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9 December 2008, 10:30 am
Olympians And Young Guns Share The Limelight At OAMPS SIRs Finale
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Euan MCNICOL lead Olympic aspirants David O'CONNOR and Iain JENSEN
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Euan MCNICOL lead Olympic aspirants David O'CONNOR and Iain JENSEN

OAMPS Sydney International Regatta 2008
Sydney, Australia

A mixture of Beijing Olympians and aspiring new young guns took the honours as perfect conditions arrived for the final day of the ISAF Grade 1 OAMPS Sydney International Regatta.
Set down to start from 10:00 local time, racing was delayed on the final day of the OAMPS Sydney International Regatta as course officials waited for the expected northeaster to fill in. The 49er, 470, 420, Moth and Laser 4.7 classes waited patiently ashore until conditions obliged shortly after 11:00.

Two instead of three races were sailed in the 49er, cutting their series by two races. Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH (GBR) were thrilled to take home the trophy by three points, with Beijing Olympian Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Euan MCNICOL (AUS) second and David O'CONNOR and Iain JENSEN (AUS) third. All three are vying for places to the London Olympic Games.

"It's great to win. It's been great maintaining a good performance throughout the regatta. We love coming to Sydney and this regatta- you get a bit of everything weather-wise and great competition. I think winning here gives us a psychological advantage over our British team mates and over the fleet headed to Melbourne for the next regatta," said CAMPBELL-JAMES.

The Brit admitted that getting to the Olympics would be difficult: "We have so many 49er teams vying for selection and they're all good - including Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES who represented at the Beijing Olympics."

OUTTERIDGE was disappointed that the series was cut short. "We came here to have 12 races, instead we got 10. It was great breeze out there - we could have got at least one more in. Having said that, I'm happy with how Euan [MCNICOL] and I finished up here," he said after sailing in an increasing northeasterly breeze of 14-16 knots, described by the fleet as "perfect".

Michael LEIGH (CAN) overcame a serious challenge from Javier HERNANDEZ (ESP), the two Beijing Olympians fighting tooth and nail throughout the regatta for the gold medal. HERNANDEZ was in front yesterday, but LEIGH's results were better today, although neither won a race. LEIGH's advantage was 10 points.

Daniel MIHELIC (CRO) also sailed well throughout to claim bronze, although he finished 24 points behind the winner.

"I always enjoy SIRs," said LEIGH. "I always sail well here. The competition was quite tough," he said of the 44-strong international fleet which included a third Beijing Olympian, Matias DEL SOLAR (CHI), who finished eighth, and other top class competitors.

Ashley BRUNNING (AUS) was the best placed Aussie in fourth; a great result for the Olympic aspirant. "I'm very pleased with my regatta. Today was a good day for me. I beat some really good sailors, including Olympian Mattias DEL SOLAR.

"I've just got to beat Tom [SLINGSBY - current World Champion and Beijing Olympian] now! I feel I've moved up to another level and I need to go up one more. I'll just keep training and try to sail well," said BRUNNING, whose day was marred in an after-race incident near the finish boat with Polish competitor Karol POROZYNSKI.

BRUNNING will have to borrow his brother's boat to take to the first round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup at Sail Melbourne, as his boat has a piece missing from the starboard side following the incident.

Gabrielle KING (AUS) watched her chance at gold slip by in the final race of the women's Laser Radial fleet this afternoon and had to settle for silver, while Tina MIHELIC (CRO) won bronze - to match her brother Daniel's bronze medal in the Laser Standard.

KING, the 2007-2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion in the class who made her transition to senior competition at SIRs, won races 7 and 8 to take the series lead on countback from Alison YOUNG (GBR), another emerging Olympic talent.

However, in the final race 9, KING fell by the wayside with a sixth place. "I was leading the last race, but on the final upwind leg, I broke. I just stopped. I watched them all go past me, and there was nothing I could do about it," said KING, who was quite philosophical about her loss to the British sailor.

"I sailed particularly well the last two days and I had a good time. I'm happy with my result," she said. King Will pack up and get ready to head to Melbourne and will also go on to the Laser Nationals in Perth. KING should be happy - she fought back from third by winning two races - and although missing gold, she was the first youth home, so takes home that gold.

It was no real surprise to see a British competitor win the regatta after they carted off six of the sailing medals in Qingdao at the Olympic Games. YOUNG, a member of the British Development Squad, sailed strongly throughout, beating fellow countrywoman and Beijing campaigner Andrea BREWSTER (GBR) among other top competitors at her first SIR.

