Gold medal for Fitzgibbon and Tesch at Sailing World Cup in Miami
Paralympic sailors Daniel Fitzgibbon (NSW) and Liesl Tesch (NSW) have picked up Australia’s first medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Miami, Florida, winning Gold in the Skud 18 class.
The pair started the day tied on points at the front of the fleet with the 2012 World Champions from Great Britain with two races left to run on Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch were fourth in the opening race of the day, one place behind the British crew of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, putting plenty of pressure on the final race.
The Australians delivered, winning the race to take their second Rolex Miami OCR title by a single point.
“It has been a week of us just chipping away, coming back, coming back, until we were third, second and then last night we got up to first, and today we were able to win in the last race,” said Fitzgibbon. “We were in second going into the final race and we had to beat the British team to win the regatta, I’m really happy about how it worked out.”
In the Women’s Match Racing competition, which features all of the top crews preparing for London 2012 Olympic Games, Australians Olivia Price (NSW), Nina Curtis (NSW) and Lucinda Whitty (NSW) have won their way through to the Gold medal race following a hard fought semifinal victory.
In their semifinal, Price and crew came up against American skipper Sally Barkow, who had only lost one race during the series to that point. The Australians came back from a race down to win 3-1 in the best of five match-up and progress to Saturday’s final against Great Britain’s Lucy Macgregor.
Having combined for the first time just six months ago, the final will be the first time that this Australian trio have contested the Gold medal final on the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit and they’re looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“We had a great day on the water today with a 3-1 win over American Sally Barkow,” said Whitty. “In the first race we had an issue with seaweed which was hard to overcome but we came back to win the next three very tight matches.
“Tomorrow we’re up against Lucy Macgregor with the first crew to three wins getting the Gold medal,” she said. “Today we had some great racing and we’re looking forward to tomorrow’s final.”
470 sailors Mathew Belcher (QLD) and Malcolm Page (NSW) had a perfect day on the water with two wins from two starts allowing them to extend their lead heading into Saturday’s 10-boat medal race.
Belcher and Page will take a 10-point lead over the Dutch crew of Sven and Kalle Coster into the double point final race with the Australians assured of at least a Silver medal.
“The last three years Mal and I have come here and taken away the Silver medal, tomorrow we’ll be looking for the win,” said Belcher. “Today we set out to have two good races and to finish up with two wins was great.
“We’ve managed to put a few more points between us and the competition which is nice but as always we would have liked more,” he said. “The Dutch are a very experienced crew and we know that in the medal race anything can happen so we’ll just go out there and race our race and see what happens.”
Brendan Casey (QLD) heads into the Finn medal race third overall, just four points behind second following another strong day of racing.
Casey won the opening race of the day and finished third in the final qualifying race to close the gap on Danish former World Champion Jonas Hogh Christensen in second.
“Today was a really good day, we had good breeze, big courses again and some of the closest racing of the week,” said Casey. “In that last race four boats crossed the line almost simultaneously it was that close.
“In race one there was nothing in it between Jonas and I the whole way around the track,” he said. “There was two boat lengths at the top mark, and I managed to get him on the last run and cross the line two boat lengths ahead.
“With just four points between myself and Jonas the Silver medal is definitely achievable, it’s expected to be pretty light for the medal race so I’m sure it will be close again,” said Casey.
Matt Bugg (TAS) finished his week 10th overall in the 2.4mR class after a 13th and an 11th in the final two races.
Bugg was in the mix in the highly competitive fleet all week, picking up five top 10 finishes, including a race win, from the 10 races.