Olympic hopefuls dominate Day One of Sail Melbourne

Published Thu 30 Nov 2023

Some of Australia’s best Olympic sailing prospects lit up day one of a windy Sail Melbourne on Port Phillip today.

Matt Wearn (ILCA 7), Zoe Thomson (ILCA 6), Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (Mixed 470), Grae Morris (Men’s iQFOiL), Breiana Whitehead (Women’s Kitefoil) and Hector Paturau (Men’s Kitefoil) all lead their respective classes with most winning all available races today.

Fresh off winning Male Athlete of the Year at the AIS Sport Performance Awards last night, Tokyo Olympic champion Matt Wearn leads a strong ILCA 7 field after a first and a second in today’s two races.

“Definitely happy with the results today,” said Wearn after racing. “In any regatta that’s a good way to start. Minimise the points early and keep going from there.”

The consistent winds were a dream for the race committee who were able to fire off all scheduled races with no delays.

Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas CREDIT Beau Outteridge

“It was typical Melbourne conditions today,” continued Wearn.

“We had a nice 15 gusting to 22 at times with a nice rolling wave which made for some good racing.”

Grae Morris was another to continue his fine 2023 form, taking out all four races in the men’s iQFOiL class.

“It was a super fun day with a bit of rain here and there,” said Morris.

“I had some good battles with the other boys including Harry Joyner, and super excited for what is to come over the next few days. It is Melbourne, so you just never know what is going to happen.”

Harry Joyner and Grae Morris CREDIT Beau Outteridge

The regatta is playing a crucial role in the domestic sailing season, particularly ahead of next month’s Sail Sydney regatta which will double as the Oceania Olympic Qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“Sail Melbourne is one of the pinnacle domestic regattas, and even more so this year being the start of an Olympic season,” said Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director Iain Brambell.

“This is one of the few opportunities the athletes have to fine tune their systems and their approach into the Games, so it is one where they’re taking it very seriously.

“We have some of our most successful Olympians competing out there, with Matt Wearn making it very clear that this is a hugely important part of his preparation for Paris. He withdrew the opportunity to go to the AIS Sport Performance Awards last night to ensure that he was best prepared for one of the few regattas he has going into the World Championships in Adelaide in January, and then through the nomination process for the Olympic Games in July.”

Sail Melbourne Chair and Race Jury member Paul Pascoe noted the global flavour to the event hosted by Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

“We have a full international jury, with members from India, Canada and South Korea,” noted Pascoe.

“There are also international competitors across almost every fleet, including athletes from Tonga, Italy, Finland and many others.”

Racing resumes for all classes at 1pm AEDT tomorrow.

Sail Melbourne is supported by the Victorian Government.

Visit the Sail Melbourne website for more information on the regatta, and view a full list of results here.