The world’s best sailors have arrived in Melbourne for this year’s Sail Melbourne International Regatta (29 November to 3 December 2017) with racing out of Royal Brighton Yacht Club starting tomorrow, Wednesday 29 November 2017.
Over 330 competitors from nine countries will compete in Melbourne with sailors coming from Australia, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Bermuda, Sweden and Canada. The event also includes the inaugural Victorian Kite Foil State Championships (2-3 December 2017).
A stellar-line up of Olympic champions and medallists as well as Australia’s up and coming talent will race at Sail Melbourne International (SMI) with both the Australian Sailing Team as well as the Australian Sailing Youth Team competing in full-force.
Australian Sailing Team’s Rio 2016 Olympic Champion and 2017 World Championship silver medallist Tom Burton (Laser, one-person dinghy), 2017 Laser World Championship bronze medallist Matt Wearn, Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (470, two-person dinghy) as well as Olympic silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (Nacra 17, mixed-gender multi-hull) will race on home waters in Melbourne as the team prepares for Tokyo 2020.
One of the most anticipated fleets of the event will be the Olympic Finn class with Swedish 2017 Finn World Champion Max Salminen spearheading a world-class line-up, including new Finn-addition and 2012 Olympic champion in the Laser and America’s cup sailor Tom Slingsby. In a first encounter at the local “Go for Gold” regatta at Blackrock over the weekend (25/26 November) Slingsby had a surprise win over Salminen with a rematch to take place at Sail Melbourne this week.
“I did “Go for Gold” last weekend and did really well in the light winds. Obviously, I had a bit of an advantage over the other guys there, as I’m ten kilos lighter than them. But it will look a bit different this week with pretty strong winds forecast for the week. I will have to hike as hard as I can and try to stay with these guys,” Tom Slingsby said.
“These guys” include Australian Sailing Team’s Jake Lilley and Melbourne local Oliver Tweddell as well as Australian Sailing Squad’s up and coming Finn Sailors Jock Calvert and Lewis Brake. Ed Wright from Great Britain, Kyle Martin from Canada and Rock Evans from Bermuda complete the international, high profile line-up in the Finn fleet.
“It’s an exciting turn out having the World #1 Max Salminen here and also Ed Wright, who has won world titles and is always right in the mix at top events. Jake Lilley is always right up there as well and knocking at the door. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it,” Slingsby said about the high-calibre fleet.
And explaining how his “Finn adventure started” Slingsby said: “I was looking for some training partners when I got back from the America’s Cup and all the Laser guys were in Japan. NB Sail Sport’s Rob McMillan invited me to come and train with them as he had a group of five guys going, he lend me a boat and equipment and that’s how it all started. We’ll see how it all goes. I will do Sail Melbourne and then make a decision after here.”
Sail Melbourne International is the inaugural leg of the new Asia-Pacific Circuit with a strong Asian representation to compete in Melbourne. China is bringing an Optimist dinghy Youth Team to Melbourne, while Japan is represented with three crews, including two men’s 470 crews with Daichi Takayam and Kimihiko Imamura and Doi Kazuto and Naoya Kimura, who are currently ranked in the World Sailing top ten and are training partners of Australian Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan. Teams from Hong Kong and Malaysia complete the international contingent.
SMI will also be the dress rehearsal event for the 2017 Australian Sailing Youth Team, who will be representing Australia at the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championship to take place in Sanya, China from 9 to 16 December 2017.
The top international sailors as well as the Australian Sailing Team and Australian Sailing Youth Team’s participation raises the competition bar among the Olympic classes and will give other competitors a rare opportunity to mix it up with world champions and Olympic medallists on the Port Phillip racetrack. Competing along side their Olympic heroes offers an aspirational pathway for up and coming young sailors in the Invited, Junior and Youth classes at Sail Melbourne International.
“It’s really exciting to have so many international sailors coming to race on my home waters and I think it’s great to have the Invited classes competing alongside the Olympic classes. This gives the newer generation of sailors the opportunity to compete at the same time in the same event as their sailing heroes. This is critical for increased participation and to inspire the younger generation, so to have this happening in Australia, and Melbourne in particular is great to see. It's a great event for Victoria as well as for the Australian sailing community” Melbourne local and Australian Sailing Team athlete Oliver Tweddell said.
The Optimist class is the strongest fleet of the event with over 80 youth sailors entered across the open and intermediate fleets. Also other Invited classes have attracted strong entries with the Etchells (3/4 crew keelboat) included for the first time at SMI and America’s Cup legend John Bertrand contesting the event.
Racing is scheduled to kick-off on Wednesday, 29 November with the Olympic classes racing from Wednesday through to Saturday, 2nd December and the majority of the Invited classes to race from Thursday, 30 November through to 3rd December 2017.
The event is open to spectators and can be followed best from the pier at Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC). Alternatively, viewing is available from the clubhouse upstairs, which is open to all guests during the regatta.
The Sail Melbourne Regatta is Australia’s premier Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, held annually in the waters of Port Phillip and is a fixture on the international sailing calendar.
For more info see www.sailmelbourne.com.au
Results can be found here.
For a full list of entries see here (as of Nov 28 2017)