Sail Melbourne, organised by Yachting Victoria, has grown into one of only five ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Grade 1 events held annually around the globe and the only one in the Southern hemisphere.

In launching the 2006 event today, the Hon. John PANDAZOPOULOS, Minister for Tourism, State Government of Australia said, 'It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon to launch the Sail Melbourne 2006, Asia Pacific Regatta. Victoria boasts an impressive calendar of major sporting events which attract tourism, generate economic return for the State and create national and international branding and promotional opportunities for Victoria.

'Sail Melbourne is recognised worldwide as an event that attracts the best of the best, excellence both on and off the water, outstanding facilities and a friendly atmosphere for athletes and officials. In fact, its reputation is such that it gives Melbourne a competitive advantage when attracting other international sailing events.'

No ALT tag specifiedIn closing the Minister said: 'The State Government is a proud supporter of an event, which provides so many benefits to Victorians and I wish all sailors, supporters, volunteers, committee members and sponsors, success for Sail Melbourne 2006.'

Known around the world for exciting sailing on Port Phillip, the professionalism of Sail Melbourne's Race Management teams, involving a multitude of long term experienced volunteers, and of course the competitive fleets of local and international teams brought together each year, the event provides the perfect opportunity for a summer of training and racing during the Northern Hemisphere's winter and counts points towards each crew's Olympic campaign and the unusual bonus of prize money to the top contenders.

Introducing a range of new initiatives, from entertainment functions and fun cash prize events for sailors, to training regattas and seminars, Sail Melbourne will be an event inclusive of more than just good sailing.

Commenting on Sail Melbourne, long-term Chairman Kevin WOOD said: 'Sail Melbourne is at the forefront in the conduct of ISAF Grade 1 events. We embrace innovation to ensure that sailors enjoy the Sail Melbourne experience and have fun off the water.

'In 2006, we will be conducting some events during the morning to replicate the likely conditions the sailors at the 2008 Beijing Games are likely to experience. We will also look at using the new ISAF format where there are sufficient numbers in classes, all confirming the high standard of Sail Melbourne which attracts sailors from around the world.'

The new ISAF format for Olympic classes includes an 11 race series (16 for the 49er) and a Medal Race scheduled on the day designated for each class's medal ceremony, even if the full schedule has not been completed by that day. The top 10 placed boats advance to the Medal Race. All boats advancing will be required to compete in the Medal Race in which on-water umpiring will be used and double points will be scored.

There will be one discard for the series score but the Medal Race shall not be discarded and competitors will carry their series scores (ie total of race scores after discard) through to the Medal Race. Any series tie after the Medal Race will be broken in favour of the boat finishing higher in the Medal Race. If the Medal Race is not completed, medals will be awarded based on the series score for all the prior races (in the normal way).

EVENTS:

Formula Windsurfing Worlds

Sail Melbourne kicks off with the spectacular 2005 Formula Windsurfing World Championship, to be sailed from 12-17 December this year, with a warm-up and Australian Championships preceding it from December 9 - 11. Both will be hosted by Elwood Sailing Club and will provide plenty of on and off water action for spectators standing on the sand as these boards race up and down Elwood Beach at speeds up over 50kmh within 50 m of the waters edge!

As a qualification only event, the World Championship will bring a massive fleet of approximately 120 entries from over 23 different countries to compete for the title. The entry list reads as a who's who of Formula Windsurfing with all previous World Champions attending the event, in addition to those hotly following in their wakes. Wojtek BRZOZOWSKI (POL) winner of the 1999 and 2000 titles, with a second in 2001 and 2002, may be the favourite due to his familiarity with the local conditions. He came to Sail Melbourne in 2005 - winning the Oceanic Continental Championships.

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Micah BUZIANIS at the 2005 Europeans
© euro-cup.org
The 2004 World Champion Micah BUZIANIS (USA) and champion windsurfer across a range of disciplines Antoine ALBEAU (FRA) will also stop at nothing to win the title and are confirmed attendees. Kevin PRITCHARD (USA), who won the World Championship in 2001 and 2002, will also be here and with his recent efforts in the windsurfing Super Cross events, may be well suited to the wind and swell typical on Port Phillip.

2003 world champion, Steve ALLEN, a Brisbane sailor now living in Poland will lead the Australian charge and certainly has the form to do it again in 2005. Fellow Aussies, Sam PARKER and Jasper ORTH, will do more than make up the numbers. They are expected to be very competitive against the big international contingent.

