Solid start for Kiwis at Sailing World Championships
By: Kristine Lederis – Yachting New Zealand
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships have officially opened and the first NZL sailors have set a good pace. After years of campaigning toward 2012, the focus is for each athlete to give their best at this regatta in order to qualify the country a spot in each Olympic fleet.
Photo: The NZL Sailing Team’s only Women’s Match Racing crew prepare to start a race on the inner harbour of Fremantle.
Today was the first day of racing for the Women’s Match Racing; Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen and Susannah Pyatt have got the kiwi team off to a great start by winning three of their four matches.
“Today was a decent day but it is still so early, there are ten more races for these girls in the first round robin”. Caroline Brisebois is providing support to the girls at this event; she continues “It was a tough day for the organizing and race committee, running races in a working port. It’s a difficult race area.”
Match one for the Kiwi girls (otherwise known as Koru Match) was against Argentina, and they won by nearly a minute, leaving the Argentineans behind after their penalty in the pre-start.
Match two was much closer fought against China, with a win by 20 seconds. “The girls were also able to get a penalty on the Chinese, they were happy to be able to get that” Caroline explains.
Finland was the opponent in the third match, the same team that won the Olympic Test event in Weymouth helmed by Silja Lehtinen. This was the only loss for the NZL Sailors today, racing against an extremely experienced crew.
The match racing girls finished their day on a high note, with a win against the Canadian team helmed by Sharon Ferris- Choat.
This crew, sailing today amongst the inner harbour of Fremantle’s busy shipping port, have had a great run into this event. In October they won the NZL Sailing Team Womens Match Racing Championships, and followed that up with a second place at the ISAF Grade 1 event: Busan Women’s Match Cup in Korea.
In this first round robin of Women’s Match Racing (Group A) at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, each team sails the other once only. After this has been completed, the top 10 teams of both pools will progress to the Round Robin Stage 2. Group B will race tomorrow, and the NZL Match Racing girls will have a day off.
Match-racing will feature in the Olympic Sailing Regatta for the first time ever in 2012 with racing in the New Zealand designed Elliott 6 metre sailed by a crew of three. There will be twelve nations competing in the Women’s Match Racing event at the 2012 Olympic Games, and in Perth this month, eight of those spots will be awarded.
The Men’s 470, Women’s RS:X, Finn, and Radial fleets will commence racing on Monday December 5th.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NZL team have continued with their training, but many were able to stop for a short break to attend the opening ceremonies in Central Perth yesterday. In traditional New Zealander form, a rugby ball was carried for the parade, acknowledging the latest World Championship win by New Zealand’s All Blacks.
About the regatta
The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships feature the world’s best sailors in all ten Olympic classes from over 80 nations. Over 1200 Sailors will take part, making this one of the largest sporting events ever held in Western Australia.
Most racing will take part at Fremantle between Bathers Bay, Challenger Harbour, and Success Harbour, except for the Women’s Match Racing which will be held in the Fremantle Inner Harbour. The stunning locations and the strong afternoon sea breeze colloquially known as the “Fremantle Doctor” is likely to shape some exciting racing for these world class competitors.
The event officially opened on December 3rd with the start of the Women’s Match Racing and this class will race for the duration of the event, due to the round-robin format of match racing. All other classes will have seven days of racing that conclude with a double point medal race for the top ten.
The first week of racing (December 5 – 11) will feature the Women’s RS:X windsurfer, Women’s single person dinghy class Laser Radial, Men’s double handed class 470 and the Men’s one person dinghy heavy, the Finn class.
The second week of racing (December 12-18) will have all other classes compete, the Men’s RS:X Windsurfer, Men’s single person dinghy class Laser, Women’s double handed class 470, Men’s Skiff 49er. The Men’s Star class keelboat will race December 11-17.
Visit the event website online at www.perth2011.com