In the Penultimate day of racing today for the Olympic and invited Classes, many class winners were decided with a day to spare, while others seem destined to go down to the wire.
Stuart Shimeld (ACT) continues to lead the 2.4mR dinghy following 2-1 placings in today's two races sailed on Port Phillip Bay.
Shimeld, who actually builds the 2.4mR was expected to perform well, along with two-time former National champion, Michael Leydon (Vic), who currently sits in 3rd place overall after a win in Race 5 and 4th in Race 6.
Conditions on the course varied today with the wind shifty at around 12 knots, but big gusts up to18, but competitors were pleased that the swell was not as bad as yesterday.
Competing for the first time at Sail Melbourne, Zoltan Pegan (NSW) said, "I am learning so much at this event, how to catch and surf waves, and there are a lot of champions here, so I am learning so much. Today wasn't so good for me, it's not that I had a bad day, it's just that the others are better than me."
Andrew May (NZL) finished with a third in Race 5, while Peter Thompson (ACT) and James Thompson (Vic) finished second and third respectively in Race 6.
On progressive points, Shimeld continues his run with 6 points, James Thompson is second with 13 and Michael Leydon has 17 points.
There are only two races left to sail in the 49er skiff class, but no competitor on the track has been able to stop former three-time World champion and Sydney 2000 representative, Chris Nicholson and his crew Gary Boyd (NSW).
With a 2-2-1 result in today's three races, the Belmont boys have streaked ahead to an unassailable lead from their counterparts.
Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) have done their best this regatta, Gianfranco's fractured arm still causing little discomfort when hoisting spinnakers. They finished their day with a 2-1-DNF to comfortably hold down 2nd place overall provisionally.
In gusty winds varying from 15-18 knots with quite a bit of chop on the water, the minor placings went to a variety of competitors, Mark Turnbull/Nick Partridge (Vic) having a better day with a win in Race 10, Denis Jones/Simon Sutherland (WA) having the time of their lives in the gusty winds with a 3-5-9 result.
The fierce battle for Olympic representation in the Yngling keelboat class continues, with Melanie Dennison/Fiona Herbert/Caroline Aders (Vic) and Nicky Bethwaite/Kate McHugh/Kristin Kosmala (NSW), winning a race each today at the Sail Melbourne Regatta.
With two races to be sailed tomorrow, the final day of the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta, Dennison leads by one point from Bethwaite.
In an exciting Race 9, sailed in gusty 12-15 knots of wind at 170 degrees, the two went stroke for stroke around the course, Bethwaite the victor by four seconds.
Race 10, and the wind increasing to 15-19 knots plus, Dennison came home first in the heavier airs by 49 seconds - you don't get much closer than those times in sailing.
It was amazing to watch, tack for tack, gybe for gybe, take no prisoners - both enjoying the match racing.
Once again, the indomitable Warn sisters, Pat and Joyce, with their young 18 year crew, Tneal Kawalla, finished with a 3-4 result to be in third place overall.
In big winds, these boats are demanding, and require weight to keep them sailing flat, the sisters light - their combined crew weight in the 177-178 kilo region, while the two Olympic hopefuls combined weights are in the 193-200 kilo region - then there is the age factor - the Warns, fraternal twins, will be 73 in March, the others mostly less then half their age.
Tomorrow will tell the tale on Port Phillip Bay, as to who has won this round of the Olympic selection bout. Stay tuned.
How many sailors can say they have to drop two first places as their discards for a series - answer, Bundock and Forbes (NSW) in the Tornado class. The dynamic duo have cruised it in to win both races again today, with only two more to be sailed tomorrow, the final day of sailing at Sandringham YC in this event.
Iordanis Paschalides/Christos Garefis (GRE), training partners to the leaders, finished their day with a 2-2 again, actually leading to the first mark in Race 7 today.
Whilst frustrated by their inability to beat Bundock/Forbes, the Greeks realise they are getting better with each regatta. They enjoyed the 13-17 knots of wind on the course today, not minding the choppy seas - nose-diving was the prerequisite of the day
Nigel Williams/Jeremy Stephenson (NZL) are also on the improve, finishing today with a 4-3 to be third overall. The pair say they are here to get experience, particularly from Bundock and Forbes, who need not sail the final two races tomorrow to win the series.