The Women's fleet is just as impressive, with all the top Formula Windsurfing girls coming to Melbourne. Four time world champion Dorota STASZEWSKA (POL) will be in hot contention for the title, but is unfamiliar with local conditions.

Women's PWA Racing world champion, Allison SHREEVE, will head the Australian line-up, before competing in the new Olympic class Neil Pryde RS:X Oceanic Championship at the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta.

SHREEVE will be keen to win in 2005 World Championship, having placed second in the 2004 Worlds held in Poland. She has been training, testing and tuning her equipment over the last 12 months, knows the Port Phillip conditions very well and holds good form coming into the Championship. SHREEVE narrowly missed selection to the 2004 Olympic Games in the Mistral Boards and finds the Formula boards more to her liking.

Another top contender is 2003 Formula Windsurfing World Champion, Lucy HORWOOD (GBR), whom SHREEVE beat at that 2005 European Slalom Championship, but being non-European, could not claim the title.

Australian Championships

Following on from the Formula Boards are a number of Australian Championships. At Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, the Jubilees are on from 28-30 December, with the Couta Boats from 29-30 December, then to the VS 15 Foot Skiff and Cobra and Stingray Catamarans from 31 December to 6 and 7 January at Portarlington Sailing Club, Mosquito Catamaran from 31 December to 6 January at Loch Sport Boat Club, Flying Dutchman from 2-7 January at Gippsland Lakes Yacht Club and the A Class Catamarans from 2-8 January at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron.

Other events include the Couta Boat Portsea Cup, Southern Ocean Multihull Regatta and warm-up regattas in some of the championship events.

J24 World and Australian Championships

To whet the appetite further, up to 35 crews will contest the seven-day Australian J24 Championship, starting 7 January as a prelude to the J24 World Championship from 14-20 January, where up to 45 entrants will face the starter's gun.

Both these championships will be hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club, which will again also host the Olympic & Invited Classes. Sandringham is arguably the most able club in Australia when it comes to hosting major international events, having had many years experience and boasting up-to-date facilities and the room needed to accommodate the large fleet sizes that arrive each year.

An exciting time, as the Volvo Ocean Race yachts will arrive for their Melbourne Stopover and the J24 prize giving will be held at the VOR welcome party.

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Tony KOTOUN 2005 J24 World
Champion
© fluidfotos
Sean KIRKJIAN (AUS) is a strong contender for both titles. Ranked No. 1 in Australia, the talented sailor and his crew finished fourth at the 2005 Worlds after sustaining hull damage in a collision. Last weekend, Kirkjian won the NSW title from Nev WITTEY, Murray WALTERS and Doug MCGAIN - with all but WALTERS expected in Melbourne.

MCGAIN, 16 at the 2005 Worlds, recently won the NSW J24 Spring Regatta, while current West Australian champion, Sean WALLIS, placed 23 at the Worlds and is looking to up the ante in Melbourne. Joining the fray is triple Laser Olympian and Bronze medal winner, Michael BLACKBURN, who has the added distinction of a record book Laser sail across Bass Strait.

Victorians will be there in force too, with David SUDA (fifth in NSW title), Hugo OTTAWAY (seventh) and Sandringham Yacht Club Commodore Phil COOMBS (ninth). COOMBS, who has contested three prior Worlds, but been out of the class for some time says, 'we look forward to sailing in our home waters and while it will give the Victorians some advantage, the competition will be tough.'

Internationals from the 30 entries received to-date include Mike LEWIS (BER), Japan's Hatakeyama TOMOMI (fifth at the 2005 Worlds), American Max SKELLY (eighth at Worlds) and Chris MCLAUGHLIN (GBR). It is hoped current world champions, Tony KOTOUN, owner Tim RIPPEY and their crew from the US Virgin Islands will also compete against up to 50 other top entries.

Olympic & Invited Classes

As the only annual ISAF Grade 1 event in Australia and a crucial series for any serious Olympic class sailor, the Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta from 9-14 January is an event not to be missed.

Olympic and Paralympic Classes are: 2.4mR, 49er, 470, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, RS:X, Star, Tornado and Yngling, and Invited Classes: OK Dinghy, Laser 4.7 and Tasar.

Nearly two years on from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, a number of new names up from the Youth ranks are already making their presence felt in a variety of classes, so expect the competition to be stiff and the racing aggressive with up to 180 entrants set to do battle across these classes.

New to Sail Melbourne is the inaugural RS:X Oceanic Championship, to be conducted in conjunction with the Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, bringing a strong fleet of the new Olympic class windsurfer to the event. Allison SHREEVE will head the Australian cast and has to be favoured to take out the Women's title.

