Sail Melbourne 2012 - Liberties at the dock
The first leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup has just concluded at Sail Melbourne with six Liberties and three SKUD 18s taking part. While it was an all-Australian affair this year, sailors travelled from six States to compete in the 6 day program.
Conditions were either too much or too little during the week, with two of the sessions abandoned due to strong winds and the final day of racing also abandoned after the start for the SKUDs when it was gusting toward 30 knots.
Reigning Liberty World Champion, Greg Hyde from Sydney NSW, dominated the Liberty competition winning every heat this week in convincing fashion. Second overall was Mike Cull from Perth WA, with Barry Coates from Queensland’s Gold Coast in third. Each of these sailors are Australian Champions - from 2012, 2011 & 2010 respectively.
The SKUD 18 division was won by David Staley and Michael Lewenhagen (VIC) at their home club Sandringham. Like Greg Hyde in the Liberties, they also finished the regatta with a perfect scorecard. Alan Merry (Sydney NSW) and Bob Schahinger (Adelaide SA) teamed up for second with Russell Phillips (Melbourne VIC) and Justin Millsom (Calalla Bay NSW) third.
Despite the small fleet, this first Sail Melbourne in the Paralympic cycle was an opportunity to race the SKUD in open configuration. Staley & Lewenhagen sailed two-person sports boat style with tiller steering and both sailors transferring. The other crews had one centreline seat for the helmsman and trapeze for the crew.
“The light to moderate conditions we experienced on most of our races probably gave us an advantage”, said Staley. “In the fresher breezes the crews with trapeze would close the gap, but most of the sailing was in lighter airs with flat water or left-over waves”, he said.
The regatta also provided an opportunity to test out some prototype sails from the Hyde loft in Cebu, Philippines. Sailors were able to inspect and test out the new sails and the SKUD sails were also tested in competition and swapped between boats. Comments were collected and will be passed back to the loft for further refinement of the Liberty and SKUD 18 sails.
The Sail Sydney International Regatta is next on the “Down Under” circuit, with a series of events scheduled in Auckland, New Zealand in January and February.