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9 January 2006, 11:14 am
Shifty Conditions On Day One
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Sail Melbourne 2006
Melbourne, Australia

The Olympic Classes faced extremely light and shifty conditions as they sailed their first races from host club Sandringham Yacht Club on Port Phillip this afternoon at the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne in Australia. The general consensus was: "Well this is what Olympic sailors may face when they go to the Beijing Games in 2008, so this is a good way to start the regatta."
No ALT tag specified'It was really light and fluky to start, but it kept going left, left, left, till it got to 35 knots - it was a testing day,' said 470 World Champion Nathan WILMOT (AUS).

Difficult for many was adapting from the light stuff and then having to deal with the squally increased winds that hit the course later in the afternoon. These conditions produced mixed results in some classes, but not all.

For New Zealander Aaron MCINTOSH, competing in the Tornado for the first time at Sail Melbourne, 'It was a little frustrating in the first race - we got caught out of the breeze round the first mark, but we're a new team and we're learning.

'The second race was a different set of conditions and it was great sailing. The English team [Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN] and Bundy [Australia's Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY], were just a notch quicker.'

Australian Tornado crew Rohan LANGWORTHY and David HART (AUS), are the youngest and oldest crew in the Tornado respectively. LANGWORTHY commented this afternoon, 'We were fantastic in the first race, but just awful in the second,' while Sail Melbourne newcomer MCMILLAN (GBR) said, 'We got in just in time I think. It was certainly different [referring to conditions on the Bay]. The first race was pretty light, but you just had to deal with it. It's definitely good practice - apparently conditions will be light in Beijing.'

In fact, with the late squally conditions, the usual breakages occurred and course boats were kept on their toes towing many boats ashore.

At the end of day one, BUNDOCK and ASHBY lead the Tornado, following a win and a second place, with the Brits just one point behind, scoring a third and a win. MCINTOSH and Bruce KENDALL are a further three points away.

BELCHER And BEHRENS Impress In 470

Mat BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (AUS) showed they mean business, winning the only 470 Men's race of the day; just pipping the Japanese crew, Kazuto SEKI and Syouichi YANAGAWA, over the line, with WILMOT and PAGE third.

'We missed the start - we were a little rusty out there today,' said WILMOT. 'We couldn't even read the flags right, but it's good to be back at Sail Melbourne,' he added.

'I thought we were pretty disgraceful,' added a rueful PAGE.

Following one race in the women's fleet, the Japanese were very strong. The pairing of Chizuko IJIMA and Sayaka KATO lead following their seventh place in the combined fleet, beating many of their male counterparts. The West Australian girls Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON, who finished ninth in the combined, lie second. Just 19 seconds behind them came Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA (JPN).

Anthony NOSSITER (AUS), the 2000 and 2004 Finn Olympian, leads that fleet following two bullets. Time away with the +39 America's Cup syndicate has done nothing to dampen his skills. Ricky IRONMONGER, a Melbourne sailor in the early stages of his Finn campaign, came up with two second places today, his local knowledge obviously paid dividends. William WILD (AUS) is currently third.

More Japanese Success

With a number of newcomers in the 49er fleet, the end of the regatta will show just who the form crews are. Today's three races have yet another Japanese crew at the top of the leaderboard, with Kenjiro TODOROKI and Kenji TAKAHASHI scoring 2,2,1 result to lead by four points from William PHILLIPS and Jon Newman (AUS) and Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (AUS) third, just one point behind PHILLIPS.

OUTTERIDGE is back on track following a serious accident on his way to Sail Melbourne last year in which he suffered spine damage. He has humorously called his boat 'Spineless'.

Dual Olympian Nicky BETHWAITE (AUS), sailing this event with a new crew combination of Julie GRIMSHAW and Petronella DE JONG, still managed a win and a second place to lead the Yngling keelboat from class newcomers, Nicky SOUTER and Angela FARRELL and Sarah WILLMOT (AUS).

SOUTER, Australia's top placed female match racer in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, comes fresh from her Sydney Hobart record breaking triple win on super maxi Wild Oats. 'We feel very relaxed. I am happy with the way things are going,' SOUTER commented today. The three have only sailed the Yngling five times, so look like being a force to be reckoned with.

Hamish JARRETT and Chris DAVID and Vaden SAUNDERS (AUS) round out the top three, with Jeanne-Claude STRONG and Neville WITTEY and Ruth MCCANCE fourth. STRONG is down one female crew member, so her coach WITTEY, filled in. 'It certainly gives me a different perspective, being aboard, rather than on the coach boat. But it will be good for all of us - it will give me a better feel for what's going on.'

The famous fraternal twin sisters, Pat and Joyce WARN are back with their young crew, Tneal KAWALLA. The ladies, now in their mid 70's, are sixth placed overall, but third in the Women's, despite not finishing the second race. A light crew, the heavier winds brought them ashore early. However, they are still very competitive and plan on going to the Yngling Worlds in Europe later this year.

RS:X In Melbourne

Hong Kong and Japan feature in the top three of the new Olympic windsurfing equipment the RS:X. CHAN Wai Kei (HKG) leads the women's fleet from Masako IMAI (JPN) and CHAN Wai Man (HK), following one race. The leader finished second in the Mistral fleet at Sail Melbourne last year and third placed CHAN won the Mistral, giving an indication that the switch to the RS:X has not been too much of a problem.

New Formula Windsurfing World Champion, Allison SHREEVE (AUS) finished the day in seventh place in her first competition in the new class.

Casper BOUMAN (NED) leads the men's RS:X following one race. Steve ALLEN (AUS) finished second. He finished twelfth at the recent Sail Melbourne Formula Windsurfing Worlds - the best of the Australian results. Howard CHUNG (TPE) holds down third place in the RS:X. For more on the RS:X Oceanic Championship CLICK HERE.

Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), back racing after missing the Laser Worlds following a shin injury, won the only Laser race of the day to lead from Matias DEL SOLAR (CHI), with Olympian Kevin LIM (MAS) third.

In the Laser Radial, Sarah WINTHER (NZL) leads ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist XU Lijia (CHI) and Krystal WEIR (AUS) following two races. Of the top three, WEIR is the only one to score a win, but her seventh place in the opening race dropped her down to third.

The 2.4 Metre fleet finished two races, with Michael LEYDON (AUS) leading Peter RUSSELL (AUS) by one point and Michael MCLEAN (AUS) by a further point. Prior to racing, MCLEAN said he would be rusty, not having sailed for some time due to work commitments, but his worries proved unfounded.

Racing continues from 1000 hours local time on Port Phillip tomorrow. The OK Dinghies, Tasars, 420 and Laser 4.7 start their competition on Thursday.

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Di PEARSON (As Amended by ISAF). Image, The RS:X in action on Port Phillip:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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