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13 December 2010, 12:50 pm
Light Wind Foils The Superstars on Day One of Sail Melbourne
Belcher & Page
Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page on day one of Sail Melbourne 2010

ISAF Sailing World Cup 2010-11: Sail Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia

Light winds have played havoc with the Sail Melbourne program on day one of the 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup at Sandringham Yacht Club where more than 400 crews have lined up for racing.
Only seven classes managed to complete races, and two of Australia's strongest hopes wished that their classes were among the DNFs. Tom Slingsby in the Laser and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er found themselves on the wrong side of wind shifts and finished well back in the field.

"I was doing OK but I went round the wrong gate mark and sailed straight into a hole. Everyone that sailed round that mark just stopped," said Slingsby.

The winners of the two groups were Tom Burton of Australia, who continued the good light airs form he showed in the first two days of Sail Sydney, where conditions were also light, and Andreas Geritzer of Austria.

Outteridge and Jensen told a similar story to Slingsby. "We got a good start, got face-tacked a couple of times and that just stopped us," said Outteridge. "You'd see guys trapezing in a good puff and a few metres away there were boats dead in the water. It's not a good way to start. We're just glad there was only one (race)."

The former world champions finished 15th. The race was won by 2009-2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions Nico Delle - karth and Nikolaus Resch of Austria from Sail Sydney winners, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand, with Lennart Briesenick-pudenz and Morten Massmann of Germany in third.

Victorians James Sly and Thomas Dwyer won the 29er class from Byron White and Ashlen Rooklyn of NSW, with another Victorian pairing, Tess Lloyd and Andrew Gillies, in third.

There was better news for Australia in the 470 class, which was won by world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page. The 420s and 470s were the last to go out onto the course, but found a steady if unspectacular breeze. "I wasn't getting on the windward gunwale, so it was only about three to four knots," said Page."But it was steady and only shifting about five degrees so it was a good light-wind breeze."

Although Page and Belcher were comfortably ahead of compatriots Sam Kivell and Will Ryan in the men's event, their race wasn't without drama. Although being scored separately, the men's and women's fleets started together and the Austrian duo of Sylvia Vogl and Carolina Flatscher almost took the honours.

"The girls scared us," was Malcolm Page's frank admission."They led all the way and we only got them down the last run. We nearly got them on the first run but they got away again and we had to do some wriggling - and praying."

In the 420, which is racing as a mixed fleet, James Brewer and Dylan Passmore were first across the line, ahead of Elloise Brake and Jaime Ryan with Lucy Shephard and Madaline Salter in third.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie was philosophical about the Finns' attempt to get a race in. They managed to sail half way up the first beat, with Dan Slater of New Zealand leading and Ainslie well-placed in fourth, before the wind died and the race was abandoned. "At least we got out there," said Ainslie. "But it was a bit like Perth all over again." (In Perth three weeks ago the fabled Fremantle Doctor sea breeze failed to appear as well.)

Dan Slater was equally unfazed by the abandonment. "We had to give it a go," he said. "If you don't try, you don't know."

The best results from a race completion point of view were the Paralympic classes, which both managed to complete two. In the Skud 18 Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell of Great Britain won both races, from Australians Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason and Dan Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox.

In the 2.4 Metre, three Australians head the leaderboard with Peter Russell's first and second giving him the lead over Michael Leydon (two, three) and Greg Hyde (seven, one).

In the Laser 4.7, Queenslander Madison Kennedy continued her good form from Sail Brisbane and Sail Sydney, winning the sole race completed. Timothy Narborough was second and Jack Work was third.

Full results are available at www.sailmelbourne.com.au

Racing resumes tomorrow at 11:00 (local time) with the live trackers again being affixed to the Finns.

Craig Heydon
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