2014 Sail Melbourne Report
Nathan Outteridge and his crew Iain Jensen won a major victory just getting to the start line for their series opening three races. The 49er gold medallists from London missed a connecting flight and left San Francisco on Saturday night, which put them into Melbourne at 9.30am this morning. Sister Haylee drove their boat from Sydney and prepared theirs as well as her own 49erFX. The AST sailors finished second to David Gilmour and Rhys Mara by one point.
“We tried to keep it simple today and the course wasn’t complex, a pretty simple left hand track,” said Outteridge. “We are pretty tired. For the amount of preparation we did we are happy.”
Outteridge is recovering from a foot injury sustained during a training camp at his home Lake Macquarie two weeks ago and says it’s still causing him some discomfort.
The 49er class centres around fit and agile Gen Y aged sailors. Bucking the trend is the senior of the group, Ian Cunningham, the President of Yachting Victoria who is sailing at the World Cup with his son David as crew.
“I’m pretty knackered about now, but we beat some people,” said the grinning skipper back at SYC this evening.
Before August Ian had never sailed a boat with a trapeze, admitting, “it was my idea to buy a 49er. If I don’t do it now I’ll never do it and David is silly enough to join me.” Father and son have been sailing together for 12 years and have a massive summer ahead starting with the World Cup then onto the B14 world championship and the International 14ft skiff world championship in January where he plans to be the “oldest newbie” on the starter’s list.
In among world champions and Olympic gold medallists Ian embodies the sport, “We are probably the only guys still smiling when we come last.”
Australian Sailing Squad members Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks scored the opening top points in the 49erFX women’s skiff, beating Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen by one point.
Back at the boat park a shivering Lloyd said, “Today was about getting a good start and speed through the waves. Though it’s not an Olympic qualifier, every regatta is important and this one is one of my favourites because I’m at home.”
The best placed European 49er crew is Austria’s Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch in third overall behind the two Australian teams of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen and David Gilmour and Rhys Mara in second place.
“Bloody Nathan… he hasn’t had a bad race yet, but I hope he does soon!” Gilmour jested this afternoon, a backhanded compliment directed at his fellow Australian Sailing Team (AST) member and crew, London 2012 49er Olympic medallists and now part of the Artemis America’s Cup team.
The partnership between the two Nicos spans 15 years and “is a mixture between us being brothers and a married couple,” says the bow. “We always argue, that’s what keeps the relationship alive,” says the aft.
There’s not much the guys don’t know about each other. The most annoying thing about Resch is “how he leaves his stuff all over the boat,” says the skipper pointing towards Resch’s rashie drying on the wing in the sun. On the flipside Resch grizzles, “Nico always likes a clean boat.” Sounds like a case of opposites attract.
As 19 and 20 year-olds the duo went to the Athens Olympics, a career highlight for Delle-Karth whereas Resch cites the youth worlds in Sydney in 2000 straight after the Games that year as his high point. Now they are aiming towards the Rio Olympics in two years’ time with the goal of a podium finish. “We finished fourth at London, we at least want third in Rio,” Delle-Karth puts out there.
Six races down and Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen are second to Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks (AUS/ASS) in the 49erFX women’s skiff. The Norwegians are showing early fleet control with twins Ragna and Maia Agerup holding onto third place.
Naess and Ronningen have swapped snow and ice on the water to train and squeeze in some kiting and surfing in Australia for the past five weeks. Like any two person sport, communication is key and after two years together there’s a good understanding between the teammates. They focus on staying calm and the division of roles on the boat Naess suggesting, “It’s better to talk too much than not enough.”
Ronningen recently added up the number of days they spend away from home in a typical year and the figure came to 200. So how do they hold down relationships? “It’s easier to stay single,” they agree. Next stop after Melbourne is home for a white Christmas then onto Miami for the second stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series.
The gap between Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS/AST) and the second placed 49er crew of David Gilmour and Rhys Mara (AUS/AST) widens with each top three result the London gold medallists and America’s Cup teammates record.
Despite an early exit the Austrians are holding onto third place in this qualifying series, which leads into the weekend Medal Race showdown off the SYC viewing deck.
49er competitor and Yachting Victoria president Ian Cunningham is always good for a quotable quote and during the postponement he delivered this pearler, “It’s going to be one of those days, crews are ready to go…there are only so many itches to scratch.”
Olivia Price (AUS/AST) and Eliza Solly (AUS/ASS) needed a good outing to put them back in touch with the first placed Tess Lloyd (AUS/ASS) and Caitlin Elks (ASS) and the Norwegians Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen in second.
In the first run of the second race they caught a wave and without the right preparation pitch-poled their 49erFX and finished upside down in shallow water. When the boat righted they found the mast above the top spreader broken. The pair raced ashore to step their replacement mast and will be back out for tomorrow’s early session. “Today was not a good day, it’s going to be tough to come back from this,”said a disappointed Price, the match racing silver medallist from the London Games.
Olivia Price and Eliza Solly’s two race retirements yesterday afternoon when their mast broke shuffled the top three 49erFX results.
Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks (AUS) haven’t moved from pole position since racing commenced on Monday December 7, 2014. Similarly top shelf results by Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen (NOR) have kept them in touch with the Australians. Now another Norwegian duo of Maia and Ragna Agerup is holding onto third.
The ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne is the first time racing against a 49erFX fleet and the first competition for new combination Haylee Outteridge and Sarah Cook, a two-time Olympic rower.
