Australians well placed for Kiel medals

470 M - AUS 11 Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page - Kieler Woche 2011
© segel-bilder.de / Christian Beeck
Kieler Woche 2011. Australian sailors are set to battle it out for medals in four classes as the final round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup heads into the last day of racing in Kiel, Germany.

After four days of racing Australians are in medal contention in four classes with crews in the Women’s Match Racing, 470, RS:X and Laser Radial classes all aiming to stand on the podium in Kiel on Wednesday night.

The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty will line up against the Russian entry skippered by Ekatarina Skudina in the final with the Australians guaranteed at least a Silver medal.

Souter and crew had a tough path to the final, first beating the number one seeded Anna Tunnicliffe in a quarter-final that went to five races and then coming up against fellow Australian Olivia Price in the semi-final which they won three wins to one.

'After qualifying for the quarter-finals in the eighth and final place we came up against the Americans who won the last World Cup round in Weymouth and had sailed really well here all week, only losing three out of 20 races on the way to the finals,' said Souter. 'They got off to a great start and we found ourselves down two-nil but we sailed really well in the last three races and managed to take it out'.

'The breeze was incredibly shifty today and you couldn’t predict anything out there,' she said. 'We’ve been working on our starts this week and that really paid off today, we were slow off the line early in the regatta but we’ve turned that around and it paid off today.'

Fellow Australian Olivia Price came up against Denmark’s Lotte Meldgaard-Pedersen in the quarter-finals with the Australian crew progressing with a three-nil victory. In the all-Australian semi-final first points went to Price after Souter sailed to the wrong mark on the course but Souter fought back to win the next three races and progress to the final.

'The final against the Russian crew is going to be tough,' said Souter. 'They’ve been sailing well all week and are the defending champions here but we’re looking forward to the challenge.

'The racing has been close all week between all of the crews,' she said. 'We’ve won and lost against pretty well everyone and are continuing to learn a lot in every race as we’re only in our second regatta together as a team.'

In the 470 men’s class Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page head into the 10 boat medal race with a 15 point lead over the second placed Croatian team and the defending Kiel Week champions know that there’s still plenty of work to do in the final race.

The light, shifty conditions that made racing difficult for the Women’s Match Racers made it impossible for the 470 men with the crews spending four hours on the water without a race being completed.

'Tomorrow we go into the medal race with a 15 point advantage but are aware that anything can happen so we’ll be racing hard tomorrow,' said Belcher. 'We’re happy with our form to date and being able to put it all together throughout the series which we’ve been working on throughout the year.

'To win six out of the eight races so far this week with all the top three crews in the world here, you know you are sailing well,' he said.

470 M - AUS 11 Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page - Kieler Woche 2011
© segel-bilder.de / Christian Beeck

Belcher and Page will be joined in the 470 medal race by fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan who enter the final day in eighth position while Alexander and Patrick Conway are 15th.

Jessica Crisp had a great day in the RS:X women’s class with a third and a fourth in the lighter conditions jumping her from her overnight fourth position to take the regatta lead with just one race to go.

Crisp has sailed well in the range of conditions that have challenged all of the crews and takes a one point lead over Germany’s Moana Delle into the final race with Spain’s Blanca Manchon eight points further back in third.

Fellow Australian Allison Shreeve will also feature in the medal race after ending the fleet races eighth overall with a 22nd and a 15th on Tuesday. Queensland sailor Joanna Sterling is 18th.

In the Laser Radial class Krystal Weir heads into the medal race in third position after finishing in the top eight in all eight races at this regatta.

Weir is in a tight battle for Silver and Bronze and finds herself just one point off second but also just one point ahead of fourth place.

Gabrielle King heads into the medal race in seventh position, 17 points behind Weir, while Ashley Stoddart missed out on a place in her second medal race in three events by just two points.

Ryan Palk and Tom Burton head into the Laser medal race in eighth and ninth respectively, while James Burman ended the week 19th, ahead of Matthew Wearn in 26th, Mark Whittington in 40th, Jared West in 45th, Ki-Raphael Sulkowski in 52nd, Tristan Brown in 59th and Christopher Jones in 79th.

470 M - AUS 11 Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page - Kieler Woche 2011
© segel-bilder.de / Christian Beeck

Will and Sam Phillips are eighth in the 49er fleet and will contest their second straight European World Cup round medal race while Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie are 14th and Tom Johnson and Rhys Mara and 18th.

Tessa Parkinson and Belinda Stowell are 11th in the 470 women’s fleet after a 16th in their one and only race on Tuesday.

In the 2.4mR class Tasmanian sailor Matt Bugg is seventh in his final regatta before contesting the 2011 IFDS World Championships in Weymouth, England, in a few weeks time.

Oliver Tweddell is 11th in the Finn class, three places ahead of fellow Australian Tim Castles in 14th, while in the RS:X men Tim Gourlay is 16th, Jimmy Levy 19th and Patrick Vos 30th.

Kieler Woche 2011 website

Australian Sailing Team website