An intense fortnight of competition for an international fleet of Paralympic sailors drew to a close today, Saturday December 12, 2015, with the completion of their Sailing World Cup Melbourne race schedule in light southerly winds at the top end of Port Phillip.
Athletes only had a short break between finishing the Para World Sailing Championships and commencing their World Cup campaign on Wednesday at the same venue, the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.
Celebrations continue for Damien Seguin of France in the 2.4mR and SKUD18 sailors Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) who added World Cup Melbourne gold to their medal haul, having snapped up the world championship title just over a week ago.
In the Sonar, Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden (AUS) made up for their disappointment of silver at the Para Worlds to defeat a competitive fleet, walking away with gold.
Meanwhile over on the St Kilda side of the bay, the top ten sailors in each Olympic class qualified themselves for tomorrow’s Medal Races on a cool but magic Melbourne summer’s day, in contrast to yesterday’s cold and ugly blast from the sou’west that blew out racing. The breeze averaged 10-12 knots S-SE and remnant confused 1.5m seas made the going bumpy.
Organisers have the option of utilising two courses for tomorrow’s Medal Races, though the second will only come into play if Mother Nature can’t provide enough reliable wind to roll through eight class finals in quick succession.
Variable 10 knot winds becoming south to south-easterly 10-15 knots in the early afternoon before easing is the forecast for Sunday December 13, 2015.
Finns are due to kick off the Medal Race schedule at 11.50 local time and the kiteboards’ start at 16:30 is the last on the program. All gold Medal Races will be broadcast live to the St Kilda Sailing Precinct stage as well as on World Sailing’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/WorldSailingTV) and there will fantastic spectator viewing opportunities from the end of St Kilda Pier.
The wind was softer today but still shifty, forcing France’s Damien Seguin and Australia’s Matt Bugg to fight it out to the end. “We had a great battle,” Seguin admitted.
He’s at the top of his game after this year winning the World Championship and all of his World Cup and EUROSAF events. “With the worlds and this event I have won my qualification to represent France at the Paralympics,” the man with the golden touch added.
Seguin walks away with gold, Matt Bugg silver and Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) completes the podium.
A relieved Australian team of Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden finished their series with a first place after fighting off challenges from France’s Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary, and Norway’s Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen.
The Aussies began the day’s racing after spending last night with Jourdren in the protest room, which resulted in the French team receiving a disqualification. A collision between the two boats required the Australians to patch up some holes with tape in order to race today.
“We put yesterday aside and thought about today as being a new race day,” a beaming Harrison said
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) continued their golden world championship form, winning this week’s World Cup. Second was Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell and in third, Poland’s Monika Gibes and Piotr Cichocki.
“In the first race we had to sail for position; we had to beat the British team to win the regatta,” Fitzgibbon said. “In the second race we were out there just have a bit of fun. This win is a vital step for us; we are trying to get in the habit of winning. It’s a really good step to see where we are leading into the Rio games.”
Nothing is going to unseat Germany’s Florian Gruber, 21, in his pursuit of a third IKA Formula Kite World Cup Melbourne title. He comfortably leads the series after 15 races.
This is the last event of his racing season before heading back to Europe to join up with Ozone and KiteFoil Australia working on the development of hydrofoils. He hopes the KiteFoil Board will be the equipment choice if kites are included in the 2020 Olympic Games.
“The Formula Board is a great discipline. The foils are the future. They have more speed, more efficient on the upwind and downwind,” Gruber said
Joanna Sterling heads into tomorrow’s Medal Race the top contender for the RS:X women’s windsurfer series after finishing the day off with another two wins to add to her near perfect scoresheet. In second place is Audrey Yong (SIN) and third Lara O’Brien (AUS).
Six nations feature in the top 10 sailors to move through to the Medal Race. Colin Cheng (SIN) leads the fleet ahead of Mitchell Kennedy (AUS) and Thomas Saunders (NZL). Cheng has a decent lead; behind him the pointscore is tight.
Ashley Stoddart (AUS) is the top woman moving through to the Medal Race. She leads Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) and Susannah Pyatt (NZL) and all have sailed consistently throughout their seven race World Cup series.
Consistent top three results for the Kiwi pair of Logan Dunning-Beck and Jack Simpson has made them 49er front-runners over the first Australian team of Will and Sam Phillips.
It’s a double-bunger for the New Zealanders in the big and smaller rigged skiffs, Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland winning the final of today’s four 49erFX races to be ahead of Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks (AUS) by a single point.
Finn, 470 Men & Women
Alexander and Patrick Conway’s (AUS) golden run continues, the talented twins winning all eight qualifying races. In second place is Thomas Klemens and Timothy Hannah (AUS).
Carrie Smith and Jaime Ryan (AUS) hold the lead ahead of Sasha Ryan and Aurora Paterson (AUS) and Pip Pietromonaco and Amelia Catt (AUS) in third.
Croatia’s Josip Olujic retains the lead ahead of local sailor, Oli Tweddell (AUS).
The leaders in each of the nine invited classes are: Bob Schahinger (Liberty), Kurt Hansen and Jim Cooley (29er), Alistair Young (Laser Radial Men), Thomas Needham (Laser 4.7), Nia Jerwood and Lisa Smith (420), Daniel and Nathan Van Kerckhof (Viper), Tom Wright (Open Bic), Anna O’Brien (Minnow) and Alexander Bijkerk (Optimist).
Racing in the invited classes also concludes tomorrow, Sunday.