Dennison and crew at work
The annual Sail Melbourne Regatta finished on Saturday with results displaying a real who's who of Olympic class Sailing.
Sixty-five international entrants contested the series, including entries from the U.K., Denmark, Italy and the USA. Italy’s Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello, ranked 7th in the 49er class, finished 3rd in Saturday’s final race at the Sail Melbourne Regatta to take out the Championships. The brothers won five of the 15 races to clinch the title, finishing with 25 points to take the series from Australia’s representatives at the Sydney Olympics, Chris Nicholson and Michael Blackburn, who finished on 32 points.
While the brothers spend their time racing on the 49er circuit, Nicholson and Blackburn have not raced together for eight months, and were only into the second month of their partnership. While it took them some time to get back up to speed, they also had five wins and five top three placings.
Third place went to Melbourne’s Mark Turnbull with Nick Partridge. They finished with 49 points.
In the 470 Mens, Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page took out the final race and a class win on Saturday. The Sydneysiders are more than pleased with their win - they score valuable world ranking points which will help them in their endeavours to represent Australia at the next Olympic Games in Sydney and they also win valuable prize-money.
“That will certainly help us with our campaign, and it’s great to win this event, the racing conditions here are tough,” 22-year-old Wilmot said after the race.
Gold Coast brothers Mathew and Daniel Belcher finished the event 2nd with 19 points, six behind Wilmot/Page, and Jenny Armstrong/Belinda Stowell were 3rd overall and 1st womens with a score of 27 points.
The French pairing of Ingrid/Petitjean and Nadge Douroux finished 2nd in the Womens, and were 7th overall, followed by Germany’s Nicola Birkner and Alexandra Goltz in 3rd and 8th overall.
Sebastien Godefroid (BEL), had no need to compete in the final Finn race at Sail Melbourne, having enough points to take out the event, winning nine of the eleven races he sailed in.
Godefroid is ranked 2nd in the world, and it showed at this regatta. Paul McKenzie (AUST), also had no need to compete in Saturday’s race to finish 2nd with 22 points. He left Sandringham Yacht Club last night to get ready for his last event.
Young Sydney hopeful, Josh Beaver, finished 1st in the final race to finish the regatta in 3rd place overall, only one point behind McKenzie. He is being touted as Australia’s next hope for the Olympic Games, either in Athens in 2004, or Beijing in 2008.
Dean McCaullay finished yesterday’s race in 2nd place for a 4th overall, while Matthew Pedlow finished 4th for 5th overall and Alexander Fesq finished 3rd for 6th place overall.
The Yngling class was won by Melanie Dennison and crew Fiona Herbert and Caroline Aders without competing in Saturday’s final race - they had already won the event with eight wins in eleven races. Sydney’s Nicky Bethwaite finished 2nd overall with 16 points.
These two combatants raced neck-and-neck all series, their finishes extremely close. To all intent purposes, it was a two-boat event - both are aiming for Olympic selection in the Yngling which is making it’s Olympic debut in Athens in 2004.
Dennison is ranked No. 1 in the world, and the Sail Melbourne Regatta, being a Grade 1 event, will give her more points and make it difficult for other contenders in the class, not only in Australia for Olympic selection, but internationally for competitors aiming for that No. 1 spot.
The 71 year old Warn sisters, Pat and Joyce, icons of the class, having sailed the Yngling for over 23 years, finished today’s race 2nd - their best result at Sail Melbourne. Their young crew, Tneal Kawalla, was ecstatic with their result.
Perhaps the most predictable result was that Darren Bundock and John Forbes won every race of the Tornado Nationals. Racing 14 other competitors, the pair had no alternative but to drop two 1st places in the 12 race series, which allows competitors to drop their worst two places.
Finishing in 2nd place were the consistent Queensland duo, Peter Bradbury and Shane Richards, with 26 points. In 3rd place were Greg Wyers and David Hart (Aust) with points of 35 points.
Belgium’s Min Dezillie won the Europe class by one point from Australia’s Sarah Blanck. The Victorian won the last race of the series, but Dezillie came 2nd, which kept her one point in front after winning races 10 and 11 of the 12 race series. Dezillie finished with 15 points, Blanck with 16.
Back on dry land, Blanck thanked the organisers of the event and particularly praised race officials from Sandringham Yacht Club, on the Europe course. “They were great, really good, they set fabulous courses and got it all right,” she said.
