|MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-(15-1-2007) The temperature hitting 39 degrees and a light breeze faced competitors for day two of the Sail Melbourne Olympic & Invited Classes at Sandringham Yacht Club today.
Revelling in the windier conditions this afternoon, Victorian supremo Krystal Weir (AUS) currently World Ranked No. 3 in the world in the Laser Radial class and campaigning for the spot to the Beijing Olympics, romped ahead for a convincing victory in Race 4, the last of the day, to increase her lead of the Open Laser Radial fleet.
Weir, who has now won three out of four races, is usually battling against fellow Melbourne sailor and 2004 Athens Olympian Sarah Blanck (AUS) for top position, but with the latter away competing in Miami, Weir may have this Championship sewn up, as she is currently seven points ahead of second placed Gabrielle King (AUS) after four races.
Third placed Victoria Chan (SIN) is a further point in arrears following third and fifth places in Races 3 and 4, while her countrywoman, Man Yi Lo is fourth having scored a win in race three. Yi Lo prefers the lighter breeze, commenting: “yesterday was a good day.”
Yi Lo, a third Singaporean sailor agreed that the light wind conditions “are more like those in Singapore” and that coming to Melbourne to compete “gives me experience in the heavier winds.” Finishing in ninth place at last years Sail Melbourne Yi Lo is hoping for a top five placing this time.
Conditions changed before the start of Race 4, with the wind swinging round to a predicted northerly, filling in to 12 knots, but increasing to 15 knots as the start gun sounded.
Consistent sailing in all conditions wins championships and Brett Beyer (AUS), who agrees, is proving the theory correct.
With third places across the four races sailed so far, Beyer leads the series from Kristian Ruth (NOR) by five points.
Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) World Ranked No. 8, is sitting in sixth place, but could well take the lead tomorrow when a race drop comes into play. His score card currently includes an OCS, which he will drop tomorrow, and with his two bullets and a second place, all he needs to do is stay in the top five in tomorrow’s Race 5 to draw level with Beyer, the four time Masters Laser Champion, although Beyer made it clear in an earlier interview that he would work as hard as was necessary to win the title.
Unsurprisingly, the sensational Alessandra Sensini (ITA) leads the Women’s RS:X series by five points following three wins and a second place. Sensini has proved to be one of the most outstanding boardsailors in the world, with three Olympic medals in the Mistral for her troubles and is the current RS:X World Champion.
Next best placed is Allison Shreeve (AUS), five points behind Sensini and six in front of Australian two-time Olympian in the Mistral, Jessica Crisp. Shreeve is as determined as one could possibly be to achieve her dream of going to the Olympics, having finished third for selection in 2000 and second for 2004. “I’ve been third, then second – I hope the pattern continues and I get to go to Beijing,” she said.
Hong Kong and Japan hold down the next two places respectively. Wai Kei Chan is just one point behind Crisp after four races, and Yasuko Kosuge is two points behind Chan.
International competitors are dominating the top three in the Men’s RS:X, and not unusually, it’s a Frenchman at the top. Benjamin Tillier has proved impossible to beat so far, with four wins from four races to be nine points clear of his nearest rival, Tomizawa Makoto (JPN) with a further four points to top Hong Kong boardsailor Chi Ho Ho, then comes the first Aussie, Sean O’Brien who is one point behind Ho Ho.
Another sailor performing consistently well is Michael Leydon (AUS) in the 2.4mR class, sitting on five points following three straight wins and a second, he has a comfortable eight point lead over nearest rival Peter Russell (AUS), with and two-time Paralympian Peter Thompson one point away in third and Japanese sailor Masakazu Suto fourth, a further six points away.
In a close at the top end 470 event, Tobias Etter/Felix Steiger (SUI) lead the Russian pairing of Dimitry Berezkin/Alexander Zybin by 2.5 points, with the Mathieu Higgins/Timothy Lynch (AUS) currently third after four races, just 3.5 points away.
A number of international sailors are contesting the event, and with the 470 Mens and Womens World Championships being hosted by Sail Melbourne on Port Phillip in 2008, this regatta is certainly giving these sailors a good feel for the conditions they may face.
The 49er and Finn series are all-Australian affairs, with the pairing of Will Phillips/Jon Newman leading the 49er following six races and one drop, while the Finn is lead by Michael Williams after four races.
The new Paralympic Skud 18 is a three boat affair, with more of these fast skiffs due in Australia soon.
Blind sailor Paul Borg leads the charge from 18 year old Victorian Ame Barnbrook, who was born with Phocoamelia, with Denis Critchley, a paraplegic in third after four races.