Perth 2011 - Australian Women's Match Racers secure Olympic Berth

Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty match racing - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Places in the quarter-finals and the London Sailing Olympic Games 2012 were finalised for the Women Match Racers today, Tuesday 13th December.

Australia’s two Women’s Match Racing crews have won their way through to the quarter-finals ensuring that the nation will have a team at the 2012 Olympics.

The top eight nations at Perth 2011 will qualify for next year’s Games with Australia’s two crews, skippered by Olivia Price and Nicky Souter, going through to the quarter-finals in sixth and seventh position respectively.

After 15 round robin races the two crews were tied on 11 wins and four losses and only split on a count-back with Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty finishing ahead of Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill after winning their one and only head-to-head race on Sunday.

'The feeling of qualifying the country is so good, I’m absolutely stoked with how things went today,' said Price. 'We’ve qualified the nation and that’s predominantly what we came here to do, tick, that one’s achieved.

'It’s really good to know that we’ve come up together and performed on the day, we’re still here standing and have got more to give,' she said.

Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and katie Spithill match racing, - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships

Souter was also thrilled with making the quarter-finals and qualifying the country for London 2012.

'We had an awesome, awesome day today, not only have we qualified the country but we’ve made the quarter-finals which was a big goal and re-qualified for the Australian Sailing Team for next year, three big ticks,' said Souter. 'Though we’ve still got one more bigger, bigger, most important tick to get in the next couple of days.

'We’re really happy with how we’re sailing, that course out there is the most difficult course we’ve probably ever sailed on and I think we’re managing that quite well, we were quite consistent and are ready for the quarter-finals,' she said.

In Wednesday’s quarter-finals Price and crew will line up against Ekaterina Skudina of Russia while Souter and crew will take on the American entry skippered by Anna Tunnicliffe, with the winner being the first team to register three wins on the Fremantle Harbour course.

In the Laser class defending World Champion Tom Slingsby has taken the overall lead after claiming two wins from two starts, moving him nine points clear of second place, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Gold medalist Paul Goodison of Great Britain.

'I actually sailed quite well today,' said Slingsby. 'It was another good day in pretty tricky conditions, it wasn’t the normal Fremantle doctor with rain clouds and huge wind shifts but I’m happy with how it ended up.

'All of this qualifying racing is just like getting a position the starting grid,' he said. 'The real racing starts in the finals, the second day of the finals on the centre course with the shore, the rock wall in place for the spectators, that will be the tough day because there’s going to be some big scores and I’ve got to make sure that I’m in a good spot going into it, that’ll be a very tricky day.'

While Slingsby has opened up a handy lead there is a real bottleneck behind Goodison, including Australia’s Ashley Brunning who is just seven points behind the British sailor in 10th, following a 10th and a seventh on Tuesday.

Tom Burton and Ryan Palk are the next best placed Australians in the Laser fleet in 31st and 32nd respectively with Burton recording a race win and Palk a sixth in the opening race of the day.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have moved up to fifth in the 49er class following two race wins and a 13th from their three races.

The current world number ones find themselves just five points off the leading Danish crew with all of the leading teams having mixed results in the six races so far at Perth 2011.

'Today was a very difficult day conditions wise with big shifts, some up to 30 to 40 degrees,' said Outteridge. 'We got it right in the first two races with two bullets where we led from start to finish but the last one didn’t go our way at all, we couldn’t execute the start we wanted so we bailed out and went to start on port and that didn’t work too well, I think there were only four or five boats behind us at the first mark.

'But we just waited our turn and tried to catch back up, we ended up with a keeper but it turned a really good day into an average one,' he said.

Fellow Australians Will and Sam Phillips have worked their way up to 14th overall following a ninth, a seventh and a second and are just five points outside the top 10.

Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell had two solid results in the 470 women, with a 12th and a 14th moving them up to 23rd overall, ahead of Sasha Ryan and Chelsea Hall in 32nd.

In the RS:X men’s fleet Luke Baillie is the highest placed Australian in 31st, with local sailor Tim Gourlay the next best in 41st.

Paul McKenzie and Phillip Toth are the leading Australian crew in the Star class, currently sitting in 27th.

Full Results

Australian Sailing Team website