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Australia wins six medals at Kiel Week

21 June 2007

Australian Sailing Team (AST) members have won an outstanding six medals; one Gold, three Silver and two Bronze at the 125th Anniversary Kiel Week which wrapped up yesterday in Kiel, Germany. The German Sailing Team was next in the medal haul with three medals, one silver and two bronze, and both Poland and Austria faired well with two Gold medals. The AST has now won 23 medals in ISAF Grade 1 and above events since January 2007.

Six times Australian Laser Champion, 2006 World Laser Champion and Sydney 2000 Olympic Bronze medallist, Michael Blackburn won Gold for Australia in the Laser class. Blackburn started the regatta with a respectable third place in race one but then placed himself in the enviable position of winning the following six races. He completed the regatta on a remarkable six points, 19 points ahead of silver medallist Deniss Karpak from Estonia.

Blackburn said “I had a terrible start in the first race of the regatta but managed to catch up to finish third. From there on I had my best run ever - six firsts in a row. After one of the three races yesterday in about 4 knots of wind a friendly competitor came up to me and suggested I might like to take up another sport - I respectfully declined”.

Mathew Belcher and Nick Behrens won the Silver medal in the 470 Men’s class. The final medal round saw the pair on equal points (34,00) with fellow AST members, Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page but won the silver on a count-back, relegating Wilmot and Page to the Bronze medal. 2006 Kiel Week Gold medallists, Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson narrowly missed defending their title winning the Silver medal in the 470 Women’s class.

In the Laser Radial class, AST member Krystal Weir won the Silver medal and hot on her heels was fellow team mate and AST Team Co-captain Sarah Blanck who came home with the Bronze. Krystal’s performance at Kiel Week has enabled her to achieve a baseline performance to qualify for Olympic nomination.

Twelve other AST crews have already achieved a baseline performance to qualify for the Olympic nomination which will be decided in early October, 2007.

 Olympic Program Director, Michael Jones commented on the medal haul “Considering we had only half the Team in Kiel, this is a very pleasing result. In the lead up to the Worlds we have had a very good preparation and we seem to be peaking at the right time. I expect a very strong showing in Cascais as we return to our traditional ‘comfort zone’ of strong wind and offshore sailing, but also, do not write us off for a very good showing in Qingdao in August for the Olympic Test Event.”

The Team will now head to Cascais, Portugal to compete at the ISAF World Sailing Championships from 28th June – 13th July, 2007.

The World Sailing Championships will be one of the key events for the Team with 75% of Olympic entries for countries up for grabs at the event.

AAP

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