ISAF Sailing World Cup - Melbourne was an absolutely huge and wildly successful event at St Kilda over the past week, with more than 400 boats competing in both the Olympic and Invited Classes. There were also over 200 volunteers involved with making this regatta a great one for the sailors.
The 470 and Laser classes had the opportunity for a shakedown from Saturday 5 December to Monday 7 December. Mordialloc Sailing Club and Port Melbourne Yacht Club conducted the 470 Australian Championship and a Laser Warm Up Regatta off St Kilda. Many of the competitors also took the opportunity to train on the event waters over the weekend.
Tuesday 8 December was a day off for most competitors, which is just as well as it was seriously windy. Many of the sponsors, officials, event organisers and journalists enjoyed the 300-person 'Road to Rio' function at Encore that evening: this included a sumptuous dinner, some very St Kilda entertainment of drag queens and dancing boys, and two great Q&A sessions with Andrew Plympton & Leon Wiegard (both previous AFL club chairmen and current sport administrators) as well as a fantastic group of Olympic athletes from various disciplines.
Racing for the Olympic Classes commenced on Wednesday 9 December, with a beautiful day of sailing had by all competitors. The Invited Classes started the following day, Thursday 10 December, which was equally fantastic and allowed St Kilda to show off its best assets of sun, sand, and sea to our visitors.
Friday 11 December saw a complete change of weather, with chilly and strong breezes from the west with light showers. The Couta Boat Challenge unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the high winds at the time of their start. The Olympic and Invited Classes were sent out for racing in a relative lull and most courses managed one race; however, they were then blown back to the beach by up to 42 knot gusts flying through all seven courses. Many of the older competitors were standing in the water off the beach helping the younger sailors retrieve their boats, which was great to see. There were a number of boats with mast damage due to capsizes in shallow water, and so a lot of fixes were required before the next day's racing. The one positive was the huge number of competitors and families crammed into the Olympic Bar for shelter - it was great to see the place buzzing!
The conditions on Saturday 12 December were back to what one would expect in Melbourne in summer, with all classes catching up on missed racing from Friday. This was a very long day on the water for most of the competitors, the last of which were back on the beach around 6pm.
The medal races for the Olympic Classes were all held on Sunday 13 December, with the Stadium course set up as close as possible to St Kilda Pier and the breakwater. This provided ideal viewing for spectators, who were lined up along the pier and on the grassy knoll just off the beach. There was plenty of breeze in the middle of the day to get everyone around, with very short and close racing and some new Olympians selected for Rio on the day. There was also racing for all of the Invited Classes out on the other courses, which only suffered a short delay before the sea breeze kicked in around 11am. Medals for all classes were presented on the stage on Pier Lawn.
RMYS members did a great job in the always-huge and seriously competitive Optimist fleet. Event Junior Ambassador Linus Talacko finished an excellent 18th in the Gold Fleet, with other members finished in the Silver fleet - Hugo MacMillan in 23rd, Matthew Walker in 26th, Charlie Langdon in 49th, Freddie Langdon in 50th and Finn Keyes-Tilley in 52nd. Congratulations to all.
RMSTA also ran very successful Discover Sailing events in the harbour all week, with several schools and many individuals having their first taste of sailing alongside some of the sport's best competitors. Hopefully this will introduce some new members and course participants to the club.
The organisers were thrilled with how well the change to the new venue went, and the feedback from competitors and volunteers was overwhelmingly positive. RMYS would like to thank all of the club volunteers who gave up their time and took leave from work to assist us with this amazing event. They were: Scott Allbutt, David Allen, Roger Byrne, Peter Chapman, David Croke, Julie Davis, Tom Ely, Ross Flood, Roger Hatten, Louise Kavanagh, Dennis Livingston, Tony Lukeman, Lee McRae, Amanda Molyneaux, Michael Morse, Bruce Rogers, Peter Roome, Sabina Rosser, Terry Swalwell and Marc Tracy. If we have forgotten anyone, we apologise and please let us know.
And a special thanks to Damo, Joel, and Kuki for working so hard before and during the event to make sure everything went smoothly for the event organisers, volunteers, and competitors.
We look forward to hosting this regatta again in December next year!
Check out the Sailing World Cup - Melbourne website and Facebook page for more photos, stories and results.