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21 December 2008, 12:37 pm
Aussies Finish On Top As Sail Melbourne Provides Outstanding Start To ISAF Sailing World Cup
Anna TUNNICLIFFE of the USA on her way to overall victory
Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE of the USA scored victory in the Laser Radial fleet

Sail Melbourne 2008
Melbourne, Australia

Australia finished with three gold medals and consequently three top spots in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings as the home nation delivered the goods on the final day of racing at Sail Melbourne.
As the first of seven events in the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup series, Sail Melbourne brought together a combination of Olympic stars and 2012 hopefuls to Port Phillip Bay for six days of intense racing. Australia ended top of the medal standings with three golds, although the home-nation whitewash some had predicted failed to materialize. Sailors from Chile, France, Great Britain, Spain and the USA all leave Melbourne with ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medals, as the hosts were forced to play second fiddle to an array of international stars across many of the fleets.

Next up, the ISAF Sailing World Cup moves to North America, for the second event, the Rolex Miami OCR from 25-31 January 2009.
Click here to watch the ISAF Sailing World Cup online

Australia Secures 470 Golds

Australian crews continued the tradition of outstanding success on the world stage for those involved in the 470 class, winning ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medals in both the Men and Women's Two Person Dinghy events at Sail Melbourne today.

In shifty winds on Port Phillip Bay, Olympic gold medallist Malcolm PAGE and his new skipper Mat BELCHER (AUS), combined with young West Australian teenagers Stacey OMAY and Chelsea HALL (AUS) to claim the double on their home soil.

In what is Australia's most important Olympic multi-class regatta, PAGE and BELCHER, who could not be beaten for the first 470 ISAF Sailing World Cup title on offer at the completion of day five, used today's final race as more of a training run in what proved to be more great sailing conditions for the fleet.

"We went back again [after their individual recall of the regatta for a false start] and still managed to finish second," skipper BELCHER said.

"It has just been a fantastic regatta - we've had a great cross section of conditions to sail in and we are very pleased with the result," BELCHER added.

BELCHER and PAGE finished an impressive eight points clear of USA Olympic representatives Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL, with outstanding young Sandringham Yacht Club prospects Sam KIVELL and Max TAYLOR (AUS) in third place.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings

Along with picking up an ISAF Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne gold medal, BELCHER and PAGE also score a maximum of 20 points to top the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.

"It's a nice way to start the World Cup and it's always nice to do it your home country - Mat and I are gelling really well and looking forward to the next three and a half years to London," PAGE said.

Crews can pick up points at each of the seven ISAF Sailing World Cup events (20 points for first overall, 19 for second, down to 1 point for twentieth overall) which combined form their Series Score. The crew with the highest Series Score at the end of the inaugural season win the ISAF Sailing World Cup Trophy.

View the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings for all events on the ISAF Sailing World Cup website at www.sailing.org/worldcupstandings.

Despite their runaway victory in Melbourne and early lead of the World Cup Standings, PAGE was not getting carried away with the team's early success, "It's funny, every first tack and every first jibe and every first leg is probably our worst and we've been learning quick and by the last race of each day it felt so much better ... I suppose the process has begun - we're not in any rush - it's a long time [to the next Olympics] and we want to be peaking at the right time in London but it does feel great," he explained.

MCNAY and BIEHL were thrilled with their result this week, considering the equipment they were using was all borrowed except for their sails.

"We've had a great time down here - we'll definitely be back again next year - the conditions really kept us on our toes and we managed to get some great sailing in," BIEHL said.

Meanwhile OMAY and HALL completely dominated the small Women's 470 fleet while enjoying racing in amongst the men's fleet. OMAY said it gave them more of an opportunity to enjoy racing in a stronger fleet and capped off what has been an outstanding regatta for the pair.

"We just love racing here - it's always great racing close to shore, varied conditions and it's always pretty close to schedule," OMAY said.

Amy KIVELL and Alexandra WARD (AUS) finished second on 25 points, five points clear of Laura BALDWIN and Michelle MULLER (AUS).

TUNNICLIFFE Triumphs

There was no surprise finish in the Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial fleet, as US Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE opened her ISAF Sailing World Cup account with maximum points this week.

TUNNICLIFFE, who has battled ill health in the latter stage of the week, managed to hold it together to clearly win her class on 25 points, nine points clear of rising Aussie star Gabrielle KING, with Andrea BREWSTER (GBR) third with 40 points. The world #1 ranked Laser Radial sailor dominated racing with five wins from her 11 starts and held off a late charge from KING to secure gold in today's final race.

Whilst TUNNICLIFFE's victory was widely expected, the silver medal success of 18 year old KING was one of the star performances of the event. After a difficult opening day, KING had a storming second half of the regatta, demonstrating the talent that has won her the Laser Radial title at the last two Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships.

Golds For Chile, France And Spain

Chile's Matias DEL SOLAR dominated proceedings in the Laser class, leading for much of the week and showing his form when the crucial final races. After a fourth place in today's final race, DEL SOLAR ended the regatta winning with 30 points, an impressive 17 points clear of second place getter, Kiwi Mike BULLOT. Milan VUJASINOVIC of Croatia came in third on 53 points, just beating Canada's Mike LEIGH to the final podium position.

Spain's Blanca MANCHON was well ahead of the fleet in the Women's RS:X class, crossing the line first in seven of her 11 starts. She finished a long way ahead of Australian three-time Olympian Jessica CRISP in second place on 26 points and Kate ELLINGHAM (NZL) in third place, four points back.

The Men's RS:X was one of the closest fleets of the regatta, with Nicolas LE GAL of France, taking until the final race today to shake off New Zealander Antonio COZZOLINO for maximum first round ISAF Sailing World Cup points.

LE GAL finished two points clear of COZZOLINO on 18 points, with Kiwi Josh NIXON third on 31 points.

Brits Win 49er

GBR London 2012 hopefuls Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH can't wait to get back to Australia next year following an overwhelmingly successful month in the country, culminating with a resounding victory in the 49er class at Sail Melbourne.

Across two weeks of international class sailing, CAMPBELL-JAMES and ASQUITH have not finished worse than second and in a relatively small, yet competitive fleet this week, to win by 21 points was even better than they expected.

"Obviously we are really, really pleased with our sailing … after we won SIRs [Sydney International Regatta] last week, we just wanted to come here and keep the momentum going," skipper CAMPBELL-JAMES said.

"We aimed to not finish worse than second again this week, however we our week finished even better than even we expected," he added.

Will PHILLIPS and Sam PHILLIPS (AUS) trailed behind the Brits in second place on 41 points, with Kiwi crew David MCDIARMID and Andrew ARCHIBALD third on 54 points.

Another Aussie Gold In The Finn

Outstanding young Sandringham Finn sailor Warwick HILL will reassess his assault on the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup series following his perfect start to the circuit. HILL has enjoyed the high class sailing among the small fleet this week and his rivalry with fellow Aussie James PATERSON continues.

"I would really like to go to the next round in Miami but at the minute I can't afford it, having just finished studying and with work commitments as well," HILL said.

"If I could get a sponsor to jump on board I would certainly go - I will have to reassess a few things now after this week," he admitted with a grin.

PATERSON finished on 18 points, four points behind HILL, with Chris CALDECOAT (AUS) well out of contention in third place on 29 points.

Click here for all the news on Sail Melbourne 2008.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-28 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

ISAF (source: Jodi Kelly)
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