"The breezes were very tricky on the Harbour, but today was great; a nice strong northeasterly. We got good solid winds - it was beautiful sailing, good hiking sailing. I just wanted to get racing and today I did. My aim was to finish top five, to win is a bonus. I've really enjoyed myself," the 21 year-old who is also headed to Sail Melbourne said.

Nineteen year-old SIRs newcomer Richard ELLIS (NZL) skated home to defeat triple Olympian Jessica CRISP (AUS) by one point in the RS:X sailboard open fleet, after CRISP nabbed the lead yesterday. Spanish Olympic campaigner Blanca MANCHON finished third with Beijing Olympian Jannicke STALSTROM (NOR) fourth.

"It's my first time here - interesting obstacles on the course," was ELLIS' observation. "I'm not used to ducking ferries, ships and other boats at home," he said, adding: "It was a great mix of conditions here; I wish every day had been windy - I prefer the heavier winds."

ELLIS said sailing against the Olympic women in light air had pushed him. "They really good in the light stuff - they're really good at what they do." ELLIS won five of the eight race series, while CRISP won two and STALSTROM the other.

South Australian sailor James PATERSON (AUS) had a runaway win the Finn class, in which of the 11 entries, 10 were Australian with one Brit. PATERSON, who Olympic coach Mike FLETCHER has earmarked as a good Olympic prospect , lived up to the coach's hope, beating another Aussie hopeful, Warwick HILL by nine points and third placed Chris CALDECOAT (AUS) by 14.

PATERSON, a 25 year old, has been sailing keelboats for the past four years and felt like a change. His Dad and Yachting Australia coach Brendan TODD encouraged him to try the Finn, and he's glad he did.

"I'm a little bit surprised I won, but the racing was a lot closer than the scores indicated. I did not have a particularly good day yesterday and first place was still up for grabs going into racing today. I solidified on my score today and looking forward to Sail Melbourne. I'm absolutely aiming for a shot at the Olympics," PATERSON said.

Klade HAUSCHILDT (AUS) has won the men's Laser Radial at the SIR after winning the Radial Nationals last year. He did an exceptional job to overcome some of the top Laser Radial men's sailors in Australia and defeated two Youth sailors; Sydney SCOTT (SIN) by 14 points and Tim COLTMAN (NZL) by a massive 27 points with 2,4,4 results today for the gold medal.

"It was a pretty difficult regatta for everyone - wind from every direction and strength and a lot of shifts - there was lots to think about. The men's fleet has improved a lot since last year, so the win was a satisfying one. I've put in a lot of training and it's paid off," the Queenslander said after enjoying winds that reached 22-25 knots.

In an all-Australian fleet, Shane HUGHES and Felix PATERSON sailed well throughout the 470 competition to take the gold medal from Stacey OMAY and Chelsea HALL and Tom BREWER and William RYAN third, the latter two finishing their close series on equal points. Competition was close and Olympic medal-winning coach Victor KOVALENKO says the depth of talent is strong in the class.

The 420 class was an-all Australian affair too, and talented Byron WHITE and Jay GRIFFIN led the OAMPS Sydney Harbour Regatta from day one. Racking up three straight wins and adding a further two, they were always going to be hard to beat.

Sydney 2000 49er bronze medallist Charlie MCKEE (USA) took the lead in the Moth class yesterday and capitalized in today's final three races to win that trophy by five points from Scott BABBAGE (AUS) who finished fifth in the 2008 Worlds. A second American, Bora GULARI came in third in the class fleet which included 2008 World Champion, John HARRIS (AUS), who finished this regatta fifth.

Stephen COLLINGS took out the Laser 4.7 from Thomas VINCENT and Nicholas HOWE in the Australian only field. COLLINGS sailed a superb regatta, his final score 13 points ahead of Vincent.

Hannah NATTRASS, the bronze medallist skipper from the 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in the 29er class made her move today to steal the gold medal from under the noses of New Zealanders Dan MEEHAN and Alex MORRIS and Angus RANKIN James DAHL (AUS) who had sailed well all week.

With new crew Jamie WOODS, NATTRASS had been outside the top three all regatta until they came up with five straight wins, adding to two earlier wins to claim gold. Her future looks bright.

"This was Jamie and my first regatta together - we just wanted to see how we'd go against the competition here. We're pretty happy with our win, especially as we're headed to the Worlds in Lake Garda [Italy] next year. The SIRs was a great start to our competition," said the bubbly 18 year old.

The Yngling fleet finished their racing yesterday, so those scores stand.

Organized by Yachting NSW, the ISAF Grade 1 Olympic and Invited Classes event, Woollahra Sailing Club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club hosted over 220 entries at the Regatta.

Results - click here

Di Pearson (As Amended By ISAF)
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