New pairings from other classes have jumped ship to the Tornado class since Athens, so expect the unexpected at Sail Melbourne with some hard competition for those prized Olympic spots. Darren BUNDOCK (AUS), double Olympic medallist, five-time Tornado world champion and champion in a number of multihull classes, returns with new crew Glenn ASHBY.

As a skipper, ASHBY holds the 2004 and 2005 F18 Australian titles, and as crew for BUNDOCK, is the present F18 World Champion. The two will make a deadly combination. 'We're in good form right now and looking forward to Sail Melbourne,' said BUNDOCK this week.

However, BUNDOCK will find the regatta a lot tougher than in previous years. 1996 Australian Soling Olympian, Steve MCCONAGHY, will contest his first Tornado Grade 1 event as crew for Andrew MCPHERSON (AUS). 'If all goes well, we will continue campaigning towards Beijing 2008. Andrew is very keen to give it a really good shot and I am very excited about sailing these fast machines,' MCCONAGHY said. Robbie LOVIG, a young Victorian hopeful is back too.

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Darren BUNDOCK in action at the 2005
Holland Regatta
© Mark Cole

Strong international representation is expected to come from the newly formed team of former Olympic Europe class sailor Carolijyn BROUWER, crewed by her boyfriend, Finn Olympic medallist, Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL),

BROUWER, who is helm, is in the unusual position of being the only female Tornado representative competing for a place at the Beijing Olympics. She is a former two-time Laser Radial and Europe world champion and a two-time Olympian (Europe and 470 classes). She moved to Belgium to campaign a Tornado with GODEFROID, a three-time Olympian who scored silver in Savannah in '96. Pairing for the Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix (a multihull event), they placed second overall, after being in a tied position going into the final race.

Aaron MCINTOSH and Bruce KENDALL (NZL) made their switch from the Mistral class to the Tornado. MCINTOSH switched to the Tornado just over two years ago and crew KENDALL joined him recently. MCINTOSH won bronze in the Mistral class at the Sydney 2000 Games, also winning three world titles, while KENDALL, older brother of triple Olympic medallist Barbara, won Mistral bronze and gold at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Games respectively.

Their Kiwi opposition and Olympic aspirants, Brett SELLERS and Nigel WILLIAMSON also look set to attend. SELLERS is the son of Rex SELLERS, recently-elected President of Yachting New Zealand and winner of Tornado gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

World ranked number four sailors Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN (GBR) complete the picture and are having their first shot at Sail Melbourne. The two are getting better all the time and finished second at the 2005 Worlds.

Tom SLINGSBY from the NSW Central Coast will head the Laser line-up for Australia with Queensland's Brendan CASEY. SLINGSBY won a string of major Laser European titles this year, but disappointingly withdrew from the Worlds with injuries. CASEY, however, picked up the batten and finished sixth at the Worlds - his best effort for some time. They are joined by internationals Marc DEHAAS (NED), David WRIGHT (CAN) and Mark HOWARD (GBR) among others.

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Krystal WEIR (AUS) competing in
2004 © Jeff Crow at Sport the Library
Two Victorian's will go head to head in the new Women's Laser Radial class. Krystal WEIR, the 2004 Radial World and Australian champion will take on Sarah BLANCK, who won the 2002 Europe Worlds and just missed bronze at the 2004 Olympics. BLANCK formerly sailed a Radial with some success and has taken time out from sailing since returning from Athens, while WEIR has had trouble finding her form of late, but hopes for a victory to celebrate her 21 birthday on January 15.

An Australian challenge in the Yngling keelboat is set to take place at Sail Melbourne too. Double Olympians Nicky BETHWAITE and Karyn GOJNICH are the benchmark, but will have competition for Olympic selection from fellow NSW competitors in Jean Claude STRONG'S crew and newcomer, Nicky SOUTER.

Ranked Australia's top match racer, SOUTER has previously won a Flying Eleven National title, scored a Hobie Women's Worlds third and a Laser Radial Worlds fourth, all adding to her credibility. This will be the ambitious 21 year-old's first showing in the Yngling.

Keeping them all honest will be the famous stalwarts of the class, Pat and Joyce WARN. The fraternal twins will be 75 years-old when they arrive in Melbourne and will have young Tneal KAWALLA aboard with them. Still very competitive, the WARN sisters are better in light airs and still pull wins against their much younger rivals.

