SPORT — Limited racing on day four of Sail Melbourne

SPORT - Limited racing on day four of Sail Melbourne

Melbourne, Thursday: Day four of racing in the Sail Melbourne 2009/2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup had a stop-start feel with the weather having a major influence on proceedings.

The morning fleets headed out in a 20-knot breeze making for some tricky sailing conditions and as the morning wore on a storm front moved across the bay, initially dropping the breeze before the boats were sent to shore and racing postponed. After an hour’s break the afternoon fleets hit the course to try and get some racing in among the shifting breeze and driving rain.

The 49er and 29er fleets were the only ones to complete any racing, both getting a race in before the conditions worsened and all the fleets were sent back to shore, with the Laser, 470 and RS:X classes unable to complete a race on day four.

Reigning 49er World Champion, Nathan Outteridge, was left crewless today with Iain Jensen stuck on shore due to illness. All was not lost for the Australian pair with an experienced stand-in crew available in Irish sailor Matt McGovern. McGovern and skipper Ryan Seaton broke their mast racing on Wednesday and retired from the event.

By the time racing started the wind had dropped off significantly, to just 6kts, with New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke getting the early jump up the first beat. Outteridge and McGovern were close behind and moved into the lead on the first downwind and held onto the lead from then on. Before a second race could be started a new front hit the course and as the wind got up around 30kts the crews headed for shore.

“It was interesting out there with a different crew,” said Outteridge. “Matt certainly talks a lot more than Iain and sometimes I struggle to understand him!

“Unfortunately Iain’s not too well so we made the decision to keep him out of the conditions today as our worlds are just around the corner.

“Matt and I just tried to keep it simple and were second on the first downwind, we gybed a different way to the Kiwis and managed to pick up a 15-second lead by the time we got to the bottom mark,” he said.

For McGovern the race was a great chance to get some more sailing in after he thought his regatta was over.

“Getting on board with the current World Champion is a pretty good start to any day, and to pick up a win was pretty good,” said McGovern.

“I tend to talk a lot more than most people out there but with Nathan the boat is quite calm, he talks things through really well and allows me to concentrate on getting the boat right.

“Maybe I should look at getting my citizenship and do Iain out of a job,” he said.

The win by Outteridge and McGovern mean the Australian now has a two-point lead over Burling and Tuke with Victorian brothers Will and Sam Phillips third.

The 2.4m class completed one race before being sent ashore with Canadian Paul Tingley’s consistent run continuing, his second placing giving him a one-point lead over Peter Thompson with race winner Michael Leydon holding down third position.

The 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games Silver medallist Daniel Fitzgibbon hit the course for the first time this regatta and was instantly at home aboard his Skud 18 as he took out the day’s only race alongside crew Tim Lowe. Duncan and Peter Macgregor continue to hold down the lead, eight points clear of Krista Bailey and Michael Lewenhagen.

Queenslander Josh Franklin won the Laser 4.7 race and holds down third position overall, four points behind Ella Evans and Lloyd Collings who are tied for the lead.

The Optimist and International Cadet fleets joined the regatta today and completed one race each before being sent back to shore. James McLennan won the opening Optimist race, ahead of Klaus Lorenz and Anna Philip. While Jacqueline Stokes and Katie Mullins won race one of the International Cadet class, with William Kelly and Joel Lay second, and Anton and Julian Sasson third.

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page continue to lead the 470 men’s class, with Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie first in the 470 women’s. Canadian Michael Leigh is first in the Laser fleet while American Paige Railey is in front in the Laser Radial women’s.

Jessica Crisp has a five-point lead in the RS:X women’s class and Singaporean Leonard Ong is first in the RS:X men’s. James Paterson has a handy eight-point buffer in the Finn class while Angus Galloway and Andrew Gough lead the 420s and Seng Leong Koh is first in the Laser Radial men’s.

Full results can be found at

Photos: 49er skipper Nathan Outteridge with stand-in crew Matt McGovern; Skud crew Daniel Fitzgibbon and Tim Lowe.