Sailors from Commonwealth nations will compete in their own Championship for the first time, Both the Commonwealth Games Federation and ISAF have approved the Inaugural Commonwealth Sailing Championship.
Nominated classes for the six-day regatta include the Mistral Men, Mistral Women, Laser Men, Laser Radial Women, 470 Men, 470 Women and Hobie 16 Catamaran - Open. Sailors seeking top competition will enjoy the excellent sailing conditions of Port Phillip.
To-date, entries have been received from Australia, Great Britain, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Cyprus, Fiji, Singapore, Zimbabwe, India and Malaysia.
Competitors of note include winners at Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta; Michael Blackburn (AUS) Laser, Jenny Armstrong/Belinda Stowell (AUS) 470, Nathan Wilmot/Malcolm Page 470, Melanie Dennison won the Yngling, but will sail a Laser Radial, and Barbara Kendall (NZL) Mistral Womens.
Internationally, Peter Whipp (Isle of Man), will sail a Laser, Russell McGovern and Debbie Hanna (Northern Ireland) will sail a Laser and Laser Radial respectively. Sandip Jane/Utpal More and Ayaz Shaikh/Ram Kumar (India) will sail the 470, as will Petros Dracos/Christos Karakoulakis (Cyprus). World-Ranked 5 Mistral sailor, Dominic Tidey, will represent Great Britain.
An Opening Ceremony will be held at Sandringham Yacht Club tomorrow, January 18, to open the Commonwealth Sailing Championships, commencing 4.00 pm. A brass band will entertain arriving guests, who will be welcomed by Chairman of Sail Melbourne International Regatta, Kevin Wood.
Commonwealth Country flags will be raised at 5.05pm, to be followed by well-known soloist, Hayley White, singing the Australian National Anthem.
Peter Bartels, Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Institute of Sport and International Cycling Federation Marketing Commission, will declare the Championships open.
Peter was a member of the Business Council of Australia for eight years and has been CEO and Managing Director of both Coles Myer Limited and Fosters Brewing Group Ltd. In his youth, Peter was an outstanding cyclist, representing Australia for many years, winning a Gold medal at the Perth 1962 Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Sailing Championships are the first step in a strategy to have sailing included as an official sport of the Commonwealth Games. Sail Melbourne has already confirmed that a sailing event will be held in conjunction with the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
The Inaugural Commonwealth Sailing Championships venue is the Sandringham Yacht Club, which also hosts Australia's only annual ISAF Grade 1 event (the Olympic & Invited Classes Regatta) as part of Sail Melbourne.