Sun and stars shine on the final day of Sail Melbourne

Published Sun 03 Dec 2023

Yesterday’s clouds and rain made way for sun and steady winds as Australia’s Olympic sailing stars emerged on the final day of racing at Sail Melbourne.

Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Matt Wearn continued his fine 2023 winning the ILCA 7 class ahead a strong field including his Australian squad mates and New Zealand’s 2022 World Champion Tom Saunders and 2023 World Championship bronze medallist George Gautrey.

“We had four great days of racing with big breeze and good waves,” noted Wearn.

The ILCA 7 squad now have their sights set on the 2024 World Championships, which will take place on home waters out of Adelaide Sailing Club from the 24th of January.

“It’s been really good from a conditions point of view as this is the kind of stuff we expect in Adelaide,” continued Wearn. “To get some hours in the legs hiking in big waves and big wind here has been good as it will help get us ready for that.”

Mara Stransky CREDIT Beau Outteridge

Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky put on a show in the ILCA 6, winning both races today to take the regatta win ahead of Victorian Casey Imeneo. They are preparing for a World Championships of their own, taking place in Mar del Plata, Argentina from January 5th.

“We are having a little break now before heading over to Argentina to do some pre-training in the venue,” said Stransky. “It is a bit different to where we have raced in the past, so I want to get into the scene a little bit early and get some time on the water and see how foreign it is.”

The event doubled as the Victorian Para Sailing Championships, and Neil Patterson did enough to take out the 2.4mR title ahead of fellow Royal Brighton Yacht Club sailor Peter Coleman.

Youngster Augustas Buividas scored five race wins and a second in the six Optimist Open races to stamp himself as one to watch ahead of next year’s domestic youth season.

Australian Sailing Squad athlete Hector Patarau dominated a “tricky” kitefoiling track, winning 13 of the possible 16 races.

“I am really happy with the Sail Melbourne regatta, which was a good win for me and a good training regatta for Sail Sydney where we will be chasing the Paris 2024 nation quota.”

Optimist Fleet CREDIT Beau Outteridge

Townsville’s Breiana Whitehead is the one athlete who won’t have to worry about achieving the Paris 2024 nation quota at Sail Sydney, having achieved qualification at the 2023 Sailing World Championships in The Hague in August and having recently been announced as Australia’s selection in the Women’s kitefoiling class for Paris.

“It’s quite cool to know that I am selected and know that I can do everything I need to do to get the best result possible,” said Whitehead.

But her work is far from done.

“It’s going to be a pretty busy block in Europe starting in March, so just prepping until then and then get into lots of racing before the Olympics.”

Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director noted the importance Sail Melbourne plays less than eight months out from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“Coming into Melbourne it was an opportunity to the test out the systems and get back into racing,” said Brambell. “It really is kicking off preparations for the Oceanic qualifiers in just over a week at Sail Sydney.

“We have used this event to fine-tune racing structures and to ensure that we are not only prepared for the qualification opportunities that are to come, but making sure we are cementing preparations for the Olympics in July.”

This year’s Sail Melbourne was organised by Royal Brighton Yacht Club with support from partner clubs Black Rock Yacht Club, Mordialloc Sailing Club and Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club.

“Royal Brighton Yacht Club is honoured to host Sail Melbourne, not just to have a front row seat to world class competitive racing but also recognising it is a terrific opportunity for race management teams and volunteers from different clubs to get together, share knowledge and improve their skills,” said club Commodore Niesje Hees.

“We are grateful to the Victorian State Government for their ongoing support of this important event in the sailing calendar.”

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.