Progressive points have Bundock and Forbes 7 points from Paschalides/Garefis with 14 and Williams/Stephenson 30.
Colin Beashel and David Giles (NSW) are so far in front on the Star Keelboat scoreboard at the Sail Melbourne Regatta, that the pair do not, and will not be sailing tomorrow. Finishing their day with a second and a first place, they are in an unbeatable position, so will pack their boat up tomorrow for the next regatta.
Iain Murray/Andrew Palfrey (NSW), producing some good results at this regatta, won Race 9 today, with a second in Race 10.
Ian 'Barney' Walker/Nick Williams (Vic) had to be content with two third placings today - it will be interesting to see what happens on the course with the latter pairings in tomorrow's final races.
Progressively it's Beashel/Giles with 9 points from Walker/Williams on 17 and Murray/Palfrey 20.
Star final races get underway at 2.00pm tomorrow.
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Bronze medallist, Michael Blackburn (NSW) has wasted no time perfecting his skills in the Laser class at the Sail Melbourne Regatta on Port Phillip Bay.
Blackburn has now won four races on the trot, two yesterday, and a further two today, to consolidate his first place on the leader board in the largest fleet at the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta being hosted by Sandringham Y.C.
Ed Wright (GBR), the World ranked No. 5, finished 2-5 today to hold on to his second position, Roope Suomalainen (FIN), ranked ninth in the ISAF World Sailing rankings, finished 3-2 to be third placed provisionally, with two further races to go on the final day, tomorrow.
Andrew Murdoch (NZL), who earlier led this series, finished his day with an 11-6 result to comfortably hang on to fourth place.
Sailing on two-lap Olympic Trapezoid courses in 14-16 knot winds at 185 degrees, Blackburn was not really threatened for his first places.
The Lasers only have to races to go, both on Port Phillip Bay tomorrow starting from 2.00pm.
Current World champion in the Europe class, Sarah Blanck (Vic) lifted today to win both races on the windy courses on Port Phillip Bay.
Blanck has produced a mixed bag of results at this regatta, but was in top form today in the gusty 15-18 knots of breeze on her hometown waters, her wins today putting her in 3rd place overall.
Leading the field, having a wonderful regatta, but still beatable, is Lenka Smidova (CZE), World ranked 5, finishing with a 2-3 result, to maintain a slight lead over Carolijn Brouwer (NED), who finished the day with a 3rd in Race 9, and an 8th in Race 10 - her worst for the series.
With the point score close - only ten points separate the top five places, anything could happen in tomorrow's final two races to be sailed from 11.00am.
Next best placed in this class is Sarah Macky (NZL), scoring a 4-4 today, and Jo Dikkenberg (NSW) with a 5-2 result.
Progressively, Smidova leads with 16 points, then Brouwer with 19, Blanck on 22, Macky with 25 and Dikkenberg with 26.
Dikkenberg has a protest in from racing yesterday, which will be heard this evening at 6.00pm.
Jon Paul Tobin (NZL) made his presence felt on the Mistral Mens course today, winning both races to take the lead from compatriot Tom Ashley (NZL), who scored his worst result for the series so far, a 5th in Race 7, which he followed up with a 2nd in Race 8.
Tobin has the narrowest of leads - two points, making tomorrow's final two races a nail-biting affair.
Lars Kleppich, making his return to boardsailing after a layoff, finished with a 6-6 today, leaving him comfortably in 3rd place overall from Joeri Van Dyk (NED) and Michael Lancey (NSW) having a brilliant regatta at Sail Melbourne.
Racing gets underway in the all-Kiwi final tomorrow from 2.00pm.
Natasha Sturges A Nose In Front at Mistral Womens
Like the Mens Mistral, this event will come down to what happens tomorrow on the Womens Mistral course, with Natasha Sturges (GBR) going 3-3 to take the lead by two points today.
With so much talent in both Mistral fields, it has been great racing on both courses, with the leader board changing a few times.
