It was a wild day on Port Phillip at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships with strong winds challenging the skills of the fleet on day three of the event, causing carnage for some, but with all Australian Sailing crews rising to the challenge.
There was no stopping 2012 London Paralympic SKUD18 gold medallists Dan Fitzgibbon (NSW) and Liesl Tesch (NSW) who rose to the challenge by posting two straight race wins and building their lead on the hump day of the event.
Australian Sailing’s second SKUD18 crew of Ame Barnbrook (NSW) and Brett Pearce (NSW) also had a strong day posting a second and fourth place in the two races of the day. This sees them move into fourth in the 18-boat fleet.
Australian Sailing’s Sonar team of Paralympians Colin Harrison (WA), Jonathan Harris (NSW) and Russell Boaden (WA) continue to build their lead as well after winning the first race of the day, followed by a second place.
Paralympian Matt Bugg (TAS) keeps his third place after a total of six races, finishing both of today’s races in third. Fellow 2.4mR teammate Neil Patterson (TAS) continued to climb up the results and into 23rd overall.
The day started out in glamour conditions in a breeze of around 15 knots and ended with strong winds of around 20knots, gusting up to 30knots. This caught many crews unaware, challenging the world’s best Paralympic sailors on the hump day of the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Williamstown, VIC.
Two-Person Keelboat – SKUD-18
Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch smashed it on the third day of the event with two bullets on a wild day. Leading by eleven points on the second ranked British crew the defending World Champions are looking strong going into the second half of the event.
“It was a wild day out on the Skud program today. The winds were very much up range, maybe reaching 30 knots at stages today. It was certainly exciting racing and we had a blast out there,” Dan Fitzgibbon said.
“We did really well today and two straight wins is an excellent result. We kept in front but just tried to hang on to the lead pretty much all day, which worked for us. Two wins and no gear breakages, that is a good day.”
For some crews it was not such a good with the wind resulting in some breakages across the fleet.
“Carnage on the SKUD18 course out there today, but it was absolutely fantastic,” Liesl Tesch said.
“Masts were down and there was lots and lots of breeze. There was calmness in the Australian team but also a bit of craziness dealing with big shifts in the breeze.
We built the lead and Fitzgibbon is the legend on the water out there. We were calm considering what was going on around us and two wins is really nice to have in our pocket, halfway through the regatta.”
Teammates Ame Barnbrook (NSW) and Brett Pearce (NSW) are not far off in fourth and in the first race of the day were right behind Fitzgibbon and Tesch, who were very complimentary of their training partners.
“Ame had a glamour today and I am really proud of her today! She showed some good skills, had a really good day and got a second and a fourth,” Dan Fitzgibbon said.
“We absolutely couldn’t be happier to see our training partners Ame and Brett having a really awesome day out there. They probably had the best day out there of the fleet so we are really happy for them as well. It proves that the training is working,” Liesl Tesch added.
With this result Ame Barnbrook and Brett Pearce continue to move up the results ladder from ninth into fourth overall.
“We haven’t really looked at our scores overall. Considering we had the DNS on the first day, we are just doing race by race to see how we go from there. But I suppose medals are a possibility and hey who wouldn’t go for medals,” a smiling Ame Barnbrook said.
“It was pretty intense today. In the first race getting down to the finish line we actually had to drop the spinnaker, then come back up and then sort of zoomed back down but we managed to get second. It was pretty hectic but it was fun….and pretty salty.”
And describing the wild conditions she added: “Especially in the second race people had breakages and there was stuff everywhere and masts coming down. We actually managed to get fourth instead of fifth cause some guy broke about four boat lengths from the finish line.”
Three-Person keelboat – Sonar
Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Jonathan Harris built their lead over the second ranked British crew to six points after a first and second place
“It was pretty wild and just tough conditions with massive pressure bands and gusts and with breeze flicking one way and then the other, so it just was a tough day of sailing,” Australian Sailing Team’s Sonar coach Grant Alderson (WA) said.
“The guys did rise to the challenge though. They actually didn’t come off the water that happy with their sailing performance, but they can take the results away and be happy with that. I think I just reminded them of the fact that a one and a two is a pretty good day on the scoreboard, and they won the day really. It was just a tough day and all the crews struggled with that.”
“We’re halfway through the event and they are leading the regatta with their worst result being a second. At the moment they are dropping a second and that’s a good place to be. And I think they should be pretty happy with that. Obviously there are still quite a few races to go, so we just got a work on being consistent still and hopefully come through in the end,” Grant Alderson added.
One-Person Keelboat – 2.4mR
Australian Sailing Team’s Paralympian Matt Bugg defended his third place in challenging conditions for the 2.4mR, which barely sits above the water line.
“It was really wind out there and very tough. We were very close to the beach so it was very shifty at the top of the course. It was a really tough day, but I’m really happy to come away with two thirds,” Matt Bugg said.
In the second race I had a really nice lead, so I’m a little bit disappointed that I lost that in the second leg up wind, but I’m pretty happy with the results overall. I only take one day at a time and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Racing is scheduled to resume at 11:00 on Tuesday, 1 December 2015 out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia
It is the first time that Australia is hosting the Para World Sailing Championships and racing out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (RYCV) in Williamstown, all five crews of Australian Sailing Team’s (AST) and Squad (ASS) Paralympic boat class sailors are contesting the event and aiming to defend their 2014 Nation’s Cup win as the team prepares for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games (7 – 18 September 2016).
142 sailors from 31 nations are competing across three Paralympic events and over six days on Port Phillip, Melbourne, Australia from 28 November to 3 December. It is the largest Paralympic World Sailing Competition in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
With less than a year out from the Paralympic Games the Australian Sailing Team is looking strong after multiple top podium finishes across the international season.
By Australian Sailing Team