In gusty 18-20 knot northerly winds on Port Phillip Bay that eased somewhat as the day went on, this morning the British pairing of Toby DALE/James COLE won the first race of the Flying Dutchman Australian Open Championship for 2003.
For Dale, it was a double-edged triumph - he was forced to quit his job in England after his employer refused to give him time off to contest these and the World Championship to be sailed as part of Sail Melbourne in January.
Current World champions, Srabolics MAETHENYI/Andras DOMOKAS (HUN) took second place in the Sail Melbourne event being hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club, from newly crowned NSW champions, Norman RYDGE/Richard SCARR. Former three-time World champions, Ian Mccrossin/James COOK finished fourth overall, with Hans-Peter SCHWARZ/Peter VAN KOPPEN (GER) in fifth place.
Thirty five Flying Dutchmen contested today's first race, three suffering breakages and retiring in the early stages. Officials from Sandringham are aiming to run a further two races tomorrow and Wednesday.
A number of these former Olympic class single trapeze boats are yet to be unloaded from containers at Melbourne airport, their owners, mostly Italian competitors, hoping it will be in time to race tomorrow.