Barbara Kendall (NZL), who earlier lead the series, scored a 4-1 today to sit just behind Sturges in second place, equally with Jessica Crisp (NSW) who finished her day with 2-2 - on the comeback trail following going into hibernation after the 2000 Olympic Games.
Having her best regatta, Allison Shreeve (NSW) finished the day with a win and fifth place to currently be placed fourth overall, close enough to the leaders to grab a top place.
The cliffhanger finish will happen tomorrow on Port Phillip Bay, with two races to be sailed from 2.00pm.
Progressive points show Sturges with 16, Crisp and Kendall on 18, Shreeve 21.
470 Men and Women
Philippe Gildas/Nicholas Leberre (FRA) won both races today on the 470 track, making that three in succession to close the gap on Nathan Wilmot/Malcolm Page (NSW) for the series.
The French pair have lifted, and are now only four points behind Wilmot/Page who scored a 2-4 result today in the 15 plus knots of wind on the course.
Andrew Brown/Jamie Hunt (NZL) went 3-2 today putting them in fifth spot for the series, while Mathew and Daniel Belcher (Qld) have sailed well throughout, with 4-3 today putting them in third place overall - their best result at a major regatta.
Meanwhile, Jenny Armstrong/Belinda Stowell continue to lead the Womens fleet with a scoreboard of 53, putting them in seventh place overall, from Ingrid Petitjean/Nadege Douroux (FRA) with 71 points and Shelley Hesson/Linda Dickson (NZL) with 85 points.
Racing finishes tomorrow with two further races starting from11.00am.
Sebastien Godefroid (BEL) placed sixth in Race 9, then won Race 10 to wipe out the opposition in the Finn class at the Sail Melbourne Regatta.
Godefroid, who won this event hands down last year, says he loves to sail here, I>"yes, I love the waves, the wind, and the competition, I can't believe more people don't come here from overseas to do this regatta," he told officials yesterday.
Try though they might, the Aussies have not been able to quite catch the quiet Belgian, Anthony Nossiter (AUS) giving it his best shot with a win in Race 9 and fourth in Race 10, sailing better than he ever has before.
Pascal Rambeau (FRA) maintained his current third placing overall with a consistent 3-2 score today.
Young Josh Beaver (WA) had his best day of the series, with a 2-3 result to sit in fourth place. He came ashore with a huge grin, finally getting the sort of results he knows he is capable of.
The Finns will have their final two races tomorrow starting from 11.00.
Progressive points have Godefroid on 10, Nossiter with 16, Rambeau 21, and Beaver 29.
Jake Bartrom (NZL) looks set to take the podium position in the Laser Radial class at Sail Melbourne. Over the eight races to-date, his worst result has been a 4th placing, while today he finished 2-1 to stamp his authority on the series.
His nearest rival, Richard Howard (AUS), finished third to Bartrom's victory at last year's event, and if he keeps his cool, will finish second to Bartrom this year, with a 1-2 result in today's races.
Adam Beattie (AUS), maintained his consistency for a 3-3 result to be in a clear third place, sailing in the 14 plus knots of breeze on the Laser Radial Olympic Trapezoid courses.
James Tudball/Matt Williams are the standout sailors in the all-Australian cast in the 29er class. With a further two wins today in the six boat series, the pair cannot be beaten, with only two further races to be sailed tomorrow starting at 11.00am.
Andrew Churcher/Michael McDonald maintain their 2nd place overall with a further two 2nd places today.
Lucien Francis/Wulf Wilkens finished with a 3-3 again, to stay in 3rd place.
Ben Gunther and Leon Poutsma are having the battle of their lives in the Optimist dinghy, going one-for-one on Port Phillip Bay in the Sail Melbourne Regatta.
With their first two races sailed yesterday, the pair had two wins and two second places each, with the same happening again in each of the two races sailed out of Sandringham YC, the host club for the event.
This morning in decreasing 15-knot winds at 155 degrees on flat seas, Gunther took the first race, Poutsma the second.
Melody Kelly from Western Australia has continued her run in third place for both races, with the rest of the fleet battling for the minor places.
The Optimist will finish their series tomorrow with a final two races due to start from 9.00am.
Progressive points have Gunther and Poutsma equal first with 6 points, from Kelly on 12 points.