Raining Medals on Final Day of Sail Melbourne
It was raining more than just medals on the final day of Sail Melbourne, with multiple classes tasked with navigating heavy rain and a two-meter sea state to decide podium positions.
The weather was too risky for the 49er and 49erFX classes who were forced to abandon racing after the ebbing tide created waters too shallow to manage with the wild wind and big waves.
Fledgling Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) team Tom Burton and Max Paul finished regatta at the top of the 49er standings after six bullets in ten races saw them claim the lead in the final days of racing.
“We started the week a little slow, but we did the best we could and over the last two days sailing we’ve performed pretty well,” said Burton.
“This is just our second event together and we’re probably still in our first 15 days of sailing together, so we’re still working on things like our communication. The whole team has new mainsails up now as the class has changed sails again, so it’s been a great opportunity to get used to those and figure out how to set it all up to make it the fastest it can be.”
Fellow ASS teams Jim Colley and Shaun Connor, and Thomas Needham and Joel Turner placed second and third respectively after battling it out all week.
In the 49erFX class, ASS athletes Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine confidently secured the Gold, while Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot came in second and Tess Lloyd and Dervla Duggan won Bronze.
The Australian Sailing Para Championships also wrapped up after the final day of the Liberty class was abandoned, with Victorian local Alison Weatherly securing herself the National Championship ahead of reigning Australian Sailing Para Sailor of the Year, Chris Symonds.
“I’m happy with my sailing this week, I feel like I’ve been sailing the best I’ve sailed,” said Weatherly. “The guys I’m sailing against say I’ve been sailing the best I’ve sailed too. I think I’ve made some smart decisions and obviously I’m very happy with the outcome.”
Her respect for Symonds shone through at the end of a big week of competition.
“Chris and I are normally 303 sailors but there were only the two of us entered so we jumped in to the Liberty class with the other para sailors,” continued Weatherly. “I’ve sailed one maybe three times about 15 years ago and it’s been Chris’ first time this week and we’re both leading the fleet, so I think we’re pretty happy and hoping that the Europeans are watching,” she finished.
The ILCA 6 and 7 classes were two that did manage to get some races in on the final day of the regatta, with Australian Sailing Team National ILCA 6 coach Carolijn Brouwer noting that it would be a character building day out on the water.
“Today we’re getting a building 20-25 knots south-westerly breeze, so it’s going to be an action-packed day,” began Brouwer.
“It’s been an awesome week all together, there’s been plenty of different wind directions and different conditions.”
Two-time ILCA 6 Olympian from Hungary, Marie Erdi put on a dominant display, placing first ahead of ASS sailor Zoe Thomson in second, Swiss sailor Maud Jayet in third and Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky in fourth.
Both the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 classes experienced exceptionally competitive fields at Sail Melbourne 2023, with British sailors Michael Beckett and Elliot Hanson placing first and second and Australian Sailing Team athlete Luke ‘Swifto’ Elliott coming in third. Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Matt Wearn withdrew from the event after three days of sailing to recover a wrist injury for the upcoming European season.
In the ILCA 4 class, Riley Cantwell from Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club finished in top spot, with Joshua King from Whitsunday Sailing Club in second and Charles Byford from Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Double Bay Sailing Club in third.
In the KiteFoil class, Oscar Timm maintained his near regatta-long lead despite the ‘gnarly’ conditions on the last day, winning the gold medal ahead of New Zealander Justina Kitchen and Townsville Sailing Club athlete Elliot Tobin in third. Breiana Whitehead, who recently placed seventh at the Formula Kite World Championships in Cagliari, Italy, retired from the Regatta early to nurse a back injury.
The 470 class also had their racing wiped out today, which meant Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas from Western Australia maintained their dominant 10-point lead over the rest of the fleet to win Gold. Sophie Jackson and Angus Higgins finished their final day yesterday with a bullet which saw them secure second place, while James Jackson and Rebecca Hume came in third.
Sail Melbourne is supported by the Victorian Government.
Photos by Beau Outteridge