The competitors have arrived and the on-water battle will shortly commence.
Sail Melbourne has assembled a strong field to contest the International Contender Australian and World Championships at Black Rock Yacht Club from 7 January 2002. Sailors from eight nations will be represented, and all will be looking to secure themselves a part of history in winning one or both of these championships.
The United Kingdom has sent 13 boats; Germany has sent 8; the Netherlands, Italy and Austria have sent 2 each, whilst Denmark and USA has sent one representative each. The host country Australia has 33 representatives from Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Black Rock Yacht Club is not only the Host club but the current World and dual Australian Champion Arthur Brett calls Black Rock his home and will be defending his title which he won in Kingston (Canada) in 2001.
The Worlds will follow on from the Australian Nationals, and will take place from 10-19 January 2002.
There are many challengers waiting to wrestle the two crowns from Arthur Brett. From the Europeans, most notable is the Italian Andrea Bonezzi, a previous triple world champion and second to Arthur last year (there is some unfinished business here). Depending on the weather, the UK's, Tim Holden, David Davies, Richard Batten could do very well. From Germany, Jan Von Der Bank has a new boat and could be dangerous. From Denmark, Soren Andreasen also has a new boat (Arthur's world championship winning boat from Kingston) and could do well if the breeze is lighter.
The Australians have a number of strong chances. Arthur Brett of course heads the field having just won the Victorian Championships held a week before Christmas. Again depending on the weather, challenges will come from Grant Robinson, Stephen Fries, Tim Hill and Stephen Grimes. Australians Marcus Hamilton and Matt Hosie will fight it out for the Australian and World Junior Championship title.
The action is expected to be spectacular. On-water viewing can be arranged at Black Rock Yacht Club between 7 and19 January. For bookings and information call Black Rock Yacht Club on 9598 0570.
For general information about the Sail Melbourne International Regatta, phone Yachting Victoria on 03 9597 0066 or visit www.sailmelbourne.com.au. Results and race reports will also be available online.