Their parents met sailing and when big brother Nathan started sailing out of Wangi Sailing Club at NSW’s Lake Macquarie, middle brother Beau and little sister Haylee didn’t have much choice but to take the tiller.
“Sailing has always been for us a family thing, it’s not just a sport,” says the youngest Outteridge, who has partnered with Sarah Cook, the former rower late to sailing at age 27.
Nathan Outteridge’s success at the world level is well known. He’s an inspiration to Haylee but she promises there is no pressure being the younger sibling of an Olympic gold medallist, world champion and now America’s Cup sailor.
“I could say I want to win a gold medal at the end of the day but I really want to see what my potential is as a sailor and a person. Nathan and I sail for different reasons; I don’t feel that pressure because I feel we have different goals.”
Outteridge brings natural instinct and 18 years of experience to their campaign. Cook brings experience at the highest level of competition. Until just over two years ago Cook had never sailed and asked her then 470 partner Elise Rechichi why they couldn’t sail directly at the top mark.
She’s found another special partnership in Outteridge and is enjoying the physicality of the skiff. “It’s so aggressive and fast, it’s very similar to rowing in terms of the physicality.
Outteridge and Cook are sitting sixth on the results sheet after nine races.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain ‘Goobs’ Jensen (Australian Sailing Team – AST) hold a handy 16 point margin lead heading into the double points earning Medal Race tomorrow, which is first up in the sequence on the Stadium course starting at midday.
“We had a bad day today with two thirds, a fourth and a seventh,” said Jensen. “We’ll have to counter tomorrow to still win the regatta. It was a bit shifty and the boat didn’t feel quite right at times, we were lacking a bit of pace.”
The battle for second is going to be a doozy; just two points separates second to fourth places and the teams of David Gilmour and Rhys Mara (AST), Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch (AUT) and Joel Turner and Lewis Brake (Australian Sailing Squad – ASS), in that order.
Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks from the AST have fought hard to have it all their own way from the outset. Each day the Agerup twins from Norway have inched higher in the pointscore and this afternoon, with points from 13 races tallied, they sit in second overall on a countback.
“We got focused on the second day after we were protested and disqualified from race 5,” said skipper Ragna Agerup. “That was the icing on the cake. Now we know we can do it and we are very optimistic,”she warned on the twins’ chances of taking out the gold medal tomorrow, Saturday December 13.
Maia is still feeling a shoulder injury from the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander in September, but it’s not stopping the sisters’ march up the points ladder.
The Norwegians nosedived on a bear away in strong breezes in Spain and Ragna fell onto Maia, damaging her shoulder. “We were a bit worried yesterday, if it happens again she will need surgery and we’ll have to take six months off,” Ragna said.
The girls’ father is in Melbourne keeping an eye on Maia. The family lived in Perth and is used to the local hospitality, which Karl-Christian describes like this, “being a sailor coming to Australia is like being a skier and coming to Norway, everyone welcomes you and tries to help.”
Lloyd is very conscious that today’s three thirds were below the team’s benchmark. “We have the Medal Race tomorrow and double points make it super important. We just have to go out and win like we have been throughout the week,” said the Melbourne local. “It will be exciting to race in front of a home crowd; my whole family will be down watching.”
Reigning Olympic 49er champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) were the first team to qualify for next year’s ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
A cautious start put them sixth place around the first mark and from there the Chazz Michael-Michaels and Jimmy Macelroy of skiff racing built a powerful performance in front of a cheering spectator gallery. A sizeable pre-race buffer meant the gold medal sail-off was perfunctory, but still they entertained the crowd with their comeback.
“We had a good downwind and got closer to the pack and then sailed a really good second beat. There was a massive left hander and we were the only ones on port for some reason. We then got into the lead and spent the rest of the race just watching the action behind us,” Outteridge said.
“It’s awesome to qualify for Abu Dhabi. We didn’t get a chance to go this year due to scheduling conflicts. This year we are the first boat to quality and will make sure we have it in the calendar for next year,” Outteridge said.
The cool kids of the Olympic classes like to be fashionably late to the start and according to most Outteridge and Jensen in particular cut it fine, leaving the ramp at SYC 10 minutes before their Medal Race was due to start. Next up for the pair is racing against each other at the Moth Worlds at Sorrento, Victoria, in January.
The Australian Sailing Squad’s Joel Turner and Lewis Brake finished second overall and ahead of the first Europeans, Austria’s Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch by 1.8 points.
Everything was riding on the Medal Race in the women’s skiff, one point separating first to third pre-race. The ultimate gold medallists Ragna and Maia Agerup (NOR) went out set up for windy conditions and found themselves in the wrong mode and over tensioned in the 6 knot breeze midway through the race.
“It was so nerve-wracking so much up and down and the shifts were coming from everywhere,”described Ragna. “It was hectic and a very tactical race, we were just doing the right decisions thinking all the time and we learnt not to give up. I’m so relieved. We are really happy.”
Winning the first round of the 2015 World Cup series and qualifying for the Final in Abu Dhabi is definitely a confidence booster says Maia. “We have been competing here for three years in a row; it’s good to see we can finally be competing for a spot on the podium. We are really looking forward to Abu Dhabi and the fact we already have that secured is such a relief.”
Second by five points were Norwegians Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen, who consistently delivered this week to remain in touch with the top of the scoreboard, as did third placed ASS athletes Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks.
“We were obviously pretty disappointed with how today went,” admitted Lloyd. “It was very tricky conditions, but it’s third overall and we are the first Australians which was our main goal. We are very happy to be on the podium ahead of the other Australian crews. Today gives us even more determination to keep pushing.”