Medal haul

Olympians secure medals as Sail Melbourne International 2018 wraps up.

16 December 2018


 Racing at Sail Melbourne International 2018 wrapped up with a full final day of racing across all Olympic and Invited class fleets. After challenging race disruptions over the four-day event, caused by the current weather system sitting over Australia’s east coast, it was a welcome finish for the close to 400 competitors from all across Australia and from 18 countries.

 One and half years out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Australian Sailing Team sailors presented themselves in strong form on home waters and took home the wins across most of the Olympic classes.

Australian Sailing Team’s Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan continued their winning series on home waters and took home the win in the 470 class at Sail Melbourne. 

“The racing was pretty close and pretty tricky out there with some really big shifts and challenges for the race committee, but we had two first and one third and it’s been a great competition all week,” Belcher said.


And looking ahead he added, “It’s definitely getting closer to the games and the pressure starts to come in a bit more, the training increases and we are getting excited and are all looking towards Tokyo, but at the moment I’m just looking forward to spending a little of time with the family and having a nice Christmas.” 

2018 Laser World Championships silver medallist Matt Wearn won the last race of the day in a world-class laser fleet to take home the overall win ahead of New Zealanders Thomas Saunders and Sam Meech.

It was a challenging regatta for the Lasers, who only managed to get three races in over the first two race days. Rio 2016 bronze medallist Meech led the fleet going into the final day with Wearn making the most of his opportunities and securing the overall win over the last three races posting a third and first and dropping a seventh place.

“The schedule today was to get three races in, so basically half a regatta in one day and we had three really tricky ones.

But I managed to win the last race to squeeze into the lead and take out the regatta. I’m pretty happy with how things went this week,” Wearn said.

“It’s been good that the Kiwi boys came across, who gave us a bit of a run for our money. We’ve also had Lorenzo from Britain, a couple of Italians and Dutch here, so it was great to have some high-quality sailors here. It’s good to get those guys down and give us some more people to race against and get ready for Europe next year.”

2019 will also be a big year for Australian Sailing Team’s Rio Olympian Jake Lilley, who finished second in a stellar Finn fleet. Lilley posted a second and seventh and dropped a 12th on the final day to hold on to his second place. The Olympic Finn class was one of hottest contested fleets of the regatta with the best of the best in Finn sailing making the most of the opportunity to test the Port Phillip waters ahead of Melbourne and Royal Brighton Yacht Club hosting the Finn Gold Cup, the World Championships of the Finn fleet in December 2019. 

Current World #1 and winner of Sail Sydney Nicholas Heiner, who won the first two races of the regatta on Thursday, managed to hold on to his lead, despite an average final day posting a tenth (drop), third and eighth.

“We did enough to win. I didn’t have the best day, but luckily, I had a bit of a margin. This week has been a bit crazy weatherwise, but I have been here before and in general there are great waves, good sailing and I’m looking forward to next year’s Gold Cup,” Heiner said.  

In other Olympic class results, Australian Sailing Teams David Gilmour won the 49er together with his brother and Australian Sailing Squad sailor Lachlan Gilmour. The pair had a strong race series with three wins, two second and two third places over the two days of racing for the 49er fleet. Jim Colley and Shaun Connor finished second. 

The 49erFX was won by Australian Sailing squad’s Tess Lloyd and Jaime Ryan who won two out of the four races on the final day. They won both the women’s as well as open fleet with John Cooley and Simon Murnaghan finishing second and Australian Sailing Squad’s Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot finishing third. 

“I think Melbourne has really outdone itself this week, but today the wind came in. We’re really happy about how we went and we are hoping we will be able to step it up again. We’ve been training and working hard and hopefully will see some improvements from that when we head overseas next year,” Jaime Ryan said.

 The Nacra17 was one of the few fleets that got ten races in and Victorians Tayla Rietman and Lachlan White made the most of it with five race wins and winning the class ahead of Jake Liddell and Emma Jones in second and Queenslanders James Fraser and Olivia Jozefowski in third.  

Sail Melbourne International also featured the inaugural Australian Para-sailing Championships with 2018 World Para-sailing champion Chris Symonds taking out the win in the Hansa 303 one-person event. Father and son Colin and Bradley Alderton won the Hansa 303 Double, while Queenslanders Ross Manning and Maximillion Quan won the SKUD. The 2.4mR was won by Michael Leydon with Victorian Neil Patterson the top para-classified sailor and overall. 

Sail Melbourne International offers a great opportunity for Australia’s up and coming sailors to mix it up with their Olympic sailing heroes on the Port Phillip race-track and the Invited classes at Sail Melbourne International once again attracted a large number of youth sailors. The regatta was also the last opportunity for youth sailors to test their skills ahead of the 2019 Australian Sailing Youth Championships in Tasmania in January.

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