Finishing 3rd overall was Denmark’s Trine Abrahamsen with 32 points, some way behind the top two, but she had a battle of her own with Australia’s Jo Dikkenberg, who finished 4th after a 3rd placing today for points of 34. The top-ranked sailor at the event, Poland’s Monika Bronicka, had a mediocre series to finish 5th overall with 42 points. She is currently ranked 7th in the world.
Hong Kong 420 sailors Cheung Ka Ho and Ashun Tong Ping Shun (HK) sailed themselves to a win in the 420 class at Sail Melbourne. The 420’s got away in a light 8-9 knot south-south-westerly breeze, but that did not phase Ho and Shun - although they finished in 2nd place, to Louise Hutton/Clair McCartney (Aust) who posted their second win for the 12 race series.
Ho and Shun were never seriously threatened during the regatta, they had eight wins from twelve to finish on 12 points from their nearest competitors, Louise Hutton and Clair McCartney (Aust), on 22 points. Finishing in 3rd place were Victoria’s Simon Arkey and Alan McCubbin with 25 points.
Jake Bartrom (NZ) has won the Laser Radial class on the last day. He was trailing Aaron Gregory until Friday, when he won the last race of the day to take the lead - and there he stayed. He finished 4th in Saturday’s final race to Gregory’s 1st placing, but it was enough to give the New Zealander the series - by one point, finishing for a total of 15 points.
Gregory was obviously disappointed with his end result, but praised Bartrom on his win and said he had enjoyed the tight tussle the two had had throughout the regatta. Bartrom ended the series with four wins from 10 races, sailing well throughout the series. In 3rd place overall with 28 points was Richard Howard (Aust), followed by New Zealand’s Miranda Powrie, the first girl in the fleet, with 29 points - she sailed exceptionally well, just missing 3rd place by one point.
Victoria’s Krystal Weir finished in 5th place overall with 35 points, and while she was disappointed with her result, was happy for her friend Powrie, who is staying with Weir while in Melbourne.
Queensland brothers Brendan and Stewart Casey came to the Sail Melbourne Regatta with one purpose in mind - for Brendan to score the all important ranking points that will help him in his quest to represent Australia at the next Olympic Games in Athens.
Brendan, 24, won the event by two points from the United Kingdom’s Edward Wright, and 27-year-old Stewart finished 3rd. It was Wright, though, who won the last race of the series.
While the main story is Brendan Casey’s win, older brother Stewart opted out of the sport for five years - he was tired of it and wanted to do other things, until Brendan asked would he come and train with him to help in his quest to go to the Olympics. Stewart obliged, and to his amazement, actually enjoyed being back on the water and is now seriously considering a serious campaign of his own - in which class he is yet to decide, but he thinks a Tornado or 49er might just suit.
Brendan sailed a consistent regatta to win five out of the ten races in the series, and had four 2nd placings as well to finish with 11 points from Edward Wright’s 13 points - he also sailed consistently well throughout the series, and it was only these two fighting it out for the top spot.
Stewart Casey sailed most of his regatta in 3rd and 4th spots, and was in 4th place going into today’s race. He finished today’s final race in 2nd place to steal 3rd place overall from Ben Lamb (AUST) who had a 7th in the final race to finish 4th overall with 29 points.
Jon Paul Tobin (NZ) sailed a brilliant series to win the Mens Mistral Oceanic Championships. Tobin had five wins, a 2nd and a number of 3rds to outclass the opposition, of which there was plenty, at Sandringham Yacht Club today. He finished the Championships with 13 points, three ahead of Nick Dempsey (GBR) who also sailed consistently well with a number of top placings.
Fellow Brit, Dom Tidey, finished the Championships in 3rd place with 21 points, also staying at the top end of the scoreboard for all but two races - one in which he was OCS, which cost him dearly.
New Zealanders filled out the next four places; Tom Ashley (30 points), Matthew McCormick (43), Scott Radley (44) and James Wells (55). The best placed Australian was Michael Lancey, who won today’s final race and finished in 10th overall with 63 points. Japan’s Kazuya Ueno finished today’s race in 2nd spot for his 9th overall place.
Natasha Sturges (GBR) won the final race of the Womens Mistral Oceanic Championships to take the series. Australia’s Jessica Crisp, finished 2nd behind Sturges after the two had swapped the lead throughout the series. Sturges finished with 12 points, winning four races in total to Crisp’s three wins and total points of 14.
Crisp was slow to start, not having been on a sailboard since the Olympics.
While Sturges and Crisp fought it out for the top place, New Zealand’s Julie Worth also had a good series, winning Race 8 and sailing herself into top five places to finish 3rd with 24 points.