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Aussie sailors in fine form at World Championships

8 October 2006

The Australian Sailing Team members has been racing on waters all round the world in recent weeks with some outstanding World Championship results.

Quinella for Australia in Korea

Michael Blackburn won his first Laser world title and Tom Slingsby took out the silver at the recent Laser World Championships in Jeju, Korea.

For the first few days of the regatta, Slingsby and Blackburn were in equal first place, until a typhoon and then lack less winds halted competition for four days.

The wind finally returned and the competition resumed. Going into the race Blackburn had the luxury of a fourth place as his discard whilst Slingsby was already discarding a 20th. Blackburn only needed to be in front of Slingsby or have Slingsby finish worse than ninth.

The championship was sealed early on in the race with Slingsby rounding 28th and Blackburn 56th. Slingsby recovered to finish 17th and Blackburn finishing 36th.

Blackburn, a three time Olympian (2004, 2000, 1996) and bronze medallist from the Sydney 2000 Games, commented after the win, “I can't quite believe it. I kind of got used to finishing big regattas anywhere other than first but now, after some 16 years sailing a Laser and 12 years competing internationally, I've finally won the Worlds. Wow!”

Wilmot & Page unlucky to miss world title

Australian 470 World Champions in 2004 and 2005, Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page won the silver medal at the 470 World Championships in Rizhao, China. The silver is the Australian pair's fifth medal from six World Championships.

Wilmot and Page were in the lead for most of the regatta, however competition was tight between the Australian and Great Britain team, with little more than one point separating them over the last two days.

The Australian’s were in the lead on the final downwind leg, however with a yellow flag issued by the jury (a penalty for “pumping”) to the Aussie duo, the British pair passed them, securing the gold medal.

Page commented after the race “We were 1 point ahead going into the medal race. We started the race, with an unlimited pumping flag up. We worked hard, very hard! We managed to get to the last top mark in 2nd position, 100 metres in front of our only opposition the British team.

“Half way down the last run, we got penalised from the jury for pumping. We completed our 720 degree turn, but that left us in 8th position, behind the British team.”

“The race committee had apparently dropped the pumping flag at the 1st bottom mark. However, with about 50 motor boats (average of 4 people per boat) and the yelling amongst all the sailors and boats, we did not hear the sound signal whistle” added Page.

Head Coach for the Australian Sailing Team,Victor Kovalenko commented: “We are disappointed that Malcolm and Nathan did not win the gold medal but racing in China has been a great learning curve in our preparation for 2008. In the last month, all AST members have learnt so much about tide patterns, equipment development, light wind sailing techniques and fitness regimes. We are confident the lessons learned will transcend into great results in two years time.”

Wilmot and Page have returned to Australia for a well earned rest before travelling to Hamilton Island for a Team training camp in late October.

Crisp finishes in top ten at RS:X World Championships

The inaugural RS:X Windsurfing World Championship concluded last weekend in picturesque Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy with Australian Sailing Team member, Jessica Crisp finishing in seventh place.

Crisp is no stranger to the Olympic Games, taking part in the windsurfing demonstration event at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 when she was just 15 and then competing at Sydney 2000 where she finished fifth in Athens 2004 where she placed sixth.

The Australian Female Sailor of the Year, Allison Shreeve also competed at the event finishing in 24th place. This follows her recent gold medal performance at the Formula Windsurfing Championship in Korea.

The competition between Crisp and Shreeve will be intense as Beijing approaches.

Return to Beijing Bound

For more information visit Yachting Australia

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