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Belcher and Behrens on
their way to victory in 2004
© Sport the Library
In the 470 class, another great Aussie tussle will take place in both the Men's and the Women's racing. Current world champions Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE will take on Mat BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS. WILMOT/PAGE held the 2004 world title and after taking a long leave of absence, came back for a successful defence after a little practice but no competitive sailing. However, BELCHER/BEHRENS, who teamed up last year for a shot at the Olympics, just keep getting better, with a string of international wins and an impressive fourth at the Worlds. Stay tuned.

In the Women's 470, the top ranked pair of Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON will be fending off a yet another challenge from Lauren JEFFRIES and Rike ZIEGELMAYER. RECHICHI/PARKINSON, long time sailing partners and former 420 world champions, this year finished 10 at the 470 Worlds and are one of the biggest talents around, but JEFFRIES/ZIEGELMAYER, a relatively new pairing, have been quietly chipping away and finished 12 - only two places behind their rivals at the 2005 Worlds.

Australia's double Olympian in the Finn class Anthony NOSSITER says he will take time away from his Italian +39 America's Cup syndicate to come back to Sail Melbourne. Fellow Aussie, Josh BEAVER, has pulled a couple of excellent results of late and will give him a run for his money - as will Dan SLATER (NZL) a talented sailor who has switched from the 49er to the Finn.

New faces are expected in the 49er, 2.4mR and Star classes, where anything could happen and Japan is pulling out all stops, providing a solid contingent to represent in most Olympic classes.

A number of new crews both in Australia and internationally makes it difficult to wage a bet, but amongst those, since recovering from a near-fatal accident on his way to Sail Melbourne last year, champion sailor and Olympic prospect, Nathan OUTTERIDGE, will race a 49er with Ben AUSTIN. He is currently in Melbourne training for Go for Gold. The talented 20 year-old says, 'I will l be doing the full down under series including Sail Brisbane, SIRS, Sail Melbourne and the 49er Nationals.'

Audi Etchells Australian Championship

As a finale, the Audi Etchells Australian Championship, featuring some of the top names in sailing and up to 50 of these keelboats on the start line, will be hosted by Royal Brighton Yacht Club from 15-20 January.

Etchells is the class that spawns many great match racing and America's Cup champions and expected entries include local and America's Cup legend John BERTRAND, Sydney's Michael COXON, who is rumoured to be bringing two Alinghi America's Cup sailors along as crew, Rob BROWN, who finished 12 at the 2005 Worlds, Yachting Australia's President, Andrew PLYMTON, Mark BULKA and Dave CLARKE. Rumour also has it that top ranked Brit, Nils RAZMILOVIC, may make the trip, as might 'Mr America's Cup, Dennis CONNER. Victoria's Jake GUNTHER, who will also race says, 'all the usual top suspects will be there, it will be great competition.'

Helping Visitors to Sail Melbourne

Sail Melbourne can also provide assistance for teams wishing to ship their containers of boats to Australia through regatta sponsors, Schenker Stinnes, who have significantly dropped their transport rates for Sail Melbourne competitors.

Help with logistical assistance handling containers, moving boats around the country and contacts for charter boats; it could not be easier or more beneficial for sailors to compete in Sail Melbourne 2006.

Combined with the discount homestay accommodation program and the generous hospitality of Sandringham Yacht Club and the Australian locals and visitors will feel at home right from the start.

An exciting sailing month in Melbourne indeed. As well as Sail Melbourne 2006, the Volvo Ocean Race yachts with some of the biggest yachting names aboard will arrive amidst all the action of Sail Melbourne. Names like Paul CAYARD, Neal MCDONALD, Adrienne CAHALAN, Chris NICHOLSON, Frederik LÖÖF, along with Victoria's own Grant WHARINGTON and Peter DORIEAN.

A number of these names and others sailing in the race are former Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes sailors and Olympians. Following on, over the Australia Day Weekend, Australia's largest and oldest yachting regatta, Skandia Geelong Week, takes place - you wouldn't want to be anywhere else!

Studies estimate the Sail Melbourne regatta generates an economic impact of approximately $6 million for Victoria each year, but without the support of sponsors, this regatta could not be what it is and we thank event sponsors, Sport & Recreation Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria; associate sponsors Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton and support sponsors Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston and the City of Port Philip.

Further information and updates can be found on the Sail Melbourne website www.sailmelbourne.com.au with the NOR, discount accommodation details, subsidized freight contacts, charter boat details and other pertinent information.

Di Pearson (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Yngling action from 2005 © Sport the Library
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